Friday, 17 October 2008

Mothing - 16th - 17th October 2008

..... or "A Sparrows Breakfast Party"

Last night was quite warm at about 13 degrees with only a light breeze blowing and reasonable amount of cloud cover. Great conditions for mothing I thought so I decided to leave the light trap on overnight. Off I went to bed, jaw still aching from last weeks dental appointment at the local butcher shop but with my head filled with pleasant thoughts of wonderful new species of moth which would be spiraling around my moth light and would be waiting for me in the morning. (Can you tell I've had too many pain killers :-)

Morning came and it seems my hunch was right. Yes it must have been a great night judging by the two fat sparrows that were caught in the trap this morning. Unconcerned about their predicament they simply continued on eating the few remaining morsels left strewn among the diverse collection of moth wings and legs. This is not the first time this has happened as I've had sparrows in the trap on several other occasions.

Predators are quick at spotting new opportunities for an easy feed. In the past I've had Kookaburras regularly arriving at dusk to feed on the beetles and moths coming to the light. My domestic chickens and ducks also quickly learned that when I lift the lid on the trap there would be some easy pickings. I would have to literally fight them off. Fortunately I now have them fenced off into another part of the yard. In Britain I had cats coming to the trap and I've known of other people with foxes regularly coming to moth traps too. Even the Pipistrelle bats used to hang around the lamp post outside my house for the same reason. I guess there's not a lot you can do to stop this other than varying the time of day that you check your trap and not always placing it in the same location.

Wednesday night did not offer such great conditions but at least the few moths I did catch survived the experience. The most interesting was the Geometrid I've shown below that is a new one for my site. I don't yet have an ID for it so feel free to offer suggestions if you recognise it.

As of 2pm it's 18 degrees outside - the hottest day we've had this side of winter so hopefully another good mothing night tonight. The sparrows are already chirping and tweeting in anticipation.

Edit: I was way of the mark with this one but thanks to some outside help I now have an ID. It is Praxis porphyretica a Noctuid of the subfamily Catocalinae.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
#1 - Praxis porphyretica - Dorsal view - Forewing 20mm

#2 - Praxis porphyretica - Ventral view (Unfortunately through a dirty jar)


  1. Sorry to hear about the jaw. Won't rave on but two doctors recently missed my major ear infection. Don't be shy seeking second or third opinions.

    So much for sympathy. Beat the birds, get up before sparrow's .... ;-)

  2. Thanks Tony - Beat the sparrows..... hmmm maybe I should beat the dentist. Seems I had an infection in the bone which had been hacked away at to get the tooth out. The antibiotics seem to have kicked in this afternoon and pain is now manageable albeit 10 days late.

  3. I suppose the sparrows have to make a living too, but preferably not on moths!
    Sparrows have become rather sparse around here, used to be in plague proportions.

  4. Hi Alan, sorry to hear the jaw is still painful! Sounds horrible! Lovely moth, they're soooooo bloomin' tricky some of them!!!

  5. Thanks Duncan - They are in plague proportions at my place. I'm still trying to work out a simple solution to keeping them away from the chook yard.

    Thanks Jenny - Yes that one threw me a bit. Jaw's a little better today :-)