Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Early flour-ing moth

A couple of weeks ago I found a near-empty packet of flour in the kitchen cupboard that had signs of life: caterpillars! And today I found a moth on the inside of the kitchen window. Rather pleasingly, it was a species I've never seen before: the Mediterranean Flour Moth Ephestia kuehniella*, shown below on its flour-packet habitat.

While I wouldn't necessarily want every packet of flour to come with added protein in this way, I'm quite happy to have found this particular stowaway :)

* Query for Peter and Martin A: the genus Ephestia is a tricky one: this was dark grey and with wings 13mm long, so I think it should be kuehniella, but let me know if you need confirmation.

Martin Harvey, Great Kimble, Bucks

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Garden Moth Scheme

A couple of years ago I signed up to the Garden Moth Scheme following a mention on this blog. If anyone is thinking of participating this year the 2018 (Summer!!!) season starts this week. Basically you need to be able to commit to trapping in your garden for at least 27 of the following 36 weeks (preferably on a Friday night) with no gap of more than 3 weeks. I find the feedback interesting and also feel that the data collected is making a useful contribution to research.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Thursday, 22 February 2018


Just to say that the pupa I found and posted pictures of on 8th February is a Privet not a Death's-head Hawk-moth.

It is the Privet and Pine Hawk-moths that have the distinct proboscis showing on the pupa not the Death's Head. Privet and Pine can be identified based on size and this one is 50mm in length. Thanks to Martin Townsend for pointing this out.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Another Good Night

Last night it was the turn of Finemere Wood, Bucks to receive a February visit.  Two MV traps were run for the usual three hours but they didn't perform as well as they had the night before in Bernwood because the combined total was 'only' 571 moths.  At Finemere it was noticeable that Pale Brindled Beauty and Spring Usher were both well past their peak whereas at Bernwood they seemed just to have reached it.  The 13 species seen were Acleris hastiana (1), Tortricodes alternella (238), March Moth (5), Shoulder Stripe (4), Small Brindled Beauty (200), Pale Brindled Beauty (69), Oak Beauty (2), Spring Usher (22), Dotted Border (5, plus a female on a nearby oak trunk), Small Quaker (1), Common Quaker (2), Satellite (4) & Chestnut (18).

Acleris hastiana, Finemere Wood 19th February

Back home in the garden at Westcott the twin-30wt actinic brought Agonopterix heracliana (5), Tortricodes alternella (1), March Moth (1), Dotted Border (1), Common Quaker (2), Satellite (1), Chestnut (3) & Dark Chestnut (1) to the conservatory windows, the best result of the year so far.  However, it looks as though we're almost at the end of this current warmer period and the weather should soon turn very wintry again, probably until the middle of March. 

Satellite, Westcott 19th February

Dark Chestnut (left) & Chestnut (right), Westcott 19th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

5 moths

5 moths came to light last night. 2 micros, both very tatty, not worth photographing. One each of Chestnut, Early moth and Common Quaker.

Alan Diver

Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella?

hi, can anyone confirm this would be Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella?

Only other moth last night was a Dotted Border.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Monday, 19 February 2018

Agonopterix sp? Banbury

Any ideas on this one? Found this evening in my Banbury garden under a security light. My initial I.D. was Agonopterix yeatiana but on learning it's common name, Coastal Flat-body, I'm not so sure. Also the distribution map on NBN Atlas would suggest otherwise.

Sorry for the poor photograph. I will try again tomorrow in better light if necessary.

FW: ~10mm

Shoulder Stripe?

I too put my trap out last night with the warmer weather arriving. I caught March Moth 3, Pale Brindled Beauty 2, Small Brindled Beauty 1, Oak Beauty 1, Satellite 1 and what I think is a Shoulder Stripe. Am I correct?
I was so pleased to catch an Oak Beauty, they certainly live up to their name!

Shoulder Stripe?

Oak Beauty
Small Brindled Beauty

Lorna Woolhouse, Checkendon

Bernwood Forest

I certainly got my February "fix" of moths last night!  Two MV Robinsons were taken into Bernwood Forest, Bucks for the usual three hours and, with the promised drizzle holding off until after I'd packed up, between them they managed to bring in a reasonable 14 species.  However, the total number of moths caught (885) was just about double my expectations, with 374 to the trap in Oakley Wood and 511 to the other one in Shabbington Wood.  The combined species totals were as follows:  Acleris ferrugana/notana (2), Acleris cristana (1), Tortricodes alternella (71), March Moth (43), Small Brindled Beauty (127), Pale Brindled Beauty (287), Oak Beauty (4), Spring Usher (224), Dotted Border (34), Small Quaker (1), Common Quaker (4), Clouded Drab (1), Satellite (31) & Chestnut (55).

Acleris cristana, Bernwood Forest 18th February

Oak Beauty, Bernwood Forest 18th February

Clouded Drab, Common Quaker & Small Quaker
Bernwood Forest 18th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Pale Brindled Beauty?

Both Pale brindled beauties? Came to light 18/19 Feb.

Moth A

Moth A

Moth A

Moth B

Alan Diver - Tackley


Hopefully a sign of much more to come soon - I got a solitary moth, a Satellite last night.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Window of Opportunity

The current slight improvement in overnight temperatures has produced a few moths to the conservatory windows here at home, the actinic light having been run inside on the windowsill until about 11pm.  On Thursday night I got a Pale Brindled Beauty, Friday night brought a Chestnut while last night there was almost a "glut" of five moths before the light was turned off:  Agonopterix heracliana (1), March Moth (1), Dotted Border (2) & Dark Chestnut (1).  It looks as though we might get a couple more worthwhile sessions before the frosts return and I might even be tempted to run the light for the whole night tonight.   

March Moth, Westcott 17th February

March Moth, Westcott 17th February

The average number of macro-moth species recorded here by the end of February is ten and I'm currently on track with eight, so this year is shaping up quite normally.  One thing which I did notice on looking back at the statistics is just how many more macro species than usual had appeared in the garden by the end of March last year, something that I hadn't appreciated before.  That figure was 37, which is eleven more than the previous high (26 in 2011) and way above the average here since 2005 which is 22 species.  Seven of the 37 put in March appearances here for the first time ever:  Water Carpet, Brindled Pug, Oak-tree Pug, V-Pug, Brimstone Moth, Purple Thorn & Nut-tree Tussock.  Hopefully this rather more normal winter won't bring quite so much disruption to flight times.        

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Pale brindled beauty moths.

These 2 male Pale brindled beauty moths came to light night of 17/18 February.

So far in 2018 I have taken 9 moths, 8 of them outside the trap.

Alan Diver

Friday, 16 February 2018

Lackey eggs

A return visit to Lapland Farm this afternoon produced another fairly typical find while searching blackthorn for Brown Hairstreak eggs, this being a Lackey "ring".  The female moth lays her batch of whitish eggs in a black gunge which glues them to a stem of the food-plant for over-wintering, making them look rather like a piece of snake-skin.

Lackey eggs, Lapland Farm 16th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

First Hebrew Character, and moth trapping on TV

I put my garden moth trap out on Tuesday night the 13th Feb, and was rewarded with a single Hebrew Character. This is the earliest date I have recorded a Hebrew Character in my garden (although admittedly that's only over 6 years).

On a different note, a nature programme that had a feature on moth trapping! It was Hugh Fearnley-Whittonstall's series "Hugh's Wild West" - episode 6 broadcast on Saturday 10th February.
It is available on iPlayer - select episode 6, and if you go 37 minutes into the programme the section on moths will be about to start. It is worth watching just to see the "mothing dog assistant".

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Local Events for Wildlife Recorders

Just a reminder that two local Recorders' Conferences are not far off now, should anyone be interested in going.  Booking is essential!

TVERC Spring Recorders' Conference (Oxfordshire)
Saturday 10th March at CEH Wallingford
See http://www.tverc.org/cms/spring-conf-2018

Buckinghamshire Recorders' Seminar
Friday 16th March at Green Park, Aston Clinton
See http://www.bucksmkerc.org.uk/news/

Thursday, 8 February 2018


A search for Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs on hedgerows at BBOWT's Lapland Farm reserve in Bucks today produced plenty of the targets as well as a couple of Blue-bordered Carpet eggs and this early-instar Drinker caterpillar (apologies for the low-quality camera-phone image).  Drinkers are grass feeders but their larvae climb out onto adjacent scrub to hibernate, spending the winter clinging to vegetation, as this one is doing on a blackthorn stem.  Oak Eggar larvae are very occasionally found over-wintering on blackthorn too but at least in their case it is also the caterpillar's food-plant.

Drinker caterpillar, Lapland Farm 8th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks     

Something different

I have just picked up what appears to be a Death's-head Hawk-moth pupa lying in the middle of a path. It appears undamaged externally although I expect it is probably dead. The path is not far from where I usually grow potatoes but I have no idea how it got to where it was.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Hardy Moths

Last night didn't seem to be at all suitable for moth activity, with the temperature having been a maximum of 3C all day and then a frost forming quickly after dark, but these two hardy male Dotted Borders had still come to the actinic light here at Westcott by 7pm.

Dotted Borders, Westcott 4th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Spring usher

Spring usher came to light 30/31 January. Another outside trap.

Alan Diver
Tackley, Oxon