Friday, 3 April 2020

A warmer night brings results

On Tuesday night the temperature fell to -2°C, and I only caught four moths in total, representing three species. The weather forecast for last night was for clear skies with a cloud-bearing front approaching by dawn: the clear skies would allow the temperature to fall to 1°C.  What actually happened was that the cloud arrived much earlier than forecast, and consequently the temperature only fell to 6°C.

I had a pleasant surprise when I emptied the traps this morning, perhaps as a result of the unexpectedly warm night.

I ended up with a total of 37 moths of 13 species between my two traps (one with an actinic light; the other with LED). Five of those species were new for the garden - that doesn't mean a great deal as I only have records from 2019.  Pride of place will go to a Dotted Chestnut, albeit looking a little ragged.

Dotted Chestnut, Newton Longville 2nd April
The other new species for the garden list were Brindled Beauty, Early Thorn, Shoulder Stripe and Double-striped Pug.

Shoulder Stripe, Newton Longville 2nd April
It seems as though we're in for a warm spell, so this is promising.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Emperor Moth

Even though it is still quite early yet for the species, I've been trying the Emperor Moth pheromone lure in the garden on and off for the last week and finally had success this afternoon with two males turning up.  One performed a brief fly-by at 3.30pm then returned 15 minutes later to be netted, while the second arrived at 4.05pm.  Afternoons are generally best and if anyone else has the lure then the tropical conditions forecast for Sunday would seem to be a good opportunity to try it out.  The moth is quite widespread throughout our three counties.

Emperor Moth, Westcott 3rd April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Thursday, 2 April 2020

First Quarter Results

First quarter garden results are always a mixed bag, very much dependent on the winter weather.  In April 2015 I produced a table of adult macro-moths recorded during the first three months of each year going back to 2006 in order to give a ten-year comparison and to work out how many species would be missed if trapping didn't start here until 1st April (quite a few people don't bother to run their lights during January, February or March).  Micro-moths were ignored because there are so few of them around and Diurnea fagella & Tortricodes alternella are really the only ones which aren't hibernators.  I concluded then that only four adult macro species would definitely be missed (Small Brindled Beauty, Pale Brindled Beauty, Spring Usher & Early Moth) because all of the others either continued flying well into April and/or appeared again in the autumn.  In fact the flight times for Pale Brindled Beauty and Spring Usher seem subsequently to have crept forward and there's now often a chance to see them in December, while Early Moth is just as likely to appear at a lit window as it is to come to a light trap.  I'm certainly not advocating packing away the trap for those first three months each year but I can understand why some people do!

I've continued to update the figures annually since then and have just done so quickly for 2020.  This year's results proved to be a bit of a mixed bag. The total number of individual macro-moths caught came to 405 which is rather below par.  However, 28 macro species were seen, drawn from a cumulative total of 46 which have been recorded here during the first quarter.  28 is actually the third highest total over the now 15-year run of data.  The average currently stands at 561 moths of 23 species.  If anyone is at all interested in looking at the details, the information is available on two sheets of a Google document here.      

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

April starts on a positive note

Good, the wind has at last gone round to the west, signalling warmer nights.  Ten species pitched up to the actinic light last night and it was good to see Emmelina monodactyla, Shoulder Stripe, Streamer & Red Chestnut in addition to the usual fleet of Orthosias.  New for the garden year-list, Streamer can be a really stunning moth when fresh (there are very few species with a hint of blue in their colouring).  

Shoulder Stripe, Westcott 1st April

Streamer, Westcott 1st April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Rather early micro

Found in our conservatory at midday, Ditula angustiorana.  Usually flying mid May-August, but field guide does note that 'has been recorded in April'.   


John Thacker, Harwell

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Last of the common Orthosias

Last night's collection of moths at Westcott (31 individuals of five species) was made up entirely of Orthosias but at least they included four specimens of Powdered Quaker, a new arrival for the garden year-list.

Powdered Quaker, Westcott 27th March

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Lockdown Moths

At least the sunny days recently have encouraged a bit of moth activity (and, unfortunately, bat activity) here for the early part of each night.  However there has been little of interest amongst them since Shoulder Stripe and Early Thorn were added to the garden year-list on the 18th.  Each subsequent night the catch has been entirely of Orthosias, so last night I decided to try two lights for the first time this year but it didn't make much difference!  The MV managed 11 moths of six species but was still out-performed by the actinic which caught 21 moths of five species.  The only non-Orthosias were Diurnea fagella and Dotted Chestnut to the MV and Amblyptilia acanthadactyla to the actinic (a rather worn specimen but a garden year-list addition, 41st species for 2020 to date).

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Westcott 24th March

The adult macro-moth list for the garden currently stands at 27 species.  Looking back over the last 15 years, it means that 2020 currently lies in third place for the highest number of macros achieved here in the first quarter (the total reached 37 in both 2017 and 2019).  Hopefully something else will turn up before 31st March but I suspect that 3rd place is set in stone now!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Brindled Pug

Still trying. This morning brought this early Pug, Common Quaker, Twin-spotted Quaker and Clouded Drab.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Small Quaker & Diurnea fagella

I've done very little trapping this year, last night felt like the first "proper" catch with Common Plume, Diurnea fagella, Common Quaker, Small Quaker & Hebrew Character.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Micromoth ID

Indoors moths in 2020 at home have been limited so far to Nemapogon cloacella and Mompha subbistrigella (two examples of each). Yesterday around lunchtime, my wife found a moth of another species flying in her study.

It's not something I've seen before, and after spending a while perusing the field guide and a few websites, I think its appearance suggests that it is from the Oegoconia genus. Some things support this: the overall pattern, the posture (the wings are held somewhat flat, with only slight "tenting"), and the forewing length is about 5mm, which is just compatible. However, there are substantial difficulties with this identification because the flight period is late June to September and the larval foodplant is decaying leaves.

So I'm stuck and would appreciate some advice. I also note that if it is an Oegoconia spp., then getting it to species level will require gen. det.
Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Two more for the list

I was actually a little disappointed in last night's collection of moths here at Westcott but with two more species for the garden year list I shouldn't really complain.  They were a Pale Pinion tempted out of hibernation and a very smart fresh Blossom Underwing.  Apart from another Grey Shoulder-knot (the fourth so far this year) and the nightly example of Agonopterix heracliana, the others were all drawn from the common Orthosia species.  Noticeable by their absence here so far have been the flimsier geometrid moths, with just a single March Moth back in February and no sign here yet of Shoulder Stripe, Red-green Carpet or Engrailed.  I'm sure their time will come although it looks as though we're due another run of cooler or wetter nights now.

Pale Pinion, Westcott 17th March

Blossom Underwing, Westcott 17th March

A few days ago in the garden I had one of the forms of Twin-spotted Quaker which can sometimes cause a bit of confusion because the "twin spots" are nowhere near as prominent.

Twin-spotted Quaker, Westcott 12th March

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks