A Fantastic Moth

by A warbler a day

As my beloved Southend Utd were playing at home this Saturday I headed back to Essex. finding out that Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve had a bat and moth event meant that I traveled down the day before. All week I became increasingly concerned by the weather forecast knowing that rain and moths and particularly moth traps don’t go together. On arriving at Rainham Marshes at midday I checked that the event was on and when told ‘yes’ booked my place. I spent the next 90 minutes dodging showers as I walked round the reserve seeing loads of Migrant Hawker dragonflies, a couple of Snipe and a very freshly moulted Willow Warbler. Before I left I decided to check what time the event started, only to be told that it was now cancelled. All this way and no moth-ing.

The next day I got a short stroll along the seafront at Shoebury before watching the football. The incoming tide eventually brought in some common waders, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Turnstones.

The trip seemed set to produce nothing of wildlife interest until the moment on Saturday night when my Mum asked me to do the drying up. Walking into the kitchen I noticed a very pale moth on the kitchen window. On my cry of ‘Moth!’ Mum realised that I might be a little delayed with the drying up I collected my home made moth catching kit and headed outside. What a treat! It was a Vestal, a species of moth I have never seen before and a little beauty. It is a small Geometrid moth with yellowish wings with a pink stripe. They are generally immigrants though like some migrant butterflies there is also often a generation breeding in this country. Another interesting fact is that moths born in warmer conditions are often a paler yellow with a brighter pink stripe and are therefore likely to be immigrants. the moth I saw was a more straw yellow with a dark dusky pink stripe and therefore likely to have hatched locally. What a fantastic moth!

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