Friday, 28 February 2014

Admin: Two months on

Hi all

The site appears to be working very well indeed and over the past two months we've had some 6,000 page views, averaging 100 per day which is not bad considering that the season has barely started yet.

Those of you who have signed up to contribute seem to have mastered the art very successfully and are making good use of the facility.  I would just remind you:

  •  don't forget to add a title for your post (easily done as the title box appears above the tool-bar);
  •  please mention your locality somewhere in the report (we cover three counties with a lot of different habitat types);
  •  please add your name at the end of the report.
For anyone else who would like to contribute, the procedure is quite straightforward and is fully explained under the "Getting Started" tab.  When obtaining your Google or Blogger ID please ensure that you use your own name (not an alias).  If you already have a Blogger ID using an alias, please visit Settings and change the Display Name to your own name.

Finally, I should point out that the invitations sent to potential new contributors expire after one month.  Please click on the link straight away, which will add you to the list, but there's no need to send a report until you are ready to.

Happy blogging!

Dave Wilton

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Angle Shades

Freshly emerged Angle Shades on the wall last night. Probably pupated against house where slightly warmer. Three Angle Shades larvae that I was finding in the egg cartons a couple of weeks back have pupated in the egg cartons. I went out with a torch and looked around the trap a few nights running and was amazed at how many larvae are out and about feeding on the lawn. Along with more Angle Shades and lots of Large Yellow Underwing are good numbers of Square-spot Rustic. I know that Six-striped Rustic larvae are basically identical and so I can't be sure but given that I had about 2 of the latter species at light last year compared to tens and tens of SSR's I'm going for the former as the likely candidate. There were more than 20 larvae within 1 foot radius of my actinic trap all feeding on Festuca rubra (also had one feeding on Groundsel which seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment). Notably, there were no larvae around the MV trap and also far fewer elewhere in the garden away from the actinic trap suggesting these larvae are also attracted to the light to some degree, and in particular that emitted by the actinic lamps. I often find them inside the trap as well and had a Common Footman larva in the MV trap recently.
Marc Botham

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

ID plea

Can a kindly expert help me to identify this battered moth with rather raked wings which was in my Robinson trap at Thrupp, Oxon, this morning, along with a Dotted Border and a Clouded Drab? The last, shown below, is a first for my list this year.

I feel obliged to have a go at the unknown moth's ID and my best guess is a Lead-coloured Drab which has had a hard time in its short life so far. I've got some other pics if helpful.  Martin Wainwright

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


One Pale Brindled Beauty and a trio of Common Quakers in the Robinson trap at Thrupp, Oxon, last night, including this one which appears well-adapted for rush-hour travel to and from Bicester North.  Martin Wainwright

Monday, 24 February 2014

Niditinea striolella

Whilst the weather is still a bit breezy and cool outside, I thought I'd leave recording to the eager stalwarts, whilst I carry on trying to complete my 2013 identifications. A nice one turned up the other day and it was Niditinea striolella. This is a small dull coloured Tineid, no doubt overlooked by most and the identification proved to be the second county record (Bucks), with the first being in that hot summer of 1976.
The label says Ashridge Estate, it was actually at Pitstone Common, near to the big memorial. The image shows the male bits. Peter Hall

First micro

My first micro of the year arrived last night - mild but blowy - on the shield of my Robinson trap at Thrupp, Oxon: I hope I'm right in identifying it as a Common Plume.

Inside the trap was this scruffy Satellite, my first of the year, and a Chestnut; positively crowded conditions compared to the one-at-a-time pattern which previously held good.  Martin Wainwright
A Common Pug fluttering haplessly in a strong wind on the doormat outside a house in Wallingford yesterday morning. Just a freakish occurrence and probably pupated somewhere warm, one would like to think, anyway.  Martin Townsend

Sunday, 23 February 2014

More Leaf-miners

Back on 27th January I paid a visit to the far north of Bucks, going to the section of Salcey Forest which for recording purposes lies within VC24 (even though it is administratively part of Northants now).  While there I spent five minutes beneath an oak tree picking up a dozen or so soggy fallen leaves which had obvious unbroken blister mines in them.  I brought the leaves home, put them in a large yogurt tub and placed them on a north-facing window-sill indoors.  Two moths emerged today, one being Phyllonorycter harrisella and the other Phyllonorycter quercifoliella.  Both are common and widespread species but for a minimal amount of effort that's two records for the Bucks moth database from a very under-recorded area.  Dave Wilton

Phyllonorycter harrisella, Salcey Forest
Phyllonorycter quercifoliella, Salcey Forest

A few moths at Coombe hill

I spent an hour and a half with my actinic on Coombe Hill Tuesday, but with clear skies only got 14 moths of two species - 10 Tortricdoes alternella, and 4 Spring Usher. My wife Jo got some great night-time photographs of the monument, though!   Dave Maunder

A welcome return

Last night's actinic trap here at Westcott, Bucks produced just two moths, although both were new for the garden year list.  One was Hebrew Character, the other was Lead-coloured Drab (note the feathered antennae in the photo below).  The latter failed to make an appearance at all here last year, despite there being several black poplars within sight of the house, so it was good to see it return and on such an early date - in fact one day earlier than my earliest ever sighting.

Hebrew Character & Lead-coloured Drab, Westcott 22 Feb 

With reasonably warm conditions out of the wind, I also took the Robinson MV trap to nearby Finemere Wood at dusk and in the allotted three hours it caught 83 moths of 9 species:  Tortricodes alternella (31), Yellow Horned (1), March Moth (1), Small Brindled Beauty (10), Pale Brindled Beauty (21), Spring Usher (10), Dotted Border (6), Satellite (1) & Chestnut (2).  The Yellow Horned (illustrated below) was again a day earlier than I've ever seen it before.  Dave Wilton

Yellow Horned, Finemere Wood 22 Feb

Common Quaker?

First moth for this year actually inside the trap. Hopefully someone can do a positive ID.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Squeezed in a Feb survey for Bagley Woods last night and had a nice mix of moths (though quite a few of the species I expected were missing). Additions to the year included Grey Shoulder-knot (2) and Yellow-horned (1). Otherwise a small selection of what has already been seen (Chestnut (16), Satellite (7), Common Quaker (1), Dotted Border (1), Small Brindled Beauty (9), Pale Brindled Beauty (6), Spring Usher (5), Torticodes alternella (31) , Acleris notana/ferrugana (1), Acleris cristana (1).

Nice fresh Yellow Horned:

Thought I'd play a bit of spot the moth as well:

Marc Botham

Friday, 21 February 2014

CWBP Moths

This morning at CWBP (which is marginally less W after the recent winds!), 4 Dotted Border and 2 Spring Usher.

Dave Morris

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Some wet beauties

Great stuff, finally ran a trap away from garden as part of my monthly survey at Harcourt Arboretum and got plenty of personal firsts for 2014 last night despite wet conditions. 12 species included: Chestnut, Dotted Chestnut, Hebrew Character, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Pale Brindled Beauty, Oak Beauty, Spring Usher, Red-green Carpet, March Moth, Torticodes alternella and Agonopterix spp (probably heracliana but TBC). Numbers not great with just 33 moths but a welcome start. Marc Botham

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is this an Early Moth?

I had a single moth on the outside of my trap this morning. It is rather faded, but based on size and shape I think it is an Early Moth. The forewing was 16mm. I would be grateful for a second opinion.
Steve Trigg, Cookham.

Chestnut or Dark Chestnut?

My wife found this on the kitchen window last night. It's a bit tatty which may make the wing shape based distinction between a Chestnut or Dark Chestnut tricky. I was thinking perhaps the Dark Chestnut?

Still nothing in the trap last night.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Hebrew Character

Just one moth last night in my Robinson trap in Thrupp, Oxon: this Hebrew Character which I'd judge by its fine condition to be newly emerged. The Cherwell remains out in its flood plain for a fourth week and I'm wondering about the effects on this year's butterflies and moths. How waterproof are eggs?

Martin Wainwright

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Scarlet Tiger caterpillars

hi, found two of these chaps marching up and down a pear sucker - one was at the top of at about three feet up, then turned around and marched back. There was another about half way up. I found one a few years back in February similarly up on a rose sucker. Are they trying to sun themselves because I thought their food was mainly at ground level - certainly I found alot while weeding later in the season, always on the ground.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Early days, or rather nights

I am not used to winter trapping and this year has so far hardly been one to encourage the practice. But there have been a few dry nights in Thrupp since the start of February and moths seem to have adapted to the monsoons.

On the night of Sunday 2nd, I lit the lamp for the first time since the night before 9th December last year when my first grandchild, Emily, arrived at University College Hospital in London and a very handsome December Moth overnighted in the trap.

This year's debut saw the slightly worn male Pale Brindled Beauty (above) and a Chestnut Moth (below), in good condition with just a nick or two out of the edge of its wings.

Rain then poured down until the night of 15th February when a Dark Chestnut (below) braved the cold. Here it is, as comatose as an Oxford student after a Valentine's Night bender. Update: sorry, it is a plain Chestnut - see Comment (3) below from Peter Hall to whom many thanks.

The following night was much milder and with only a skimpy shower and there was a new species for my list (after a year of trapping in Thrupp and nine on the edge of Leeds): this male Dotted Border.

I hope my identifications are correct - and I always appreciate more expert colleagues putting me right. I'd also be grateful for any information on why the females of species such as the Dotted Border and Pale Brindled Beauty are flightless, which seems a raw deal for a moth. I have also got another pair of pyjamas which I will feature in due course.

Warm thanks for arranging this blog and I much appreciate and am learning from the other entries. Martin Wainwright

Monday, 17 February 2014

Spring moths in Finemere woods

I had my first outing with my new portable trap to Finemere woods on Sunday 16th February, with quite reasonable results considering the temperature dropped to 3-4 centigrade and clear skies! Using a 15 watt actinic bulb with a Skinner trap i got :- Small brindled beauty (5); Pale brindled beauty (7); Spring usher (12); Dotted border (12); Chestnut moth (1), and Tortricodes alternella (4). I took a bit of advice from Dave Wilton and checked nearby Oak trunks where i found a pair of mating Pale brindled beauties, a Chestnut moth and a Spring usher (male). Anyway, i was pleased i made the effort!   Dave Maunder

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Not a moth, but moth related...

There was another nil return in the actinic trap last night so far as moths are concerned here at Westcott, Bucks.  However, I did get two examples of the common nocturnal parasitoid wasp Ophion obscuratus which usually starts appearing in moth traps at this time of the year.  As the larvae of these wasps feed on the larvae of noctuid moths, we should at least take a passing interest in them! 

Ophion obscuratus, Westcott 15th February

There are hundreds of different species but almost none of them are identifiable in the field.  Ophion obscuratus is an exception thanks to the creamy yellow markings on its thorax and the creamy yellow wedge either side of the orangey-brown stigma on each forewing.  There is only one other species like it in the UK, Ophion forticornis which is rare, associated with sand dunes and has the ocelli and eyes merged together in a single area of black rather than being separate as can be seen in the picture of obscuratus below.  Dave Wilton

Ophion obscuratus, showing ocelli and thorax

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Another Pale Brindled Beauty...

Only macro moth so far this wet&windy year (6th Feb) along with huge numbers of Trichocera......

Chris Pickford

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Some from August 2013

hi, a couple more.

Old pictures for ID

hi, just been going through some old pictures and I have a few unidentified ones from several years ago, taken at the porch light. I'd welcome IDs. thanks

The first one was June 2007 and the other two are from August 2009. Sorry about the really blurred 3rd shot, I just found it in a picture I'd taken of a burnished brass and noticed it hiding in the corner!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Moths will fly in any weather!

Today i found a freshly emerged Pale brindled beauty at a porch lamp in Fairford leys, Aylesbury, after a night of heavy rain and high winds, showing some moths will fly even in very inclement weather. When i picked it up it released the red waste after emergence, which shows it had only hatched last night.  Dave Maunder

Spring Usher

While there might seem to have been fewer garden moths around than usual to get 2014 started, looking back over the last couple of years shows that it really is no different to normal here at Westcott, Bucks where I'm lucky to get more than the very occasional specimen of anything before late-February. Last night (Friday) seemed suitable enough to run the actinic trap for a few hours from dusk without danger of it floating or being blown away and I was rewarded with a single Spring Usher.  Dave Wilton

Spring Usher, Westcott 7th February

Friday, 7 February 2014

My first macro of the year - a Chestnut?

Wednesday night was dry this week (a rare event at the moment!) and so I put my trap out. I was rewarded with a single moth hiding on the outside of the trap. Like Steve Goddard's individual, I think it is a Chestnut.
Steve Trigg

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Kitchen Pug

My wife found this in the kitchen today. Sorry for the poor image, it seems almost irridescent. Several pugs had similar colouration but they all seem to be Spring/ Summer fliers. I'd love an ID.

edit, hopefully a better pic taken in natural light.  Mark Griffiths

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Pale Brindled Beauty?

Hi all, first post and first moth of the year despite putting the trap out several times. I'm a beginner to trapping so I'd appreciate a confirmation of the ID, I think it's a Pale Brindled Beauty. I found it sitting on the trap electrics on Monday morning. I'm in Garsington just outside of Oxford.  Mark Griffiths

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A new hobby - egg carton watching

The sight of moths is something of a rarity in my garden so far this year. Apart from the odd overwintering adult popping out to see what season it is (occasional singles of Dark Chestnut, Chestnut, Satellite, Agonopterix heracliana), and a lowly Early Moth at the back end of January, the trap has been empty....well except for rainwater that is. On a relatively dry day I deliberately left out the rotting egg-trays hoping they'd dry out and I could squeeze a bit more use out of them as per usual. I forgot about them and they have pretty much become part of the grass surrounding the trap now. However, having decided to have a quick look at them in the vain hope that all the moths I'm not catching were actually being intercepted before the trap by these mushy egg boxes, I have found something quite interesting. Pretty much every egg box had at least one caterpillar in it and this is the same most times I have checked - they appear to be using it as shelter. I have had several Angle Shades and Large Yellow Underwing and a couple I haven't been able to identify yet. The Angle Shades also chew up the egg box and then fill in the cell in which they sit with silk covered in the chewed up egg carton. I assumed this meant they were pupating, but they keep vacating the cells and starting new ones and some of them don't seem large enough yet. Anyway, this is literally the most interesting thing that has happened moth wise so far this year for me, which I think says it all :). Marc Botham

A Brace of Acleris

This morning at Chiltern Woodland Burial Park (I'm going to call this CWBP going forward since most of my moths are coming from there and it takes a long time to type...) was an Acleris ferrugana/notana and this Acleris cristana:

Also a Dotted Border and an Early MothDave Morris

First trapping of the year

On a whim, I decided to put out the trap last night (it wasn't raining, and didn't look as though it was going to freeze, so I thought 'what the hell'), and was rewarded with this lone individual - sorry for the poor quality of photo - which is presumably a Chestnut. I suspect we'll have to make the most of it while we can: can't see the trap being used much more this month.  Steve Goddard

Presumed Chestnut, 3.2.14

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Berkshire highlights from 2013

Over on the Berkshire Moth Group website I've just added a brief report on the highlights from the latest batch of records to be imported to the Berkshire database. Les Finch's Beautiful Brocade is the pick of the bunch for me, but there's a good range of new 10km-square records. - Martin Harvey

P.S. Did you know that of all the different types of wildlife, moths have the greatest number of species with the word "beautiful" in their name?