Saturday, 24 October 2015

Downland Plume

We don't often feature dissections on the blog, but I thought I'd make an exception today. Since Sam Carter's vague record from Beaconsfield back in 1964, this moth hadn't been seen anywhere in the UK since and was registered as extinct. It was then re-discovered in the Chilterns at a site not too far from Beaconsfield back in 2013 and has been found at that site every year since. The National Plume man, Colin Hart has been to visit and was very excited to see the moth in question at a trapping session one night in 2014. In fact he saw 3.

As I have been doing now for some years, the cooler months are spent with increasing activity in the study, peering down my various microscopes identifying those difficult moths that don't give up their identity from wing pattern. In the case of a moth caught at a well known Chiltern chalk grassland site on August 22nd, with Martin Albertini and Dave Wilton in tow, the plume was really tatty and had obviously spent some time enjoying life as an adult. I potted it as it looked interesting and I couldn't immediately put a name to it. It has just been chopped and identified and I was so surprised, I ran my identification past Colin Hart just to be sure. It was another Oxyptilus pilosellae. If I clump Nigel P's record in with the main site, as it is just up the road, this site is some miles away from this area and the nearest town is Princes Risborough. I've blocked off the exact location on the image, although I'm sure plume moths don't trigger so many moth twitchers. The image is of the male genitalia btw. Peter Hall

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