Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Hardy Moths

Not at all surprising because the temperature had dipped below freezing before midnight, but just two very hardy moths came to last night's garden actinic trap here, the Early Grey and Hebrew Character shown below.  With another frost forecast for tonight I might give the trap a rest, which will be the first occasion that's happened since mid-February.

Early Grey & Hebrew Character, Westcott 25th April

While cutting back some honeysuckle yesterday I disturbed a smart female Esperia sulphurella.  The moth is a regular here, presumably thanks to two or three piles of decaying logs left around the garden.

Esperia sulphurella, Westcott 25th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Monday, 24 April 2017

Very early 60th

Last night saw Common Wave and Knot Grass come to the actinic trap here at Westcott, taking the total number of macro-moth species recorded in the garden this year to 60.  Nothing much to shout about there, you might think, but certainly for at least the previous ten years that total has never been achieved so early in the season and only once before in April: 

5th May
Garden Carpet
22nd May
Mottled Pug
11th May
Clouded-bordered Brindle
30th May
Common Wave
10th May
Green Carpet
9th May
Iron Prominent
20th May
Grass Rivulet
10th May
Orange Footman
28th April
White Ermine
17th May
Knot Grass

While counts will vary from site to site, this has certainly been a very unusual year so far with many species appearing far earlier than is normal.  The average date to achieve 60 macros here is 13th May.

Knot Grass, Westcott 23rd April

Another Acronicta species was the only thing of interest to an MV trap run for the usual three hours in Bernwood Forest last night where an early Alder Moth put in an appearance (I won't go on about how the Met Office got their forecast of night-time cloud cover completely wrong yet again...).  The very chilly conditions didn't seem to affect either Lesser Swallow Prominent or Great Prominent which were still arriving as I packed up (final counts of 10 and 44 respectively) but there was nothing else of note.

Alder Moth, Bernwood Forest 23rd April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks      

First hawkmoth at Coleshill

Although the temperature dropped quite a bit as the cloud moved off last night, there were 21 moths of 14 different species in the trap this morning including the first Lime Hawkmoth recorded this year, along with Coxcomb Prominent, Chocolate-tip and Frosted Green new for 2017. Also present was this fairly large pug which I'm having trouble placing - the markings being different from the usual Oak-tree and Brindled Pugs seen at this time of year before and the dark stripe along the abdomen was striking. Couldn't get a ruler near it in time for measuring the size before it escaped but it was fairly large at about 20 mm across.

Pug sp. (Coleshill, 24th April)

Olly Fox
Coleshill (VC22)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Finemere Wood, Bucks

I ran a trap in Finemere Wood, Bucks last night for three hours and got a reasonable return of the following 31 species:  Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, Parornix sp, Phyllonorycter sp, Syndemis musculana, Chinese Character, Frosted Green, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Streamer, Water Carpet, Brindled Pug, Oak-tree Pug, Seraphim, Clouded Border, Scorched Carpet, Brimstone Moth, Brindled Beauty, Engrailed, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Pebble Prominent, Coxcomb Prominent, Great Prominent, Chocolate-tip, Lunar Marbled Brown, Pale Tussock, Flame Shoulder, Red Chestnut, Blossom Underwing, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character & Nut-tree Tussock, of which Seraphim, Clouded Border, Pale Tussock & Flame Shoulder were new sightings for me this year.

Syndemis musculana, Finemere Wood 21st April

Seraphim, Finemere Wood 21st April

A daytime visit there on 19th April to carry out a butterfly transect also produced my first 2017 sightings of Micropterix calthella, with half a dozen seen on dandelion flowers (including the mated pair below).  A single fresh female Endothenia gentianaeana was also found flying around teasels.

Micropterix calthella, Finemere Wood 19th April

Endothenia gentianaeana, Finemere Wood 19th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


I have done my best on the two images. Hopefully  the images are good enough.
Depressaria radiella and Epinotia immundana. Hopefully near?
Very early Grey Dagger this a.m.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Friday, 21 April 2017

Night of Prominents

With permission from the site management, Martin Albertini, Andy King and I ran traps on Stoke Common, Bucks last night and we ended up with just over 40 species after the usual three hours.  The Prominents were out in force, with Iron, Pebble, Lesser Swallow, Coxcomb, Pale and Great all recorded.  Close relatives Lunar Marbled Brown and Chocolate-tip were also seen but unfortunately there was no sign of Small Chocolate-tip which was our target for the night.  This is a moth which hasn't been recorded at Stoke Common since 2011.  Its main food-plant is the very low-growing Salix repens (Creeping Willow), a "tree" I hadn't really noticed before - not surprising really as we saw none of it taller than a couple of feet above ground level!  However, with the catkins currently present to make it obvious, it does seem to be quite widespread on Stoke Common even though decidedly uncommon in the county, so there's hope yet for the moth.

Most numerous species of the night was Narrow-winged Pug with more than 100 coming to the lights (64 to mine alone), while other species in the traps included a female Emperor Moth, Scalloped Hook-tip, Oak Hook-tip, Pebble Hook-tip, Birch Mocha, Maiden's Blush, Peacock Moth, Tawny-barred Angle, Grey Birch, Lime Hawk-moth and Shuttle-shaped Dart, many of which were on the wing rather earlier than normal.  Half a dozen micro species were recorded, of which Neofaculta ericetella was the only one to reach a double-digit count.  Others included Ancylis uncella, Epinotia immundana and, off the abundant gorse, the inevitable Cydia ulicetana.

Birch Mocha, Stoke Common 20th April

Narrow-winged Pug, Stoke Common 20th April

A rather dark Grey Birch, Stoke Common 20th April

Cydia ulicetana, Stoke Common 20th April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks    


May I ask for help with this little visitor?  He or she looks familiar, but as usual, I cannot nail the name.  I will guess a battered Mompha subbistrigella, just on the grounds that I should at least try. Help much appreciated.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Pugs yet again

I got three last night. One was a V Pug - the other two I don't know even after reading Dave's descriptions. Saw a couple of Brimstone moths last night but as often, none in the trap this morning. Got a Waved Umber which was nice and a Streamer which was NFM.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Pugs again

Apologies for asking about pugs again. I had 4 pugs in last night's catch. I could manage to identify one of them confidently as a V pug. These were the other 3.

The first 2 maybe Brindled or Oak-tree? I am finding it difficult to separate the two.
The third maybe Double-striped? If so much more colourful than those caught previously this year.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Pseudococcyx turionella

I collected some Scots Pine shoots the other day from Stoke Common, Bucks and one moth has already emerged from a bud:

This is a Pseudococcyx turionella. The larvae have a tendency to live in (and destroy) the terminal bud during the autumn, winter and spring. Not, I imagine, popular with Forestry Commission people, but the moths are reasonably scarce.

Andy King.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Westcott, Bucks

I happened to notice what I think is a part-grown (9mm) Sloe Pug caterpillar here this afternoon, quite an achievement considering how well camouflaged it was in amongst the blackthorn blossom.  I get the moths regularly in the trap so it would be no great surprise to find that it breeds in the garden. See comments below.

Possible Sloe Pug larva, Westcott 18th April

The actinic trap has continued to pull in at least one new species for the year-list each time it is run, with Brindled Beauty & Bright-line Brown-eye (both 14th), Epiphyas postvittana (15th), Endrosis sarcitrella & Pebble Prominent (both 16th) and Frosted Green (17th) being added over the last few nights.  Neither Frosted Green nor Brindled Beauty appear here every year so they were particularly welcome visitors.  Chocolate-tip continues to visit the trap most nights and seems to be doing really well locally.

Bright-line Brown-eye, Westcott 14th April

Pebble Prominent, Westcott 16th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Nice selection.

Very few moths at the moment up here on the hill but the few that do turn up are very nice.
Yesterday Chocolate-tip and Pebble Hook-tip and this morning this Dotted Chestnut (FFG)

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Monday, 17 April 2017

Powdered Quaker?

Caught this a while back - books seem to be a bit vague on diagnostics between this variable moth and the variable Common Quaker - I'm tending to Common Quaker on the basis of the wing shape but i thought I'd check.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Emperor assembling question

Hello again.  Following my last post, on assembling male Emperor moths, I have been pondering the way that my three, after finding their way to the captive female from possibly long distances, made a mess of their final approach and ended up fluttering about in our shed while their target was perched unconcerned on the outside wall.

My theory, after reading about the males making sometimes erratic circles as they get near to the female (rather than heading straight towards her) is that one of these manoeuvres took them through the open door of the shed (a couple of inches to the right of her perch) and thus into what turned out to be a trap, working on the same lines as a lobster pot or indeed Robinson moth trap, in that the door and windows acted like funnels, easier to enter by rather than exit through.

Does this make sense?  I also got the feeling that a captive female simply left in the open (where she showed no desire to escape or fly away) was much more effective than confinement in a muslin bag. Does others' experience also suggest that?

At all events, a highly enjoyable and interesting exercise.

All best as ever   Martin Wainwright  Thrupp, Oxon

Garden stuff...

Not a lot in the garden at the moment, but I did get NFY Scorched Carpet in my GMS catch. Also the following pug, which I'm thinking "Oak Tree"?

 Plus, during the day, a trio of Adela reaumurella

Dave Morris, Seer Green

Another Oxfordshire White-marked?

Looking through previous posts I think this is a White-marked but would appreciate confirmation as it would be a new species for me. The first image is an attempt to get a close-up of the antennae.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Passionate scenes

After a couple of duff attempts using a muslin bag, I released my female Emperor moth - the finally-hatched 23rd child of the female which visited me in May 2014 - on to the outside of our shed yesterday. There she perched, apparently unvisited, but in the late afternoon, I went to put back garden tools and the inside of the shed was aflutter with three lustful Emperor males.

I out them all together in a box and one eventually established dominance and locked on. All four moths are now at large in or around Thrupp, and I hope that this dynasty, which has provided me with so much interest, continues to flourish. And I still have two cocoons unhatched from the original 25.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Pug check

Things seem very slow here. Half way through April and I have only managed to add 2 species to my list for the year.

Could I just check that this is a Brindled Pug.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Apple tree stalker

I grabbed this yesterday buzzing around my Crab apple. 
Please, can someone give this a name? Fw length 3mm.


There was nothing new in last night's trap but if there's one moth that is guaranteed to brighten one's day at this time of year it is Chocolate-tip!  Two of them were in last night's collection, the other 40 individuals being a Brindled Pug and a bunch of Orthosias (mostly Powdered Quakers and Hebrew Characters).

Chocolate-tips, Westcott 13th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

This week at the museum.

Most of my catch by numbers is still Orthosias, although I did have 7 Least Black Arches and NFY Muslin Moth and Waved Umber.

Also NFY at the Burial Park was Spruce Carpet...

Dave Morris

New arrivals trickle in

Emperor Moth was added to the year list on the 8th after my first three females emerged and managed to bring in four wild males to the garden the same afternoon.  Since then I've been out daily with further newly-emerged females and have had the usual mixed results while 'assembling', records being achieved at half of the eight sites visited so far.  The garden trap hasn't been producing many moths now that the Orthosia rush has passed its peak but new arrivals have continued to trickle in, including Small Phoenix (8th), Chinese Character & Yellow-barred Brindle (both 9th), Angle Shades (10th), Swallow Prominent & Muslin Moth (both 11th) and Acleris schalleriana & Least Black Arches (both 12th).  Quantity wise, last night's collection of 33 moths was fairly typical of the past week:  Acleris schalleriana (1), Brimstone Moth (1), Swallow Prominent (1), Chocolate-tip (1), Muslin Moth (1), Least Black Arches (2), Common Quaker (7), Powdered Quaker (7), Clouded Drab (1) & Hebrew Character (11).

Yellow-barred Brindle, Westcott 9th April

Muslin Moth, Westcott 11th April

Least Black Arches, Westcott 12th April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

After a long sleep...

...another of my Emperor Moths has hatched.  She pupated two summers ago, so I hope the wait has been worth it.  I've tucked her into a muslin bag, as recommended, and am keeping an eye out. I'll release her tonight or possibly tomorrow, after the grandchildren have had a chance to see her.  I think that there are two, maybe three, cocoons still to hatch out of the original 25 or so.  Many thanks to the UTM blog members who advised me to be patient.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Blood-vein in Chalfont St Peter

This blood-vein was basking on a bluebell in St Paul's churchyard, Hornhill, Chalfont St Peter this afternoon, the first I've seen this year.

Monday, 10 April 2017

December moth caterpillars hatch

Perhaps a few of the moths that others are reporting could be sent up this way! Last night's catch was down to 3 species. The only one of any note was a Streamer. No prizes for guessing the other 2.

However I did have a couple of dozen tiny December moth caterpillars from the eggs that were laid in the trap on 14th December.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.


Further to Steve's post below, here is the (female) White-marked which I got two nights ago.  White-marked is usually confused with Red Chestnut and I did attempt to photograph both together although they were a pair of very unhelpful moths!  The markings of both species tend to fade with age but from the one half-decent shot of them both below you can see that the male Red Chestnut has 'shortly bipectinate' antennae (only a bit of feathering) whereas those of the male White-marked in Steve's image are 'strongly bipectinate' (very noticeably feathered).

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Square Spot?

This specimen turned up this morning with the usual culprits - plus an early?  Muslin Moth.
Any help appreciated

Steve Lockey (Garsington)