Sunday, 31 January 2016

National Moth Recorders' Meeting 2016

Yesterday it was the annual meeting held in Birmingham. Over subscribed again with a waiting list. There were a number of people attending from our 3 counties and  I think for once, Berkshire outnumbered its close neighbours in attendees.

There were talks from a variety of people and most were very interesting. Zoe Randle announced the structure for the regional and national verification panels for inclusion of micro-moths into the system. After Zoe the programme was:
Changing Fortunes of Moths in Yorkshire by Charles Fletcher (Yorkshire CMR). A very interesting talk on increases and decreases of certain species due presumably to climate change.
Conservation of Fisher's Estuarine Moth by Zoe Ringwood (Natural England). Where she spoke of its perilous survival and measures being taken to not only protect it, but increase its range
The Bordered Grey enigma by Paul Brooks - an Englishman living in Angus. How he was tasked to find out more about the Scottish colony which he was successful in doing
Burnets, cyanide bombs and colonisation by Mika Zagrobelny (Copenhagen University). Fascinating talk about the uses of cyanide in the 6-spot burnet
The Dark side of Street lighting by Callum MacGregor (Newcastle University/CEH). The affects of street lighting on moth behaviour
Some like it Hot by Georgina Palmer (York University). Reasons why species respond to climate change
and finally A Focus on Moths (the Youth Nature Network). A society trying to get young people involved in the outdoors

In between it was a chance to catch up and chat with colleagues from around the country. Over 200 people attended and a buffet lunch was supplied. The image was after the mid afternoon coffee break where some unscrupulous folk had sneaked out to head for home, leaving a few empty seats.

 For me it was a chance to chat with people I know from the UTB area, plus Hereford and Worcester and also Ceredigion. Plus people I regularly liaise with on the moth dissection side and these are from all over the show.

If you've never attended one of these events, you should think about going. It's well worth your while. They videoed it all and are going to try and upload the days' speakers and produce a video link on the BC website of the day. When this happens I'll let you know and provide a link to view.  Peter Hall

First macro of 2016: a lifer

With apologies for the shoddy quality of the photo - taken in haste and in poor conditions, and really intended as a record shot - but this individual showed up fluttering at our kitchen window half an hour ago. I caught it more in expectation of a Winter Moth (we had a few in December) than anything, but a little research came up with Dotted Border: a new species to our garden (and our 499th overall), and our first macro of the year (we had an Acleris sparsana indoors on 6th January, but haven't bothered with putting the trap out yet). I let him go again quickly on the assumption that he was on a hot scent trail.

Steve and Xander Goddard

Dotted Border, 30/1/16

Friday, 29 January 2016

At Last! Moths!

The little 6w heath trap in the Chiltern Woodland Burial Park finally produced my first moths of the year last night, in the form of 4 Chestnuts, 1 Dotted Border and 1 Tortricodes alternella.

A couple of weeks ago, I found an Angle Shades caterpillar in the garden, so hopefully I'll see it in adult form later in the year...

Dave Morris
Seer Green, Bucks.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

And another Clouded Drab!

I put my garden trap out last night when the temperature was a balmy 10 degrees, only to find it had plummeted to -2 at first light. So, I expected the usual empty trap but was surprised to find a single moth hiding in a corner - a Clouded Drab, my first garden moth of 2016.
It does not look that dissimilar to Marc Botham's specimen in his earlier posting.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Clouded Drab

Garden trap in Didcot still collecting flies and little else with no moths in 2016 so far. Ventured out to do first field survey on regular site in Sutton Courtenay last night leaving two MV traps out overnight. Sum total of moths in both traps exactly equal to sum total for garden so far in 2016, a big fat zero. However, in the luscious roof-top habitat at work (CEH Wallingford) I did manage my first moth for 2016 and it was not what I would have expected - Clouded Drab. This has to be the earliest I have personally ever recorded this species. Marc Botham, Didcot

Clouded Drab, Crowmarsh Gifford VC23, 24-01-2016

Monday, 25 January 2016

New Year starts - ID please

I managed to find a Chestnut - can't decide from the wing shape if this is a Chestnut or Dark Chestnut - can someone confirm?

Then a March Moth and what I'm assuming is an Acleris literana out from hibernation. If so I think it's a new one for me.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Only two species in Maidenhead

I had my trap out for the first time this year in my Maidenhead garden and didn't have high hopes despite the mild conditions.
I could have done worse, but 2 Epiphyas postvittana and an Amblyptilia acanthadactyla was better than nothing.
I was surprised to also have a 20mm water beetle.


Good Night to get Started

Last night's remarkably mild conditions seemed a good opportunity to get started with "away trapping" by recording in a local wet woodland which hasn't been looked at seriously for about a decade.  I took a single MV light and ran it there for just the usual three hours in the hope of ticking off Mottled Umber and Spring Usher, but neither turned up!  Perhaps both are virtually over by now, having started well before Christmas?  Amongst the species noted (including Tortricodes alternella and Early Moth both new for me for this year) were several March Moth.  There's nothing unusual in that as there are many examples of it appearing in Bucks during January (rather appropriately, our CMR holding the record with one on 6th January 1981) but this is the earliest I personally have seen it by a couple of weeks.  The big surprise, though, was to get a fresh Engrailed.  This does appear to be the first January record for the county.

March Moth, 24th January

Engrailed, 24th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Common Quaker?

Having put my trap out last night for the first time this year I caught a Pale Brindled Beauty and this individual which I assume is a very early Common Quaker?

Andy Newbold  Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My Garden stats (Garsington)

Getting ready to send my records in.

2015 185 macro moths, 90 micros (275) +53 new for the garden since starting October 2013 (355-60 in total)

Macro Highlights   Chocolate Tip, Chamomile Shark, Bordered Straw, Large Emerald, Merveille du Jour (lowlight was a fragment of a wing of the same moth a couple of nights after).                                      
Micro Highlight Cochylis molliculana.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Pale Brindled Beauty

A single Pale Brindled Beauty was the sole visitor to my Radnage garden MV trap last night.
Opening my car boot for the second time yesterday whilst in Radnage, revealed an Agonopteryx heracliana where the boot lid closed over the car body.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

My Garden Stats

Interested by Daves figures i thought i'd do the same to see how i compare to his garden. Obviously no where near but still good for a 25x15foot garden.

Garden moth species 2015: 318 (206 macro, 112 micro)
Garden moths total (2012 to 2015): 406 (267 macro, 139 micro)
New moths for garden 2015: 66 (11 macro, 54 micro)

Highest macro totals 2015: Large Yellow Underwing (707)
                                            Hebrew Character (248)
                                            Heart and Dart (216)
Highest micro totals 2015: Chrysoteuchia culmella (202)
                                            Epiphyas postvittana (188)
                                            Acentria ephemerella (160)
Best night was 22nd August for number and species (203 moths, 50 species)
Total moth count 2015: 5,828 moths.

Best moths of the year were,
Macro: Small Marbled, Tawny Pinion and Bordered Straw(x3)
Micro: Gelechia nigra, Gypsonoma oppressana and Gypsonoma minutana.

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Large caterpillar

I found this larva in my front garden today, resting on the leaf of an artichoke plant. It was fairly large, in that it measured about 50mm (2 inches) in length. I wondered if anybody could suggest what it might be?

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Garden Stats

Contrary to expectations, 2015 ended up being an excellent year for our village garden on the clay in Aylesbury Vale.  Now that the records are up-to-date, here are some silly statistics for the year:

Garden lepidoptera species count in 2015:  653 (324 macro-moths, 309 micro-moths, 20 butterflies)
Garden lepidoptera total (2005 to 2015):  904 (411 macro-moths, 463 micro-moths, 30 butterflies)
Lepidoptera new to the garden in 2015:  41 (13 macro-moths, 28 micro-moths, 0 butterflies)

Highest macro totals in 2015:  Large Yellow Underwing (2,014)
                                                 Lunar Underwing (1,644)
                                                 Heart and Dart (1,515)
Highest micro totals in 2015:   Agriphila tristella (1,046)
                                                 Chrysoteuchia culmella (837)
                                                 Acentria ephemerella (811)
Night with largest catch:  16th July 2015 (988 moths)
Night with highest species count:  3rd July 2015 (152 species)

Total garden moth count for 2015:  33,803 individuals
Number of nights trapped:  295 (205 single actinic only, 42 single MV only, 48 actinic & MV combined)

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Mortal coil

Could this, found by Penny in a failed 'eco' lightbulb - one of those expensive twirly ones - be Crambus perlella? Or Elachista argentella? Or is it something else, maybe faded beyond recognition? Help much appreciated. I'm afraid that I don't know when it died. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Dotted Border

Despite the temperature a male Dotted Border has been attracted to our house lights tonight.


Friday, 15 January 2016

Emoth newsletter

The latest Emoth newsletter from Butterfly Conservation can be downloaded by clicking on the image.

Emoth newsletter January 2016

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The extraordinary invasion of Clifden Nonpareil in Berkshire

As readers of this blog will have seen, recorders in Berkshire had some amazing records in 2015 of the spectacular Clifden Nonpareil. Here is a brief animation summarising all the records in the county.

Thanks to all the recorders and photographers involved.


All Quiet on the Home Front

There's been very little to the garden twin-30wt actinic light over the past week or so apart from a few flies, midges and ichneumon wasps, not really surprising now that the weather has turned decidedly colder.  However, last night I did find a freshly-emerged female Epiphyas postvittana on the inside of one of our conservatory windows.  The moth can be recorded at any time of year but this appears to be the first I personally have seen in January - thankfully it doesn't yet appear here in huge numbers.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Epiphyas postvittana, Westcott 12th January

Passing the time with some pugs

Well, all my pots have been washed out, dead flies have been removed from the MV bulb holder, and most importantly my 2015 records have been sent to the county moth recorder. All I need now is for a moth or two to make a reappearance in my garden - they have been conspicuous by their absence since Christmas.
In the meantime, I thought I would revisit some photos of a few pug species that I trapped in August 2013 but have not seen since. I know pugs can be very difficult to id just from a photo, but I am hopeful that these ones are distinctive enough for their id to be confirmed.
The first, trapped on 10th August 2013, I am fairly confident is a Bordered Pug.

The second, trapped on 7th August 2013, I have as a Narrow-winged Pug.

Finally, this pug trapped on 28th August 2013 I have recorded as an Angle-barred Pug.

Apologies for asking about pugs in January.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Sunday, 10 January 2016

First moth of 2016

Pale Brindled Beauty last night Friday 8th,  at last a moth! 
Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

It's sad - I know!

Up here on the hill I've had the trap out six times in December and once so far this year - total catch- Nil! So when I saw this little fellow on the bathroom wall I just had to have a go at trying to identify it. There's only so much reading a chap can do!. I came up with Eudonia angustia. My first query of the year!.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Thursday, 7 January 2016

UPDATE: Would have been a new moth, if it had been in the Upper Thames region!

UPDATE: Mike and I have done some detective work on this one and, sadly, we have to report that although this moth is the lovely Pyrausta cingulata, it isn't from Berkshire. Due to a particularly unfortunate and complicated series of unlikely photo filing operations, the photo got muddled up. It was actually taken in Gait Barrows, on one of the UTB away trips to the Lake District.

I'll leave the original post below as a cautionary tale: no matter how careful we are to photograph, identify and record things, it's human nature that mistakes can still creep in. None of which invalidates the final statement below, that Lardon Chase is a fantastic place to visit and look for moths!

Original post:
This is from 2014, but it's exciting news that I've only just picked up on. On 5 August 2014 Mike Wilkins photographed this moth at Lardon Chase in Berkshire, and correctly identified it as the Silver-barred Sable, Pyrausta cingulata.

There are no previous records for this species on the county moth database, and it is not listed in Brian Baker's "The butterflies and moths of Berkshire" (1994). However, a check on the National Biodiversity Network Gateway showed a dot on the map for Berkshire, which turns out to be based on specimens in the Tullie House Museum, Carlisle, collected by W.H. Harwood between 1890 and 1930. These are labelled as having been caught at "Newbury", but Harwood collected widely across the country and there are places called "Newbury" in other counties, so we can't be sure that his specimens really came from Berkshire.

So Mike's record is the first properly documented record for Berkshire, and even if Harwood's records can be confirmed Mike's will still be the first for about 100 years!

Which raises the question of what this moth is doing at Lardon Chase. Pyrausta cingulata is reasonably large (for a micro-moth) and is distinctive and day-flying, and Lardon Chase is a well-recorded site, so why hasn't it been seen before? Has it just been overlooked, or has it recently colonised? If the latter, where has it come from (there are no Bucks or Oxon records, I'm not aware of any recent records in other neighbouring counties, and it's not known as a migrant)?

I'd love to know if it is resident at Lardon Chase, so if you are visiting that site please look out for it. It flies in two broods, from the end of May to June and from July to early September, and its larvae feed on Wild Thyme.

Lardon Chase (National Trust) is also the only currently known Berkshire site for the pretty Powdered Grass-veneer, Thisanotia chrysonuchella - definitely worth a visit! I'm told there are some nice butterflies as well for those who like that sort of thing :)

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

January leaf-mines

A couple of ancient London Plane trees found in private woodland near Wotton Underwood, Bucks yesterday had at their base fallen leaves containing many mines of Phyllonorycter platani, while a nearby Holm Oak was seen to be covered in mines of Ectoedemia heringella and Phyllonorycter messaniella.  This is a good time of year to seek out Holm Oaks because, being evergreen, they stand out very well (churchyards are a particularly good place to find them). Being a relatively recent arrival in the UK, any records for Ectoedemia heringella will be very useful and certainly in Bucks it is now rare to find a tree without signs of the moth.  The first picture below shows a typical leaf containing a vacated mine of Phyllonorycter messaniella on the left alongside three mines of Ectoedemia heringella (two active and one with a deceased larva).

Leaf of Holm Oak, Wotton Underwood 4th January

Active mine of Ectoedemia heringella, Wotton 4th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Migrants still hanging on

At the moment I'm continuing to run the twin-30wt actinic light overnight inside our conservatory and then checking before dawn to see what has come to the windows.  My first adult moth of the year appeared on the night of 1st January and was, as usual, a Winter Moth.  Last night (2nd Jan), despite all the rain, I got seven examples of the ichneumon wasp Ophion obscuratus, three more Winter Moths, a Pale Brindled Beauty and a bit of a surprise:  a battered and worn example of the tortrix Crocidosema plebejana.  I had this species in the garden for the first time back in August when it was assumed to be a wanderer from the populations along the south coast.  This one will also have been blown in on the south-westerly winds over the Christmas period when quite a few other migrants from much further afield also appeared in the country, so how far it had travelled is open to conjecture.

Crocidosema plebejana, Westcott 2nd January

Crocidosema plebejana, Westcott 2nd January

Some mined alder leaves brought back home from nearby Woodham last September produced their first moth today, the rather smart and distinctive Phyllonorycter klemannella.  I see that the recent update to the British checklist (Agassiz et al) adopts this spelling and claims that the frequently-used kleemannella (which is how it appears in MapMate and on several web-sites) is incorrect.

Phyllonorycter klemannella, Westcott 3rd January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 1 January 2016

Off the blocks

It is always pleasing to get a record for the first day of the New Year!  Like Martin below, I managed to get started today although the sightings were all of early stages.  Bi-products of our annual search for Brown Hairstreak eggs on a particular blackthorn hedge at RSPB Otmoor, Oxon this morning were a Drinker caterpillar, seven Blue-bordered Carpet eggs and a Green-brindled Crescent egg.  It was intriguing to see some of the blackthorn in flower already...

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


One year ends, a new year starts

My last moth of 2015 was a Beautiful Plume, Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, on 31 December. This was hiding away in the depths of a very large hedge that I was struggling to prune back into some sort of order, so was a welcome reward.

And then my new year got off the mark today with the tiny Garden Cosmet, Mompha subbistrigella, found flying inside my house. This species often overwinters inside houses (and I see that I took a very similar photo on 7 January 2014!).

Happy New Year and good mothing to everyone!

Martin Harvey (Great Kimble, Bucks)