Friday, 30 June 2017

Another Dagger

I have been trapping in my garden for almost 18 years, and have been taking a few Dark/Grey Dagger specimens each year, as these are not reliably separated without dissecting them.  In recent years I've started doing these myself using British and Irish Moths: an Illustrated Guide to Selected Difficult Species (Unfortunately, I think this is now out of print).  Prior to this Peter Hall and Martin Albertini kindly did them for me. 

Every one looked at so far had been Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi). 

Peter Hall had previously told that about 1 in 10 of the ones he had in his garden were Dark Dagger, but I thought that may have been because he had a local population, and I had pretty much given up seeing one. 

I spent the day today pinning specimens from many groups, as I was running out of pots and needed to rescue some from the freezer.  The last pot had a Dagger sp. in it.  I naturally assumed it would be Grey Dagger.  That would be OK though, as this is probably under recorded and I am happy to get positive records of the species. Most are recorded as the aggregate Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi). 

Imagine my surprise when I looked  down the microscope and saw this. 

This clearly shows the ventral surface of the valva with three protuding arms, and confirms Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens).   This is the first time I have recorded this species, so a red letter day for me. 

If you have not attempted dissection before, I would encourage you to have a go.  A number of species are quite straight-forward, Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi) and Tawny/Marbled Minor are the easiest, you don't need chemicals for males, which I find most are anyway.  Just pop the fresh specimens in the freezer until you are ready to look at them and then put them under the microscope (you do need a low power microscope).  Then carefully open the tip of the abdomen, the hard plates are usually easy to find and then compare with te book.  You can see from the mess in my photo that I'm doing this just to confirm the ID, not to preserve the specimen!

Neil Fletcher
Walter's Ash, VC24 (Bucks)

Some interesting Twitter regional records

A couple of nice regional records seen on Twitter recently:

A Ni Moth in Didcot, presumably in Marc Botham's garden

And an Olive Crescent at Swinley, Berks

Adam Bassett

Foresters back at Chalfont St Peter

I am pleased to report that foresters are back in force in Chalfont St Peter for the third year running. I spotted fifteen today all nectaring on field scabious apart from one floating upside-down in a cattle trough which expired when I attempted a rescue. They were widely spread over a large area of rough ground which makes for slow-going so I couldn't search it all. I suspect there were many more than fifteen there. Also there were six-spot burnets, cauchas rufimitrella and common plume.

Side view needed?

Maybe if I had a side view?.  Can I please have help with this top viewed micro which I cannot find. Many thanks.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

For ID please

Now things have quietened I've had a chance to go over some of the catches which aren't particularly obvious to me and I still can't make up my mind on

the fist is I think one of the Highflyers - but which one?

the second I think is Plutella porrectella

the third - I can't figure if it's worn or not - the orange patch on the forewing is confusing me

next one I was thinking one of the Swammerdamia but the orange patch on the head is throwing me off.

finally - Large Nutmeg?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Numbers way down but nice selection

Don't remember ever having a Drinker in the trap before and exactly how scarce is a scarce footman? The clouded border is just because I like them!

Micro IDs

I assume the grey job is a Cnephasia sp unidentifiable to species by photo.

The nearest I can find to the other is Phtheochroa sodalania but the shape is unconvincing. A side view would have helped but I didn't manage to get one. F/w c7mm.

All help appreciated.

Dave Ferguson, Beaconsfield

Leaf mines

I've been wandering around the garden and finding quite a few different leaf mines on various different trees and shrubs.  I've used the leaf mining website as a source for identification.  As far as I can tell, almost all the mines I found don't belong to moths, with the exception of the one below on hazel, which looks like the mine of Phyllonorycter coryli.  As I have almost no experience in this area, I thought I'd check with those who do this regularly.

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Triangle rediscovered in South Bucks

Sir Eric Ansorge says of Triangle:  "Buckinghamshire is one of the chief haunts in England of this very local moth.  It is 'not uncommon in beech woods at Marlow' (South), and this is the only locality given in the V.C.H. [the Victoria County History].  A number of specimens were taken at High Heavens Wood, 19.vii.58."  However, since those 1958 records there have been no further sightings of this Red Data Book species in south Bucks, nor anywhere else in the county until it was discovered in Bernwood Forest in 2010.

Last night I trapped again in Hog & Hollowhill Woods at Medmenham, which probably qualifies as one of Richard South's 'beech woods at Marlow' even though it is infinitely more varied and interesting in tree content than being just a 'beech wood' would infer.  Almost on the stroke of midnight a Triangle appeared as if by magic right next to me on the sheet beneath one of the two traps (funny how that happens with some moths, you don't see them arrive, they're suddenly just there!).  When going through the same trap later on I found another one inside it.  Definitely a memorable trapping session just for those two individual moths!

Triangle (male), Hog & Hollowhill Woods 26th June

Triangle (female), Hog & Hollowhill Woods 26th June

There were quite a few other goodies as well though, including Ethmia dodecea, Eana incanana (a double-digit count, very nice to see), Large Emerald, Mocha, Beautiful Carpet, Haworth's Pug, Clouded Magpie, Great Oak Beauty, Barred Red, Maple Prominent, Rosy Footman, Red-necked Footman &Waved Black.

Beautiful Carpet, Hog & Hollowhill Woods 26th June

Clouded Magpie, Hog & Hollowhill Woods 26th June

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

White Satin

Enjoyable to watch a White Satin warm up this morning, a process which took a minute and seven seconds and then it only flew as far as my iPad Mini's screen. Hundreds of visitors last night in the trap but the WS slept stand-offishly on a nearby wall. Does it trigger the same memories for you as for me? Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

400 Up

Albeit at a slower rate than during our 'heatwave' period, the garden trap here at Westcott has continued to produce new species for the year list each night, with the following being added:

22nd June
Lozotaenia forsterana, Udea prunalis, Dark Sword-grass
23rd June
Marasmarcha lunaedactyla, Phycita roborella, Lobster Moth, Old Lady
24th June
Buff Footman
25th June
Pandemis heparana, Least Carpet, Muslin Footman
26th June
Acleris forsskaleana, Yarrow Pug (awaiting dissection), Dingy Footman, Dun-bar

The garden list currently stands at 402 species for the year, the first time ever that 400 has been passed in June, so tonight I've given the trap a celebratory and well-earned night off (well, it is raining after all!).

Lozotaenia forsterana, Westcott 22nd June 

Marasmarcha lunaedactyla, Westcott 23rd June

Muslin Footman, Westcott 25th June

Probable Yarrow Pug, Westcott 26th June
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Beautiful Snout

Dithering about whether to go trapping or not a couple of nights ago I decided to make the effort at the last moment and went to the local woodland, Philipshill. I was glad I did: 114 species (plus a few more) later I had encountered a couple of notables. Star, in my opinion, was my first Beautiful Snout:

Also a moth that would have been immaculate but for a bad rip in a hind wing: Cydalima perspectalis:

Also, not one, but two Meadow Brown butterflies, rendered all the stranger by the fact that the light they obsessed over was in the middle of a Beech wood. Also, the following scruffy moth is mentioned because it would be a first for me and I have been known to get this one wrong before:
Am I right and it's Archips crataegana? It was accompanied by good numbers of its close relative
 A. xylosteana and it is similar to them.

A couple of queries from Longwick

Last nights catch was mostly fairly typical but Fern and Varied Coronet are pretty unusual here - I haven't seen the Varied Coronet in a long time. Had a noticeably small Herald and my first second brood Early Thorn this year. I have a couple of queries - a tortrix which might be Gypsonoma Aceriana and a coleophorid - around 9mm long - possibly lixella? ( I tend to shy away from these!).

Monday, 26 June 2017

Micro query

Any help appreciated with the identity of this grey fellow.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Marlow Bottom 24th June

Nothing particularly exciting, except for me! I had my first ever Pine Hawkmoth, a species I wasn't hopeful of getting due to the lack of large conifer tracts here.

I also had another 'common' species for the first time - Agapeta hamana is extremely regular, but Agapeta zoegana put in an appearance.

Another first was actually five moths.  One I have probably overlooked in the past as I have lots of wild marjoram here, Thiotricha subocellea.  It took a while to work out, as it didn't seem to be in the right family!

A probable fourth first and another common species, was Stenoptilia pterodactyla.  The photo isn't great and I couldn't obviously see any white costal cilia, but the colour and everything else looks ok - any comments?

And finally, a photo of an Oak Nycteoline for Steve!

Adam Bassett

Some IDs and confirmations please

The first Crambid I've not been able to get a match.

then I think I possibly have a White-point - I've had a few Clays recently but this one seems to have a more definite white spot.

the next one Batia lunaris - sorry I don't have the size but it was tiny.

then Blue bordered Carpet.

mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Two immigrants now resident

Both of these were grown from caterpillars, emerged today.


The Tiger from Aldbury and the Gypsy from N.  London


Oak Nycteoline?

Unfortunately I have no picture for which I am kicking myself - I usually photo as much as I can before potting stuff.

It had come to the kitchen door - I thought it looks exactly like I've seen them but I don't know if the flight season is right - and if it wasn't what it might be.

It looked like a large broad tortrix, greyish brown with a central red brown band.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Kent Black Arches

Found in the Robinson Trap left overnight at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, North Bucks on Friday night, 23rd June.  New for me and the site.  I am still purring now.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Playing catch-up!

Owing to various distractions, while I've been putting out the trap regularly in our garden in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, I've not been able to enter up records, or check dubious IDs, as much as I'd like -- I'm hoping to catch up over the next day or so. Even before the recent heatwave, my impression was that this year is being considerably better than 2016, and like many others, I've had some very good catches in the last week (even more work to catch up on 😄), with good numbers of, among others, Scarlet Tiger, several Blacknecks (not by any means an annual species here), some pleasing Elephant Hawkmoths and so on. I don't propose to put here all my queries from the last month -- and in any case, I've managed to sort out quite a number of them -- but I'm going to start by including here a few where I've got a pretty good idea of the species and would be grateful for confirmation or a pointer in the right direction. Firstly: what I think is a Chilo phragmitella from 21st June; a possible Cochylis hybridella from 28th May; what would be a garden first in the form of a possible Endothenia quadrimaculana from 22nd June; what I think is a Mottled Beauty from 30th May (but this is an ID I've always had trouble with); a possible Obscure Wainscot from 14th June; and a possible Vine's Rustic from 30th May.

Possible Chilo phragmitella, 21/6/17

Possible Cochylis hybridella, 28/5/17

Possible Endothenia quadrimaculana, 22/6/17

Possible Mottled Beauty, 30/5/17

Possible Obscure Wainscot, 14/6/17

Possible Vine's Rustic, 30/5/17
And secondly, a few where I think I've established the genus, but I haven't got any further than that: an Aethes species, I think -- either francillana or beatricella; what I think must be the same Cydia species from 21st and 18th June; and what looks as though it should be an easy-to-identify Cochylis species from 14th June.

An Aethes species: francillana  or beatricella?, 17/6/17 

Presumed Cydia species, 21/6/17

Presumed Cydia species, 18/6/17

Presumed Cochylis species, 14/6/17
As ever, all suggestions or corrections very welcome!

Steve Goddard