Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Micro queries

 April was very disappointing.  May has started out better in terms of new species appearing, if still in very low numbers.  In the last week, the Notodontidae have put in an appearance: I've had Lesser Swallow Prominent, Swallow Prominent, Iron Prominent and Pebble Prominent appear, the last two of those being new for the garden list.

There have been three new species of micro-moth for the year, all of which have given me trouble with identification.

Tentatively, I labelled the first one as Agonopterix yeatiana due to the black shading near the base of the wings and to the small white dot beyond the large black blob in the middle of the forewing.  Then my doubts began to increase when I researched its distribution.  The Sterling & Parsons field guide says simply that it is "more frequent towards the coast", although the distribution chart does shade in most of southern England, including areas well away from the coast.  However, looking at records in inland counties neighbouring Bucks, it seems that records are very sparse indeed.  So now I'm wondering if it's A. arenella.  What do other people think? The moth is in my fridge, in case gen. det. is required.

Possible Agonopterix yeatiana.
Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

The second micro seems to be a Tineid.  Some of them have similar yellow or orangey colouration to the head, but I can't match the plain appearance of its forewing (c. 7mm long) against any images that I can find, including the species not illustrated in the field guide.
Micro 2.  Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

The third micro has a forewing length of about 4½ mm.  In some respects, it resembles Apodia bifractella, but the wing shape looks wrong and it is the wrong time of year.
Micro 3.  Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

Any help gratefully received!

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Micro Query

My mercury vapour trap in Wheatley contained three Swallow Prominent this morning and one each of White Ermine, Muslin Moth, Powdered Quaker and Hebrew Character, as well as the micro in the attached photo.  Is this a Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana ?

Monday, 10 May 2021

Another Chamomile Shark

A quality catch for Ched George in his garden trap at Radnage, Bucks last night comprised Frosted Green (1), Brindled Pug (1), Lesser Swallow Prominent (1), Pale Prominent (1), Shuttle-shaped Dart (1), Chamomile Shark (1), Mullein (2), Hebrew Character (2) & Dotted Chestnut (1).  The Chamomile Shark was his seventh garden record after two in 1993, two in 1995 and two in 2002.

Chamomile Shark, Radnage 9th May

Late Small Brindled Beauty?

Last year I had this moth on 4th of March, this year on 9th of May well beyond it's normal time.  Are we to expect more like this on what has been a very unusual spring?

Steve Lockey, Garsington

A varied catch...

A varied catch last night, consisting of four caddis flies of two species, [Stenophylax permistus and Limnephilus sparsus (I think)], one small spider, one Sexton beetle, one woodlouse and one small snail! Oh, and a Hebrew Character. 

Things can only get better...

Phil T

Hurrah - Longwick comes alive!

Well finally the moths started to appear with 19 moths of a dozen species. The first Poplar Hawk of the year was hopefully the first of many. On Friday night and on Sunday night I trapped two, different I believe, Dark Swordgrass which I wasn't expecting. Finally I'm rusty on pugs at this time of year. Is the pug below a Dwarf Pug or are the costa markings not strong enough -  which would suggest Oak Tree?

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Westcott, Bucks

After a promising start on the 1st, the remainder of the first week of May saw very little improvement over April in the garden here, with the following brought to the actinic light: 

     (1st)  Ypsolopha mucronella (1), Garden Carpet (1), Brimstone Moth (1), Brindled Beauty (2), Small Quaker (1), Common Quaker (1), Powdered Quaker (6), Hebrew Character (3).
     (2nd)  Brindled Beauty (1), Shuttle-shaped Dart (1), Hebrew Character (2), Dotted Chestnut (1), Nut-tree Tussock (1).
     (3rd)  Trap not run due to very high winds.
     (4th)  Hebrew Character (4).
     (5th)  Hebrew Character (1).
     (6th)  Hebrew Character (1).
     (7th)  Powdered Quaker (2), Hebrew Character (3), Early Grey (1).

Ypsolopha mucronella, Westcott 1st May

Garden Carpet, Westcott 1st May

Shuttle-shaped Dart, Westcott 2nd May

The three moths illustrated above were the only year-list additions from the trap, although during the daytime on the 7th I did find a Common Pug lurking inside our garden shed:

Common Pug, Westcott 7th May

While on the subject of Pugs, it is interesting to note that I've not yet seen either Brindled or Oak-tree in the garden.  Both still have an opportunity to appear as they often keep going here until late-May.  They've never yet missed a year but I suppose there's always a first time!

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Larva id Watlington Hill

 Not sure whether this is the right place to ask for help with id of this larva which I manage to see rather than tread on on the path up the Shirburn Hill area of Watlington Hill.  Wonder if anyone recognises this please? Help appreciated and apologies if this is the wrong forum to ask.


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Phyllonorycter ulicicolella parasitoids

Last December, Will Langdon posted about finding the winter mines of Phyllonorycter scopariella and ulicicolella on broom and gorse respectively, and in a comment I asked if he might keep an eye open for parasitoids.  While the parasitoids of "typical" Phyllonorycter on deciduous trees are relatively well known, those on these hosts very much less so.  Will collected further P. ulicicolella from near Oxford last month and reared two tiny 1-1.5mm long wasps which he kindly sent me.  They turned out to be Cirrospilus viticola (Chalcidoidea: Eulophidae) which seems only to have been recorded definitely once before in the UK, from Surrey in the mid-19th century (there is one further record marked "unconfirmed" on the NBN database).  It is an ectoparasitoid that kills mid-late instar larvae and then pupates in the mine; on the continent it has been recorded from other Phyllonorycter and different miner genera.

Forgive the non-moth post but it does show it is worth saving parasitoids, especially if reared from unusual hosts.  Many thanks to Will for sending the specimens.

Cornelian Cherry

A bit late for the flowers, I'm afraid, but they look like this:

 They are supposed to grow cherry-like fruits later, but I've never seen those. 

Overwintering micros from Chorleywood.

 Last autumn I collected a number of different leaf-mines and set them up to overwinter. I brought them in about a month ago, so that the warmth could encourage them to emerge early. I have to say the returns have been pretty thin on the ground, with very few adults appearing. This is not a new phenomenon for me - the mortality rate amongst insects is very high. 

I've photographed three of the ones that did come out:

Phyllonorycter joannisi, from Norway Maple. 

Phyllonorycter cerasicolella from Wild Cherry.

Antispila treitschkiella from Cornelian Cherry.

The British Antispila species were re-catalogued in 2018; what was thought to be treitschkiella was not and was recognised as petryi, but the true treitschkiella was recognised as being host-specific to Cornelian Cherry. 

Monday, 3 May 2021

A Poor Week


Much like everywhere else, it's been a very bad week for moths here in Witney. I had one night (Tuesday), which looked reasonably good and so set up two traps in woodland close by. It started raining after 20 minutes and the result was 2 Brindled Pugs, a Nut Tree Tussock and a Lunar Marbled Brown. In the garden, it's been just two or three moths on the few nights I've bothered running a trap; Hebrew Character and Muslin Moth. Last night was slightly better with Spectacle, Early Grey, Lesser Swallow Prominant and the above worn individual which I'm struggling with rather. A bit suggestive of Blossom Underwing but just another Common Quaker....?

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Sphingidae pupa ID?

 I wonder can you ID the species from the pupa? 

This one was found in the top layer of turf or just below the surface.

Isobel Huggins, Goring on Thames

Chamomile Shark

As others have already said, April hasn't been brilliant for moths. It was therefore quite a nice surprise to find a fresh Chamomile Shark on the outside of the trap on the night of the 27th April. Marc Botham, Didcot