Thursday, 19 May 2022

Tortrix trouble

 I caught these two micros over two nights, but am admitting to struggling a bit with the Id (both the same species?) I first thought maybe Cnephasia, but I'm not so sure.

Westcott, Bucks

With the ten newcomers from last night I'm now well past 200 species for the year in the garden.  This could even be a record early date to achieve that milestone and certainly beats 2019 (25th May), 2020 (20th May) & 2021 (6th June).  Even though we had a terrific downpour in that thunderstorm before midnight the moths continued to arrive - as did the predatory bats flying around the traps which surprised me because I would have thought heavy rain would have played havoc with their radar.  May Highflyer, Pale Oak Beauty, Light Emerald, Gold Spot and the first Minor of the season were amongst the new arrivals, although best of all were another two female Fox Moths.

Fox Moth females, Westcott 18th May

May Highflyer, Westcott 18th May

Gold Spot, Westcott 18th May

The only other species of particular interest recently, to me at any rate, was a White-pinion Spotted which turned up on the previous night.  I've only ever had it four times in the garden and this was the first since 2018.  It is a moth I used to see regularly in local woodland with multiple records each year, but it seems to have gone through a bit of a decline recently and I had only a single sighting anywhere during each of 2020 and 2021.

White-pinion Spotted, Westcott 18th May

Keith Mitchell was talking a couple of weeks ago about hawk-moths.  I've now had Lime (2, first on 7th May), Eyed (2, first on 16th May), Poplar (19, first on 1st May), Elephant (2, first on 13th May) & Small Elephant (1, on 14th May), which just leaves Pine, Privet & Humming-bird to show up of the common species here.  So far I've had no luck at all with Striped Hawk-moth during the invasion of the past few days, nor of any other migrants for that matter apart from the inevitable Plutella xylostella!    

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Large Nutmeg or similar

 I'm struggling with these 2 from Hook Norton Railway Cutting BBOWT reserve last night.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Syndemis musculana?

I think this is Syndemis musculana, or is it too worn to tell? Caught in woodland in north Bucks. 

Also pleased to find Brindled White-spot in the trap.


Phil T

Bird predation

The recent posts about birds getting into light traps reminded me of the time when a pair of Great Tits, had worked out how to get in and out again (of a Robinson). I cured the problem by buying a large rubber spider from a joke shop, which I suspended from underneath the bulb holder with string. The prospect of getting past something that big with lots of legs wobbling about inside the trap was evidently considered too much of a personal risk. Those not skilled in welding may wish to consider this as an alternative!

Bird predation in traps is rare but usually occurs when they are feeding young. The same goes for outside the trap. During the first 2020 lockdown, one morning I was sat on a stool on the patio going through the trap. A Blackbird who was being followed around the garden by a vociferous fledging, simply ran around me and picked a moth off the accumulating the pile of egg-trays and ran back again. As I turned round it was feeding it to the fledgling about a yard away. In spite of my protests this happened twice before I decided enough was enough and broke off from the catch to shoo them away! Blackbirds tend to be more interested in dry weather when worms are too deep so they have to turn to other things. Last year I had one that learned to glean moths off the wall up to a metre off the ground. 

As Dave says, getting up very early helps and as Peter says I'm sure leaving the lamp running also helps - I have always done this. My Robinson has to run up against the wall of the house in order not to keep neighbours (and my wife) awake. This means there are always moths on the wall and fence, and anything large and conspicuous will get picked off if not moved to a safer place. Not trapping every night also reduces the problem as does releasing the catch as close to dusk as possible (if you can keep in the shade during the day) and spreading them around. You might think they're safe in the flower bed but if a bird finds more than one it will keep looking. 

Regarding the current immigration I had 6 Silver Y and 6 Plutella xylostella last night. Someone reported a Striped Hawk-moth at Whitchurch-on-Thames on Atropos Flight Arrivals the other day. I would be very interested to hear who it was to make sure the record gets captured. 

Regarding the Upper Thames Atlas, as Dave has explained a mountain of work over many years goes into county recording so there is always a time lag. However, looking for the presence or absence of records of a particular relatively common species from a particular square rather misses the point, which is to illustrate the general distribution and abundance of each species in the area. As I'm sure Dave has already pointed out, the rare species are high priority, and new species will be added as soon as reasonably possible. 

Best wishes

Martin Townsend

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Red-tipped Clearwing

I visited BBOWT's College Lake reserve today to do a recce for the National Moth Night event which the Buckinghamshire Invertebrate Group are running there on Sunday morning.  (More info:

I know there are a lot of willows by the lake and took the opportunity to put out the FOR lure for half an hour or so while I was there.  

Bingo, one fresh Red-tipped Clearwing Synanthedon formicaeformis, a new species for me!

Neil Fletcher

Away trapping again

It is getting towards the busy time of year now for trapping sites away from home.  Last night I made another visit to a private wood in the far north of Bucks on the edge of Silverstone race-course.  It had been a nice warm day and the temperature held up throughout the evening, but a prolonged heavy shower just before it got dark made me wonder if that would reduce the numbers of moths flying.  Far from it, as it happens, and although few were seen in any great quantity I recorded around 80 species altogether, the highest count anywhere so far this year.  There were no real surprises but it was good to get a double-digit count of Cream Wave, three Devon Carpets put in an appearance again (discovered here last year, still quite uncommon in our area) and Brindled White-spot also turned up.  More than 20 different species of micro visited the traps too. 

Devon Carpet, 17th May

Brindled White-spot, 17th May

Digressing slightly from the moths, it is currently Cockchafer time of year and last night each of the traps attracted good numbers of these rather large but endearing beetles.  You can generally hear them coming, buzzing their way through the vegetation, which does give an opportunity to divert them from the light but that is a pointless exercise really because they always come back and end up blundering about, disturbing everything in sight inside the trap!  Of slightly more (passing) interest last night were a couple of examples of the enormous crane-fly Tipula maxima, the largest of the British species.  Considering that this is supposed to be reasonably common in damp woodland, a habitat where I seem to spend a lot of time with the moth trap, it is something I rarely see.

Tipula maxima, 17th May

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Micro ID please

 I had this moth in the trap on the 17th. I think it may be Cnephasia communana, or at least one of the Cnephasia species.  It was about 10mm long.



E-Moth, May 2022

 The latest edition of Butterfly Conservation's E-Moth newsletter is available to read at the link here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Early clearwing

Being an eternal optimist, I have been running the CUL lure for the past week or so near a birch tree in my garden, and today a clearwing arrived. I got quite excited for a minute, but a close look revealed white palps, so not a Large Red-belted (no surprise there really), but a Red-belted, which does seem very early?
Phil T

micro questions

 Is the first one Mompha epilobiella? 6.5mm in length.

Is it now correct to record the second as Ephestia woodiella without dissection and if it is caught outdoors?

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon,

No FUN in Stoke Goldington (and trap thieves)

Attracted to actinic light, rather than pheromone lure, I think that the micro below is a perhaps a reasonable candidate for Grapholita funebrana.

As an aside, I've puzzling over why so many of my trapped moths are ending up just as a set of wings on the bottom of the box, when apparently no wasps/hornets are about. This morning I discovered a wren, red-handed inside the Robinson trap (and trapped like the moths). I'm sure they can squeeze inside the Skinner trap too as the same happens to me with this, if it gets left too long without attention. 

Has anyone else had experience with similar 'robbers' - I suspect the blue tits are at it too!



 As some of you will be aware, there are migrants coming in. In particular at least a dozen Striped Hawk-moths, mainly in the southwest. Will Langdon was fortunate enough to catch 2 at a site in Pembrokeshire. They may come this way so it is worth trapping this week even if the weather doesn't seem to be particularly favourable. I have never seen Striped and if anyone near me happens to get one I would love to see it. I trapped last night and even though it was cool and clear there were still a decent number of moths including 2 Plutella xylostella. 

Monday, 16 May 2022

Benefits of Wild Flower seed mixes.

In Stoke Goldington (North Bucks), the pre-school has a small patch of land behind the village hall about 15mx30m. This has been sown with a wild flower mix, and at the moment is awash with Red Campion. Emptying my moth catch here, well before dusk, I noticed about 50 (a conservative estimate) small, pale carpet-like moths flying ceaselessly around the flower heads. Managing to capture one in a hastily deployed painter's bucket, they turned out to be Sandy Carpet, my first encounter with this particular species, and nice to find in such numbers.

Sunday, 15 May 2022


For those of you with clearwing lures (so that's almost everyone these days, it seems!), the season is under way already with Large Red-belted, Red-tipped and Yellow-legged having already been seen in southern England over the past week.  If you believe that Sallow Clearwing only flies in "even years" then don't forget to try for that one too because the lure could easily produce new sites locally, as it did in 2020.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks


Saturday, 14 May 2022

Pammene albuginana


This came to the FUN lure in my West Oxon garden this morning. I think it may be pammene albuginana It is listed as a non-target species. Comments welcome...

Cauchas fibulella

Cauchas fibulella is currently active around the germander speedwell in our garden.
Steve Trigg, Cookham

Grey Pine Carpet & Day flyers

 Wondering if the carpet can be determined, I was thinking Grey Pine Carpet.

A spot of gardening turned into chasing micro moths around the garden. Apart from a Mint moth there were a couple of others I managed to pot

I was thinking Cauchas rufimitrella for this one - partly because it was close to a group of Hedge Garlic plants, at least two moths.

Finally there were lots of these tiny moths, about 4mm. I'm thinking  Glyphipterix simpliciella?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington Oxford.

ps I was unable to post from Firefox today - there was no sign in/ create blog / post buttons in the top right. It worked fine in Edge.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Fantastic Mrs Fox

There have been plenty of additions to the garden list over the past couple of weeks but nothing at all out of the ordinary.  Last night a female Fox Moth put in an appearance, not unexpected here (this is actually the sixth straight year in a row that either a male or female of the species has graced the garden trap) but it is always a particular pleasure to see the larger moths turning up!  Like Oak Eggar and Emperor, Fox Moth exists at low levels in a wide range of habitats throughout our area but is more likely to be seen on heathland sites (Stoke Common being a favourite in Bucks).  

Fox Moth, Westcott 12th May

Fox Moth, Westcott 12th May

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks   


 First time I've trapped this in my garden in Merton, so would appreciate confirmation! Thanks.