Lincolnshire County Moth Recorder Colin Smith gave us the benefit of his 45 years of studying and recording moths when he illustrated a range of species on 24 February. There are 2,500 species of moth in the UK with 1,600 of these recorded in Lincolnshire. The adult moth sizes range from the huge Death’s Head at with a wing span of 4 inches down to the myriad of species that are less than 5mm in size.
The caterpillars are voracious feeders and it is possible to identify these larvae by the distinctive patterns that they make on leaves when feeding. These ‘mining’ moths are the ones that damage our plants. Many species of moths live a very short time, just long enough to breed, as they have no mouth parts while others survive well and species have developed a proboscis to probe into nectar producing flowers whilst certain species, such as the Varied Coronet moth which favours Sweet Williams, live their life cycle on a specific type of plant.
I was delighted that other members present said that they saw very few moths. Colin indicated, very politely, that we should be out at night and look harder at our plants by day using a hand lens. Nevertheless, sharp-eyed birds such as Blackbirds and Blue tits have no problem in finding the tiny larva in the grass which form a vital part of the food chain. I offer the information that I gleaned from an RSPB source, that a pair of Blue tits need 15,000 insect larvae to sustain a brood of 4 nestlings.
Colin showed us some of his mounted specimens and has kindly agreed to arrange a ‘Moth Evening’ for us as part of our 2018 programme to look for the Marsh moth which is endemic to the Rimac and Theddlethorpe beach area. RW