20/03/2010
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Moths of the season: Orange Underwing

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Even without a moth trap, you can look for the fabulous Orange Underwing during the day. You need to explore heathland, old open woodland, embankments and rough ground where mature Silver and Downy Birch is in abundance. On sunny, still, warmish days from mid-March and from lunchtime onwards, they fly quite high around the crowns of large birches, frequently landing on the outer branches. Once you get your eye in you can spot them landing and 'scope them creeping along the stems. Later in the afternoon some will come down lower, even to ground level if you are lucky, and sometimes settle to drink at puddles in the woodland rides.


Orange Underwing (Photo: Mike Southall)

From the end of March the much scarcer Light Orange Underwing can be found in similar habitat but with mature Aspen trees. Their behaviour is very similar, and where both species occur together you will have to see them at rest as it is impossible to identify them in flight alone.

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Light Orange Underwing (Photo: Mike Southall)

This month's guide is very basic and of course you can find other species on the wing, particularly in southern England. Some moths can also be seen totally out of season so keep an open mind and photograph what you cannot identify before releasing. If you have a local expert near you, try to get a second opinion.

Make sure you have a copy of Waring and Townsend's new field guide and use the brilliant online UKMoths, which covers most micros with quality photographs and useful additional notes on habitat, geographical distribution and the important flight periods and foodplants. If you need advice on what moth-trapping equipment to buy for use in your garden or a nearby wood, contact the author or the professional lepidopterists' suppliers listed below.

Have a good spring for moths.

References:

Steve Whitehouse can be contacted for further information on 01905 454541 or email stevewhitehouse123@btinternet.com

Written by: Steve Whitehouse