Saturday, 29 November 2014

Feathered Thorn

Still getting a few moths here in Milton Keynes, mostly December Moths, Epiphyas postvittana, Winter moth and Feathered Thorn. A couple of Mottled Umber and Brick too and a surprise Double-striped Pug last Saturday (22nd). Last night's Feathered Thorn had me confused for a moment, not seen one like this before, is it unusual?

Darren Seaman
Milton Keynes.

Black Friday

I ran a single MV light in Bernwood Forest, Bucks for a few hours last night and ended up with well over 100 moths, a very pleasing result for this time of year even if 90 of them were the same species!  Apart from all those December Moths, the trap caught Acleris ferrugana (probably), Red-green Carpet, Winter Moth, Feathered Thorn, Scarce Umber, Mottled Umber, Sprawler and Chestnut.  Back home at Westcott the garden trap just managed double figures, yet another Udea ferrugalis being joined by December Moth (4) as well as singletons of Agonopterix heracliana, Winter Moth, Mottled Umber, Dark Chestnut and, believe it or not, a very battered Snout.  Dave Wilton

Bernwood Forest, 28th November


Sunday, 23 November 2014

No vitrealis here

The garden trap here at Westcott, Bucks was run for both of the last two nights because of the possibility of migrants on yet another mild southerly airflow.  As was only to be expected here, I got examples of Plutella xylostella and Udea ferrugalis and nothing else, but there was quite a substantial influx of the large white crambid Palpita vitrealis into southern counties.  Was anyone lucky enough to get one?  Last night's catch here comprised 18 moths of nine species, which in the garden is not bad at all for late-November:  Phyllonorycter leucographella (1), Plutella xylostella (3), Epiphyas postvittana (1), December Moth (1, a female), Winter Moth (5), Mottled Umber (3), Scarce Umber (2), Dark Chestnut (1) & Red-line Quaker (1).  Dave Wilton

Scarce Umber & Mottled Umber, Westcott 22nd November

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Had a potter around the garden last night and found a freshly emerged Vine's Rustic. A few steps further I was scanning some old wicker cladding that is half rotting in the corner of the garden where it has been used as a makeshift fence and found 8 Emmelina monodactyla all sat within half a square meter of one another. Moth trap was as per usual empty with the exception of a pair of Ephiphyas postvittana. One thing I have gained in my Didcot garden is a nice colony of Scarlet Tiger Moths, the larvae dotted about the garden feeding on a wide variety of plants in the absence of any of the usual suspects (Comfrey or Green Alkanet). Marc Botham, Didcot


I thought you might like to see my special device for trying to attract rare immigrant moths to Thrupp. Much harrassed by poor weather, it has so far brought me only my first Winter Moth (I think) of 2014,  below.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon


I had another overnight run with a Heath trap in Bottom Wood Radnage, Bucks; last night. No luck again with plumigera, but recorded 2 Feathered Thorn, 5 Mottled Umber, 4 December moth, 2 Winter moth, 2 Chestnut, 1 Satellite, 1 Red-green Carpet and a probable Acleris sparsana.
Ched George.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Gavray Drive Meadows, Bicester

This local wildlife site on the east side of Bicester, Oxon has been under threat of development for housing for some years.  Several UK BAP butterfly species are known from the meadows and its hedgerows but one of the most recent ecological surveys carried out for the potential developers (in 2013, I believe) brought to light the existence of a small Forester colony there.  This is yet another priority species resident at the site and one which we weren't aware of.  The Forester exists in a network of small (and therefore vulnerable) colonies on suitable grassland sites in the area.  Most of them are in Bucks but a couple have recently been found just across the border in Oxfordshire, at BBOWT's new Meadow Farm reserve and now at Gavray Drive.  Pat Clissold kindly sent the picture below of a Forester taken at Gavray Drive on 18th June 2014 so at least we now have a 'proper' record of it for the county moth recorder rather than just the hint of one from a survey which will probably never reach him!  Pat also sent a nice shot of a Burnet Companion taken at Gavray Drive on 2nd June and I've included that too, just to remind us of Summer.  Dave Wilton

Forester, Gavray Drive 18th June 2014

Burnet Companion, Gavray Drive 2nd June 2014


Monday, 17 November 2014

Blair's Mocha

Richard Ellis had a Blair's Mocha in his Chorleywood garden trap last night, one of only four moths caught.  This is the third ever record of this rare migrant in Bucks although it is the second for Richard's garden, the first having been on 2nd October 2011.

Blair's Mocha, Chorleywood 16th November

One moth - much water....

Everything soaked in my trap last night, water sloshing about inside. Sensibly the moths stayed away, except for one Psychoides filicivora sheltering under the pudding basin/ rain guard. I have a colony living on the Hart's-tongue Fern in the back garden, (in Chorleywood, Bucks), so this is not too revelatory, although the time of the year is a little bit surprising. I believe the thinking is that it is multi-brooded, but I generally get them in high summer. An interesting, tiny moth which is all black except for a white spot on its back and the fact it shines metallic lilac if you tilt it to the right angle with the sunshine. No sunshine, though.

Andy King.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Last night was my third search in three weeks for Plumed Prominent and, better late than never, the moth seems finally to be on the wing.  A single male came to MV light at 6.45pm beneath some field maples in a wood near Marlow, Bucks.  Woodland in the Bucks and Oxon Chilterns bounded by Marlow, Stokenchurch, Nettlebed and Henley-on-Thames seems to be where it is likely to be found locally, with BBOWT's Warburg Reserve one of its strongholds.  Dave Wilton

Plumed Prominent, 15th November

Plumed Prominent, 15th November

Friday, 14 November 2014

Last Chance for Migrants?

Despite all the rain, last night's southerly winds and warmish temperature looked quite promising so, to prevent soggy egg-boxes or the trap floating away, I ran the actinic light inside our conservatory here at Westcott, Bucks to see what it brought to the windows.  Eight species turned up, including my first December Moth of the season.  The only migrants were Plutella xylostella and Udea ferrugalis but it will probably be worth trying again over the next couple of nights in case anything else was blown this far inland.  Dave Wilton

December Moth, Westcott 13th November
Udea ferrugalis, Westcott 13th November


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Winter Moth

The first Winter Moth of the year appeared here at Westcott, Bucks last night, a week or so later than normal.  Dave Wilton

Winter Moth, Westcott 12th November

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Mothing while you're Shopping

Something useful which everyone can look out for right now are active mines of Phyllonorycter platani on London Plane, a tree commonly found in supermarket car-parks.  The blister mines are large and very obvious and there are often several on the same leaf.  The pictures below are from a fallen leaf found this afternoon at Waitrose in Thame, Oxon and last year I found them at both of the large Tesco outlets in Aylesbury, Bucks.  Even the solitary tree here in our village of Westcott had the mines when checked a week or so ago.  This is another species like Ectoedemia heringella on Holm Oak and Cameraria ohridella on Horse Chestnut which is a fairly recent invader from the continent and is spreading quite quickly.
Dave Wilton

Leaf of London Plane, Thame 12th November

Mine of Phyllonorycter platani, Thame 12th November

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Anania fuscalis confirmed

I also have an update on an earlier post. My unidentified micro posted on 29 Oct is now confirmed as a male Anania fuscalis, just as Martin Townsend suggested. My thanks also go to Peter for the id.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Monday, 10 November 2014

Footman Update

I've just heard back on the Footman I caught 28-10-14, it is a Hoary Footman (male).

Thanks, as always, to Peter for taking the time to look at it.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Juniper Carpet.

An attempt to resolve Martin Wainwrights Carpet query.
Ched George.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

That's it, then!

Last night's garden trap here at Westcott, Bucks produced my first zero return of the autumn so I'll be a little more selective about when I run it from now on.  There are still three macro-moths which I can pretty much guarantee seeing sometime between now and the end of December before the year list can be closed out (December Moth, Winter Moth & Scarce Umber) but, now that I'm finally up-to-date with MapMate record entries, it is already clear that 2014 has been at least as good as 2013 in terms of numbers of species caught here and may actually turn out to have been better.  The garden macro total has again exceeded 300 but by how many will depend upon some genitalia inspections still to be carried out on things like Daggers and Common Rustics.

What has been even more pleasing is the moth species tally achieved from surveying at our chalk grassland butterfly reserve at Holtspur Bottom near Beaconsfield, Bucks.  I made ten visits between March and October this year, using two MV traps set in the same positions each time.  The total from those visits currently stands at 420 but, with genitalia inspections for some 'difficult' species still to be carried out, this number should rise closer to 440.  This is an excellent result for the amount of trapping effort put in.  Not bad at all for a site that 15 years ago was part agricultural grazing land and part waste tip!

Dave Wilton

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Larvae reared recently

I have had varying success with some species recently; I had 8 Barred hook-tip larvae feeding ok from eggs obtained from a female caught in the Chilterns back in September, but when they went to pupate in a silken cocoon on the Beech leaves they just seemed to shrivel and die for no apparent reason. I also have around 20 Square-spotted clay larvae still feeding on Ribwort plantain, slowly but surely, and I'm hoping to force these through to moths this year - according to Porter this can be done if they are kept in warm conditions. Moths in my garden trap have just about dried up here in Aylesbury, and the weather doesn't look great for the next few nights. Dave Maunder
Barred hook-tip larva, looking remarkably like a Beech bud - great camouflage!

Barred hook-tip larva, 5th instar, 11-10-2014

Square-spotted clay larvae, 4th and 5th instar, 30-10-2014

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Balmy UK mix

Just back in surprisingly balmy UK after a week in much chillier Vienna, so set Robinson trap in my Sonning garden last night and rewarded with a lovely pink specimen of the Vestal, as well as 3 other garden firsts for the year: Cypress Carpet, Delicate and Mottled Umber.  Alastair Driver


Cypress Carpet

A decent migrant at last

There wasn't much difference in the quantity in last night's actinic garden trap here at Westcott, Bucks compared to each night over the past week (nearly 30 moths of 15 species) but one individual migrant made all the difference:  the Rusty-dot Pearls were joined by a smart Delicate.  It was not a first for the garden but nonetheless came as a very pleasant surprise when checking the trap this morning.  The full list comprised Blastobasis lacticolella (1), Udea ferrugalis (2), November Moth (1), Feathered Thorn (8), Large Yellow Underwing (1), Delicate (1), Sprawler (2), Blair's Shoulder-knot (1), Green-brindled Crescent (3), Satellite (1), Dark Chestnut (2), Brick (1), Red-line Quaker (1), Yellow-line Quaker (3) & Dark Arches (1).

Delicate, Westcott 31st October

Yesterday evening I took a single trap to the greensand ridge near the Brickhills on the east side of the county in a successful attempt to find Streak.  The only places in Bucks where this moth seems to turn up these days are in Milton Keynes and in the Burnham Beeches RIS trap, yet it should be more widespread than that.  Last night's trap was placed in amongst a large amount of broom (the larval food-plant) but in actual fact I disturbed the first moth there well before it got dark.  By an hour after dusk I'd seen 21 of them - a conservative estimate - and decided to give up as my target had been achieved and in any case I was getting little else to the trap.  Blastobasis lacticolella (3), Acleris ferrugana/notana (1), Pine Carpet (1) & Oak Nycteoline (1) were the only other moths caught.  In fact a torchlight search of the broom produced more shield-bug species (Birch, Bishop's Mitre, Gorse, Hairy, Hawthorn & Red-legged) than I got moth species!

Streak, the Brickhills 31st October

Dave Wilton

Another Udea, et al

Thrupp has joined the Udea ferrugalis gang with the chap above making a change among lots of Feathered Thorns, Autumn/November moths and Epiphyas postvittanas. I've also had the two Carpets below which I think are Spruce but would be grateful for confirmation as to my unreliable eye they also look a bit Junipery.  Also in the trap: Silver Y, Sprawler, Red-green Carpets, Straw Dot (rather late, I think) and Green-brindled Crescent. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Hi Martin, following all the comments below and Ched George's submission of a set specimen added on 6th November, for comparison purposes I've placed a picture here of the last (living!) Juniper Carpet I saw, which was five years ago now.  If the size was right I still think your examples could be candidates for it.  The moth's central bands must show a degree of variability (compare the picture below to the images in the field guide - there are differences) and the wing-tip streak(s) would probably be the first areas to get worn (Ched's set example doesn't show them particularly clearly either).  However, we'll never know for sure without a specimen to inspect closely!  Dave Wilton

Juniper Carpet, Rushbeds Wood 27 Oct 2009

Palpita vitrealis

My posts have become infrequent recently. The main reason for this is that I have moved house and no longer have that luxurious garden which seemed to attract in so many moths despite the farmers' best intentions to obliterate all living matter. My new garden in Didcot is well, errrr, not great. Having not seen it once get dark because of the extremely high levels of light pollution I am not wholly surprised but also urban gardens do become rather poor for moths at this time of year so the jury is still out and next summer will be more informative. Another reason is that my out-of-garden trapping has involved trips out of the county, namely heading south trying to catch up with some of these migrant moths that are turning up on the coast with limited success. However, in a rather ironic turn of affairs, on both the nights this week that I headed southwards I returned the following day to check my garden trap to find Palpita vitrealis, a moth I had not seen in this country until this week, along with small numbers of Udea ferrugalis and Plutella xylostella. Resident moths are almost non-existent though with only Epiphyas postvittana showing up regularly in good(ish) numbers. Marc Botham, Didcot 

Palpita vitrealis - 2nd of the week (27th and 30th October) in Didcot