Monday, 31 December 2018

These really are the last

I was a bit previous in my last post, describing a Mottled Umber as my last moth of the year. The final one is actually a Spring Usher, like Dave's, along with two more Mottled Umbers, each different and both outside the trap, as happened with Jacqui a few nights ago. And a fat, zonked-out wasp. Does Spring Usher win the prize for most optimistic moth name?  All the best to all - and the moths - for the New Year.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Spring Usher

A Spring Usher during the second half of December is not really anything that unusual but last night's garden record was the first for Westcott.  Unfortunately I seem to get just one or two individuals here per season so I hope this doesn't end up being the only one of the winter!

Spring Usher, Westcott 29th December

Other moths brought to the actinic light last night were Emmelina monodactyla (2), Winter Moth (2) & Mottled Umber (3).  At the moment I'm still getting something every night and that looks set to continue until the end of the month, but as we enter January it seems that we can expect a cold snap for a while so the 2019 garden year-list may take a while to get going.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Dark Chestnut?

I put my garden trap out last night for probably the last time this year. It attracted 4 moths - 2 Mottled Umber (both outside the trap), 1 Winter Moth and what I think is 1 Dark Chestnut -

I wish everybody a Happy New Year,
Steve Trigg, Cookham

Thursday, 27 December 2018

First night of my new moth trap

I was really pleased to get a moth trap for Christmas. I put it outside for the first time last night. When I went out this morning I found this Mottled Umber on the outside of the trap. Looking forward to lots more firsts next year!


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

December moth

Dealing in singles; just one male December moth last night.

Alan Diver

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Mottled Umber

Look what Father Xmas brought me.

Merry Xmas

Alan Diver

Monday, 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

And thanks for all the very much-appreciated help over the year.  Encouraged by three moths in the headlights last night, I trapped for the first time in a month - using an old sheet cos I have no eggboxes at the moment. The result was this solitary Mottled Umber, my last moth of the year. Here too, is my last butterfly, a lovely Small Tortoiseshell woken from hibernation by a sunny day (and our central heating).  Merry Christmas all, and all warmest wishes for the New Year!  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Sunday, 23 December 2018

And still they come

Two more migrant moths pitched up in the garden at Westcott over the last couple of nights, showing that it is never too late to get something of interest (well, maybe not all that interesting really, but in December and this far inland we beggars can't be choosers!).  On the 21st a Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella and last night a large fresh Silver Y, both the latest examples ever seen here.

Silver Y, Westcott 22nd December

This December has been the best I can recall for moths in the garden.  The actinic has now brought in 20 species for the month and on only four nights produced a nil return (12th to 15th, when it was really too cold by dusk).  Mottled Umber has done phenomenally well and this season's garden count has already reached 70, whereas the previous high was 27 in 2017 and prior to that the average was in single digits.  December Moth had another little burst of activity on the 21st when three males turned up, the first I've seen here for three weeks.  Their count mirrors that of Mottled Umber in that I've now had 54 this season yet the previous highest was 22 (again, in 2017).  Satellite, Chestnut and Dark Chestnut have appeared several times in December and by way of a change it was nice to see a Grey Shoulder-knot similarly tempted out of hibernation on the 20th.

Grey Shoulder-knot, Westcott 20th December

No sign of that oversized female starting to sing here just yet but I suppose she won't be long now...

Happy Christmas one and all!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Friday, 21 December 2018

December moth

One December moth last night. It was very lively this morning and couldn't wait to escape the petri dish. Probably my lot for 2018. Thanks to DW and others for advice over the year.

Alan Diver

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Expect the unexpected

What an interesting year this has been!  Last night was reasonably mild so I decided to trap for a few hours in Finemere Wood, Bucks in the hope of seeing perhaps an early Pale Brindled Beauty or Spring Usher amongst all the Winter Moths and Mottled Umbers.  However, it was not to be and in the end I got only six species.  The two expected ones turned up in very good numbers and were joined by Satellite, Chestnut and Dark Chestnut.  However, the sixth species was a singleton of something not expected at all, a Lead-coloured Drab:

Lead-coloured Drab, Finemere Wood 17th December

Lead-coloured Drab, Finemere Wood 17th December

It showed some slight damage to its right forewing so may have been around for a day or two.  Some of the Orthosia species (Common Quaker in particular) do occasionally appear early like this but Lead-coloured Drab is fairly consistent in not beginning to fly around here until mid-February at the earliest.

Most of the oaks I looked at were covered in Winter Moths (males, facing upwards and some still expanding their wings) waiting for females to scamper up the trunk.  I saw only a couple of mated pairs (males facing downwards) and another three newly-emerged females working their way up the trees.  I brought two of the females home to photograph because although similar in size (and really too small to be anything else) they looked quite different, but they do both seem to be Winter Moths.  The females must be quite variable in colour.

Winter Moth female, Finemere Wood 17th December

Winter Moth female, Finemere Wood 17th December

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Brick is still out there

For those who have yet to see Brick this season, it might still be possible to get one because this very late specimen came to light in the garden here last night along with Winter Moth (4), Mottled Umber (7) & Satellite (1).  It is the 204th example seen in the garden this year and my latest ever record by four days.

Brick, Westcott 10th December

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Monday, 10 December 2018

Chestnut Query

Trapped last night and very confused with this one. The wing shape and size looks like Beaded Chestnut to me, but the oval and kidney marks do not seem to match up. The hindwing looks like darkish grey with a whiter outer rim. Can anyone help please?

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Westcott, Bucks

I've had moths to the actinic light every night in December so far, fourteen different species in all, but there's been nothing at all to shout about.  The wind direction on the 5th and 6th offered the chance of migrants but all that appeared here were Plutella xylostella and Dark Sword-grass.  The last three nights have each produced battered examples of Satellite tempted out of hibernation and two of them are illustrated below.

Satellites, Westcott 7th December

The other species comprised Agonopterix heracliana, Blastobasis lacticolella, Epiphyas postvittana, Emmelina monodactyla, December Moth, Red-green Carpet, Winter Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty (the single example on the 1st, already mentioned on the blog), Mottled Umber, Blair's Shoulder-knot (two December records now, most unusual here) & Brick.  My garden records for Scarce Umber have always been in November so it looks as though it may be running true to form because there have been none so far this month.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Monday, 3 December 2018

Double-striped pug?

Haven't put trap out for a few days but found this Double-striped
Pug on inside of bathroom window 1st December.
Don't see how it could have got in from outside,
might it have emerged inside?

Alan Diver

Sunday, 2 December 2018

A worn specimen

I don't know if there is enough left to identify this from last night's catch. A little larger than the Yellow-line Quakers I have been catching. I wondered about Brick? It would be my first of the year!

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Mild for December

The temperature stayed in double figures here last night and the moths responded quite well, with Plutella xylostella (1), Epiphyas postvittana (2), Emmelina monodactyla (1), December Moth (6), Red-green Carpet (1), Winter Moth (1), Pale Brindled Beauty (1), Mottled Umber (9) & Blair's Shoulder-knot (1) coming to the twin-30wt actinic.  It must be a while since I've had more than 20 moths to light in the garden during December.

Pale Brindled Beauty, Westcott 1st December

Blair's Shoulder-knot, Westcott 1st December

The Pale Brindled Beauty is really an early appearance by one of next year's species.  There have been two previous garden records for December but they were both in the week after Christmas so this one is now the earliest.  December records are not unusual though and in recent years I've had several away from the garden in mid-month, but it would be difficult to beat the earliest which was seen on 14th November 2008 while trapping for Plumed Prominent with Messers Albertini, Hall & Townsend.  The Blair's Shoulder-knot is the garden's first December record and my latest ever sighting by a couple of weeks.  It has actually had quite a poor year here (only 10 other individuals, the last on 22nd October) so this appearance was very unexpected.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 30 November 2018


The night of 25/26 November 2018 the RIS trap at Burnham Beeches, Bucks caught two macro-moths, a December Moth (which has had good numbers this year) and a rather unexpected Brimstone (in very good condition).
The Bucks database has two previous reliably dated records for November, both in the first week of the month from Willen, Milton Keynes. So this current record is almost 3 weeks later.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Slight Resurgence

On Monday night (26th) there was a noticeable increase in garden moths, with December Moth (5), Winter Moth (10), Feathered Thorn (1) & Scarce Umber (1) appearing at the conservatory windows where I'm currently running the twin-30wt actinic light indoors.  Tuesday (27th) was even better with Epiphyas postvittana (1), December Moth (6), Red-green Carpet (1), Winter Moth (16), Feathered Thorn (1), Mottled Umber (1), Dark Sword-grass (1), Dark Chestnut (1) & Brick (1) tempted out despite the poor weather.  That's the latest I've had Dark Sword-grass here by nearly two weeks (apologies for the dismal photo but there's a distinct lack of natural light available at the moment).

Dark Sword-grass, Westcott 27th November

Last night's collection was rather smaller thanks to all that wind and rain but December Moth (3), Winter Moth (4) & Scarce Umber (1) still appeared.  The December Moth total here has now reached 41 this season which is nearly double my previous best of 22 in 2017.  After a concerted effort over the past couple of weeks I'm now only a month behind with record input into MapMate so I'll soon be able to check how other species have performed, but I think it is going to be difficult to find very many garden moths which haven't done well in 2018.  I suspect many will have been helped as much by the preceding hard winter as they were by the glorious summer, so let's hope we have another 'proper' winter to look forward to! 

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Sunday, 25 November 2018

First Blank Night

The frosts of the past week have probably finished off many of the autumn moth species still hanging around locally.  However, while it has been very poor for moths here at Westcott and included my first blank night of the season on the 20th, I've had at least one of the hardier winter species on every other night even if it was only a single Winter Moth (21st) or December Moth (22nd).  Things improved on Friday (23rd) to the extent that there was a double-digit count from six species:  Plutella xylostella (1), December Moth (3), Winter Moth (3), Scarce Umber (1), Mottled Umber (3) & Sprawler (1).  There was more of the same last night and I suspect that'll be about as good as it gets for the garden until well into the new year. 

Plutella xylostella, Westcott 23rd November

Your Records

Now is a good time to start thinking about getting your Records for 2018 into shape to pass on to your County Moth Recorder.  For those of you who are new to recording moths please have a look at the "Your Records" tab at the top of this page, where everything is explained. 

Moth Atlas

Don't forget that we have what should be an invaluable new resource to look forward to in the spring when the long-awaited Atlas of Britain & Ireland's Larger Moths is due to be published by Butterfly Conservation.  There is a pre-publication offer available here until 31st March which will save you £10.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

E-moth, November 2018

The latest version of Butterfly Conservation's occasional "E-moth" newsletter is available here, including details of the annual conference for recorders which will be held in Birmingham during January.

Sunday, 18 November 2018


Apologies for a rather academic post, but Ben Sale of Herts Moths Blog whose views I have found really helpful for many years, made an interesting comment on the moth above which I pictured here a couple of weeks ago after finding it dead in the trap. Marc and Dave suggested Brindled Green which strikes me as right (though I am always extremely nervous about my own inept attempts at ID).

Commenting on my own blog, Ben said: I think (I'm pretty sure, but if you still have the specimen or better photos?) that your boring grey moth is in fact the very rare Sombre Brocade.
It's very similar to a plain Brindled Green, but I think I can make out the markings from your photo. This prompted me to go a-Googling as I had never heard of the Sombre Brocade, and indeed it is not mentioned at all in the first edition of Townsend, Waring and Lewington because it only made landfall in the Channel Islands in 2006 and in Dorset two years later. But it appears to be spreading and so I felt it was worth posting closer-up pics of my moth (now gone, I am afraid), just to see what the many experts here think.

I have borrowed the 'standard' pics from a post in September from the Portland Bird Observatory which I think everyone will find interesting in any event.  As I said, I realise that the condition of the moth and the quality of my photos make this a rather academic exercise, but I'd be grateful for views. I still incline to Brindled Green.   Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Westcott, Bucks

A week has passed since the first appearance here this year by Scarce Umber and a further four have visited the trap in the intervening period.  10th November was quite a good night, 16 macro species coming to the twin-30wt actinic light:  December Moth, Winter Moth, Feathered Thorn, Scarce Umber, Mottled Umber, Figure of Eight, Turnip, Dark Sword-grass, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Sprawler, Green-brindled Crescent, Chestnut, Brick, Red-line Quaker & Pink-barred Sallow.  Additional moths seen in the garden since then have comprised Red-green Carpet & November Moth sp (both 11th), Blastobasis lacticolella & Beaded Chestnut (both 12th), Satellite (13th), Epiphyas postvittana, Eudonia angustea, Emmelina monodactyla & Grey Shoulder-knot (all 14th) and Phyllonorycter messaniella, Scrobipalpa costella, Udea ferrugalis, Willow Beauty, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Large Yellow Underwing, Dark Chestnut & Vine's Rustic (all 15th), so there is still plenty of variety out there.  Last night's nine species didn't add anything further but amongst them was yet another Dark Sword-grass which was the 28th example seen here this year, the previous garden high being 21 in 2013. 

The particularly mild night of the 15th brought out quite an interesting selection of moths to the actinic (32 individuals of 17 species).  I'd almost given up hope of seeing the migrant Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis here this year.  Willow Beauty was my latest ever sighting by six days, Shuttle-shaped Dart was only my second November record after one here on the 7th, while the Vine's Rustic was my first ever November sighting.

Udea ferrugalis, Westcott 15th November

Willow Beauty, Westcott 15th November

Vine's Rustic, Westcott 15th November

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 16 November 2018

Woodland Trapping

On Wednesday I had another session near Marlow in the south of Bucks looking for Plumed Prominent and it turned out to be the most successful evening I've ever had in the county searching for this nationally scarce species, with 24 of them recorded.  Three traps were run in the BBOWT-managed section of the Forestry Commission's Homefield Wood and between them they brought in a dozen Plumed Prominent males, five between two 125wt MVs and seven to a single 15wt actinic.  I monitored the two MVs quite closely and their plumigera arrivals were all between 6pm and 6.30pm.  The actinic was left to its own devices until packing-up time but all of the arrivals there were in by 7.30pm.  Apart from December Moth which put in a reasonable showing (20 individuals divided between all three lights), the only other moths seen were November Moth sp (3), Winter Moth (1), Feathered Thorn (2) & Yellow-line Quaker (1).  On my way to Homefield I'd dropped off a single 125wt MV trap in nearby Pullingshill Wood on the off-chance, even though I'd noticed only a few young and scraggly field maples there.  When I went back to collect it at 7.45pm there were no less than 12 male Plumed Prominents on the sheet or in the trap, making it the most numerous species present!  They were accompanied by December Moth (9), November Moth sp (1), Feathered Thorn (1), Mottled Umber (1), Satellite (3) & Brick (1).  Pullingshill is mixed woodland belonging to the Woodland Trust and is now a new county site (and tetrad) for plumigera

Plumed Prominents, Homefield Wood 14th November

I've always found woods in the Chilterns to be very quiet at this time of year and this visit was no exception.  You'd expect that to be true of the sterile beech-woods where very little else grows, but Homefield and many of its surrounding areas of woodland have a very diverse collection of mature deciduous trees and shrubs so I don't really understand why there weren't more seasonal moths about.  Last night (Thursday) I trapped in Finemere Wood out here in the Vale of Aylesbury and, much as expected and in direct contrast to the previous night's results, there was absolutely no shortage of moths even though the species count didn't break any records:  Diurnea lipsiella (2), Blastobasis lacticolella (2), December Moth (72), November Moth sp (25), Winter Moth (35, no candidates for Northern), Feathered Thorn (81), Scarce Umber (19), Mottled Umber (15), Figure of Eight (1), Satellite (2), Chestnut (11), Dark Chestnut (1) & Brick (11).  I was surprised not to see a single Sprawler but perhaps its season there is over already.  The picture below of the trap hasn't come out quite as well as I'd hoped but it does give an impression that there were plenty of moths to be seen!

MV trap at Finemere Wood 15th November

Diurnea lipsiella, Finemere Wood 15th November

Diurnea lipsiella may be a particularly boring moth to look at but it is always good to see because it is nowhere near as widespread as its springtime cousin Diurnea fagella.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks



I think that this is also a Brick, again somewhat worn, caught on the 4th of this month along with three Feathered Thorns (and 9 other species).  Overall in my garden I see only about one tenth of the numbers of moths found by Dave, but this is the first time I have seen either Brick or Feathered Thorn. Two nights ago I found only 2 moths, one a Scarce Umber (again a first) and the other a Red-green Carpet.

Scarce Umber

John Thacker
Harwell, Oxon

Wednesday, 14 November 2018


I was thinking I wasn't going to get one this year but I think what I first took to be a bigger worn Yellow-line Quaker this morning is actually a Brick? Can someone confirm?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Last One

Numbers have fallen somewhat over the past two nights but, even so, the ten species found in the trap this morning were more than I can usually expect at this time of year.  Amongst them was a single quite heavily-marked Scarce Umber, likely to be the final macro species added to the garden year list for 2018.  It proved to be the year's 328th garden macro as things currently stand although I would hope to get past 330 when dissections of a handful of Daggers, Minors and Common Rustics have been completed.

Scarce Umber, Westcott 9th November

The others brought in by the garden actinic last night were December Moth (1, a female), Red-green Carpet (1), Winter Moth (2), Feathered Thorn (8), Figure of Eight (1), Dark Sword-grass (1), Sprawler (5), Green-brindled Crescent (2) & Satellite (1).   

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Yellow/Red-line Quaker

Immediate reaction was Red-line Quaker,
but black spots near head might suggest
greyish form of Yellow-line Quaker?

Alan Diver

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Plumed Prominent

One good thing about this time of year is that you can drive to the other end of the county, get three or four hours of "away trapping" in and still be home for News at Ten!  That's what happened this evening when I went in search of Plumed Prominent in woodland at Medmenham, Bucks as I thought this rather scarce species might just have started flying by now.  Only one was seen, a male which arrived on the sheet next to one of my three MV lights at 7.10pm:

Plumed Prominent, Medmenham 8th November

Plumed Prominent, Medmenham 8th November

The traps were quite busy with November and December Moths, while other species seen included Plutella xylostella, Blastobasis lacticolella, Acleris sparsana, Red-green Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Winter Moth, Mottled Umber, Chestnut, Dark Chestnut, Brick & Yellow-line Quaker.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Another Late One

A surprise visitor to the garden actinic in last night's rain was this Garden Carpet.  It looks very tired so may simply be a hanger-on from the third generation but it is my first November record for the species.

Garden Carpet, Westcott 6th November

Despite the wind and rain there was still a decent collection of moths last night, the remainder of the catch being Plutella xylostella (1), Blastobasis lacticolella (1), Red-green Carpet (1), November Moth sp (4), Winter Moth (2), Feathered Thorn (14), Large Yellow Underwing (1), Setaceous Hebrew Character (2), White-point (2), Black Rustic (6), Sprawler (20), Green-brindled Crescent (2), Merveille du Jour (1) & Yellow-line Quaker (1).  No Brick!  

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Dark Chestnut?

I think this is a Dark Chestnut? Also I got my first Feathered Thorn, a really pretty looking one.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Marlow Bottom Nov 4th and 5th

I'm not a regular trapper, but the mild weather encouraged me to put the trap out over the past two nights. The combined catch was 105 moths of 20 species. One of the most unexpected was a Mottled Beauty - my latest catch prior to this was July! A Vine's Rustic on the 4th was another late one here and two White-points last night were also a bit unexpected.  Feathered Thorn was the most numerous by some degree with 37 specimens.


The total catch from both nights was: Agonopterix arenella (1), Scrobipalpa costella (1), Epiphyas postvittana (2), Acleris sparsana (3), December Moth (2), Red-Green Carpet (10), Common Marbled Carpet (1), November Moth agg (21), Feathered Thorn (37), Mottled Beauty (1), Sprawler (5), Vine's Rustic (1), Yellow-line Quaker (8), Brick (3), Grey Shoulder-knot (1), Blair's Shoulder-knot (1), Satellite (1), White-point (2), Turnip Moth (3), Large Yellow Underwing (1).

Adam Bassett

Westcott, Bucks

Last night the weather was potentially good for migrants and on 5th November last year I got a Gem, but this time yet another Dark Sword-grass was the only thing on offer even though for the time of year it was quite a good catch (67 moths of 16 species to the actinic).  The remainder comprised Blastobasis lacticolella (2), Epiphyas postvittana (1), November Moth sp (6), Feathered Thorn (17, including two females), Large Yellow Underwing (1), Black Rustic (3), Grey Shoulder-knot (1), Sprawler (24), Green-brindled Crescent (1), Dark Chestnut (1), Brick (2), Red-line Quaker (1), Yellow-line Quaker (1), Beaded Chestnut (3) & Barred Sallow (2).

Feathered Thorn female, Westcott 5th November

Dark Sword-grass, Westcott 5th November

The Sprawler count was down a little from the record 28 of the previous night and for the first time takes me past 100 in the garden in one season.  Additional species on the 4th included Plutella xylostella, Scrobipalpa costella, Red-green Carpet, Turnip & Merveille du Jour. 

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Late Broods

Alan Diver's Brimstone is very late but not unexpected these days. I had several in October and as it's a species that already has 2 broods and overwinters as a larva of any size or a pupa. These are the species likely to respond rapidly to the warmer climate.

Stranger though, was the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing this morning hanging freshly dead in the web of one of the small spiders that lives in the fence near where my trap runs. It was quite faded and a second brood in this species would be more surprising, but ....

Vine's Rustic

Another, even later, Vine's Rustic here last night, amongst some more usual species for the time of year.

Richard Ellis

Oak Rustic?

I think it possibly is.

Mark griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Only one moth last night (4th/5th Nov) a brimstone.
Isn't that late for this species?

Alan Diver

Moonlander moth traps

Does anyone have any experience of using Moonlander moth traps? I have been asked by someone who is keen to do some moth trapping but does not have a garden and is looking for a portable trap.
Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Battered moth query

Things have been quite busy with the milder weather, including six December moths last night along with a Sprawler, Feathered Thorn and Blair's Shoulder-knot inter alia.  There was also this moth, dead on the floor of the trap.  I fear it may be battered and unrecognisable but if it can be identified, I would be grateful.  Many thanks in anticipation.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon.