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