Saturday, 31 August 2019

Lost moths

I would be grateful for any thoughts on my "Lost moths".

I have noticed, recently, the number of moths in my trap reducing and, for a couple of nights there have been none at all. I have the sort of trap that has two perspex sheets angled down into a box to let the moths in easily but make it difficult for them to get out.

I know moths are entering the box, albeit perhaps in reduced numbers. For example last night I had a look about 11:30 and there were several moths in the trap including a number of Thorns and large yellow underwings, but the trap was completely empty this morning.

The perspex sheets seemed to be a bit "Cloudy", so I gave them a clean but, on closer inspection, the sheets were slightly scored giving the cloudy appearance.  I wonder if this gave moths a purchase to escape but find it hard to believe all moths would get out this way and, in any case, how did this scoring occur? I have checked carefully and there are no gaps in the box construction that would allow all bar the smallest moths to get out.

There have been bats patrolling the area for as long as I can remember and, certainly, since I have been attracting moths with my trap, they will "hawk" and take flying moths, but I can't imagine them getting in and out of the trap and taking moths. If by some chance they did, there would be evidence, the occasional bat unable to escape again, bat droppings, moth wings etc.

I would be grateful for any thoughts on this problem. Perhaps just buy a different trap design!!

Photo of trap taken at 21:45 below following helpful advice from Dave and Nigel. (Thorn can be seen on inside edge; will it be there in the morning).

Alan Diver

Check those Nettle-taps

In Bucks there are only a handful of records from five sites for Prochoreutis myllerana and there's a good chance it is being overlooked amongst the very common Nettle-taps (Anthophila fabriciana), so please keep an eye out for it.  Having had the moth to light in Bernwood Forest earlier in the week, I found another yesterday during a daytime butterfly transect at Finemere Wood which is another new site for it in the county.  This one was resting on a flower-head of yarrow.

Prochoreutis myllerana, Finemere Wood 30th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

First sign of Autumn

First sign of autumn for me, and perhaps signalling the end of the late summer lull, a Centre-barred Sallow.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Small Ranunculus

I put this picture on "Garden Moth Scheme" for identification and it is coming back as Small Ranunculus. Grateful for comments as I'm unsure and the book FS is somewhat earlier than end August. I'm in Benson and it was trapped in 15w actinic.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Two recent colonists and a few other species in the garden

Here are a couple of moths which the field guide says are colonists that have reached Bucks in the current decade.  Both have been mentioned in recent posts here, and both are new for my garden (albeit that this is only my second summer trapping).

The first is the Tree-lichen Beauty.  I'm familiar with it from France from where I've recently returned from three weeks in my wife's family home south of the Loire valley.  Back in Newton Longville (Bucks), I've had three in the trap in recent days; two were worn (one very much so), and generally dull and greyish, but even the least worn specimen was much less green than those that I see in France - for comparison I've added a rather foreshortened photo of a worn French specimen.

The second colonist I've caught recently was completely new to me.  I struggle to distinguish between some of the more common pugs, but I had no trouble with the two Cypress Pugs that turned up.  Unfortunately, I only managed to photograph the tatty one!  I see that the main larval foodplant is Monterey Cypress, but that it will eat Lawson and Leyland cypresses in captivity.  We have several Leyland cypress in the garden, so I can hope that it is breeding here.

Picking up a couple of other recent topics in this blog, I see that there has been some mention of second generation hawk-moths.  I had a Poplar Hawk-moth in the trap two nights ago, although it was looking a bit worn.

In respect of grass moths, Agriphila geniculea is in the lead in my garden (I had 77 two nights ago), with A. tristella not far behind (44), but neither of these come close to the 411 Chrysoteuchia culmella that turned up here on 10th July.  Crambus perlella has put in an appearance in low single digits, but I've not had A. latistria.

Finally, can I have some help with a set of moths that has stumped me?  I've had a significant number of similar-looking worn or extremely-worn moths, which resemble the sole decent-looking specimen below.  Note that the oval and kidney have darker outlines, not pale or black, and that this can be seen on all of the moths, even if on some individuals the other features are so worn as to be almost indiscernable.  The others have more of the dark colour between the oval and kidney: the specimen in the photo has only a bit.  Forewing length is 15-17mm.  I haven't managed to identify them and I have a feeling that I'm missing something obvious.
Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Bernwood Forest

In Bucks, Oak Lutestring is thinly spread in areas of ancient oak woodland.  Prompted by Peter Hall finding the moth flying in Herefordshire (see here), I decided to target Bernwood Forest on the 27th where theoretically it ought to be present but hasn't actually been recorded since 1985.  However, even though I was armed with wine ropes as well as MV and actinic traps, the moth failed to show.  I'll probably try again in a couple of weeks but having made so many visits to the forest at the correct time of year over the past decade I'm wondering if it has been lost from the site.  Tuesday night's visit was still worthwhile, though, with more than 70 species recorded, one of which was Hedge Rustic which co-incidentally hasn't been seen in the Bernwood area since 1985.  A very early Red-green Carpet was yet another pointer that winter is nearly upon us!  It was good to see Pale Eggar, with a male and three females being the first moths in to the traps before it was really dark, while a Gold Spot was the first site record for ten years. 

Red-green Carpet, Bernwood 27th August

Pale Eggar, Bernwood 27th August

Mite-infested Hedge Rustic, Bernwood 27th August

The micros included some interesting species, of which Ptocheuusa paupella was a new addition to the site list while Prochoreutis myllerana, normally a day-flyer, was a first for the forest itself although I have recorded it once in the M40 Compensation Area.  Other more common species typical of this time of year included Ypsolopha alpella, Stenolechia gemmellaPsoricoptera gibbosella, Acleris rhombana and Epinotia trigonella

Ptocheuusa paupella, Bernwood 27th August

Prochoreutis myllerana, Bernwood 27th August

Epinotia trigonella, Bernwood 27th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks     

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Clifden Nonpareils in Oxfordshire

Just to clarify, for those not familar with the querks of county boundaries the site where Marc has been seeing it for 6 years is in VC22. I realise there was no intention to mislead on Marc's part.

Acleris cristana/hastiana

I keep changing my mind about this one. I was thinking A. cristana more likely but the individual seems to be lacking the large tuft of raised scales.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

NOT Upper Thames - apologies - but advice needed

As stated in the header, this is about a moth caught not in Oxfordshire or especially nearby, but in Dorset. I caught the Passenger whose photo is attached in a 'safari' trap while staying at a friend's house in Bournemouth overnight on Sunday. Although I've come across the species before, in Greece, I believe it's rare in the UK, and is almost certainly a migrant. I've reported it to the Dorset recorder (or at any rate have sent an email and attached photo to the relevant address and received an automated email in response), and will in due course send a full list of the species I caught in Bournemouth, but was wondering whether there's another authority one should report rarer species to.

Passenger Moth, Bournemouth, 25/8/19
Steve Goddard

Grangelands, Bucks

Martins Albertini and Harvey and Marc Botham joined me at the Grangelands SSSI last Saturday evening and we ran a number of light traps on both Grangelands itself and the adjacent rifle range.  It was a very rewarding session for late August and the traps were busy.  The full list hasn't been finalised yet but we caught well in excess of 100 species.  Of those illustrated below, the Leopard Moth came as a surprise as it should be over by now.  Two Beech-green Carpets came to actinic light but both were faded and past their best (the photo below shows the one in better condition, believe it or not!).  Toadflax Pug was nice to see (Juniper Pug was also frequent at several of the traps, as was Tawny Speckled Pug), while a single Hedge Rustic was found amongst all the Straw Underwings.  Other nice moths included Gypsy Moth, Jersey Tiger and Tree-lichen Beauty while there was also a very good selection of the more common species.    

Leopard Moth, Grangelands 24th August

Beech-green Carpet, Grangelands 24th August

Toadflax Pug, Grangelands 24th August

Hedge Rustic, Grangelands 24th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Westcott, Bucks

Following the monotony of the previous few weeks, the 24th onwards has been quite interesting in the garden.  The hot spell over the bank holiday weekend certainly increased the number of moths in the nightly catch with, for example, 616 individuals of 84 species appearing on Sunday 25th which is certainly a good result for this time of year.  That night produced large counts from Large Yellow Underwing (76), Common Wainscot (49), Setaceous Hebrew Character (47), Vine's Rustic (46) & Square-spot Rustic (32), but Agriphila tristella (92) was still out in the lead.  Two large moths that same night were singletons of Old Lady and Red Underwing, while last night I had another Old Lady and a late Pine Hawk-moth which was still in relatively good condition.  Yesterday morning I found a Red Underwing active in the daytime, feeding on our buddleia alongside all the Painted Ladies and Red Admirals, while yesterday afternoon two were seen chasing each other about under our massive willow.  This morning's buddleia inspection produced a Jersey Tiger, the first I've had here in the daytime.  Two further butterflies have also appeared in the trap, a Red Admiral on the 24th and a Painted Lady again on the 25th.

All this extra activity has also given a small boost to the garden year-list, and not just from the expected moths of autumn.  There was nothing last night apart from a small Tineid which will need dissection, but the previous two sessions brought in the following:

(24th)  Cypress Pug, Centre-barred Sallow
(25th)  Ectoedemia sp., Caloptilia semifascia, Anacampsis sp., Acleris sparsana, Cydia amplana, Oblique
            Carpet, Feathered Gothic, Orange Sallow

Ectoedemia sericopeza/louisella, Westcott 25th August

Cydia amplana, Westcott 25th August

With its yellow head the miniscule but well-marked Ectoedemia will be either sericopeza or louisella, both of which I've found as mines either in the garden or just outside it.  It will have to await dissection, as will the Anacampsis which is the first of either possible species which I've seen in the garden this year.  Cydia amplana is a completely new species for the garden and this specimen was in rather better condition than the one seen at Littleworth Common a few nights ago.

Oblique Carpet, Westcott 25th August

Feathered Gothic, Westcott 25th August

Oblique Carpet is also completely new to the garden.  Indeed, it is the first I've seen anywhere since 2010 when three came to light over the summer during night-time survey visits to BBOWT's River Ray Reserves a few miles to the west of here.  The garden Lepidoptera total has now reached 1017, comprising 986 moth species (441 macros) and 31 butterflies. 

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Marlow Bottom 26/8

Nothing as exciting as a Beautiful Marbled in my trap! The only migrant was Udea ferrugalis. I did have an example of Argyresthia semitestacella, which was new for my garden (unless overlooked as albistria in the past). It was nice and fresh and a bit of a monster at 7mm length compared to albistria - it doesn't look dissimilar to Mark Griffith's photo posted a few days ago.

One of John Clough's Marlow Jersey Tigers made it my way - only my second here, but just up the road! I also had my largest ever count of Whitepoint, with six in the trap, so presumably well established locally. One was particularly fresh looking.

Contra to Dave Wilton's grass moth experience, Agriphila geniculea was the commonest moth in the trap, with 34 individuals, with just the single Agriphila tristella. Otherwise, out of the 51 species trapped, most were the usual suspects, though Centre-barred Sallow was new for the year.


I did have a small micro, c3-3.5mm length, that evaded the pot and so has been lost, but may be identifiable based on a poor record shot. It's posture was elevated slightly on the front legs - comments welcomed.

Adam Bassett

Beautiful Marbled

I had this moth last night (26th) in my trap at Beenham Berkshire, which I believe is a Beautiful Marbled. Not one that I have had before.

I also had my first garden Jersey Tiger - so rather a good night!

Monday, 26 August 2019

Clifden Nonpareils are flying

This is one of four fresh individuals seen in an Oxfordshire woodland on Saturday night 24th. Two were at wine ropes, two were at one of three Robinson MVs I was running. We are now in double figures for VC23 but the others were all singles at scattered sites. There are numerous large Black Poplars and it is almost certainly resident there.

Few migrants about at the moment but a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was feeding on our buddleja at 5.50 am on Saturday morning. It was barely light and the temperature 11C.

Jersey Tiger f. lutescens

There were 11 Jersey Tigers in and around my actinic light trap this morning, including one of the lutescens form.
John Clough, Marlow

Dark Crimson Underwing?

This one made it past the bat patrol last night.
A Dark Crimson Underwing I think.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon,

Agriphila latistria

Having been away for more than a week, ran my actinic in my East Oxford back garden last night, and caught up with the recent news on the Upper Thames Moths Blogspot. Dave Wilton's recent entry suggesting it is worth keeping an eye out for Agriphila latistria turned out to be prophetic, when one appeared around midnight - the first record for my garden. Otherwise, good numbers, but pretty standard late August species, with Large Yellow Underwing in first big numbers for the year (38 - I have the feeling it will go much higher!)

Agriphila latistria, Oxford, 25 August 2019

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Hawks more

Following Dave's mention of second brood Elephant Hawks in a comment on my last post, here are some of last night's guests here. Like being back in June!  Interesting that one of the Elephant Hawks is already a little worn.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Cydia amplana

Martin Albertini and I made another of our monthly trapping visits to Littleworth Common, Bucks last night.  There was little in the way of interest from heathland moths and the most numerous species were Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic and White-point, both in the traps and when seen by torchlight feeding from the heather flowers.  Cypress Pug, Jersey Tiger and Oak Processionary stood out from the crowd, but perhaps the best was an example of Cydia amplana.  A rare sighting in Bucks (this is only the third record), it may have been a migrant but there have been suggestions that the moth is now established in the south-east of the UK.

Cydia amplana, Littleworth Common 23rd August

I had hoped that we might see Neglected Rustic which ought to be present on site, having had it on the much smaller area of heathland in Burnham Beeches just up the road, but this visit was perhaps a week or so too early for it.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tineid sp?

I found the micro below in my lounge last night and am not sure what it is.  It seems similar to some of the clothes moth species e.g. Niditinea fuscella, but seems a bit too large at 9mm in length.  I would appreciate comments on its ID.

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Hawks again

I thought that I had seen the last of the noble and plentiful hawk moths, with a few tattered arrivals a couple of weeks ago, but this morning's trap furnished this very spick-and-span Poplar, presumably second generation?  Btw, just briefly straying on to butterflies, I had a wonderful morning among the Adonis and Chalkhill Blues at Yoesden Bank in the Chilterns on Tuesday - a top Bank Holiday outing, maybe? Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Friday, 23 August 2019

New at the Museum

A light in the farmyard at my place of work last night added a couple of new species for the site with Canary-shouldered Thorn and Vestal (annoyingly couldn't get a photo).

Also for my year list, Six-striped Rustic, Mouse Moth and Acleris variegana.

Dave Morris
Chalfont St Giles

Westcott, Bucks

Although moth numbers have picked up over the past couple of nights thanks to the overnight minimum temperature being a degree or two warmer (402 moths of 62 species last night, for example), there has still been little of interest in the garden.  Only three nights out of the past eight have produced anything new for the year-list:

(15th)  Square-spot Rustic
(17th)  Bactra lancealana, August Thorn, Six-striped Rustic, Nutmeg
(21st)  Agriphila geniculea, Pale Eggar, Frosted Orange

Agriphila geniculea, Westcott 21st August

Frosted Orange, Westcott 21st August

I've had a dozen different "grass moth" species here and Agriphila geniculea is actually one of the less common ones (if I get 15 or 20 in a season I'm doing really well).  Another one to look out for now is Agriphila latistria with its broad white band running right through to the termen.  It is not at all common in our area but has appeared twice in the garden during the last week of August, once in 2016 and once in 2018.  Frosted Orange was the first appearance here by one of the autumn-coloured moths and I expect Centre-barred Sallow any day now to indicate that summer really is over!  I would have added a photo of the Pale Eggar, a regular here, but the individual on the 21st had dived into dew-drenched grass near the trap (presumably to escape the local bats) and as a result lost a lot of scales.  I'm sure to get another.    

Numbers of Large Yellow Underwing are increasing quite rapidly (50 last night) and it has now overtaken Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and Vine's Rustic as the most numerous macro, but they're still out-numbered by the micro Agriphila tristella (62 last night).  Square-spot Rustic is appearing nightly but only in single-digit counts and has yet to take off properly.  I've also had one or two Small Square-spots over the past few nights but that is a moth of "peaks and troughs" here and I doubt if a resurgence is underway yet.  The last peak was in 2016 when I had 864 here during the year.  2017 produced 344, 2018 just 29 and I suspect there'll be even fewer this year before a recovery sets in.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Which carpet?

The moth shown below settled on a window near my actinic light trap on 21 August. Please would someone help me with ID? Thanks.

John Clough, Marlow

Argyresthia semitestacella?

Not a great photo, this one is at the edge of my camera's capabilities and my eyesight. Not sure even out of the pot I can get a much better photo but I'm hoping it's sufficiently distinctive to's been suggested that this is Argyresthia semitestacella.

Mark Griffiths, Garsinton, Oxford.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Couple of micros

Still chugging along in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire; nothing very exciting happening, but a couple of micros have given me pause for thought the last couple of nights. The first, about 7mm long, couold possibly be a Tineid of some sort, but doesn't quite look right; the second, which I didn't get a chance to measure, looks as though it should be fairly distinctive, but I can't manage to place it. As ever, all suggestions gratefully received.

Unknown micro, 20/8/19

Unknown micro, 21/8/19
Steve Goddard

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


Mocha found in West Oxford. Is that something anyone else has seen - I've not previously?