Wednesday, 29 April 2015

New micro

Found this micro in my house yesterday, not sure whether to be happy about that or not, I am pretty sure its Tinea pellionella. Its new for me, hopefully I won't find any more inside.

Other than this, very little in the trap, just 3 Hebrew Characters since Friday.

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A couple of garden micros...

Whilst gardening today, a couple of day-flying micros in the shape of Adela reaumurella and Gracillaria syringella.

That's it. Nothing else.

Dave Morris

Monday, 27 April 2015

Three Fat Ladies

Sad person that I am, I keep a list of all the moth species I've seen. Updating it over the last couple of days I'm delighted to announce to the World that I've just cleared 888 species. Mind you, Dave Wilton has seen that many just in his back garden...
The latest of these from UTB-land was Pine Beauty, from Chiltern Open-air Museum (last week, with Dave Morris and Rob Payne):

Yesterday I spent an hour wandering around Stoke Common, near Fulmer, Bucks. Sweeping the Heath and Heather with a sweep-net, I collected lots of bits of plant debris, out of which crawled couple of Coleophora pyrrhulipennella:

A lot of these were found on the new Birch leaves:

I think they may be Coleophora serratella, but can't be sure. The dark shape of the caterpillar can be seen reaching into the leaf-mine. Whether the greenfly is a friend or not, I don't know. I was a bit surprised to come across an adult Cydia ulicetana - I didn't think they were out, yet. But this one was.There is plenty of Gorse, the larval foodplant, around.
Andy King.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Drab reward

After joining Dave Wilton, Peter Hall and Dave Maunder at Ivinghoe a couple of years back to see Northern Drab I had planned to find a more local site to see it and Aston Rowant always seemed like a good bet - there may or may not be old records, I haven't checked yet, but NBN shows no records from that area. My only personal VC Oxfordshire record was from my previous garden near Benson. Anyway with the forecast changing hourly I did a bit of hedge-betting and tried Thursday (almost certainly going to be clear skies) and Friday (rain forecast, then no rain forecast, then rain forecast, then no rain forecast......). Thursday was indeed very clear and very cold and after 2.5 hrs of catching barely any moths and starting to feel a bit fed up I packed up unsuccessful. Quite a few Nut-tree Tussocks including one of the nice melanotica form, but little else. Friday looked much better with cloud all day and no rain forecast. Optimism high I had another go and literally as I arrived it started to rain but not heavily and with temperatures (if you believe car thermometers) not falling below 11 degrees - although there was a fair wind. A couple of hours produced very few moths despite mild, warm and cloudy conditions, but just before I was about to start packing up a nice male Northern Drab arrived!!

Northern Drab - Aston Rowant 24/4/15

Other species included my first Red Twin-spot Carpet, Chinese Character, Oak-tree Pug, Flame Shoulder and Waved Umber of the year with Nut-tree Tussock again the most common moth with a staggering 5 individuals - it really was that busy :).

Meanwhile the moths in the garden trap, whilst still incredibly scarce, have undergone a substantial change in clientele with Shuttle-shaped Dart, Bright-line Brown-eye and Pale Tussock on Friday night, and traps out at BBOWT's Environmental Education Centre on the same night were dominated by Shuttle-shaped Dart and Flame Shoulder albeit in small numbers again, along with a few usual suspects and first of the year Lesser Treble-bar, Common Wave, Seraphim, Cochylis atricapitanaScrobipapla acuminatella + a couple of small species for which I require further confirmation but that look like Perittia obscurepunctella and Elachista apicipunctella, both of which there were a small number of.

Less good news is that I accidentally left my main batch of Emperor females out overnight in the garden and some small animal got inside the cage and ate them all bringing my assembling season to an early end :(. I suspect the same damnable creature(s) that has recently predated our Robin nest and is stealing all the chicken and bird feed.

Marc Botham, Didcot.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Sadly there were no migrants, nor was there any great increase in overall numbers, but in the garden at Westcott, Bucks last night I did at least get a bit more variety with 13 species in the trap, including Elachista canapennella, Brimstone Moth, Iron Prominent, Pebble Prominent, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent & Shuttle-shaped Dart which were new for the year here.  During a sunny interlude this morning two males of the smart micro Incurvaria masculella were very active around one of our hawthorns.  They are always one of the first day-flyers to be seen in the garden.
Dave Wilton

"...and I said to her...  ...and she said to me..."

Incurvaria masculella, Westcott 25th April

It's a boy!

The first of my five Emperor Moth cocoons has hatched at last; a handsome male whose antennae I envy greatly. Why don't we human beings have such adornments? Four to go, so the odds are that I'll get a female to experiment with 'calling'. Otherwise the trap has been visited by predictable overnighters, with singles of an Early Grey and a Herald cheering up the somewhat drab scene. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Friday, 24 April 2015

Westcott, Bucks

I tried an MV light here at Westcott last night for the first time this year and it produced fewer moths (19 individuals as opposed to 21) than the actinic the night before!  However, at least there were two new species for the 2015 garden list, Swallow Prominent and Knot Grass.   A Common Wasp Vespa vulgaris was also caught, one of several trapped recently and they do seem to have been very active in our garden already (wasps don't usually become a problem in the trap here until later in the year and then usually only at around dawn).  The weather for tonight looks quite promising, with the slim possibility of some migrant activity before things deteriorate again over the weekend.
Dave Wilton
Knot Grass, Westcott 23rd April

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Bucks/Beds Border last night

Having trapped there last October and found Streak, I revisited Old Wavendon Heath last night (north-west of Woburn, within VC24 Bucks but currently in administrative Bedfordshire) to look for that far less common broom-feeder, the Broom-tip.  The visit was very successful in that Broom-tip was the first moth to appear at the trap before it was even properly dark and by the time I packed up 90 minutes later I'd seen 14 of them.  Very few moths were active, the only other species to visit the light being Double-striped Pug (3), Grey Birch (1), Hebrew Character (5) & Nut-tree Tussock (2).  There are only two previous Bucks records of Broom-tip, one in 1940 and the other in 1984 both from the area around Cliveden.  It might be worth checking Burnham Beeches where other species which feed on broom have been recorded. 
     Although none came to the trap, a dozen or more Agonopterix sp moths were seen sitting around on the broom at Old Wavendon Heath and, while at first glance they looked rather like one of the more common species, I'm now reasonably sure that they were the broom-feeding Agonopterix scopariella for which there are only two previous VC24 records, both from the RIS trap at Burnham Beeches.  A torchlight search also produced a couple of active spinnings on the broom which each contained the brown larvae of Agonopterix assimilella.   
Dave Wilton  

Broom-tip, Old Wavendon Heath 22nd April

Agonopterix scopariella? Old Wavendon Heath 22nd April

Still slow but a few newbies

Garden trap still very poor and cold nights stopping me from going out trapping elsewhere - last night had first Pale Prominent of the year along with Muslin Moth, Brimstone Moth, Hebrew Character,  Emmelina monodactyla and Epiphyas postvittana. Sadly the best night in ages! Shuttle-shaped Dart was in the Rothamsted trap at CEH on tuesday evening, one of only 10 moths caught in over 2 weeks! Also found a squashed Swallow Prominent in Wallingford town centre which is my first of the year for this species. Having much better luck with Emperors compared to last year with 2 males at CEH Wallingford arriving yesterday. Marc Botham, Didcot

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Lunar Marbled Brown

I had a first for my garden last night - a single Lunar Marbled Brown.

There were only 19 moths in total in last night's trap, but several were new for the year - Brindled Pug (1), Herald (1), Pebble Prominent (1), Brindled Beauty (1), Flame Shoulder (1), and Gracillaria syringella (1). The most numerous was Hebrew Character with a grand total of 3 individuals.

With regard to Emperor Moths, I have had 4 different females flaunting their wares in my garden at various times, but to no avail. I guess there are just no males around where I live.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Scarce Tissue

A Scarce Tissue was attracted to our house lights last night (Loosley Row, Bucks).


Monday, 20 April 2015

Ruby Tiger

Found a male Ruby Tiger moth during butterfly transect at Buttler's Hanging earlier today. Also finally managed to get a male Emperor Moth at this site, something that has eluded me in previous years. Marc Botham

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Bryotropha affinis

Bryotropha affinis in my garden MV on 14th. Beats the earliest date on the Gelechiid Recording Scheme website by 5 days.

Emperor eggs to a good home

My female has laid 2 large batches of eggs. I tried letting her go but she came back to the light trap (even though i left it a while after dusk before switching on) and, interestingly, was calling for 2 days after mating. This may mean she is still infertile for some reason but if anyone else wants to have a go I won't be keeping them.

I am sure this is obvious

A few days ago in Garsington, I thought this would be easy to identify...please could somebody point me in the right direction, as I am struggling!

Many thanks,
Andrew Callender, Garsington

Dark Sword-grass

On my way back from a moth-less week in Norfolk (didn't trap rather than there were no moths) I put a couple of traps out at Bagley as I knew I'd be in Oxford early morning anyway and was desperate to see some moths after a week without. NFY for me was Great Prominent and a Dark Sword-grass. Plenty of Lunar Marbled Brown and Frosted Green but otherwise very quiet - amazingly just 2 Small Quakers, suggesting my peak count a little while ago of 27 might be this year's top count for the site which represents the lowest count since I have trapped there by a considerable amount. Garden trap was graced by just a single Early Grey, so despite the garden looking rather advanced, full of blossom, flowers and leaves, the cold nights are really preventing any decent moth activity. The dribs and drabs suggest everything is pretty much on time so fingers crossed for some cloudy nights. Marc Botham, Didcot


A trip to the Open Air Museum last night with Rob Payne and Andy King, a bit windier, colder and clearer than ideal, but a few new species for everyone's year list (mine in bold):

Lunar Marbled Brown - 5

Hebrew Character - 11
Chestnut - 4
Eriocrania subpurpurella - 10+
Twin-spotted Quaker - 2
Common Quaker - 12
Brindled Pug - 3
Water Carpet - 4
Brimstone - 1
Clouded Drab - 4
Streamer - 1
Frosted Green - 11

Lesser Swallow Prominent - 1

Small Quaker - 2
Pine Beauty - 1
Early Thorn - 1
Brindled Beauty - 1
Nut-tree Tussock - 2
Agonopterix arenella - 1

A little bit of exploration also revealed the larva of Endothenia sp. in a teasel head

 and cases of Coleophora laricella on larch.

Dave Morris

Friday, 17 April 2015

Emperors again

I've been rearing Emperor Moths annually since 2006.  Having failed to "assemble" a single male to a female anywhere last season despite repeated attempts, it was not until a gravid female came to a light trap in woodland in north-west Bucks on 24th April 2014 and left me some eggs that I managed to secure a continued supply of off-spring to rear for this year.  The caterpillar stage takes a bit of effort, especially towards the end, but they'd all pupated by late-June.  The cocoons are fairly easy to sex based on size and I sorted them into two separate cages in our shed during the winter.  My first adult emergences occurred early afternoon today (five females and two males) and, as usual, the men were kept confined in their cage until the ladies had had a chance to do their business here at Westcott.  The net cage containing the females was hung out at 3pm and the first "wild" male arrived at 3.45pm, adding the species to this year's garden list.  Within half an hour another four males had turned up (as Martin mentioned in his earlier post, afternoon and early evening seem to be the best times for "assembling").  I kept watch throughout because it didn't take long at all for our garden Robins and Blackbirds to notice the arrival of this potential supply of food for their youngsters.  Two of the males were allowed into the cage to pair up, leaving me the other three virgin females (and whatever else may emerge tomorrow) to hawk around the county over the weekend.   In Bucks we have post-millennium records from twenty 10km squares so this beautiful moth is widespread if sometimes thinly spread.  The same will almost certainly be true for Berks and Oxon.  I see that a pheromone lure is now available for Emperor but using it will be no substitute for the pleasure to be gained from rearing them through and using the real thing!
Dave Wilton

Synchronised emergence - a new Olympic sport?!

Newly-emerged female, Westcott 17th April 

"Assembling" in progress, Westcott 17th April

Powdered Quaker?

Got my first Muslin moth this morning.

I wondered if this might be a Powdered Quaker? I don't have a clear idea of how it differs from a Common Quaker.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

My first Prominent this year

My garden trap numbers have been pretty low over the last week here in Aylesbury, but i did get my first Prominent this morning, a Pebble prominent. Also of interest was my first Pale pinion since 2009 - still not seen a Tawny, unlike some of you other lucky people!  Dave Maunder
Pebble prominent, 17-4-2015

Pale pinion, 17-4-2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

First Prominent seen

I ran two traps in Bernwood Forest last night and got one or two more new species for the year, including Epinotia immundana, Spruce Carpet and Great Prominent.  Further to Marc's post on 9th April, I don't think I've ever had Yellow Horned and Frosted Green in the same trap before either so getting the two together during last night's session came as a bit of a surprise.  One straggler of the former was joined by 80 fresh examples of the latter.

Yellow Horned & Frosted Green, Bernwood 15th April

Epinotia immundana, Bernwood 15th April

The garden actinic trap at Westcott is still not performing as well as might be expected with last night's collection comprising only 50 moths of 12 species, but Chinese Character and Herald were new for the year's garden list.
Dave Wilton

IDs please

I think the first one is Semioscopis steinkellneriana which is a new one for me. The pug, not sure - hopefully it's in decent enough shape for an ID although I know that's difficult to do from just photos.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Pine Beauty

I went out to look around the trap last night about 11pm and found a Pine Beauty sitting on top, only the second one I've seen and new for my Milton Keynes garden. As far as i can see there are no pines around here for at least a mile.
Also new for the year were Streamer, Alucita hexadactyla and Powdered Quaker, i remembered to take a photo this time.
2 Early Grey, 2 Brindled Beauty, 2 Double-striped Pug, 2 Common Quaker, 2 Clouded Drab and 3 Hebrew Character were also caught.
Tuesday nights NFY's were Angle Shades and Red-green Carpet, I've had 27 Macro species and 9 micros so far this year.

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes.

Central Oxford Mothing

I thought that I'd better catch up on my moth trappings over the last week or so. The clear nights have meant that catches have remained modest but there have been some points of interest: a Nut-tree Tussock was a first for my modest garden and a Small Quaker was also noteworthy. Last night I caught a couple of noctuids that have had me scratching my head: the first I think is a Satellite but for the second the closest match that I can find is Dotted Rustic though according to the book it's the wrong time of year for them.

Dotted Rustic??
 I've also got a couple of micro queries. The first I think is an Oegoconia species and the second I think is actually a Caddis Fly but would like to double check.

Oegoconia species?
Caddis Fly?

Getting started

Hello everyone!  I've been slow to start this year because of the unexpectedly heavy (albeit highly enjoyable) demands of grandparenting plus the faff of getting a new bulb for the trap. Rich rewards for its debut last night, though, with seven Brindled Beauties, two Nut-tree Tussocks, five Hebrew Characters and a lovely Powdered Quaker. There were also a dozen more which include Common Quakers and Clouded Drabs but possibly others in that confusing (to me) range of small brown/grey moths. I am hard at work with the Moth Bible and Hants Moths Flying Tonight.

Great to read of Steve and Martin's Emperor hatchings. My cocoons currently doze on.

Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Emperor success

I was also donated an Emperor cocoon by Martin, from which a female emerged this morning 15th. I put her outside at 13.00 in a cage. The males usually fly in the second half of the afternoon so I wasn't expecting anything to happen straight away. I checked at regular intervals for arrivals and just after 6 two males arrived, followed shortly after by a third. Bearing in mind this is the middle of East Oxford with very little habitat other than gardens.

They seem to get confused at close range presumably by the high concentration of pheromone (and perhaps the way the wind swirls around the patio) and blundered around quite a bit, even getting lost on the other side of the fence, and they failed completely to find their way into the open cage (although one settled on the wrong side of the netting), so I put her on the fence. This proved a little awkward for the only male who succeeded in finding her, but she obligingly lifted her wings to give him a bit more room before flattening them out again. Any other records of assembled males from VC 23 gratefully received - most of the records are of females at light. 
Martin Townsend

Last week.

These were in my trap at Philipshill Wood (Bucks) last week, the latter taking a week to identify: A Twin-spotted Quaker with weak spots (f immaculata or thereabouts):

And, in addition to the usual Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, three Eriocrania sangii:

There are a few Eriocrania around just now and they are not invariably subpurpurella, but they can be tricky to recognize.
The nights have not all been conducive to trapping - at least that's my excuse for not going out much, but the days have often been beautiful - as on the day I strolled through Weedon Hill Forestry Commission site and encountered Coleophora laricella larval cases on the Larch trees there:

They betray their presence as much by the feeding damage to the fresh needles, which have been partially hollowed-out:

Andy King.

Emperor Moth

Last year Martin Wainwright kindly gave me some of his Emperor Moth cocoons. They have been in my garden shed ever since, but I have been checking on them fairly regularly these last couple of weeks. This Monday 13th April I checked as usual, and found a beautiful female had just emerged.
Below are a couple of pictures.

I am hoping that she will attract some day-flying males into the garden. However, as yet, her charms have gone unnoticed by the boys.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

The Last of the Orthosias

Three hours on Pitstone Hill, Bucks last night produced four specimens of the target species, Orthosia opima (Northern Drab).  The National Trust's Ashridge Estate seems to be the only remaining local stronghold for this species, certainly in Bucks if not in all three of our counties.  Despite the relatively warm temperatures - it was still in double figures at midnight - there was an annoying south-westerly breeze from which it was difficult to escape on the hill.  Two of the three MV traps were placed in relatively sheltered hollows and did quite well but the third was in light scrub out on the exposed hillside and it caught just one moth (although it was a Northern Drab!).  Two different specimens are illustrated below.  The session produced 23 species of which a rather early Barred Hook-tip and an as yet unconfirmed Depressaria species were the only other new sightings for the year.
Dave Wilton

Northern Drab, Pitstone Hill 14th April

Northern Drab, Pitstone Hill 14th April

Barred Hook-tip, Pitstone Hill 14th April