Friday, 29 September 2017

The Clifden Nonpareil: the origin of its name and first recorded location

Having been privileged to find this moth in my garden, I became intrigued by the origin of its name. It was first described in this country by Benjamin Wilkes as the Cleifden Nonpareil in his book 'British Butterflies and Moths' (1749), in the following words: 
“This curious fly was found by Mr.Davenport, sticking against the body of an ash tree, near Cleifden in Buckinghamshire. It was taken in the month of July: is at present in the possession of Charles Lockyer, Esq., and is the only one of the sort that I have yet seen or heard of.”
Cleifden or Clifden is the modern Cliveden, an estate on the edge of the Thames near Maidenhead now owned by the National Trust. Curiously, while it seems clear from maps that Cliveden is in Buckinghamshire (on the east of the River Thames, which provides the county boundary), the Wikipedia entry for the moth refers to the 'Cliveden estate in Berkshire', and the address of Cliveden House is also given as Berkshire. So which county has the record?

John Thacker, Harwell

Crocidosema plebejana

Despondent after seeing Marc's report, I almost forgot about this little chap which I potted from one of the vanes of the garden actinic trap last night.  It is Crocidosema plebejana, a fairly recent colonist of the UK which has become established along southern coastal counties and seems to be spreading inland.  I had it here in the garden as a first for Bucks on 29th August 2015.  That was followed by another on 2nd January 2016, right at the end of a remarkable period of migrant activity over that Christmas/New Year holiday period.  This third record may also have been as the result of migration northwards from the south coast but I'm not aware of any other records for the county so there is the possibility that it has become established around here - I hope so!  Otherwise last night's migrant activity in the trap at Westcott was limited to four Silver Ys, while singletons of Feathered Thorn and Yellow-line Quaker were new for the garden year-list.

Crocidosema plebejana, Westcott 28th September
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Deja vue

In woodland in VC22 exactly the same spot as I caught Clifden there three years ago I caught another one sitting on the outside of the trap in pretty much exactly the same position as the last one. The only thing different this time is that there was a second one sitting inside the other trap! I would like to think this might go some way to proving it might be resident in the area but the supporting cast consisted of a number of migrant species including Delicate, Dark Spectacle, Rush Veneer and Rusty Dot Pearl, suggesting a fair bit of movement of moths last night. Other recent local reports of Clifdens and migrant moths also point to good migration activity but then again my traps were next to a stand of Aspen and were exactly the same spot where I have recorded the species before......

Either way, despite low numbers of moths overall, it was a fantastic night with quality rather than quantity for sure, and produced a total of 39 species including my first Merveille du Jours of the year.

Marc Botham, Didcot

Terrible photo of the two Clidfen Nonpareil VC22 29/09/17

Dark Spectacle - VC22 29/09/17

Delicate - VC22 29/09/17

Boxworm & Carpets

First Boxworm here last night.

Can someone confirm the Carpets - I think the first one is a Grey Pine carpet the second I'm not sure about - I've not found a way to be able to distinguish them myself despite using the photos in the Conifer Moth book.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Wife not happy!

After years of carefully planting Box over a number of years last night at eleven o'clock the dreaded Cydalima perspectalis (Boxworm Moth) turned up on the trap. I feel a bonfire in the offing!.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Westcott, Bucks

Last night's rain caused a significant reduction in Lunar Underwings recorded, 'only' 82 attending the trap here, but Black Rustic numbers increased to 44.  Two new-for-year species for the garden list were Pine Carpet and a nice purple form of Barred Sallow.  The Pine Carpet was an even smarter-looking female than the male I had in Finemere Wood the previous night.  Unlike Grey Pine and Spruce, the moth is not at all common in Bucks where there are still fewer than 30 records overall, but this is the fourth year out of the last five where I've had an individual in the garden.  The habitat locally is rather untypical:  we are on heavy clay soil with no nearby pine plantations.  Most of the woodlands locally which were wrecked in the '50s and '60s by having their deciduous hearts cut out in favour of conifer plantations are now on the mend after the removal of those conifers over the past ten years or so.  The moth is therefore presumably existing on garden pines (of which there are quite a few locally) and/or specimen trees on the nearby Waddesdon Estate. 

Pine Carpet, Westcott 27th September

Barred Sallow, Westcott 27th September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

Delicate (Mythimna vitellina)

This moth, in my trap last night, must surely be a Delicate, but as I haven't seen one before I would appreciate confirmation and/or comments:

Also a Cydalima perspectalis, the 5th seen here so far this year, following on from just one last year.  
Now I need a Clifden Nonpareil . . . . . . .

Richard Ellis

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Another Clifden Nonpareil for VC22

I have been recording moths from my garden in Harwell village, Oxon, for the last 4 years or so, mainly using a home-made Skinner-type trap (MV light).  While the numbers I trap are not high I do get a diversity of species. This morning I found this magnificent moth in my light box, along with about 30 other moths. I see that a Nonpareil was also recorded recently in nearby Didcot, but as you will see from the photo this one is in better condition (although a bit worn on the head)  Unusually about half of the other moths were Black Rustics (14), although I have only seen singles of these previously. As expected others included  Lunar Underwing (6), Setaceous Hebrew Character (3), Beaded Chestnut (2).  The only micro was Eudonia angustea.

John Thacker

Finemere Wood, Bucks

I ran a couple of MV lights in Finemere Wood last night but ended up with more hornets than moths.  Two species new for the year, though, were nice fresh examples of Pine Carpet and Figure of Eight.

Pine Carpet, Finemere Wood 26th September

Figure of Eight, Finemere Wood 26th September

Back at home I had another varied selection of autumn moths with the Lunar Underwing total breaking the hundred barrier for the first time this season (120 counted).  However there were no migrants apart from a solitary Silver Y and the only species new for the year was a Red-line Quaker.

Red-line Quaker, Westcott 26th September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Follow up from yesterday

Hopefully a slightly better image of the micro I was asking about yesterday. 10mm in length. I am thinking Acleris sparsana is a possibility having had a better look.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Coming to a box hedge near you...

Cydalima perspectalis put in a first appearance in the garden at Westcott last night.  This was not at all unexpected as it seems to be moving out from the London area at an exceedingly rapid rate now (I see that even Northumberland managed its first sighting yesterday!).  It was in amongst another good catch (307 moths of 40 species), different species to the previous night being Elachista canapennella, Aproaerema anthyllidellaEpiphyas postvittana, Eudonia angustea, Achroia grisella, Light Emerald, Smoky Wainscot (hind-wings checked, presumably a second brood), Brown-spot Pinion, Orange Sallow, Frosted Orange & Vine's Rustic.  Black Rustic is doing particularly well at the moment with 38 coming to light last night, putting it in third place behind Lunar Underwing (85) and Square-spot Rustic (41).

Cydalima perspectalis, Westcott 25th September

My second Dusky-lemon Sallow of the year appeared last night and was a particularly dark individual.

Dusky-lemon Sallow, Westcott 25th September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Green-brindled Crescents and micros to check

Of the 28 species in last night's catch 6 of the macros were new for the year for me. Orange Sallow, Barred Sallow, Deep-brown Dart, Brindled Green, Large Ranunculus and Green-brindled Crescent - one of each form. I have not had the brown ones here before.

As far as micros were concerned I think this is Pandemis cinnamomeana - a new species for me if correct.

And finally what I think is probably a Cnephasia species. If so the first since early August,

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Cypress Pug and Beaded Chestnuts?

I got my first Cypress Pug this morning.

Can anyone confirm these three different individuals are Beaded Chestnut?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

ps fresh Yellow-tail and brindled Green this morning.

A new form of moth trap

Sorry to fly many miles out of the area, but there might be a local application for this. On holiday in Portugal last week, I had an unexpectedly moth-rich time thanks to the pool at our hotel (provided I beat the assiduous debris-netter to my early morning combo of swim and entomological research).

I wonder if anyone has surveyed the pools of the Upper Thames, particularly any whose lights are left on at night? I think my pics here show inter alia Portuguese specimens of Peach Blossom, Grass Eggar, Yellow Belle, Vestal and Yellowtail. All were originally in the water and all appeared to recover on removal. The top left hand moth in the first composite pic was easily an inch underwater, gripping the pool side firmly and apparently content. There is quite a lot of interesting material online about 'underwater moths' and swimming pool moth experiences.  Home now and hoping to lure a Merveille DJ ce soir.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon


So there I was, sat in the still-pouring rain this morning in the garden in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, going through increasingly sodden eggboxes and wondering what it was all about, when I turned one over and found this underneath it:

Merveille du Jour, 24/9/17
This is a species I've coveted ever since taking up trapping, and which I'd more or less abandoned hope of ever getting here: something of a Monday morning booster!

In fact, it turns out to be the second lifer here in two days: I hadn't registered that an Orange Sallow from yesterday was the first we've ever had, too:

Orange Sallow, 23/9/17
And I'm fairly certain, bearing in mind the discussion below, that the creature below is a straightforward Deep-brown Dart, not its Northern counterpart:

Deep-brown Dart, 24/9/17
Like others, I found that the catch last night, although small by many standards, was a significant improvement on recent nights, irrespective of the rain, with 58 individuals of 23 species (if one counts a Red Admiral found taking shelter in the trap!) - and a couple of other NFYs as well as those above: Beaded Chestnut and Brown-spot Pinion; also a pleasing catch of five Black Rustics, which seem to be having a good year. It does look rather as though my earlier hopes for a full year-list of 400+ species were wildly optimistic: numbers of new species rather fell off a cliff in August, due to a combination of frequent absences and poor weather, and as it is, I'm only just about at 350 - maybe another ten or a dozen autumn species might yet show up, but that's about it, I should imagine. Still, it's better than last year...

Steve Goddard

A couple of degrees makes all the difference

Even though it was chucking it down with rain when I went out to close things down at 5.30am this morning, the overcast and much warmer night made a big difference to the garden catch here, 45 species coming as a very nice surprise when compared to the trap results of the last few weeks.  Caught were Tinea semifulvella (1), Depressaria radiella (1), Blastobasis lacticolella (1), Pandemis cinnamomeana (1), Acleris rhombana (1), Acleris variegana (1), Archips podana (2), Clepsis consimilana (2), Celypha lacunana (2), Eudonia pallida (2), Hypsopygia costalis (1), Acrobasis consociella (1), Maiden's Blush (1), Garden Carpet (1), Common Marbled Carpet (7), Mallow (1), Brimstone Moth (9), Dusky Thorn (11), Willow Beauty (1), Ruby Tiger (1), Turnip Moth (2), Shuttle-shaped Dart (1), Large Yellow Underwing (20), Lesser Yellow Underwing (1), Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (6), Small Square-spot (1), Setaceous Hebrew Character (14), Square-spot Rustic (51), Common Wainscot (16), Deep-brown Dart (3), Black Rustic (20), Beaded Chestnut (15), Lunar Underwing (42), Centre-barred Sallow (9), Pink-barred Sallow (4), Sallow (3), Dusky-lemon Sallow (1), Old Lady (1), Angle Shades (1), Small Wainscot (1), Rosy Rustic (4), Scarce Bordered Straw (1), Burnished Brass (2), Straw Dot (2) & Snout (3).  Only Pandemis cinnamomeana and Dusky-lemon Sallow were new for the year, but it was good to see another Scarce Bordered Straw even if it was in somewhat less than pristine condition!  Square-spot Rustic seems to have had a late burst of activity here, this being the highest nightly count I've had all season. 

Scarce Bordered Straw, Westcott 24th September

I also took a couple of traps to Bernwood Forest last night for the usual three hour session but the results were quite poor in comparison (...and I got soaked there too!).  Brindled Green and Barred Sallow were first sightings for me this year but otherwise there was nothing of particular note amongst the macros.  I'd hoped to see Oak Lutestring which, oddly, I've never managed to find anywhere at Bernwood in nine consecutive years of regular recording at the site.  Once again it failed to appear, this despite the fact that Paul Waring trapped the moth in good numbers during 1984/85 when he was at Oxford Polytechnic and the habitat would seem still to be perfect for it.  There has only been one subsequent record at Bernwood and that was from a suspiciously early date in August 2006.  There's no shortage of recent Bucks sightings for the species, though, and it is still found in some of the other woodlands in the greater Bernwood area (Finemere Wood, for example).  Micros last night were in short supply but it was nice to see Zelleria hepariella as well as three examples of the uncommon aspen-feeding tortrix Epinotia maculana.

Epinotia maculana, Bernwood 24th September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Longwick joins the Cypress Pug Club

Like Dave Ferguson in Beaconsfield I too saw my first Cypress Pug here in Longwick (Bucks) last night. Given I have Leylandii hedges I guess it was inevitable! Perhaps less so were the Magpie Moth and Fern which accompanied it?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Cypress Pug

Cypress Pugs must be getting commoner if I can trap one in the garden. A garden (and life) first.

Dave Ferguson, Beaconsfield, Bucks

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A Later Marbled Beauty and a Not Sure Deep-brown Dart

At Linford Lakes last night these 2 turned up in a 40W Skinner type actinic.  I have noted the comments made earlier about this species thus the "Later"  in the title.  The Marbled Beauty is the latest that I have ever seen and quite a striking specimen.  I checked my records and I have 5 for September, 2 in 2006 and 3 in 2007 and the latest date being 11th September 2007.

                                                                 Marbled Beauty

The three of us at Linford Lakes this morning did wonder about this Deep-brown Dart as it was so unlike the Deep-brown Darts usually seen in this neck of the woods.  My Bucks list has Aporophyla lutulenta only so I assume that Aporophyla lueneburgensis,  the Northern Deep- brown Dart has not been recorded here.

                                                                 Deep-brown Dart?

Gordon Redford
Newport Pagnell

Micro ID advice needed

Last night's catch was pleasing with 127 moths of 30 species including my first Frosted Orange, Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow and Beaded Chestnut of the year. Dozens of wasps and a hornet may well have reduced the catch judging by the debris in the bottom of the trap. (Thorns seem to be a particularly common prey). This micro has me puzzled. Possibly something in the Swammerdamia area but at 8mm in length and at this time of the year it seems unlikely?

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Caloptilia semifascia?

This mine was on a very small Field Maple leaf in our garden (Loosley Row, Bucks). Looking at the way it has been folded I think it's Caloptilia semifascia, help would be appreciated.

Two views of the leaf as found and one flattened out.


Maybe LEDs do work

This example of Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis found an interesting place to land indoors at Westcott overnight!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 22 September 2017


A couple of unusual things have appeared in the garden trap here over the last two nights.  The first was from Wednesday night, a miniature Flounced Rustic with a forewing length of only 12mm (about the same size as a Marbled Minor).

Flounced Rustic, Westcott 20th September

The second was a Common Pug which came to light last night.  July/August records of the species are quite regular, suggesting a second brood, but this seems very late indeed even for that.  Since the millennium there have been four other September records in Bucks, two in 2003 and two in 2009 (24th September 2009 from Loosley Row being the latest).

Common Pug, Westcott 21st September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Like London Buses... wait for ages then three come along at once.  I've never found Stigmella assimilella an easy leaf-mine to locate despite there being plenty of aspen locally.  A quick look at a young sapling on the old land-fill at nearby Woodham, Bucks early this afternoon produced the usual plethora of grazing signs everywhere but then I spotted the obvious mines below, three active ones on the same leaf:

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Just checking - Beaded Chestnut

Just checking this is a Beaded Chestnut, the first for the year.

The Black Rustics are out, so are the Brown-Spot Pinion and Lunar Underwings.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Hoary Footman

Amongst the moths attracted to our house lights (Loosley Row, Bucks) last night was this Hoary Footman. Quite a docile specimen, it sat perfectly still as I checked its hindwings.

Rammamere Heath, Bucks

Probably the final one of my monthly visits this season to Rammamere Heath on the Bucks/Beds border, a trip there last night produced just short of 40 species, none of them unexpected.  Only the one moth was worthy of comment:  Autumnal Rustic is not at all common in Bucks but last night it proved to be the most abundant species seen with 34 trapped altogether.

Autumnal Rustic, Rammamere Heath 20th September

Other species seen included Mallow, Feathered Thorn and Brown-spot Pinion, all of which were my first sightings for this year.

Feathered Thorn, Rammamere Heath 20th September

A Mallow appeared at Westcott last night too but unfortunately it had succumbed to a bat attack and the only evidence left for me to see was a single forewing.  It was one of 28 species attracted to the garden actinic light (in excess of 150 moths altogether), of which Deep-brown Dart and Beaded Chestnut were also new for 2017.  As is usual at this time of year, only about half of those moths actually entered the trap and the rest were found spread around the lawn.  Lunar Underwings, of which 31 were recorded, seem to be the most adept at hiding between blades of grass and can be particularly difficult to spot. 

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks