Saturday, 30 April 2016

Dyseriocrania subpurpurella

I have seen very few micro-moths so far this year in my garden, but whilst out in the sunshine this afternoon I spotted a Dyseriocrania subpurpurella floating in the birdbath. I managed to retrieve it, and put it under my USB microscope while it was drying out. The picture below is not great, but it does show some of the bright purple scales dotted amongst the gold ones and the hairs above the head.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

You can lead a catty to bramble...

Just a bit of amateur science. I bred my last Emperorlets on hawthorn and started off this year's generation on the same. But others' experience here with bramble prompted me to stick in some bramble leaves yesterday as an alternative menu.

Thus far, as you can see above, conservative habits reign.

Is the different colouring translucence? Or are those two eating more (or less)?

One new arrival in the trap: this smart Muslin Moth:

Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Monday, 25 April 2016

Resorting to Leaf-mines

The collection in last night's garden trap was again just Orthosia species:  Common Quaker (1), Powdered Quaker (2), Clouded Drab (4) & Hebrew Character (2).  I resorted to looking around the garden for leaf-mines between today's showers and managed to find evidence of Stigmella aurella (on bramble), Phyllonorycter leucographella (on pyracantha) and Coleophora gryphipennella (on rose) without any effort.   

There's no shortage of Stigmella aurella mines at Westcott

Feeding signs of Coleophora gryphipennella on rose

Larval case of Coleophora gryphipennella hiding under leaf

There were six active larval cases of Coleophora gryphipennella on what is quite a small cultivated rose growing in a pot.  It is good to know that they got through the winter successfully and are now feeding again.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Very slow

As I fear it is in most places!. Just thought I'd put something on. 3.1 degrees last night with some rain. Only three turned out, but nice to see this Pale Tussock even if it is common.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Friday, 22 April 2016

Class of '16

They've hatched! (albeit not in very good focus)

New for my year

First Early Grey of 2016 for me last night and what I think is a Lead-coloured Drab but would appreciate advice. If so, that's another newcomer for the year.  Otherwise the warmish night brought one Powdered Quaker, two Common Quakers, two lovely Brindled Beauties and a Hebrew Character. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Mullein in Didcot garden night before last - always pleasing to see as one of my personal favourites and not so strongly attracted to light so never see many adults. Otherwise poor turnout with exception of Early Grey which seems to be doing well. Marc Botham, Didcot

Mullein, Didcot 18-04-16

Joined the Emperor Club at last!

My first two Emperor Moths (from 60+ cocoons) emerged this afternoon, both of them female.  They were placed out in the garden in a net cage at 3.40pm and within five minutes there were two males charging around them.  One of the males was allowed to pair up with a female and she should provide eggs overnight tonight, the other female I'll try some 'assembling' with tomorrow.

Emperor Moth, Westcott 20th April

This is quite a late first emergence but not the latest I've had.  A look back over the last ten years gives the following dates, all from pupae raised at home:
9th April
13th April
18th April
29th April
10th April
7th April
17th April
17th April
7th April
20th April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Blossom Underwing

The conditions last night seemed reasonable so I thought I'd better have a search for Blossom Underwing locally or be at risk of not seeing it this year.  I went to a site where Marc Botham and I recorded 50 one early April night five years ago and it produced a grand total of two.  I suppose I should be thankful that the moth turned up at all!  It is an occasional visitor to the garden at Westcott but I think not one I'm likely to see here now this year.  Frosted Green and Lunar Marbled Brown were around in numbers but micros were few and far between, Ypsolopha mucronella and my first Semioscopis steinkellneriana of the year being the only things of interest.

Blossom Underwing, 18th April

Semioscopis steinkellneriana, 18th April

Last night's garden trap managed 18 moths of seven species, comprising Streamer, Small Quaker, Lead-coloured Drab, Powdered Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab & Hebrew Character, so still nothing of interest.  Sunday night had produced a relatively fresh Dotted Border, a species I'd thought was already over here.

Dotted Border, 17th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

Friday, 15 April 2016

Early Pugs

The last two nights have seen me make first visits to two more regular trapping locations for this year, on Wednesday night at a private wetland site close to home and last night to similar habitat at BBOWT's College Lake reserve.  Little was expected at either venue and I managed a similar total (16 species) at each of them, with nothing seen that was particularly surprising.  However, Wednesday night produced my first Oak-tree Pug of the year while last night a V-Pug was seen.

Oak-tree Pug, 13th April

V-Pug, 14th April

Both were perhaps a little early but not remarkably so (for example, in 2012 and 2014 there were V-Pug records in Bucks during the final week of March).  Of rather more interest was a Pug which was found resting on the outside of the garden trap here at Westcott this morning and which turned out to be a rather dark White-spotted Pug.  There is only one earlier record on the Bucks database (4th April 1999) and all other April sightings have been during the final week of the month.

White-spotted Pug, 14th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Thanks to Dave's helpful link to Northumberland Moths' ID section, I'm pretty sure this visitor two nights ago is a Powdered Quaker. But I have such a poor record on IDs of moths such as this, that I'd be grateful for advice.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Pale Tussock

While having a cup of tea in the sunshine in my garden this afternoon, I spotted a moth fluttering around in some long grass. It proved to be a male Pale Tussock, presumably drawn out by the warm conditions.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Emperor moths (m&f) emerged

Yesterday I woke to find that two emperor moths had emerged from my six Emperor moth pupae. Amazingly they were a male and a female, so I kept them together all day. By dusk the male was desperate to escape, so I released him though there was no sign of eggs.  I have kept the female and this morning there are two batches of eggs; annoyingly they are on the underneath of the gauze top of the cage not on the hawthorn and willow sprigs I had provided.

Wendy Wilson
Chalfont St Peter, Bucks

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Lead-coloured or Clouded?

I had this moth last night, looks like Lead-coloured Drab, wing pattern and wing shape but no feathered antenna? But if its a female would it have feathered antenna? Ive only seen L-c Drab a few times before, even though Howe Park Wood 25metres away is full of Aspen and they were feathered.
Also had 2 new micros for my garden this week, Agonopterix alstromeriana on Friday night and Acleris literana last night.

No Emperors emerged for me yet, a moth I've never seen so looking forward to it.

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Same old same old

Out of the easterly breeze it was, comparatively speaking, a 'warm' night last night and I'd hoped for a better result despite the rain!  Fifty moths did come to the garden actinic trap but apart from two March Moths they were all common Orthosias.  A single MV dropped off in local woodland did manage 17 species but got me a soaking when I retrieved it at 11pm just as the heaviest rain arrived:  March Moth (23), Shoulder Stripe (2), Streamer (5), Brindled Pug (5), Early Tooth-striped (6), Early Thorn (1), Engrailed (4), White-marked (2), Small Quaker (8), Lead-coloured Drab (1), Common Quaker (38), Clouded Drab (15), Twin-spotted Quaker (8), Hebrew Character (8), Satellite (1), Chestnut (6) & Early Grey (1).  The light was only run for two and a half hours but there were no micros, no sign of Red Chestnut or Yellow Horned (both probably over now at this site) and no sign yet of Frosted Green or Blossom Underwing which I would have expected here by now.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Early or late

Quite a late Early Thorn was new for my year last night, dozing alongside  an out-of-date March moth, assorted Hebrew Characters and Common Quakers and the handsome Brindled Beauty, below.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Help with ID please

One of my Dancersend volunteers found this moth on the wall under her doorstep in Tring yesterday. This is the best shot she has. She thought it was between 3 and 4 cm long. It's an unfamiliar angle, and too early, but all I can think of is the pale form of Poplar Hawkmoth. Any other thoughts?
Mick Jones

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Early Tooth-striped

Last night's collection of moths in the garden actinic comprised 33 individuals of nine species, still dominated by the Orthosias:  Diurnea fagella (1), Early Tooth-striped (1), Engrailed (1), Small Quaker (1), Powdered Quaker (4), Common Quaker (3), Clouded Drab (7), Twin-spotted Quaker (1) and Hebrew Character (14).  Despite Bucks having not far short of 200 records for Early Tooth-striped, the moth isn't all that common and could only be described as widespread across the southern half of the county on the chalk of the Chilterns.  There is an enclave on the clay in the west, in some (but by no means all) of the old Bernwood woodlands on the Bucks/Oxon border, and these include the present-day Bernwood Forest which is a stronghold, but otherwise it seems to be absent from the northern half of the county.  Needless to say I was quite pleased to see it here last night, only the third example I've ever had in the garden.

Early Tooth-striped, Westcott 8th April

I have searched without success for its rather more colourful but far rarer cousin the Barred Tooth-striped, a much declined species which also flies at this time of year.  Its caterpillars feed on privet, of which there is no shortage in Bernwood Forest from where it was once known.  However, there have been no records of it in Bucks for more than 50 years so the species has almost certainly been lost from the county.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Still quiet here

Just 2 moths in the trap last night, Hebrew Character and this poorly marked one that has me scratching my head - help please. About 20mm head to toe.

Tom Stevenson, Benson

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Live updates on Berkshire moths

For the Berkshire moth records we have set up a new 'activity' page on iRecord that shows all the moth records from the latest two weeks - this means that it can be used a bit like the "what's flying tonight" websites, but it's based on live data that gets updated as soon as the records are added to iRecord.

Click here to see the activity page, and you can choose from four different tabs:
  • Summary - overall totals and map
  • Species, which shows all the species recorded in the last two weeks,and can be sorted to find out which species has the most records etc.
  • League tables - a bit of fun if you like that sort of thing!
  • Trending - also a bit of fun, but includes a selection of the latest Berks moth photos that have been added to iRecord

For further info about this and other Berks moth activity pages see the Berkshire Moth Group website.

I think these activity pages are a great way of keeping up to date with what's happening in the county, but they do of course only show the data that is being added to iRecord. A substantial proportion of Berks moth records come in to the county database via other routes such as MapMate and via spreadsheets - that data is not shown on iRecord. For now, iRecord can only offer a partial view of moth recording in the county, but it has the great advantage of updating 'live' every time a moth record is added.

Here we go again

Further to my last post about the two Emperor moths hatching: the male spiralled off into the skies of Walthamstow on release yesterday but the female flew only a couple of yards to a fence where she remained all day. Come evening, there was no sign that she had attracted a male in spite of staying at her post through alternating sun, drizzle, heavy rain and even hail, all of which took their toll.

So we boxed her up again and released her in Thrupp this morning. Again, she went only a short distance and is now perched on a wall. I will check for suitors during the day but meanwhile, on examining the four remaining cocoons (and finding it impossible to tell which two are now empty), I discovered these, below. Whether they are fertilised or not, I do not know, but she spent some hours in the box with the male. He was from the same mother as she was, but I do not know if this makes a difference. Advice and experience always greatly welcome, though I'm not sure I've got the time to raise another family, so may tuck the eggs away in a hawthorn hedge.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Micro-moths and USB microscopes

Some of you may have noticed that there is now a wide selection of USB microscopes available. A quick search on Amazon, for example, will display a large number ranging from about £20 up to well over £100.
I thought I would try out one of the cheaper models to see if it could be a useful additional tool for helping to identify some of the smaller micro-moths. As well as displaying an enlarged live image on your computer screen, the microscope also has the ability to instantly capture the image - which is saved as a jpeg file.
Obviously, you are reliant on your chosen moth staying still under the microscope while you look at it. If it is a lively individual, you are back to keeping it in a pot and examining it with a hand lens.

My chosen microscope (the Maozua 5MP model listed as a best seller on Amazon) arrived a few days ago, and today I had an Epiphyas postvittana that seemed willing to sit quietly while I studied it. I have posted a couple of the resultant photos below - one image of the whole moth, and one showing detail from the head. I don't think they are too bad for a first attempt.

As the moth season progresses, I will report back on whether I think the USB microscope has been of benefit in helping with micro-moth identification, and hopefully post a few more pictures.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

At home and at work...

Since some recent nights have been conducive to putting the traps out, I have been doing exactly this.

No great numbers so far, but in my garden, only the second Angle Shades I have ever had at home (I've seen plenty elsewhere over the years, and it is one of my favourite moths...)

Also, I got a new 20W UV bulb at Christmas so I built another trap around it, and it went out last night at my place of work, adding Water Carpet and Frosted Green to my year list.

Dave Morris, Seer Green

Two poor nights on the chalk

Chalk downland isn't really the place to be at this time of year but I have three or four such sites on my list of monthly regulars for 2016 and if they don't get trapped in April then several of the early spring species will be missed.  On Monday night I visited a site not far from Stokenchurch which produced a reasonable 16 species, of which a pair of Dotted Chestnuts were the only real highlights although Acleris literana and Amblyptilia acanthadactyla were nice to see.  The plume is one of the few which over-winter and makes a change from the ubiquitous monodactyla.

Dotted Chestnuts, 4th April

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, 4th April

Last night the usual three-hour session was spent on a hillside above Princes Risborough where unfortunately it seemed impossible to get out of the very annoying breeze (spectacular views to the west, though, even as far as Didcot power station!).  A mere ten species turned up, of which Early Tooth-striped and Ypsolopha mucronella were the only things of interest.

Early Tooth-striped, 5th April

Ypsolopha mucronella, 5th April

The garden hasn't produced all that much of late either, although Streamer (3rd) and Dotted Chestnut (5th) have been added to the garden list for this year.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Is this a Common Quaker?

Last night's garden trap here in Cookham had the moth pictured below, which I think is just one of the variable forms of Common Quaker, but I would like a second opinion as the dark dashes left me unsure.

Other moths in the trap were Hebrew Character (2), Clouded Drab (2), Epiphyas postvittana (1) and my first Brindled Beauty of the year.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Two years on

A happy day: the hatching has happened of two of my remaining pupae from the brood of 25 Emperor Moth caterpillars I reared from eggs left in the trap by a female in May 2014. Today's were a male and a female and they are now at large in Walthamstow, on the fringe of Epping Forest, where I took them to show our granddaughter. She has a brother, hatched six days ago, so the timing was nice. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Admin message

Now that the season is starting to warm up and some of you are returning to use the blog after an absence of several months, just a couple of little reminders:

Please don't forget to add a title to your post.  This should go into the long, thin box marked "Post Title" which is above the tool-bar, easily missed when you are keen to get on with typing your sightings.  If you don't add a title then Blogger does so automatically using the first few words of your report, which can sometimes look distinctly odd!  

Please also remember to mention your general location somewhere in the report and add your name at the end of it.   The name is important for those who receive e-mail notifications, who wouldn't otherwise know who the report is from, while the location is very useful because we cover such a large area with different habitats.

Finally, one or two people may still have issues with adding images, where the Blogger picture selection process works as advertised but for some reason there's a failure when trying to insert them into the report.  We've never really got to the bottom of why this happens, but if you are one of those affected then please consider uploading your report without the pictures and then sending any images to the admin address and we'll add them for you as soon as possible.

Down to earth

Much less numerous last night (well, it's not as though 14 individuals was a huge haul for the 3rd, but it was better than expected), with the only issue the rather undistinguished micro below: I'm thinking 'Cnephasia sp.', but if anyone knows better, do let us know.

Steve and Xander Goddard

Rather drab unknown micro, 4/4/16

First go with the trap in 2016

So we put the trap out for the first time this year in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, on 3rd April, and had quite a good haul, considering. Actinic bulb only, but we managed nine species (assuming I've got them all right, which I think I have): Chestnut, Clouded Drab, Early Grey, Epiphyas postvittana, Hebrew Character, Herald, Pale Pinion, Powdered Quaker and Twin-spotted Quaker. Of those, four weren't caught in the garden at all last year, which feels quite promising. A few photos below, a couple just to check we've got them right.

Steve and Xander Goddard

Chestnut, 3/4/16

Hebrew Characters, 3/4/16

Herald, always a pleasure to see, 3/4/16

Despite their differences, I think both Pale Pinions, 3/4/16

Powdered Quaker, 3/4/16