A greenhorn lepidopterist at large in suburban London

Berrylands Station is on the London Waterloo to Hampton Court line between New Malden and Surbiton, a 25 minute train journey from central London. I became aware of its potential for attracting moths in late August 2008. The station is situated on an embankment with the Hogsmill Sewage Farm directly to the north and a typical mix of suburban houses and gardens to the south. The elevated aspect of the station and the comparative lack of domestic and street lighting in the immediate area mean that it acts like a huge moth trap, there are white-painted covered waiting areas and staircases on both platforms, these are illuminated at night and most of the moths are found in these areas. What follows is my attempt as a novice lepidopterist to record and catalogue all the macro moths I encounter on my daily commute to work along with the occasional "awayday" in search of other British lepidoptera .

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cypress Carpet

Cypress Carpet at Berrylands Station, 15/06/2012
Cypress Carpet at Berrylands Station, 18/06/2012
Last Friday (May 15th) I found a small, dark carpet at rest high in London-bound staircase; thinking it was probably the first Yellow-barred Brindle of the year I got my binoculars out and I was amazed to see it was a Cypress Carpet, a new macro for the station and a lifer for me. I managed to pot it and take a few photos before releasing it, as the photo above shows it had some damage to it's right wing. This morning I found another small dark carpet in almost exactly the same place; another Cypress Carpet, and a different one as the right wing shows no damage. I managed to get some photos of this one without potting it. I sometimes get a run of records from certain species which in subsequent years either vanish or become very scarce; Burnished Brass was everywhere in 2009 but I haven't had one since. My theory is that a female lays eggs on the larval foodplant close to the station and when the next generation emerges as adults they are attracted to the station lights, if the female lays on a plant that isn't close then the emerging moths are distracted by other lights and do not find the station. It's a nice theory, or was, as the nearest Leyland Cypress is in an area with lots of light pollution and the moths should not find the station at all. My guess is that I will be finding these sublime little carpets all summer long and then it will become a mega rarity again, so I'd better make the most of it while it lasts.    

1 comment:

  1. Well done Nick! a species I have never trapped.