Mystical Moth Reveal

Posted: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It was a sparkly, bright but chilly September morning when we all gathered at Thruscross Reservoir for the big reveal. The night before eight of us had set up moth traps in our gardens, we were now eagerly waiting for Jill and Charlie to help us identify the moths we had caught. Jill and Charlie had also set up several moth traps at Thruscross - amazingly no one has really done any moth trapping there since the late 1980s, who knows what we would find!

We carefully rifled through our catch and excitingly found several species that were new to this particular area, including a Red-necked footman larva. As an adult this is an amazing looking and unmistakable moth, with long, narrow sooty black wings, wrapped about itself. Their wings are thought to look a bit like the long coats worn by servants in Victorian times, hence its name. They also have a lovely bright yellow body and red collar, often found in broad-leaved woodland and conifer plantations. If we look there in June and July next year we are bound to find some of these stunning adult moths.

Trichiosoma sorbi
Trichiosoma sorbi (c) C Fletcher

We also had a bit of a surprise; Charlie found a mystery larva that needed a bit of investigation. It turned out not to be a moth at all, in fact it was a Rowan sawfly, Trichiosoma sorbi.  The adult sawfly is an impressive bee-like fly with clubbed antennae. Species records of the sawfly showed just shows 17 records across the country and none in Yorkshire.  Charlie contacted the YNU Sawfly recorder Dave Chesmore to see if there have in fact been previous Yorkshire records.  Whilst not the super rare and endangered species we were all secretly hoping for, it is certainly a very interesting and possibly significant find.

All in all it was a good session and we will certainly be doing more moth trapping next year.Thanks to everyone that attended the event, to Charlie Fletcher (County moth recorder) and Jill Warwick for running the event and to Charlie for providing the summary of what we found.

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