Thursday, 28 November 2019

First foray into mines

Hi all
Spotted these at Beaconsfield Service Station
First of all are they Mines and if they are what can you tell me about them

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Above average November

These warmer nights are certainly bringing out the moths even if there is little to get excited about.  Going back ten years, the average number of species seen in the garden here during the second half of November (16th to 30th) is 12 but the last three nights alone have brought in 21, more than I've ever had before in this period:

Sun 24thPlutella xylostella (2), December Moth (1), Red-green Carpet (3), Winter Moth (6), Feathered Thorn (3), Scarce Umber (1), Mottled Umber (1), Yellow-line Quaker (1), Dark Chestnut (1), Satellite (1) & Oak Rustic (1).

Oak Rustic, Westcott 24th November

Mon 25th:  Agonopterix arenella (1), Epiphyas postvittana (1), December Moth (5), Red-green Carpet (4), Winter Moth (7), Feathered Thorn (1), Mottled Umber (2), Silver Y (1) & Sprawler (1).

Silver Y, Westcott 25th November

Tue 26thCaloptilia stigmatella (1), Caloptilia semifascia (1), Acleris hastiana (1, rather battered), Udea ferrugalis (1), December Moth (3), Red-green Carpet (2), Winter Moth (5), Mottled Umber (2), Red-line Quaker (1), Yellow-line Quaker (1) & Brick (1).

Acleris hastiana, Westcott 26th November

Amongst all the Winter Moths I keep my eye open for Northern Winter Moth which I've had here once or twice before, but so far there have not even been any candidates.  It looks as though the warmer weather will stay with us tonight and maybe the first part of tomorrow night will still be OK, then we're back to the cold weather once again with a frost on Friday night which will probably finish off most of the autumn hangers-on and ensure that the hibernators go back to sleep.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Oak Nycteoline and Grey Pine Carpet?

I'm thinking these are Oak Nycteoline and Grey Pine Carpet?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford (no Oak Rustics so far this year)

Monday, 25 November 2019

Species to look out for now

There were three quite widely spaced local records last night of Oak Rustic Dryobota labecula, from Marlow and Westcott in Bucks (firsts for VC24) and from Garsington in Oxon.  Its first recorded appearance in our area was at Reading, Berks in November 2015 and that's only five seasons ago, suggesting that dispersal northwards could be moving at quite a pace.  With records now from all three vice-counties, anywhere in our area could come up trumps with this species so please give it a try.

The other one to keep an eye out for is Black-spotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginosa which sneaked into the far south-east of our region last winter with a single sighting at Denham, Bucks.  There have already been four records of it in Bedfordshire over the past week so anywhere along our eastern flank, including the Milton Keynes area, could be a possibility.

Good luck!

Leaf Mines

A couple of days along the Thames visiting relatives this weekend.  In the dry spells I managed a couple of short walks and took the opportunity to search for leaf mines.

At Cumnor Hurst many of the oak leaves remained on the trees, and they were out of reach, whilst searching through the fallen leaves in the dampness was an unappetising prospect.  However, I did find the still-tenanted green island mines of Ectoedemia quinquella as well as a couple of more expected species.  The common elm-miners could be found along the lane leading towards the wood, with Stigmella viscerella being a nice find.

On Sunday I was in Goring; I followed the lane running from the station in the direction of Hartslock, and came across a buckthorn tree covered in mines of Bucculatrix frangutella and Stigmella catharticella; I have never seen the former species before and do not often come across the latter, buckthorns being scarce trees across most of Somerset.  I also found my first - and probably last - Stigmella luteella mine of the year, on a fallen birch leaf.

Oak Rustic

Feeling inspired by Dave Wilton's recent post on Plumed Prominent, I retrieved the trap from the shed where it had been mothballed for the Winter and had another go at trying for this species in the garden - living in Marlow Bottom and bordering a wood with Field Maple, I always think this moth could be present, but have not been successful as yet, though my trapping at this time of year is light.

Unfortunately, I failed again, but had good compensation when an Oak Rustic arrived some time between 5pm and 7pm.  I think this might be a first for VC24?

Otherwise, usual fare: December Moth (16), Feathered Thorn (10), Red-green Carpet (8), Mottled Umber (2), November sp (4), Yellow-line Quaker (1), Chestnut (1).

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Sunday, 24 November 2019

A reminder of summer

Ditula angustiorana (Red-barred Tortrix) is a pretty moth usually seen in June and July, so I was surprised to find one in my kitchen today. It looked fresh and I suspect had emerged indoors, probably from the baskets of apples that have been inside for a while now. It's a shame that it probably won't do very well at this time of year, but it is a very pretty moth to brighten a dull November day.

Westcott, Bucks

The garden trap has just about kept ticking over for the past week.  Ten species were recorded over the period with the best nights being those of the 17th (24 moths of 7 species) and last night (17 moths of 6 species), ranging down to a night with just the one Sprawler on the 19th.  Last night was relatively warm and brought in Plutella xylostella, Udea ferrugalis, December Moth, Red-green Carpet, Winter Moth & Scarce Umber, along with diving beetle Colymbetes fuscus and caddis fly Limnephilus lunatus.  Three or four milder nights with a SE breeze are now forecast before the cold returns so there's a possibility of something interesting being blown in.  Ever the optimist!

December Moth female, Westcott 23rd November

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 23 November 2019

The Plumed One

Following my failed attempt to find it in two woods near Marlow on 11th November, I tried again for a Bucks record of the nationally scarce Plumed Prominent at a private site near Ibstone on Saturday 16th.  That was a particularly chilly night although ten other species ventured into the traps so I'm sure Plumed Prominent would have been flying as well if it had emerged there.  However, once again there was no sign of it.  Last night (Friday 22nd) I had a final attempt for the moth back near Marlow and thankfully this time I met with success.  25 males between two sites equals my highest ever count for one night, the first one appearing at 5.25pm and almost all of the remainder turning up within the hour, so I was packed up and on my way home by 7pm.  Plumed Prominent certainly seems to be very late appearing in Bucks this year.  As can often be the case when looking for it, there was very little activity from anything else and the only other moths seen were December Moth, Winter Moth, Feathered Thorn & Satellite.

Plumed Prominent, 22nd November

Plumed Prominent, 22nd November

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Found indoors

Yesterday afternoon, I found this moth on a wall in the kitchen.  I think it is Acrolepia autumnitella.  It's new to me and I'm not sure about this: here's how I worked it out.  Unfortunately, when I was photographing the moth, I didn't notice that the focus was poor, except towards the termen.
Acrolepia autumnitella? Newton Longville, 20th November

Acrolepiopsis assectella looks similar, and is a similar size (my moth had a forewing length of about 5½mm). However, assectella is described as being greyish brown, and mine is quite coppery (especially the cilia). The guide also mentions that Acrolepia autumnitella has a scattering of white scales before the termen which can form white cross-lines, and it can have a short black streak at about four fifths: I think both of these are visible in the photo.

There's also Acrolepiopsis betulella which is even more similar, but that's only found far to the north.

Have I got it right?

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Monday, 18 November 2019


I don't normally like straying from the straight and narrow of Lepidoptera on the blog but this is a good example of what you might be missing if other orders of insect which come to light-traps are completely ignored.  Showing that bird-poo mimicry isn't confined to tortrix moths, this is Pogonocherus hispidus (or Lesser Thorn-tipped Long-horn Beetle for those who need a vernacular name) which came to last night's garden actinic trap alongside 24 moths of seven species.  At barely 6mm from head to tail it is very small and easily overlooked when it wraps itself up but seems to be fairly widespread and this is the third occasion I've seen it here (the last one was actually found indoors at the beginning of October this year).

Pogonocherus hispidus, Westcott 17th November

I've also had its close relative Pogonocherus hispidulus (or Greater Thorn-tipped Long-horn Beetle) once in the garden - it looks fairly similar although there are differences in their markings.  It might seem late in the year now to be getting anything other than crane-flies, winter gnats and earwigs but I'm still seeing the occasional caddis fly too.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Westcott, Bucks

Eighteen moths of six species came to the garden actinic light last night, fairly typical of results over the past week.  Amongst them, finally, was the last expected moth of the year:  Scarce Umber (three to be exact, none of them in tip-top condition).  They were accompanied by Emmelina monodactyla (1), Winter Moth (1), Feathered Thorn (3), Mottled Umber (1) & Sprawler (9).

Scarce Umber, Westcott 16th November

The trap was checked at 11pm and all of those moths apart from one Sprawler were in by then, so it is always worth the effort this late in the season, even if only for the first half of the night.  Other species seen here during the week included December Moth, Red-green Carpet, November Moth agg., Green-brindled Crescent, Grey Shoulder-knot, Black Rustic, Brick, Chestnut & Dark Chestnut, although I suspect numbers will decline fairly quickly now.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

Rounding off the year

Nine December Moths this morning, which I think rounds off the year. The trap also had two Sprawlers, one cappucino form of the Green-brindled Crescent and a Feathered Thorn, both in very good condition. In central Oxford, meanwhile, butterflies (and many other things) were running riot at the excellent Christmas lights. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Friday, 15 November 2019

Preparing 2019 records - troublesome IDs

I am compiling a spreadsheet of my 2019 records and still have a few moths which I have not been able to ID with certainty. The first (1 Aug 19) could be Epagoge grotiana. The second (15 Aug 19) looks like an Apotomis sp. or Hedya sp. The third (31 July 19) is probably a spruce carpet or a grey pine carpet, but I can't decide which. Can anyone help please? Many thanks.

John Clough, Marlow

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Three new moths for me?

I ran my trap in the garden last night as the weather forecast was relatively benign even if the full moon and relatively little cloud cover dampened my expectations.

I normally don't set up the trap until about 15 minutes after sunset, but last night I set it going about quarter of an hour before sunset, as that happened to be more convenient.  This may have had a bearing on what I caught.

I checked the trap at about 21:30 and found three moths on it or nearby (but none in it).  I potted these and then left it running until half an hour before sunrise this morning, when I found no moths at all in, on, or around the trap.  So the three moths from yesterday evening were a paltry catch, but turned out to be interesting nonetheless.

One is a Silver Y.  I've been mothing for about 18 months, and although it's a common species, this is the first Silver Y that I've caught: it's strange that I should catch it well past its peak period, even if it has been recorded in all months.  However, I note that the field guide says that it flies around sunset, before most other moths - and I wonder if the fact that I don't usually have the trap running before sunset is the reason that I've not caught one before.
Silver Y, Newton Longville  12th November

The second moth I have tentatively identified as Diurnea lipsiella, but I'd be grateful for confirmation  It's also the first time I've caught this moth, and it's also one that flies earlier in the day.
Diurnea lipsiella? Newton Longville 12th November

The third moth was puzzling me.  I initially wondered if it was a poorly-marked Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella), but I decided that it requires too much imagination to see a diamond pattern.  It did have the same "jumpy" behaviour as other specimens of P. xylostella that I've caught previously.

However, then I saw Dave's post that included Ypsolopha ustella.  This seems to be a better match, though I'm not sure: it is a variable species.  If it's confirmed, it will have the remarkable result that out of a poor catch of only three moths, all of them were firsts for me - albeit unexceptional ones.
Ypsolopha ustella? Newton Longville 12th November
Here's a couple more photographs of it:

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks
(Edited to correct a formatting error)

(Lack of) Plumed Prominent

Last night I ran a couple of MV traps in Homefield Wood and a third in another nearby wood not far from Marlow, Bucks.  Both sites have in the past produced fair numbers of Plumed Prominent but on this occasion none at all came to light at either location between 5pm and 9pm (in my experience the males are usually active between 6pm and 8pm).  Weather-wise it was a reasonable evening at about 5C with just occasional light drizzle and from the very start there was activity around the traps from flies and lacewings which is always a good sign.  Indeed, a good selection of moths did appear for this time of year, including Caloptilia semifascia, Ypsolopha ustella, Plutella xylostella (the dark form), Diurnia lipsiella, Emmelina monodactyla, Acleris ferrugana/notana, Acleris sparsana, Pine Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Red-green Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet, November moth agg., Green-brindled Crescent, Beaded Chestnut, Yellow-line Quaker, Brick, Satellite, Black Rustic & Oak Nycteoline,  In fact it was almost like stepping back a month because there was no sign at all of things like December Moth, Winter Moth, Feathered Thorn, Mottled Umber or Sprawler which I've been getting at home for some weeks now.

Ypsolopha ustella, Homefield Wood 12th November

Diurnea lipsiella, Homefield Wood 12th November

Spruce Carpet, Homefield Wood 12th November

Oak Nycteoline, Homefield Wood 12th November

The 12th is the latest November date on which I've tried and failed to see Plumed Prominent at a known site.  Leaving aside the fact that Marc Botham and I saw three at Warburg in Oxon last week (a different micro-climate, maybe?), another result of generally warming temperatures could be that the flight periods of some of our cold-loving moths are being pushed back.  Whatever the reason, perhaps I'll attempt to look for it again later this month if the opportunity arises.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Recent Leafmines

I've managed a few more trips out to sites around Oxford, looking for leafmines and larvae in recent weeks. Firstly to Wytham Woods on 31/10 where the highlight was more mines of Stephensia brunnichella on Wild Basil. This seems to be quite widespread on any unimproved calcareous grasslands around Oxford, and I found more on a verge by Bayswater Road and then at Sydlings Copse on 06/11.

Here I found just over 50 species of leaf miner and larvae in an enjoyable morning. The main highlight was the red data book Stigmella filipendulae on Meadowsweet (ID confirmed by John Langmaid) in the fen area of the site.

Stigmella filipendulae mine - Sydlings Copse

Stigmella filipendulae mines - Sydlings Copse
I also found a few mines of Parornix fagivora on Beech, and a case of Coleophora albitarsella on Ground Ivy, which were both new ones for me. Other notables were Ectoedemia angulifasciella on Dog Rose, Ectoedemia rubivora on Bramble, a Thiotricia subocellea case on Marjoram and a nice variety of birch-feeding stigmellas.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Westcott, Bucks

Numbers in the garden trap have dwindled over the past week.  On the 4th, 5th and 6th I was still getting around 15 species per night and even a migrant micro appeared on the 4th in the shape of Udea ferrugalis.  However, on the 7th and 8th the count plummeted to just three moths of two species each night (Sprawler & Red-line Quaker on the 7th, Red-green Carpet & Winter moth on the 8th).  We were away over this past weekend but I decided to switch on the light at 8pm when we arrived back last night, not really expecting to get anything at all because there was already a frost, but conditions improved as the night progressed and by dawn this morning thirteen moths of eight species had appeared:  Plutella xylostella (1), December Moth (1), Red-green Carpet (1), Winter Moth (1), Feathered Thorn (1), Mottled Umber (1), Sprawler (6) & Satellite (1).  I'm still waiting on Scarce Umber, which is the last macro species that I can reasonably expect this year.

Plutella xylostella, Westcott 10th November

Udea ferrugalis, Westcott 4th November

I imagine it won't have reached quite as far as here yet but one westwards-spreading species to look out for now is the Black-spotted Chestnut, a recent UK colonist which flies from November onwards throughout the winter months, sometimes in seemingly inhospitable conditions.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks    

Friday, 8 November 2019

Leaf mines on bramble, elm and hazel

Following on from Andrew's post yesterday, I have also found some it difficult to match some mines found while cutting shrubs in my garden with the info on the British Leafminers and other such sites.  However the first (on bramble) looks like a good fit for Stigmella aurella? The next one (on elm) has an active caterpillar and is possibly Stigmella lemnicella?  The third (on hazel) could be Stigmella microtheriella (as suggested for Andrew's leafminer), but does not appear to show the centralized frass line which is said to be characteristic of this mine.  The last (also on hazel) could possibly be Ectoedemia minimella - the caterpillar was in the central oval area and is also shown isolated.
Elm (detail)
Hazel 1

Hazel 2

Caterpillar from Hazel 2

John Thacker


Eudonia angustea

I haven't put moth trap out for a while
but found this micro resting on net curtains on
3rd November. Think Eudonia angustea? is it likely
to have emerged inside the house?

Alan Diver,

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Plumed Prominent

Marc Botham arranged to drop off a couple of MV lights at BBOWT's Warburg reserve near Nettlebed, Oxon last night and we met up there this morning to go through the contents.  The hope was that despite all the rain we would find the nationally scarce Plumed Prominent on the wing by now at this, one of its best sites in the Chilterns.  The moth is traditionally searched for from Bonfire Night onwards although in recent years I've had one or two wasted journeys to sites in Bucks this close to 5th November.  Thankfully there had indeed been some early emergences at Warburg and each trap contained the moth (two in one and one in the other, all males). 

Plumed Prominent, Warburg 6th November

The cold and very wet conditions conspired to ensure that there was little in the way of a supporting cast, the only other species recorded being Caloptilia betulicola, Acleris ferrugana/notana, December Moth, Red-green Carpet, Northern Winter Moth, November Moth agg., Mottled Umber, Satellite & Chestnut.  Surprisingly there was no sign of either Feathered Thorn or Sprawler which one might have thought would fly whatever the weather. 

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Longwick leaf mines on Hazel

A quick walk to the village post office was stopped by my noticing a hazel growing out of a hedge on the main road. I noticed a number of, no longer tenanted, mines which you can see below.

I struggled a bit to align the photos with the UK leafminers website. I am assuming they must be Ectoedemia minimella? Although they are not entirely convincing. Help would be welcome!