Monday, 27 February 2017

February mothing

The lack of recent reports here suggests that there must be a lot of moth-traps still in winter storage! In an effort to persuade more of you to become active again, I thought it worth mentioning that I've had moths in the garden trap every night for the last 15 nights, which is probably an unprecedented run here for February without drawing a blank.  A quick look back just over the past ten seasons gives an average of 13 adult moth species recorded here at Westcott during the first two months of the year.  The best result (18 by the end of February 2012) has already been surpassed this year, last night's Grey Shoulder-knot being the 20th garden species for 2017.  Let us hope this trend continues!

Grey Shoulder-knot, Westcott 26th February
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Micro help

On friday night i had a micro which i think is Acleris hastiana, on Saturday night i had another very similar moth that was slightly different, i think its Acleris cristana but i would like to know what the experts think. Excuse the pics, i think its time for a new camera! A cristana would be new for garden and new for me.
Poss A hastiana
Poss A cristana
A Ferrugana/notana
Also had an Acleris ferrugana/notana, looks just like notana thats in the field guide. Is there anyway to tell the difference or do they need the chop. This is new for my garden and new for me.

My first Hebrew Characters arrived on Monday night, won't be long before the rest get here!

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

False Spring?

Yesterday the weather here at Westcott was more like April, with a queen Bombus terrestris and three male Brimstone butterflies active in warm sunshine in the garden during the morning while the overnight catch to the twin-30wt actinic trap comprised 22 moths of eight species:  Agonopterix heracliana (10, hind-wing cilia checked on the four largest examples but I don't seem to get ciliella here), Tortricodes alternella (1), Pale Brindled Beauty (3), Spring Usher (1), Dotted Border (2), Early Moth (2), Common Quaker (2) & Hebrew Character (1).  To complete the spring-like theme, a Hawthorn Shield-bug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale, Sexton Beetle Nicrophorus humator, Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris and numerous Ophion obscuratus ichneumon wasps also came to the light.  The previous night I'd counted 29 obscuratus, each one presumably indicating a deceased noctuid caterpillar somewhere locally.  I'm sure the weather won't last but it looks as though we have a couple more warmish nights to go yet.

Common Quaker & Hebrew Character, Westcott 20th Feb

Last night I also trapped in nearby Finemere Wood again for a few hours, with Ypsolopha ustella (1), Agonopterix heracliana (2), Acleris ferrugana/notana (3), Tortricodes alternella (145), March Moth (7), Pale Brindled Beauty (162), Small Brindled Beauty (32), Oak Beauty (3), Spring Usher (115), Dotted Border (17), Engrailed (1), Early Moth (1), Common Quaker (3), Satellite (2) & Chestnut (8) coming to the two MV traps which were run for nearly four hours from dusk.  Just over 500 moths of 15 species was much as expected and it was good to see Oak Beauty and Engrailed starting to appear as well as the Orthosias.   

Oak Beauty, Finemere Wood 20th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 18 February 2017

At last!!

Finally, my first garden moth of the year, a Spring Usher, which is a species I haven't recorded since 2013.

I have also had a handful of Chestnuts at the Burial Park, along with singles of Pale Brindled Beauty and Dotted Border.

Dave Morris, Seer Green

Friday, 17 February 2017

Small Brindled Beauty

Having run lights there regularly since 2007, last year I decided to take a break from one of my favourite local oak woodland sites, BBOWT's Finemere Wood.  I'm back there again this season though, and a single MV run for a few hours last night didn't fare too badly despite constant light drizzle, bringing in 126 moths of eight species.  As might be expected, Tortricodes alternella, Pale Brindled Beauty and Spring Usher made up the majority of the catch, but it was good to see March Moth and Small Brindled Beauty which were both new to me for the year.  Seven of the latter species appeared at the trap.

Small Brindled Beauty males, Finemere Wood 16th February

Back home in the garden at Westcott the twin-30wt actinic caught seven species, of which Acleris ferrugana (to be checked), Acleris cristana, March Moth, Dotted Border and Satellite were new for the year list.

Acleris cristana, Westcott 16th February

Update:  another example of the infinitely variable Acleris cristana came to the garden trap on the 18th.  It is difficult to believe that this is the same species! 

Acleris cristana, Westcott 18th February

Rather unexpectedly we seem to have struck lucky with the weather for the next several nights so hopefully a few more spring species will begin to emerge now.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Late starter

At last, I have trundled into action (although I did have two hopeless nights in January when damp and chill kept all moths away).  Last night saw three Pale Brindled Beauties stay, two on the cowl and one in an eggbox. I hope for more arrivals tonight, when the trap will be perched on top of the compost heap.

By way of a diversion, I got sent the picture below of a friend's trap in action. Does anyone recognise where it is (and to be helpful, it's not in the Upper Thames area, so you haven't missed it on your everyday travels).

Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A flurry of micros - help needed

My garden trap attracted 11 moths last night - no doubt due to the much milder temperature. Of these, only 3 were macros (1 Pale Brindled Beauty, 1 Spring Usher and 1 Early Moth). The remaining 8 were all micros, so I had to blow the dust off the micro-moth guide book!
The first one below I am certain is Agonopterix alstromeriana.

Then there were 6 micros that all looked fairly identical in appearance, and which I have recorded as Acleris ferrugana/notana. Here is one below (fw 7mm).

The final micro, however, has got me completely stumped, so any help much appreciated. The forewing measures 9mm, and I have posted both a top view and a side view.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Monday, 13 February 2017

Active leaf-mines

A quick check in the garden here today produced active mines of the very common micro-moths Stigmella aurella (on bramble) and Phyllonorycter leucographella (on pyracantha).  Assuming that you've got the food-plant handy, these are easy records to make during this quiet period.

Stigmella aurella, Westcott 13th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Double Dart?

Just going through last year's records and found a moth I wasn't sure about when it came to my light trap in Culham on 24th July.  Is it a Double Dart?  The light scales within the kidney mark and the resting position don't seem quite right.

Will Atkinson

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Bulb changes

Hi all, I use a 30w twin actinic robinsons trap. I run it almost all year, apart from the odd week when I'm on holiday or when its freezing like now. I've had it just over a year, I was wondering how often do these tubes need changing?
I've recorded 8 species this year so far here in Milton Keynes, Chestnut, E postvittana, Mottled Umber, Pale Brindled Beauty, Spring Usher in January and Satellite on Feb 1st, then added Angles Shades larvae and Phyllonorycter leucographella mine on Pyracantha yesterday. This time last year I'd had Common Quaker and Hebrew Character!

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dotted Border female

With the temperature hovering around 3C at dusk but supposed to stay above freezing, I took a single MV trap into local oak woodland again last night.  Moths were around but in much reduced numbers compared with five days ago, only 37 individuals of five species being seen (and nothing new from last time).  However I did find a single Dotted Border female on an oak trunk, to my mind the smartest of the flightless females and certainly the one from that group with the most substantial vestigial wings.

Dotted Border female, 7th February

Dotted Border female, 7th February

Twice I thought I'd struck lucky with one of the other flightless females too but each time it proved to be a newly-emerged male Pale Brindled Beauty scampering up a tree-trunk!

Newly-emerged Pale Brindled Beauty male, 7th February
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


I made a daytime reconnaissance visit to some woodland near Marlow, Bucks today in advance of regular trapping at the site later in the year and while there I happened to notice a case of the psychid Taleporia tubulosa above head height on an ash trunk.  That made me look closer at other trees and a further eight were found with relative ease, all lower down on beech trunks.  The case length of them all was circa 15mm and a phone camera record shot appears below.

Case of Taleporia tubulosa, 7th February
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 3 February 2017

Phyllonorycter viminiella?

The moth below emerged yesterday from some active mines collected at the end of October last year on leaves of Goat Willow Salix caprea in our garden.  Several Phyllonorycters use that foodplant so it is necessary to breed them through to confirm the species.  This example would appear to me to have the very indistinct markings of Phyllonorycter viminiella (formerly salictella).  The moth has been identified previously in the garden, both as an adult (dissected) and through sightings of leaf-mines on our weeping willow Salix babylonica and narrow-leaved sallow Salix cinerea.  So far as I'm aware it is not known from broad-leaved sallows so it will be interesting to get this one confirmed by dissection too.

Possible Phyllonorycter viminiella, Westcott 2nd February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Good numbers last night

I took a single MV trap into some local oak woodland for four hours last night, hoping to get a decent 'fix' of moths for February because there are likely to be few further opportunities until well into March as the weather is due to turn colder again.  It was very windy but a reasonably sheltered spot was found and, as is the norm in suitable conditions in woodland at this time of year, the moths quickly became very active.  The count by the time I packed up was 186 individuals from ten species:  Ypsolopha ustella (1), Acleris ferrugana/notana (2), Torticodes alternella (7), Winter Moth (4), Pale Brindled Beauty (29), Spring Usher (129), Dotted Border (1), Mottled Umber (7), Early Moth (5) & Chestnut (1).   It was interesting to see Winter Moths hanging on into February, something that doesn't seem to happen every year although my latest ever date is still a couple of weeks away (the 15th).

Ypsolopha ustella, 2nd February

Tortricodes alternella, 2nd February

Dotted Border, 2nd February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Help with Tortrix

Only my second moth of the year - can anyone ID it? Seems the wrong time for all the possible matches I found.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

An Average January

Despite all the rain that fell last night I had quite a good result here in Westcott, the actinic light bringing in Agonopterix heracliana (1), Pale Brindled Beauty (2), Early Moth (3) and Dark Chestnut (1).  Looking back quickly over the previous ten years I find that my average garden species count for January is 5.4, so the six species seen so far in 2017 is about the norm (Winter Moth and Mottled Umber being the other two).

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Spring Usher

On retrieving my soggy moth trap from the garden this morning, I found a Spring Usher sitting on top of the rain guard. Not only is this my first macro moth of the year, it is also new for the garden, so a promising start to 2017.

Steve Trigg, Cookham