19 moth enthusiasts gathered at The Magnus House, Aigas Field Centre on 1st September to meet with Mark Young and Roy Leverton for another Moth Workshop. Moth traps had been set in the extensive grounds overnight and after teas, coffees and goodies, served by Lady Lucy Lister-Kaye and Duncan McNeill, we set about going through the catch.
A good selection of 40 species included considerable numbers of Dark Marbled Carpets, Juniper Pugs, Large Yellow Underwings, Lesser Yellow Underwings, Square-spot Rustics, Barred Chestnuts and Dotted Carpets and it was useful to see the differences between Pine Carpet and Grey Pine Carpet. There was particular interest in some less abundant species such as Bordered Beauty, Angle-striped Sallow, Neglected Rustic, Minor Shoulder-knot, Heath Rustic, Mouse Moth, Black Rustic, Blue-bordered Carpet and Crescent (of the Scottish race scotica). There were four ears of which two were certainly Large Ear but the other two had to be put down as Common Ear/Crinan Ear and there were several Common/Lesser Common Rustics which are impossible to separate in the field. The list of macros is available as a PDF file. There was also a small selection of micro moths and the full list will be added in due course.
Going through the traps took rather longer than it should have done but we still had plenty of time for Roy to tell the Pine-tree Lappet story before lunch. After an initial discovery in 2004 it has since been shown that there is a thinly scattered population in the Kiltarlity area and indeed two were caught overnight at the Moth Workshop at Aigas in 2010. One of these was the first wild female ever found in Scotland, so Roy undertook a project to rear the larvae under licence from the Forestry Commission. Even when kept indoors they took two years to complete their life cycle, and most of those reared outside will hibernate for a third winter. Roy brought along two to show us, already 25 months old! With such a long life cycle, plus a restricted distribution due to its need for low rainfall, it seems highly unlikely that the Scottish population will ever reach a level that poses a serious threat to forestry, as occasionally happens in parts of eastern Europe.
Once again Lady Lucy and her team had prepared an excellent buffet lunch for us in the main house and we followed this with a bit of exercise round the Aigas Loch – home to a fenced in population of European Beavers – to look for micro moths and larvae. The timing on this again drifted rather too much and by the time we got back to the Magnus House there was, very unfortunately, only time for a quick discussion of the new micro identification guide, another tea or coffee with eats and the first section of Roy’s talk on difficult species and dealing with Gold Spot/Lempke’s Gold Spot. We are hoping that we might be able to persuade Roy back again next year to continue his moth master-class on difficult species.
Aigas is an excellent centre for this kind of exercise and those who attended all took away new information and renewed enthusiasm as a result of meeting up with other like-minded folk.
Our thanks go to Mark and Roy for making the long journey from the east to share their expertise with us yet again and also to the staff at Aigas for looking after us so well.