Monday, 30 April 2018

Sorting swallow prominents

One old record and one from last week.

I think the first one is a Swallow prominent - the second a Lesser Swallow prominent. Can someone confirm please?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Three moths and a beastie

Hello everyone! I'm very slow in starting this year and will be intermittent as most of my energies are going into preparations for sculling from Oxford to London in September for this:

However, I finally hauled the trap out last night, with a beautiful stash of new and clean eggboxes, and was rewarded this morning with the small, fly-y creature in my picture, a Nut-tree Tussock, a Hebrew Character and a Powdered Quaker. I note that these three moths are respectively first, third and 24th in order of records on the excellent Hants Moths Flying Tonight page.   Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Oak Processionary Moth

I see that Oak Processionary Moth, currently advancing out of London into Bucks and Berks, has hit the headlines again this morning with this report on the BBC website:

A clearer version of the map, taken from the Forestry Commission web-site, can be found here:
Link to Outbreak Map

Friday, 27 April 2018

Emperor Moth - Again

Yesterday (Thursday) I spent the sunny afternoon sitting with three virgin female Emperor Moths at potential sites in SU99, this being the only 10km square wholly within Bucks without records for the species.  The main locations I looked at were the Field Studies Council site at Mop End near Amersham and BC's Holtspur Bottom reserve near Beaconsfield.  Unfortunately males didn't appear at all in an hour spent at either site, so this remains an unrecorded hectad.  Thus if any recorders who live in Amersham, Holmer Green, Penn, Beaconsfield, Seer Green or the Chalfonts come across an Emperor we'd be very pleased to hear from you!  The moth must be there somewhere because it can be found just about everywhere else in the county.  The map below shows hectads in VC24 with post-millennium records:

VC24 records for Emperor Moth post-2000

It is brilliant to see other people out and about in adjacent counties either with pheromone lures or with virgin females, but please note how widespread the moth is in Bucks.  I'm sure the same will be true in Berks and Oxon so please don't restrict your searches to so-called 'typical' habitat on heather heathland - scrubby areas with bramble or blackthorn are just as likely to be productive.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

E-moth Newsletter

After a bit of nagging BC have now made these available again on their website.  The last two copies can be viewed here:

Brindled Pug?

Hopefully got this right!!  A Brindled and not Oak-tree.

Tony Towner

Yellow-barred Brindle

I nice green Yellow-barred Brindle was resting on the outside of my bedroom window in Marlow Bottom today. An upperside photo was out of the question (without a ladder), so I've taken a shot of the underside through double glazing, for what it's worth.

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom


Two further new arrivals for the garden list here at Westcott over the past two nights were Herald (22nd) and Chocolate-tip (23rd).  Catches are still pretty low, though, with only 40 moths of 14 species to the actinic last night, the others being Shoulder Stripe (1), Streamer (1), Oak-tree Pug (1), Brimstone Moth (1), Purple Thorn (1), Early Thorn (1), Swallow Prominent (1), Common Quaker (7), Powdered Quaker (7), Clouded Drab (4), Hebrew Character (11), Satellite (1) & Nut-tree Tussock (2).

Chocolate-tip, Westcott 23rd April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Emperor Moth

Following Dave's suggestion I tried my new Emperor Moth lure out for the first time at Decoy Heath Berks, this morning even though the weather was a bit cold and cloudy. After a slow start I had 2 males at SU613633 and another at SU624635. I got the impression that the lure is less attractive to them than an un-mated female (which I have used in the past) as they were slower to arrive (the weather may have contributed to this perhaps) and seemed to find it harder to zero in on the lure. After flying around for 5-10 mins they left and never did land for a photo. I also tried Bucklebury Common for an hour without success, but it was a bit breezy there.
In the absence of any Emperor pics her is a photo of a Puss Moth that I had in my garden at Beenham (SU594689) on Saturday. Only my second ever.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Acleris cristana ?

Hi all - just checking - I think this is Acleris cristana, which I know is highly variable. The wing tufts weren't particularly prominent which I gather can be the case sometimes. Confirmation/corrections welcome.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Green pug etc

Grateful for ID help.

 Moth 1?

Moth 2 7-8 mm

moth 3

Male Muslin moth

Green pug

Powdered Quaker

Early for Waved umber?

Alan Diver

Lesser Swallow Prominent?

I put my trap out three times this week with at last some warmer weather. I had over 100 moths each night and quite a few new species. New for me were Lunar Marbled Brown, Nut Tree Tussock, V-Pug, Purple Thorn, Scorched Carpet and what I'm hoping is a Powdered Quaker? I also was delighted to get a very smart Lesser Swallow Prominent. Please can someone confirm that it is Lesser rather than Swallow Prominent.
Lesser Swallow Prominent?

Powdered Quaker?

Lunar Marbled Brown

I also found this caterpillar whilst doing some weeding. It was in a big clump of Arum. Does anyone know what it might be?

Many thanks

Lorna Woolhouse, Checkendon, South Oxon

Prominent Selection

In the full knowledge that I'd end up getting very wet, I ran a couple of MV traps in Bernwood Forest, Bucks for the usual three hours last night to make use of the last of this warm spell.  As usual the Met Office, even with all their supercomputers, were as incompetent as ever at predicting where the thunderstorms would go and the soaking actually didn't come until I started packing up, not my favourite time to get drenched!  However, there were plenty of moths around (about 40 species) and they included Lesser Swallow Prominent (1), Swallow Prominent (1), Scarce Prominent (9), Pale Prominent (1) & Great Prominent (36).  Scarce Prominent is always a good moth to find because it doesn't come back with a second brood later in the year like many of the others from that family.   Other species seen included Pammene giganteana, Scalloped Hook-tip & Least Black Arches, but perhaps the best from my point of view was a single very worn White-marked which I don't think has been recorded before at Bernwood.

Scarce Prominent, Bernwood 21st April

White-marked, Bernwood 21st April

Back home at Westcott the following species have been added to the garden year-list over the last few nights:  Pine Beauty & Nut-tree Tussock (18th), Aphomia sociella, Brindled Pug, V-Pug & Purple Thorn (all 19th), Brimstone Moth (20th) and Chinese Character, Oak-tree Pug, Waved Umber, Swallow Prominent & Least Black Arches (all 21st).  Despite the southerly winds there has been no sign of any interesting migrants as yet, though.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Variations and questions

A couple of nights ago, among the new species for my garden (Pale Pinion and a beautiful Brindled Beauty), there were the usual variety of shades of brown for Common Quaker - but also one shade that I had not seen before (I have seen rich dark brown, but not this shade of 'drab').  Below to the left is a 'usual' shade and on the right the drab - always assuming I have identified it correctly).

Also - for confirmation - there were two Clouded Drabs of different shades and shapes (the left one has a rather rounded wing shape, unlike others):

and can the Pug shown in the following picture be confirmed as a Brindled?

John Thacker
Harwell, Oxon

Green Longhorns

There were hundreds of Green Longhorns (Adela reaumurella) flying around the hedges bordering Springfield Farm Landfill (which is near Beaconsfield, Bucks) this morning. Will this be one of those Springs when they seem to be everywhere?

Dave Ferguson

Oak-tree Pugs?

With Dave Wilton's excellent summary of the differences between Brindled Pug and Oak-tree Pug fresh in my memory (from an earlier post of mine), I am going to stick my neck out and suggest the 3 pugs below are Oak-tree Pug. But I could be wrong...

Steve Trigg, Cookham

A micro question and comments

Not sure about this one. I thought maybe Acleris schalleriana? About 7mm in length.

My first Plutella xylostella of the year turned up last night. Brindled Beauty seem to be doing well here this year with 34 being recorded over the last 3 nights. Going through the trap has been slowed down by dozens of December moth caterpillars that have just hatched from the eggs laid all over the egg boxes late last year.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Powdered Quaker - I think

This one feels alot more certain - chunkier and the colour is right. Can someone confirm?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Friday, 20 April 2018


For our 3,000th post, I thought it worth mentioning that my first Emperor Moths emerged today so it is definitely now worth putting females (or lures) out to get records for the species.  Here's my first female trying her hardest to find a mate, although she has been unsuccessful so far...

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

UPDATE:  No joy yesterday, but I put her out again this afternoon along with three other females which had emerged today (Saturday 21st) and at 3.30pm a wild male appeared, ensuring the all-important garden record for 2018.

Mystery Pug

I was wondering if anyone could help me with this Pug caught in Sonning last night. Apologies for the poor photo - it wouldn't sit still - even after cooling (which might in itself help to narrow things down). I thought it was Dwarf Pug, but on checking the UK Moths website etc, the flight period for that species apparently starts in June. It has distinctive rounded wings (but not as rounded as Green Pug) and at rest these are swept back, as opposed to straight out like the Brindled and Mottled Pugs which I also caught last night. It is smaller than those two species, but not as small as Double-striped Pug and of course the wings are nowhere near the same shape as that species. Any suggestions welcome.

More woodland emergences

Having done some leaf-mining there with the Bucks Invertebrate Group in October 2017, last night I ran three MV lights at Rowley Wood which is a new trapping site for me in the far south-east of Bucks, adjacent to Black Park and rather too close to Slough for comfort.  It was another good night for both weather and insects, 635 moths of 34 species appearing within the usual three hours.  Winner of the most numerous species competition by a country mile was Brindled Pug (more than 230 counted), although Birch Shield-bug Elasmotethus interstinctus came a close second with well over 100, most of them to just one trap (a Skinner) although they appeared at all three.  Lunar Marbled Brown came second amongst the moths (65 recorded), including a singleton of the form shown below with an almost entirely white central band and that very obvious 'moon', one which I rarely see locally.  It was also surprising to me that Satellite should appear in such large numbers with 39 seen, probably the most I've ever had at one session.  New species for the year included Pammene giganteana, Oak-tree Pug, Grey Birch and Great Prominent.  Both of the Great Prominents seen were quite worn at the wing-tips, probably due to their preferred method of arrival at the trap which is to walk/fly through the ground vegetation before crawling onto the sheet.

Pammene giganteana, Rowley Wood 20th April
Grey Birch, Rowley Wood 20th April

Lunar Marbled Brown, Rowley Wood 20th April

Great Prominent, Rowley Wood 20th April

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

IDs please

A much better night last night with some NFM - I think the warm weather might has trigered dispersal of the Dotted Chestnut and Yellow-Horned because asfar as I can tell we don't really have their habitat around here.

So I think I have

a different colour form of a Clouded Drab

Dotted Chestnut

Double striped Pug?

Common or Powdered Quaker - if powdered more brown than usual - or maybe just a worn Common

Another pug - big one (the gradations are in mm)


Thursday, 19 April 2018

More at the Museum

Because of the better-than-July weather, I was hoping for a some summer moths last night. Obviously that ain't going to happen, but I did get a few NFY including Semioscopis steinkellneriana, Double-striped Pug, Common Pug, Powdered Quaker, Early Tooth-striped, Waved Umber. Plus these:

 Assuming this is Caloptilia semifascia?

Also any ideas on this micro? I forgot to have any pots with me so couldn't retain it!

Dave Morris, Chalfont St Giles

Chalk and Cheese

I really don't like trapping on chalk down-land in April.  It is usually very boring with few moths to show for the amount of effort put in.  Last night on the National Trust's Ivinghoe Beacon, Bucks was no different, even taking into account the almost perfect weather (still t-shirt conditions at midnight) and the spectacular view (from there I could see most of Aylesbury Vale, including the lights of Central Milton Keynes and the red warning lights of the incinerator chimney at Greatmoor and the transmitter mast at Beckley, the latter about 25 miles away).  From 8.30pm three traps, comprising two MVs and a 15w actinic, were run in scrubby areas sheltered from the SE breeze and it took 50 minutes for the first moth to arrive!  In the end I did get 50 moths of 15 species, including one of my targets for the night, but it was hard work.  Mottled Grey and Northern Drab were the two species I was hoping for.  Both fly this early in the season and, in Bucks at any rate, seem to be restricted almost exclusively to the hills around Ivinghoe, so to have a chance of seeing them an April visit is essential.  Northern Drab turned up in each of the traps last night but of Mottled Grey there was unfortunately no sign.  Despite several attempts I haven't managed to find it in Bucks since 2013.

Northern Drab, Ivinghoe Beacon 18th April

The only other moth of note was Dotted Chestnut.  It came to each of the MVs but one trap contained three of them which is the most I've ever seen together.  The remainder comprised Diurnea fagella, Semioscopis steinkellneriana, Streamer, Brindled Pug, Purple Thorn, Early Thorn, Lunar Marbled Brown, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Powdered Quaker, Hebrew Character & Satellite.  

The previous night, which was cooler and windier, I'd run just the two MV lights in woodland at Medmenham, Bucks and the results were completely different, proving that woodland is still the place to be at the moment.  Even though the Orthosias were almost over I still got 180 moths of more than 30 species.  They included ten micros, of which Heliozela sericiella was probably the best of the night although I also have some Eriocranias, a Nepticulid, a Caloptilia and an Elachista which will need dissection to confirm.  Amongst the macros were Frosted Green, Water Carpet, V-Pug, Early Tooth-striped, Scorched Carpet, Purple Thorn, Engrailed, Lunar Marbled Brown, Pine Beauty & Nut-tree Tussock.

Heliozela sericiella, Medmenham 17th April

Scorched Carpet, Medmenham 17th April
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks