MKNHS mothing at Howe Park Wood, Tuesday 2nd August  2022 – Andy Harding

Lead photo above © Julian Lambley)

Early MKNHS arrivals and a few by-passers were treated to a large ‘keep-net’ of moths caught the previous evening in my garden.  In addition there were 10 small pots containing some fairly easy to identify micro-moths and some macro-moths of similar size! This prompted the obvious question of what distinguishes macros from micros since size clearly doesn’t.  Short answer … convenience. Few took up the challenge with the identification guides provided!  However the information that one pot contained something that wasn’t a moth ignited greater interest.  The occupant was a Tree-Hopper resembling a small Hippopotamus!

During this daylight activity, Rachel and Martin K were assembling a Mercury Vapour (MV) Light above a large white sheet in the middle of the wood, with the generator also powering up another MV trap.

As it grew darker the group slowly drifted towards the lights.  Bats were showing before any moths appeared, but eventually a Brimstone Moth claimed first appearance prize.

Brimstone (Photo © Andy Harding)

Micro-moths such as Agriphila Straminella were largely ignored, presumably because of its narrow straw-like shape, while the somewhat larger and more ‘moth-shaped’ Udea Prunalis was considered  more acceptable fare, despite also being a micro.  Note the lack of vernacular names.

Agriphila tristella (Photo © Andy Harding)

Udea prunalis (Photo © Andy Harding)

July Highfliers, Drinkers and Black Arches mirrored our recent trip to College Wood, Nash.

Drinker (Photo © Andy Harding)

Several Small Phoenix appeared and nearly all with a solid central dark band with no narrow pale wavy vertical dividing line.  Despite this anomaly a different identity could not be found or even suspected.

Small Phoenix (Photo © Andy Harding)

The star moth though was undoubtedly Poplar Lutestring, an attractive species not previously seen by any save one of the group, so six individual moths were most welcome.

Poplar Lutestring (Photo © Andy Harding)

Some of the group had now drifted back towards their vehicles including Harry, who phoned back to say some lads had started a fire on a neighbouring crossroads.  Martin recruited Hassan and Simon to help him advise the miscreants of their folly.  The situation was righted in a friendly way. However A.N.Other had advised the fire service and three firepersons duly appeared clad in full garb reminiscent of astronauts. This was very appropriate since not long afterwards one of a number of individuals (and couples) walking in the wood at night approached and engaged with us, after initially thinking we were aliens.

The final highlight of an excellent evening was a couple of Bordered Beauties, but by 11.30 pm little else of note had appeared in the previous 30 minutes, so the failure of the generator, à la College Wood, was not a great inconvenience, and allowed slightly more sleep for the organisers than originally anticipated.

Bordered Beauty (Photo © Andy Harding)

Thanks to all for attending and the Parks Trust for allowing motor vehicle access to the centre of the wood.

Andy Harding
August 2022


2 days later a Poplar Lutestring appeared in our lit porch somewhat adjacent to the back of our car. The species had not appeared in Old Stratford in the previous 12 years of intensive trapping, so had clearly hitched a lift from Howe Park Wood, to which it was returned the following day.  AVH