Thursday, 31 January 2019

Taxonomic changes

A second round of updates to the Agassiz, Beaven & Heckford check-list of British Lepidoptera has been published in the current (Jan/Feb 2019) issue of the Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation (Ent Rec), following on from the first update which appeared in Ent Rec during 2016.  You'll need to refer to the article itself (all seven pages of it) to get chapter and verse but the main changes appear to be as follows:

  • Antispila treitschkiella (6.002) is renamed Antispila petryi and Antispila treitschkiella is added as a new species (6.0021).
  • Luffia lapidella (11.008) is deleted and Luffia ferchaultella (11.009) is renamed Luffia lapidella because ferchaultella is now considered to be just a form of lapidella.
  • Bisigna procerella (28.001) is renamed Promalactis procerella.
  • The Syncopacma species (35.001 through to 35.009) are all now renamed Aproaerema
  • Scythris crassiuscula (43.005) is renamed Scythris subcinctella.
  • Crombrugghia distans (45.026) and Crombrugghia laetus (45.027) are renamed Oxyptilus distans/laetus.
  • Aphelia paleana (49.031) and Aphelia unitana (49.032) are renamed Zelotherses paleana/unitana.
  • Large Blue Maculinea arion (61.013) is renamed Phengaris arion.
  • Aphomia zelleri (62.002) is renamed Lamoria zelleri.
  • Ephestia unicolorella (62.065) is renamed Ephestia woodiella.
  • Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis (63.038) is renamed Patania ruralis.
  • Scallop Shell Hydria undulata (70.121) and Scarce Tissue Hydria cervinalis (70.122) are renamed Rheumaptera undulata/cervinalis.

New species added to the main check-list are Anarsia innoxiella (35.0191), Dichomeris acuminatus (35.0205), Aethes deaurana (49.1231), Cydia interscindana (49.3275), Cornifrons ulceratalis (63.0605), Euchromius ramburiellus (63.0762) and Marigold Shark Cucullia calendulae (73.0527).  Those added to Appendix A [adventives] are Phereoeca lodli (12.0355), Mesophleps ochracella (35.0145), Euzophera costivittella (62.0501), Plesiomorpha flaviceps (70.2785), Herb Emerald Microloxia herbaria (70.3075), Green Drab Ophiusa tirhaca (72.0855), Landguard Ochre Amphipyra effusa (73.0645) and Florida Fern Moth Callopistria floridensis (73.0811).

Monday, 28 January 2019

A different bug

With a general lack of moths the most interesting insect in my trap this week was this bug. About 11mm in length.

I have no idea where to start on bug identification so any pointers would be welcome.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Newport Pagnell Garden Stats

My suburban garden measures 5.3m x 9.6m and is surrounded by houses.  My moth trap is squeezed in a corner and is pretty well boxed in on three sides as neighbours were not happy about their bedrooms being lit up at night. It’s location is most certainly not the ideal.   2018 was the 24th year that I have recorded moths at SP859437 and over that time I have always used a 125W mercury vapour bulb over a variety of receptacles.  My first trap was made using a home brew beer- barrel, my second used one of those dalek type vax machines as the container.  From 1998 to 2016 the bulb sat upon a Skinner trap and for the past 2 years upon a Robinson trap.

2018 yielded 11,676 specimens (some 2,000 more than 2017) from 225 trapping nights between February and November and was the second highest annual total ever (The highest was in 1996 when 16,259 were counted from just 166 trapping nights).  The total number of species recorded was 330, the highest ever, and these comprised 104 micros and 226 macros.  There were 26 new moths , 16 micros and 10 macros, added to the garden list which now stands at around 550.  The pick of the new ones were Clifden Nonpareil, my early Christmas present in September, Humming Bird Hawk-moth, often seen locally but not in my garden and Toadflax Brocade, another that had missed the garden for too long.

My macro-moth  “Top of the Pops”  2018 were Vine’s Rustic, 1115, Heart and Dart, 1038, Large Yellow Underwing, 874, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 767, Shuttle-shaped Dart, 396 and micro-moths were headed by Yponomeuta evonymella, 383.   I do not always keep an eye on “ Top of the Pops” and it rather surprised me that Vine’s Rustic headed the field.

In summary then 2018 must go down as a very good year in terms of numbers.  

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

My garden stats.

After just reading Dave's post here is my garden 2018:

I have a medium-sized untidy garden with a selection of mainly apple and coniferous trees, with a hawthorn hedge, plus various non-native shrubs. The garden behind ours was built on in 2015-6 and I have noticed a large drop in moth numbers since then. The countryside is about 150 yds away, and that is mostly arable farmland.

I run a 15W home-made Skinner trap and mostly trap for the Garden Moth Scheme, thus once a week, plus a few other nights throughout the year if the conditions look promising.

In 2018
- trapped on 45 nights (52 in 2017, 56 in 2016)
- total moths 1222  (932 in 2017, 1155 in 2016)
- total species 202 (192 in 2017, 216 in 2016)
- most moths in a night 145 (6th July) (better than any in 2016/7; record is 281 in Jul 2014)
- most sp. in a night 43 (6th July) (better than any in 2016/7; record is 99 in Jul 2014
- most common macro species was Large Nutmeg - quite a glut in June! with Common Quaker,  Willow Beauty and Heart & Dart in 2-3-4.
- most common micro species was Endotricha flammealis with Cydia pomonella a close second (all my apple trees!); Cydalima perspectalis was third.
- only new species in my garden last year was Currant Clearwing, lured only by a Cotoneaster!

Dave Morris
Seer Green

Not a moth...

...but can anyone id this for me? Turned up in our bathroom today. First pic is clearer, but the second shows the size against a convenient old £1...

Dave Morris
Seer Green

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

2018 in Tilehurst

Notes from a casual 'mother'

My suburban garden is fairly small with just a single immature Rowan tree, wildlife pond and a privet hedge in the front. Nearby are mature Oak and Birch trees. I live about 1Km from Sulham woods.

Since 2010 I have used a Robinson 125W MV trap. Prior to that (2005) I used a home made 125W MV Skinner type trap. I only trap on suitable evenings approx. once a month.

In 2018 the 3 species above 20 individuals were Heart and Dart (35), Large Yellow Underwing (30) and Vine's Rustic (29).

Since 2005, the most common species are Large Brown Apple (330), Large Yellow Underwing (232), Heart and Dart (196), Lunar Underwing (139) and Shuttle-shaped Dart (136).

The 3 most prolific years for me have been:
2014 with 486 individuals and 96 species
2013 with 437 individuals and 99 species
2018 with 353 individuals and 97 species
Due to illness, the trap was not used in 2017.

My garden list stands at 277 species and overall at 362 species.

First micro of the year

It was a degree or two warmer for the first part of last night, before the arrival of windier, wet conditions and then a clearance which dropped the temperature below zero once again.  In those early three or four hours the actinic light brought in three moths, Pale Brindled Beauty (2) and the first example of Ypsolopha ustella I've seen here for seven years.  Only two Ypsolopha species hibernate, this one and the very distinctive mucronella (whose larvae feed on spindle).  Ypsolopha ustella is a species of oak woodland, of which the closest is a mile away, so it is not really a moth I should expect in the garden very often.

Ypsolopha ustella, Westcott 21st January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

Monday, 21 January 2019

2018 in Cookham

Spurred on by Dave's earlier post and now Andy's as well, I have come up with some statistics for my garden. I generally only trap once a week, occasionally twice, so my numbers are not of the same order as Dave's and Andy's.
My garden is fairly small, but has 2 mature apple trees, 1 hawthorn, 2 wildlife ponds and privet hedge along 2 sides. It backs onto a railway embankment. Outside the front of the house is a large oak tree, and several other trees (including limes) are nearby. Some 600m from the house is a small tributary of the Thames called Strand Water, which has plenty of reedbeds.

The skinner trap went out on 59 nights - 42 nights with  a 125-wt MV bulb and 17 nights with a 30-wt twin actinic light. The amount of trapping in 2017 was very similar.
The total catch for the year was 4315 individuals of 395 species. (In 2017, it was 4433 moths of 375 species.)
The total garden moth list currently stands at 578 species (all recorded in the last 6 years).

The top 10 species for 2018 were Heart and Dart (236), Acentria ephemerella (227), Vine's Rustic (180), Uncertain/Rustic agg. (167), Large Yellow Underwing (115), Riband Wave (96), Epiphyas postvittana (90), Common Quaker (89), Lunar Underwing (74) and Anania hortulata (72).

There were 50 new additions to the garden list in 2018 - 21 macros and 29 micros. I won't list them all, but Jersey Tiger was one that I think quite a few of you added to your list.

Finally, a note on the Box-tree Moth Cydalima perspectalis. It was first recorded in 2016 (5 individuals), followed by 72 in 2017 and 55 in 2018. It would appear to be doing well!

Steve Trigg, Cookham

2018 in Sibford

Using a similar format to Dave Wilton here is a summary of my 2018 garden moth trapping results.

Overall I did not feel that 2018 was significantly different from 2017 the only other year for which I have got comparable results in terms of trapping effort.

In 2018 I trapped on 135 nights, using a Robinson trap with a 125w MV bulb on 75 nights and a 20w eco bulb on 60 nights.

Mine is a fairly small rural garden surrounded by other gardens and lightly grazed pasture. There are mature oak, beech, ash, birch and Scots Pine in the area as well as other hedgerow species. The garden is surrounded by a leylandii hedge and old lichen covered stone walls. The latter probably accounting for Muslin Footman and Marbled Green being caught here regularly in good numbers.  There are few, if any poplar, sallow, willow or aspen in the area and wet areas with reeds are lacking.

A total of 12,103 moths were recorded of 402 species. (10,904 of 401 species in 2017)
The largest catch was on 26th July with 550 individuals of 102 species.

The top ten were Large Yellow Underwing (559), Common Footman (510), Setaceous Hebrew Character (483), Heart & Dart (437), Flame Shoulder (411), Agriphila straminella (397), Straw Dot (351), Lunar Underwing (317), Hebrew Character (284) and Common Rustic agg. (269).
Large Yellow Underwing numbers were only about half that recorded in 2017 and 2016.

I did add 18 macros and 34 micros to my garden list bringing the total to date to just over 500. The ones I was most pleased to get were Barred Hook-tip, Dark Spectacle, Frosted Green, Lobster, Mallow and September Thorn for the macros. Ypsolopha horridella was probably the best of the micros although it is not going to win any beauty contest.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Saturday, 19 January 2019

A few statistics for 2018

While there are few moths being seen...

A completely accurate summary can't be given until some necessary dissections have been completed and that may take a few more weeks yet, but even so it is already clear that 2018 was one of the best years ever here at Westcott.  The site is an untidy rural village garden on the clay of Aylesbury Vale with nearly all of the important tree and shrub species of the local area found within it or around its edge.  It is surrounded by other mature gardens, a churchyard, a sports-field and farmland (grazing pasture) with lots of old well-established hedgerows.  Here are some statistics for the year:

  • The twin-30wt actinic light was run in the garden on 295 nights.  Most of the missing nights were during the very cold weather between January and March, then spells when I was away in May/June and September.  During the peak summer months the 125wt MV light was also run regularly, always in tandem with the actinic.
  • In excess of 42,000 moths were caught, half as many again as the 28,190 of 2017 and significantly more even than the previous high of 33,941 in 2015.  Increased use of two traps together in 2018 will have been at least partly responsible (87 nights, as opposed to 32 in 2017).  Trap contents have always been released about a mile away so the chance of recaptures continues to be almost nil. 
  • 100 species in one night was exceeded on 26 occasions (compared to 15 in 2017). 
  • 150 species in one night was exceeded on 3 occasions (compared to nil in 2017).
  • The most diverse catch of 2018 was on 4th July (1,013 moths of circa 166 species), while the equivalent in 2017 was on 21st June (865 moths of 148 species).
  • The top ten highest individual species counts in 2018 were, in order, Setaceous Hebrew Character (1,819), Acentria ephemerella (1,798), Heart and Dart (1,571), Large Yellow Underwing (1,366), Lunar Underwing (1,190), Common Footman (1,126), Square-spot Rustic (1,077), Flame Shoulder (1,060), Pleuroptya ruralis (975) & Smoky Wainscot (874).
  • The final garden moth species tally for the year should be somewhere between 680 and 700 (the previous record was 662 species achieved in 2017).
  • At least 25 new species were added to the garden list during the year, including nine macro-moths (Pinion-spotted Pug, Oak Processionary, Jersey Tiger, Four-spotted Footman, Marbled Clover, Fen Wainscot, Obscure Wainscot, Purple Clay & Cream-bordered Green Pea).  2017 had also seen nine macros added to the list along with 21 micros. 
  • The garden Lepidoptera list currently stands somewhere between 990 and 1,000, all recorded post-millennium.

It would be very interesting to hear how others got on during the year.  If your records are up-to-date and you've already sent them to your County Moth Recorder, maybe some of you could look at producing a few statistics of your own?  Not as a comparison to those above (because not everyone is able to put in the same amount of effort and all locations are different), but against how your own site has done in previous years.  While the general consensus seems to have been that it was a much better year than normal, I do know of a few people who felt that it was, at best, rather an average one.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A Good Start

On Monday night singletons of Dotted Border and Early Moth came to the actinic light in the garden, while last night it was just Early Moth although there were five of them. 

Dotted Border, Westcott 14th January

It looks as though we're now heading into another cold snap for at least a couple of weeks so there's little likelihood of any more moth activity for quite a while. However, the ten species I've had here so far this year is a better result than normal for January (the average, over the past decade at least, has been just six for the entire month) so I should be pleased with that.  Back into hibernation, then!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

No fliers, just crawlers

Being relatively mild last night I was hopeful that some moths would fly to the garden trap. However, this morning I found that the only 2 moths in the trap had crawled in rather than flown!

I very rarely find caterpillars in my trap, so I was a bit surprised to find 2 of them. I guess one would need to rear them on in order to identify them? I have returned them to the safety of my garden undergrowth.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Angle Shades

Last night the garden actinic brought in an Angle Shades.  The caterpillars are a regular sighting at this time of year but this is the first occasion that I've had the moth itself in January.  It "completes the set" for me in that I've now seen the adult in every month of the year.

Angle Shades, Westcott 12th January

Angle Shades, Westcott 12th January

Pale Brindled Beauty (2), Spring Usher (1) and Mottled Umber (2) also came to the light last night even though it turned out quite breezy in the end.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Unseasonal caterpillar

Found this on the doorstep today:

Any clues?

Barnaby Briggs, Iver

Early Moth

Another Early Moth came to light in the garden last night, along with Winter Moth, Mottled Umber, Spring Usher (2) and Chestnut.  Early Moth is a widespread but probably under-recorded species because of its unsociable flight period in January/February so, if you want to see it, the next couple of nights could be mild enough to try the trap, although in my experience it is just as likely to turn up at a lit window.

Early Moth, Westcott 11th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


Only visitor to trap so far this year, 1 example of the parasitic wasp Ophion obscuratus last night.

Alan Diver

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Westcott, Bucks

Well, that's the first week of the year out of the way.  Despite not running the trap on two of the nights due to frost, the garden list has already crept up to five macro species with the addition last night of an unexpected Silver Y (my first January record).  The others seen so far are Pale Brindled Beauty, Spring Usher, Mottled Umber and Early Moth.  Two more Spring Ushers last night means that I've now had seven since 1st January.  This is very good going for a moth which usually just one or two of turn up here per year (there is only one fairly juvenile oak anywhere near the garden).  Maybe it is following in the steps of Mottled Umber in having an excellent season.

Silver Y, Westcott 7th January

Last night's actinic also brought in the first 2019 example of the wasp Ophion obscuratus, a parasitoid of noctuid moths which I often get substantial numbers of here, particularly in February and March.

Ophion obscuratus, Westcott 7th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Monday, 7 January 2019


With the temperature holding up here last night I finally got some moths attracted to the trap even though none actually made it into the trap. 4 Mottled Umber, 1 Winter, 1 Early and perhaps most surprisingly a Plutella xylostella. I also caught 2 of the latter on 28th December. Not a moth I get in large numbers here but I have now caught at least one each month apart from November since last April.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Possible Engrailed

Could this be an Engrailed?

Poor photo on a cupboard...

Barnaby Briggs, Iver

Beautiful plume?

I was putting my moth trap away this morning after finding nothing in it. This moth was in the cupboard! Am I right in thinking that it's a Beautiful Plume?

Speen Bucks

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Dark Chestnut?

HappyNew Year all.

I found this chestnut on the kitchen door, I'm thinking Dark Chestnut?

I fired up my Actinic to test it - it came on really slowly and I didn't think it was as bright as usual. Is this the result of the cold or is the bulb going?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Black-spotted Chestnut new for Bucks

This record is posted on behalf of Robin Knill-Jones from Denham in the SE corner of Bucks. It was from a trap set on the evening of 1st January 2019 which was left running for the night of 2nd January too and not looked at until 3rd January, so the exact arrival date is not known.

Yesterday he sent me a picture of a moth (the only one in the trap) he wasn't sure about, asking if I thought it was Conistra vaccinii or ligula. I'd never seen one of either like his picture.  As Herts County Moth Recorder Colin Plant had recently sent around a message about watching out for Black-spotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginosa I looked it up.  Robin's moth looked just right for that species and Colin confirmed what it was.

The species was first seen in the UK in Kent in 2011, at more than one site.  In 2014 it turned up in Suffolk and in 2015 at two sites in Bedfordshire and then in 2016 in Dorset.  Cambridgeshire joined the list in 2018, as did Hertfordshire a week ago just before the New Year.  So it is well worth keeping the traps out!

If you think you have one please take a picture and possibly save the specimen for absolute confirmation (there is a similar looking species in Europe, not yet recorded in the UK).  Thanks to Robin for supplying the information and picture.

Martin Albertini
Bucks County Moth Recorder

Black-spotted Chestnut, Denham Jan 2019

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

We're Off!

Moth No.1 for the 2019 garden list at Westcott came to the twin-30wt actinic at about 8pm last night just before the temperature dipped below zero.  For the first time that I can remember it wasn't a Winter Moth but another smart Spring Usher, the second garden record already this winter.  Winter Moth and Mottled Umber may yet appear even though both seemed to be winding down here during the last few days of 2018.  Early Moth is the next expected arrival and it is out already in some places, otherwise if we do get lucky with a fairly warmish night then some of the hibernators (Satellite, Chestnut, etc) might appear.

Spring Usher, Westcott 1st January

During the morning yesterday 27 BC Upper Thames Branch members assembled at the RSPB's Otmoor reserve near Beckley, Oxon to carry out our annual New Year's Day search of the blackthorn hedge which lines the track between the car-park and the main east-west bridleway leading to the hides.  Not only did we locate 69 Brown Hairstreak eggs (the target species) but we also found three of the "snakeskin ring" egg-batches produced by the Lackey, a single Green-brindled Crescent egg and nine Blue-bordered Carpet eggs.  The Lackey egg-batch picture below was kindly supplied by Sue Taylor.

Lackey egg-batch, Otmoor 1st January
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks