This week I've spent a couple of fun evenings watching Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillars on our patio. I've seen the part-pachyderm, part-serpent larvae before, but never found them at home - despite catching up to 20 adults a night in season. But the fuchsia plant nearest our kitchen currently has five hefty, hungry caterpillars munching its leaves. What creatures they are.
The answer was, nothing quite so exciting (despite 672 moths of 72 species), although the next day did bring a Nationally Scarce Bee-wolf to the lavender on the drive. This would have been a seriously surprising record, given that the only local colony I was aware of was at Norwich Castle, in the city centre - but a month ago I discovered a small colony about half-a-mile from home, near a subway under the A1067 Dereham Road. So a wanderer to the garden was not entirely unexpected.
I set my garden trap on the night of 23rd with considerable hope. The late-summer/early autumn heatwave was just starting: the night was warm and the wind a gentle and hopefully migrant-laden easterly. If I hadn't been hungover on the early morning of 24th, I wouldn't have let the headline moth - a Large Thorn (new for me and either a migrant or a Nat Scarce resident) - escape during photography. I did better with a very decent back-up cast. Scarce Bordered Straw was only the second garden record of this fairly scarce migrant. It was very faded, but much appreciated. So too were three nice micros. New for me were what appears to Lobesia littoralis which, as its name suggests, is primarily a coastal species, and Stenolechia gemmella. A most pleasing night's garden mothing. The following night - in equally good conditions - was better in terms of numbers (350+ moths of 57 species across two traps). But quality wasn't as hot. That said, there was an interesting moth that is either a very dark Cork Moth (most likely) or possibly a Nemapogon koenigi, which is a smart, Nationally Scarce micro whose first Norfolk record was in 2010. Given similar conditions, what will tonight bring to the Norwich suburbs?