Monday, 30 December 2013

The new website

I guess a lot of you will now look at the blog after Wendy has announced it and wonder what to do. Once you have registered and got set up it is very easy. I stay logged in all the time. Please use this site and let's make it a success. We lose the species lists  but we gain the ability to chat and post things of interest and especially post what I call IDK's (I don't know's) to get a quick identification for you all. We have been monitoring other counties moth blogs and they seem to work well. Fingers crossed you all take to this one too. I look forward to seeing the list of "posters" increase daily. You can also set up the system to receive e-mail alerts of any postings so you can stay in touch. Peter Hall

Yoesden Bank at Radnage, Bucks

This example of Ypsolopha mucronella was disturbed from its slumbers at Yoesden Bank while Dick Middleton and I were doing some conservation scrub-bashing on 13th December.  Ched George

Ypsolopha mucronella

Monday, 9 December 2013

Plumed Prominent 2013

Finally caught up with Plumed Prominent at BBOWT's Warburg reserve on 29th November. I had tried for it a couple of weeks earlier, but to no avail as Warburg received its first autumnal frost of 2013. However, I only caught one individual (male) in comparison to the 20 caught on the 9th November in exactly the same spot in 2012, and six on the 11th November in 2011. I survey at Warburg for two reasons: firstly, to keep an eye on the population there, and secondly to make sure the moth is on the wing so I can 'try' and search for other locations where it has not been recorded before. The weather and injury has largely prevented me from doing any extra trapping this autumn/winter so far, but I did trap with 2 MV Robinson traps and 1 8W Actinic Heath trap at Braziers Park on 27th November, and also tried with a 6W blacklight in a field surrounded by fairly mature Field Maple on chalk downland in between Brazier's Park and Checkendon on 28th November. Plenty of December Moths (36) around at Braziers Park and a total species list of 16, but no moths at all in the blacklight trap.At Braziers Park the MV traps were not that close to Field Maple, but the 15W Actinic trap was placed alongside an area with quite a few mature Field Maples. The area I trapped with a blacklight looks fantastic and would be worth further attention on a milder night and with more attractive lights.  Marc Botham

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Finemere Wood, Bucks

I've been carrying out regular moth surveys at BBOWT's Finemere Wood for seven years now and have seen 645 different species there over that period.  There are historic records from the wood of a further 50 moths that I've yet to find but, while this number is still diminishing very slowly, a number of them will be species that we can almost guarantee are no longer present (Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Dark Marbled Carpet, Marbled Pug, Triple-spotted Clay, Dotted Clay & Lesser-spotted Pinion, to name but a few).

During the course of 21 trapping visits to Finemere in 2013 more than 360 species were recorded and they included 38 new to the site list.  As would be expected, the majority of the additions were micros, amongst which were a few leaf-miners including three of the birch-feeding Eriocrania species (unimaculella, sangii & semipurpurella all found as larvae on 16th May), but there were also some interesting adults such as Acrocercops brongniardella (22nd September), Caryocolum tricolorella (31st July), Syncopacma larseniella (31st July) & Nephopterix angustella (5th September).  The pick of the larger moths were Gem (8th October), Dotted Chestnut (14th April), Webb's Wainscot (5th September), Small Rufous (31st July) & Waved Black (31st July).  DAVE WILTON

Caryocolum tricolorella, Finemere Wood

Small Rufous, Finemere Wood

Webb's Wainscot, Finemere Wood

Thursday, 28 November 2013

27th November at Westcott, Bucks

Well, it seems that I was wrong about Mottled Umber being my final garden macro of the year.  Last night's collection in the actinic trap included a single Northern Winter Moth (slightly larger than the Winter Moth, with a silky sheen to the forewings and white hindwings).  I haven't included a photograph as the poor thing lost rather a lot of scales during the identification process!  It was accompanied by December Moth (5, all females), Winter Moth (11), Feathered Thorn (1), Scarce Umber (4), Mottled Umber (1), Brick (3) & Red-line Quaker (1).  DAVE WILTON

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ypsolopha parenthesella

Every now and then, things just turn out close to perfect in the time consuming process of producing identification images for moths. This is one of those.  PETER HALL

Monday, 25 November 2013

Final macro of the year?

The arrival of a Mottled Umber at last night's actinic trap here at Westcott, Bucks means that I can expect to see no further new macro species in the garden this year.  Accompanying it were Emmelina monodactyla (1), Winter Moth (8) and Feathered Thorn (1).  DAVE WILTON

Mottled Umber

Two resurrected micros

I know that many people don't agree with collections or holding on to moths for identification purposes and I'm not about to try and change anyone's views on the subject, but here are a couple of examples from recent months where moths thought to be extinct in the UK have been re-discovered in Bucks, simply because one individual of an unknown species was retained and eventually dissected to prove its identity.

On 25th June I was carrying out a daytime search for butterflies and moths along a public footpath close to the south-east corner of the Calvert land-fill site in Bucks and disturbed a very small tortricoid moth which I managed to net and then place in a pot to be looked at more closely when I got back home.  Later that day, having photographed the moth and then studied the image, I could see that it was an Aethes species, possibly Aethes williana which I'd seen in that same general area previously, but it was rather too worn to be sure of the identity.  I therefore retained the specimen in the freezer and it was eventually dissected by Peter Hall.  Following a considerable amount of discussion between the experts it was eventually confirmed as a female Aethes margarotana, a moth previously known from coastal counties between Essex and Dorset and from the Channel Islands but which was now considered extinct.  Contact with the various County Moth Recorders confirmed that the last known sighting on the UK mainland was at Felixstowe, Suffolk in July 1937.

Aethes margarotana

The second moth was a very small plume species caught in my Robinson MV trap during a session with Martin Albertini and Peter Hall on National Trust land at Bradenham, Bucks on 24th July.  Not one that I was familiar with, it was potted and taken home to look at in daylight.  The specimen was in good condition but even after photographing it I remained unsure as to what it was, the choice seemingly being between two rather similar moths (Oxyptilus parvidactylus and Capperia britanniodactylus).  Again it was retained and eventually dissected by Peter Hall.  This brought confirmation that the moth was in fact neither of the two species I'd considered but was actually an example of a male Oxyptilus pilosellae, which Colin Hart's recent book on the British Plume Moths states "has not been seen since the 1960s and may now be extinct".  In fact the last known record would seem to be from the Beaconsfield area in 1964, so not all that far away from this discovery.   DAVE WILTON 

Oxyptilus pilosellae

Monday, 18 November 2013

Acleris schalleriana

I thought this one came out quite well Mr Wilton. I will send it off to replace my other example on the Dissection website

Acleris schalleriana


Movember December

A nice hairy December Moth came to the actinic light at Westcott, Bucks last night, taking me past a significant milestone for the first time (300 macro species in the garden in one year).  Scarce Umber was seen here last week, which really only leaves Mottled Umber to put in an appearance before the year's end.  DAVE WILTON

December Moth, Westcott

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Winter is here

After a couple of very chilly nights when numbers were down to just three or four individuals, 6th November was wet but several degrees warmer for the early part of the night and a pleasing 34 moths of 14 species came to the actinic light here at Westcott, BucksPhyllonorycter messaniella (5), Acleris schalleriana (2), Udea ferrugalis (1), Red-green Carpet (4), Winter Moth (1), Feathered Thorn (7), Dark Sword-grass (2), Sprawler (5), Grey Shoulder-knot (1), Red-line Quaker (2), Yellow-line Quaker (1), Angle Shades (1), Large Wainscot (1) & Silver Y (1).  Migrants, albeit the same few species, are continuing to appear but the only new addition to this year's garden list was the first Winter Moth of the season.  DAVE WILTON 

Silver Y, Westcott

Winter Moth, Westcott

Sunday, 3 November 2013

More migrants at Westcott, Bucks

Over the past seven nights I've had regular visits to the garden trap by Dark Sword-grass, taking my score for the year to 20 individuals, so immigration seems to be on-going.  Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth), Udea ferrugalis (Rusty-dot Pearl) and Nomophila noctuella (Rush Veneer) also put in appearances during the week.

Dark Sword-grass

The high winds here last night (2nd November), with gusts of up to 50mph, caused me to run the actinic light inside the conservatory again and eight brave moths came to the windows.  Amongst them was the Chloroclysta species illustrated below.  I'm happy that it is just a 'green' Red-green Carpet, but does anyone have any different views?

Red-green Carpet

Back on 29th October, while surveying for Brown Hairstreak eggs near Weston-on-the-Green in Oxon, I found a young Oak Eggar caterpillar on blackthorn.  There are surprisingly few records of the adult moth from any of our three counties so it must exist at very low levels.  Like the Fox Moth and Emperor, the males are day-flyers so could more easily be overlooked, but the females fly at night and do come to light.  DAVE WILTON



Monday, 28 October 2013

Storm? What storm?

Believing the Met Office, on 27th October I decided to run an actinic light overnight inside our conservatory here at Westcott, Bucks (expecting the trap to get blown away if placed outside).  It did get quite wet and windy in the middle of the night but certainly didn't stop the moths from flying and even some rather delicate micros ventured out.  In the end 23 moths of 13 species came to sheltered windows and walls adjacent to where the light was placed:  Caloptilia rufipennella (2), Phyllonorycter messaniella (1), Plutella xylostella (1), Red-green Carpet (4), Spruce Carpet (1), November sp (1, female), Feathered Thorn (2), Dark Sword-grass (1), Satellite (1), Brick (1), Beaded Chestnut (6), Lunar Underwing (1) & Pink-barred Sallow (1).

     The number of species caught was actually fairly typical of results from the trap here over the previous week although there has been quite a bit of variety from night to night.  Other species seen here since the 21st comprise Agonopterix heracliana, Agonopterix arenella, Blastobasis lacticolella, Epiphyas postvittana, Acleris sparsana, Acleris variegana, Nomophila noctuella, Common Marbled Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Sprawler, Black Rustic, Grey Shoulder-knot, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, Angle Shades, Pale Mottled Willow, Burnished Brass, Silver Y & Red Underwing.  It is certainly not yet time to pack up for the winter!

Caloptilia rufipennella

Plutella xylostella

Feathered Thorn
      Searching for leaf-mines locally has continued apace and new species for the year recorded recently have included Ectoedemia argyropeza (22nd, on aspen in Rushbeds Wood), Phyllonorycter cerasicolella (22nd, on cherry at Westcott), Phyllonorycter spinicolella (22nd, on blackthorn at Marsh Gibbon), Phyllonorycter trifasciella (21st, on snowberry at Westcott), Stigmella salicis (22nd, on willow at Marsh Gibbon) & Stigmella tiliae (22nd, on lime at Westcott).  Stigmella tiliae has not been recorded before in Bucks so it was nice to get a county first in the garden.  Active cases of Coleophora gryphipennella have been relatively easy to find underneath leaves of dog rose over the past week so that's another one to keep an eye out for.  Dave Wilton

Coleophora gryphipennella

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Finemere Wood, Bucks

Trapping for a few hours at Finemere on 24th October produced a reasonable catch for the time of year:  Acleris rhombana (2), Acleris emargana (3), Common Marbled Carpet (10), Red-green Carpet (17), November Moth (7, checked), Pale November Moth (12, checked), November Moth sp (32), Feathered Thorn (25), Figure of Eight (26, illustrated below), Sprawler (1), Green-brindled Crescent (2), Merveille du Jour (2), Brindled Green (1), Chestnut (1), Brick (1), Red-line Quaker (1), Yellow-line Quaker (2), Pink-barred Sallow (2), Sallow (1) & Angle Shades (1).  Dave Wilton

Figure of Eight, Finemere Wood