Thursday, 20 May 2021

Chamomile Shark

Although I'm still catching only a small number of moths each time I run the traps, a few new-for-the-year species are turning up, and the occasional new-for-the-garden species, too.

Monday night added Seraphim, Least Black Arches, Waved Umber, Common Pug and Epiphyas postvittana onto the year-list and a Powdered Quaker put in probably its final appearance of the year.

Wednesday night's haul added some fresh-looking moths: Green Carpet, Garden Carpet and Lime Hawk-moth; the latter putting in only its second appearance ever.  Various social activities and domestic chores today meant that some of the moths spent the day in the fridge.  Finishing the job at the end of the afternoon, I realised I also had a Pale Tussock and a moth which I'm pretty sure is my first Chamomile Shark. The moth had lost much of its "shark's fin", though the black lines do still run into the fringes: I've added a close-up of the fringes just to be sure.

Chamomile Shark. Newton Longville 19 May 2021

Compared to last year - when good weather coincided with lockdown - most of the species I have mentioned above seem to be appearing about two weeks later this year.  Some of them (Least Black Arches, Waved Umber and Epiphyas postvittana) are up to five weeks later.  But many species just haven't turned up at all so far.

In the first 19 days of May 2020, I caught 75 species; in the same period in 2021 I caught only 30 species with a similar amount of trapping effort.  April 2021 was even worse compared to 2020, so overall I have had about half the number of species in 2021 compared to 2020 (52 vs. 99).  The number of individual moths caught in April and May this year is about one third of last year's figure.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks


  1. Hi Tim,
    Yes, that is definitely Chamomile Shark. Although a fairly widespread species I've not ever had it here at Westcott and it is a moth that is top of my garden wish-list at the moment because it seems to be having a particularly good year. Time is running out for it now, though! Like Striped Lychnis and maybe some of the others in that little group, it is supposed to be reluctant to come to light. Which of your bulb types attracted it?

  2. Hi Dave. The moth was inside the trap using a 15W "synergetic" striplight. In case anyone hasn't heard of this type of light, it's a fluorescent tube very similar to the actinic tubes, but it gives out a light that to humans looks greenish rather than blue (both types contain reasonable amounts of UV). These tubes are used in some insect-killers used in places like restaurants. I had a tip from a friend to try synergetics and I took the opportunity after a gust of wind broke the actinic tube at the end of February.

    There is a small number of feverfew plants scattered around the garden, which may have helped my chances to get a Chamomile Shark.


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