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Wed 6th July 2011

Posted on July 6, 2011 at 6:45 PM

moths : There has been a great moth discovery in Guernsey in the last couple of weeks. Rich and Margaret were out and about when they saw a Fiery Clearwing on a Dock leaf. The next week, Peter went out with some pheromones and found there was a small colony in that area. This is a new species for the island, although it has recently been discovered in Alderney. In the UK this species is almost legendary and highly protected. It lives in just one small area of the Kent coast and you are not allowed to disturb it, catch it or even breathe near it. Obsessive moth collectors are getting fewer and fewer but there is a chance that a very ruthless collector may come over here to try and stick a pin in one. Hence, I am not going to reveal where the site is, and since the species feeds on Dock, a very widespread plant, it could be anywhere on the island.

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Anyway, I borrowed Peter's pheromones - (well, the pheromones Peter keeps in his freezer, not Peter's own actual pheromones, that would be just weird) - and went out in the heat of the hottest day of the year on Sunday 3rd. The idea is that a tiny pot, full of the species-specific pheromone chemical, is hung on the foodplant, and the male moths come in as they think there is a 'responsive' female present.

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the white splodge is the pheromone lure hanging on a dock plant (note that this is not the site of the colony, just another area of Dock I checked and failed to find any)

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Within a minute of hanging up the lure the first Fiery Clearwing came buzzing in. After 5 minutes, the maximum I counted at once was 7, but there was perhaps ten or so. It was amazing to see such a rare moth so easily and at close quarters. However, it was difficult to catch them stationary, and with the exceptionally bright sunshine, photography was difficult,but I managed a few acceptable shots.

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Fiery Clearwing - undisclosed site, Guernsey, 3 Jul 2011 - this was by far the brightest one that came in. No other clearwing has such redness on the wings, such orange legs, and that spectacular tiger-stripedtail.

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a more worn individual, with the reddish areas a pale orange

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Of course this excitement eclipsed a new species of moth for the garden list. The not-so-spectacular brown-coloured tortrix, Celypha striana.

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Celypha striana - garden, 2 Jul 2011 - new for garden list

Categories: 2011 Summer