Friday, 31 October 2014

Spring already?

Still no sign of any migrants other than Udea ferrugalis for me last night, but I thought this might be of passing interest - my first Hebrew Character of next year!  Dave Wilton

Hebrew Character, 30th October

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Death's Head talk

Chris Powles, who discovered a Death's Head Hawk caterpillar and three pupae in Kirtlington earlier this year, as reported by Martin Townsend on the blog, would be very pleased if anyone would like to go to a talk on the subject, including subsequent developments which saw three adult insects hatch. The date and venue is Bonfire Night, 5 November, at 7.45pm at St Mary's church, Kirtlington, under the auspices of Kirtlington Wildlife and Conservation Society and Sustainable Kirtlington. Julian Howe who runs a trap in next-door Bletchingdon will give a talk and Chris Powles will show a film of one of the moths. You can also see this splendid insect on his YouTube clip here. Thanks to him for the photo above too.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Bindweed Miner

Bedellia somnulentella is a micro which I've been hoping to see at Westcott, Bucks for several years.  I've found active larval mines here on bindweed a couple of times since 2011 but up until now have never had a garden record of the adult moth.  However, one of them finally appeared in the actinic trap last night.

Bedellia somnulentella, Westcott 29th October

The garden trap continues to be run nightly at the moment in the vain hope that something unexpected might turn up, but my tiny crumbs from the large migrant cake over the past few nights have amounted to Plutella xylostella (2), Udea ferrugalis (3) & Silver Y (2).  Still, if you don't try you won't get anything!   Dave Wilton  

Hoary Footman?

This was attracted to the trap on Tuesday night (28th), I think it might be a Hoary Footman but am not totally sure. It's gone off to Peter to be examined.


Dear All

As some of you will be aware, the persistent SW wind and warm air originating in Iberia and western France has brought a considerable influx of migratory species. Crimson Specked (1), Oleander Hawk-moth (1), Slender Burnished Brass (at least 4), Tunbridge Wells Gem (1) and thousands of Udea ferrugalis have been recorded along and near the south coast among other things.

There is already some indication that the migrants have also penetrated far inland (vitrealis in Oxon, e.g.) and this is likely to continue over the next few nights especially. Elevated sites are the most liekly to produce something. With the unusual second broods as well, we all need to look extra closely at everything. I nearly overlooked a Heart & Club this week on the south coast as I was expecting them to all be Turnip Moth.

I would also like to make a plea - as CMR for VC 23 - that anything suspected to be unusual is both photographed and retained, please (with apologies to those who already do this). Preservation of the moth (in some cases with genitalia examination) may be necessary and I am willing to come and pick it up in order to remove any doubt (and also thereby remove any possibility of the record being rejected). Many thanks.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cookham update, and 1 query

Last night's garden trap yielded my first Feathered Thorn of the year.

The rest of the catch was probably fairly typical of what other people are finding - Red-green Carpet(7), Common Marbled Carpet(1), November Moth agg.(12), Blair's Shoulder-knot(2), Green-brindled Crescent(3), Red-line Quaker(2), Yellow-line Quaker(1), Beaded Chestnut(1), Barred Sallow(1), Light Brown Apple Moth(3) and Hypsopygia glaucinalis(1).
Finally, there was one moth shown below that has defeated me. The forewing measured 11mm, and I am assuming it is a micro? All suggestions very welcome.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Diurnea lipsiella

Like its springtime relative Diurnea fagella, only the males of this species are capable of flight, the females having much-reduced wings.  However, unlike fagellaDiurnea lipsiella isn't really a moth of gardens.  Here in Bucks there are less than 20 records, almost all of them from mature oak woodland, although it is probably under-recorded because of its late flight period.  I had two to light in Shabbington Wood (Bernwood Forest) on 20th October and six more in Finemere Wood last night.  Dave Wilton

Diurnea lipsiella, Finemere Wood 27th October

Monday, 27 October 2014

Plumed Prominent

No luck with Plumed Prominent last night in Bottom Wood Radnage, only Green-brindled Crescents, November moth species, Yellow-line Quakers, Red-green Carpets, Sprawlers, Feathered Thorns, possible Acleris sparsanas and a Chestnut. Oh, and a PRETTY CHALK CARPET!
Ched George.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

December moth

I had my first December Moth of this autumn in my Radnage garden on October 23rd. Green-brindled Crescent seems to be having a good year although all specimens caught seem worn.
I am starting to try for Plumed Prominent tonight using a Heath trap in a local wood although bonfire night would be the normal flight time.
Ched George.

Nice records from Chorleywood

The 125wt trap run nightly by Richard Ellis in his garden at Chorleywood (just inside VC24 Bucks) has yet again come up trumps with some interesting moths and they are illustrated below.  The Four-spotted Footman was caught on 15th October.  There are about half a dozen previous records for Bucks, including a couple since the millennium (Turville Heath in September 2006 and Loosley Row in October 2013).  However, the smart Red Sword-grass caught two nights ago on 24th October hasn't been seen in Bucks for 42 years!  The last known record was from 19th March 1972 when one was caught in the Rothamsted Insect Survey trap then being run in Howe Park Wood, Milton Keynes.  Prior to that there are three undated sightings mentioned in Sir Eric Ansorge's book (Buckingham and Naphill without further details and Eton in 1960). 

Four-spotted Footman, Chorleywood 15th October

Red Sword-grass, Chorleywood 24th October

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Moths at Fairford Leys shops

Still a few moths to be found near lights around Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, as I found Green-brindled crescent (F. Capucina), Red-line quaker and Feathered thorn here this morning, and November moth agg. and two Sallow moths a couple of days ago. Not much doing in the garden trap now though here in Aylesbury, with just a couple of Green-brindled crescents and a couple of Epiphyas postvittana two nights back. Dave Maunder
Feathered Thorn, 25-10-2014

Red-line Quaker, 25-10-2014

Green-brindled Crescent (F. Capucina), 25-10-2014

Friday, 24 October 2014

Mild and bitter

The mild weather is bringing a good supply of moths to my Robinson trap in Thrupp including Sprawler, Feathered Thorn, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Brown-spot Pinion, Green-brindled Crescent (in many colourways), November and/or Autumnal, Brick, Red-line Quaker, Red-green Carpet, Silver Y, Beaded and Dark Chestnut. Common Plume, Garden Rose Tortrix and Gold Triangle. Less welcome is yet another brood of 'cabbage' white catties on our purple non-sprouting (the bitter part of my headline, because I am). Penny also found this Small Tortoiseshell (deceased) which had chosen an ill-advised place for its winter sleep.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon.


Left an unattended light on the COAM site last night on a whim. The list was only 72 moths of 18 species (well, there were 42 November Moth aggs, so there could have been more I guess).

New for my autumn were Satellite (1), Chestnut (2) and Acleris sparsana (2) with singletons of Large Yellow Underwing, Brimstone and Setaceous Hebrew Character species I hadn't seen for a while.

I have a few more leaf mines to look through as well....

Dave Morris

More unseasonal moths

Marc Botham and I ran five MV lights in some private woods near Appleton, Oxon last night for about four hours from dusk.  The combined list wasn't that extensive:  the species count was only about 25 and the only moths to appear in any numbers were the Novembers, but it proved to be an interesting evening in that Buff Footman (1) and Rosy Footman (6) were seen alongside the first Mottled Umber of the season!  There also seemed to be rather too many hornets around for this time of year...

Back home at Westcott, Bucks the garden actinic trap managed in excess of 50 moths:  Common Marbled Carpet (1), November Moth (2), November sp (1, female), Feathered Thorn (8), Figure of Eight (1), Shuttle-shaped Dart (2), Black Rustic (2), Blair's Shoulder-knot (2), Green-brindled Crescent (8), Red-line Quaker (5), Yellow-line Quaker (4), Beaded Chestnut (11), Lunar Underwing (2), Sallow (2) & Angle Shades (2), while the previous night's collection had included singletons of Red-green Carpet, Sprawler & Dark Chestnut, so there are still plenty of garden species out there.  With no other sightings here since 27th September, the appearance of two fresh Shuttle-shaped Darts would appear to indicate a third generation.  With Angle Shades it is difficult to know whether appearances now are 'locally grown' or are migrants.  In 2013 I had quite a flurry of records from the second half of October into the first week of November and it looks as though the same thing might be happening this year.  Dave Wilton

Figure of Eight, Westcott 23rd October

Shuttle-shaped Dart, Westcott 23rd October

Angle Shades, Westcott 23rd October

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A few more recent catches

We're still putting out the trap, with actinic bulbs, on promising-looking nights here in Wolvercote, Oxon., though the season must now be drawing to a close. Catches are small, but some interesting individuals, including a spruce-looking Heart and Dart (that is what it is, isn't it?) on 18th October, which feels very late for it; and what I think is a Tachystola acroxantha (as reported below by Dave Wilton) from the same date. I've also stuck in a couple of shots of a rather poorly-marked individual - maybe a faint Yellow-line Quaker? Any suggestions would be very welcome. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Heart and Dart, 18/10/14

Unknown, 18/10/14

Unknown, 18/10/14

Presumed Tachystola acroxantha, 18/10/14

Monday, 20 October 2014

Westcott, Bucks

On the night of the 18th the garden actinic trap here at Westcott brought in 41 moths of 18 species, of which Choreutis pariana and Sprawler were new for the year.  Choreutis pariana is normally seen here as a daytime-flyer and I've only had it once before to light.  Other species included singletons of Blood-vein and Willow Beauty.  Last night's result was quite similar, 45 moths of 17 species, but the only things of interest were a late male Vapourer and my first garden Satellite of the autumn.

A single MV light run in nearby Finemere Wood last night did reasonably well for the time of year, bringing in 119 moths:  Blastobasis lacticolella (1), Acleris rhombana (8), Acleris cristana (1), Acleris literana (1), Acleris emargana (6), Gypsonoma dealbana (1, probably, although it was rather washed out and will need dissection to be sure), November Moth sp (31), Feathered Thorn (8), Figure of Eight (20), Yellow-tail (1), Sprawler (7), Green-brindled Crescent (15), Merveille du Jour (1), Chestnut (4), Brick (1), Red-line Quaker (2), Yellow-line Quaker (4), Beaded Chestnut (1), Barred Sallow (2), Sallow (3) & Straw Dot (1).  Dave Wilton

Vapourer, Westcott 19th October

Acleris cristana, Finemere Wood 19th October

Acleris literana. Finemere Wood 19th October


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Holtspur Bottom, Bucks

A final trapping visit for this year to BC's Holtspur Bottom reserve near Beaconsfield last night didn't produce very many moths even though the temperature didn't fall below 16C.  I had high hopes after the first moth into one of the two traps was a Large Ranunculus, but after that things didn't really live up to expectations!  Merveille du Jour was, as always, nice to see but otherwise it was left to the micros to provide a little bit of interest through the appearance of Tachystola acroxantha.  Despite having been imported from Australia at the start of the last century, this invader is still known from remarkably few sites in Bucks.  Migrant activity at Holtspur was limited to Plutella xylostella (4) and Udea ferrugalis (1).

Large Ranunculus, Holtspur Bottom 18th October

Tachystola acroxantha, Holtspur Bottom 18th October
During the gaps between moth arrivals I occupied myself by doing some torchlight leaf-mining which has given a nice boost to the site's micro-moth list.  Away from the usual suspects, I was pleased to find evidence of Bucculatrix frangutella and Stigmella catharticella on buckthorn, Stigmella perpygmaeella on hawthorn, Parornix scoticella on whitebeam and Antispila treitschkiella on dogwood.

Vacated mines of Bucculatrix frangutella, Holtspur

Active mine of Stigmella catharticella, Holtspur

Vacated mine of Antispila treitschkiella, Holtspur

Earlier in the day I'd attended a very successful (...and dry, despite the forecast!) leaf-mining session in Salcey Forest at the opposite end of the county, where we had expert guidance from David Manning and Andy & Melissa Banthorpe.  Amongst the many species identified was a mine on dogwood of the other Antispila species, Antispila metalella, and it was nice to be able to compare the two.  Their mines and cut-out (from which the larva makes a case in which to pupate) are identical apart from the size of the cut-out which provides the method of separating them.

Dave Wilton

Small-scale migrant activity

Single Dark Sword Grass and Silver Y to actinic in East Oxford back garden last night. Otherwise, slim pickings - just 4 other species with Blair's Shoulder Knot new for year (though have not been looking for last couple of weeks).

Ben Sheldon

Confirmations Please

A few from me - I seem to be getting pinkish Blair's Shoulder Knots - if that is what it is. Then I think I have Brick and Spruce Carpet.The final one afaded Yellow Line Quaker?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Quick query

Small catches in Wolvercote, Oxon, of late, partly because we've mainly been using an actinic lamp - still a few new records for the year (and pleasingly, on 1st October, a new record for the garden, Autumnal Rustic). Near, rather than in, the trap last night was the rather battered and poorly photographed specimen below, which I think is a rather pale Brick, but I'd appreciate confirmation or other suggestions. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Autumnal Rustic, 1/10/14

Possible Brick, 17/10/14

Possible Brick, 17/10/14

Mursley - fooled by a fungi'd fly

Sorry this is not a moths post - nothing interesting in the trap this morning. I don't think the BMERC e-group is still running, so thought I'd try this group.

I fished this fly out of the bottom of my moth trap this morning and thought I'd found something rather special. I pored over my insect books and looked online as it had such striking transverse black and white stripes, but to no avail. Eventually I looked at it under the microscope and realised that the white fluffy stripes are some kind of fungal growth. I'm assuming the fungus has developed and spread around the abdomen following some patterning that was there already. Not sure whether I should show it to a dipterist or a mycologist!

...[2 hours later] OK, now tracked it down -  Entomophthora muscae. (I'm sure you all knew that!) What amazing behaviour: The mycelium of the fungus can grow into an area of the brain that controls the behaviour of the fly, forcing it to land on a surface and crawl upwards. Hyphae gradually grow through the whole of the body, digesting the guts, and the fly dies in about five to seven days.  Once critically ill, the fly tends to crawl to a high point, straighten its hind legs and open its wings, a behaviour that ensures that the fungal spores are dispersed as widely as possible to infect other flies.

Mick Jones

Friday, 17 October 2014

Chestnut - Dark or boring?

Your opinion, please - Dark or ordinary Chestnut?Andy King.

IDs please

First up a micro that landed on my computer screen the other night - I was thing Mompha subbistrigella? The other I think is new for me, a Large Wainscot.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford


First Sprawler of the year to garden trap last night. Marc Botham, Benson

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Westcott, Bucks

The rain was occasionally torrential last night but 40+ moths of 18 species still made it into the garden actinic trap.  Another Dark Sword-grass was the only hint of migrant activity, while my latest ever sighting of Pleuroptya ruralis (Mother of Pearl) was noteworthy.  The only other time I've had an October record here was in 2006.  Dave Wilton 

Dark Sword-grass, Westcott 15th October

Pleuroptya ruralis, Westcott 15th October

Mursley moths

Despite the very heavy rain overnight I had a few nice moths in the trap this morning. None of the usual suspects, apart from just one Beaded Chestnut. I was thrilled with two Feathered Thorns with very different markings (this was the most strongly marked) and a really beautiful Green-brindled Crescent.

I'm taking this one to be November Moth, but can I be sure from just these wing markings?
Many thanks
Mick Jones

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hat-trick again.

Good news from Martin Albertini: He has confirmed that three moth leaf-mines I've found recently in Bucks are all new for the county:
Phyllonorycter comparella and Tischeria dodonaea have been already displayed here.
Phyllocnistis xenia hasn't until now: It leaves 'snail-trail'-like markings on the leaves of Grey and White Poplars.

These trails are elusive; when you hold them up to the light they disappear.
This leaf was from Denham Garden Village.
Andy King.


Am I correct in thinking that this moth found in my garden trap last night is a Brick, as opposed to a Yellow-line Quaker? The forewing measured 16mm.

Steve Trigg, Cookham