Friday, 31 January 2020

Common plume?

I think Common Plume.

Alan Diver

A Record January

Although very wet, the milder than usual conditions this January have resulted in a better than expected count of adult moths in the garden (we must be overdue a really cold snap!).  I know we're only talking about a handful of species anyway but the average here over the past decade for the first month of the year has been to get five macros and two micros whereas this month there have already been nine + six with one night still to go.  2019 was the closest with ten + one.  I'll need to check even further back as well to be sure but I believe this January's species total constitutes a record for the garden.  There are also a handful of moths which other recorders have already seen locally this year (Acleris cristana, March Moth, Dotted Border, Oak Beauty & Common Quaker spring to mind) but which haven't appeared here yet. 

Garden additions over the past week have comprised Grey Shoulder-knot and Dark Chestnut on the 27th and Agonopterix heracliana on the 30th (the latter will be retained for checking but the confusion species, Agonopterix ciliella, is rare in Bucks and despite multiple dissections over the years has never been found here in the garden).   

Grey Shoulder-knot, Westcott 27th January

Agonopterix heracliana, Westcott 30th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Leaf mine

Grateful for help with this active leaf mine.

Alan Diver

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Spring Usher?

First one after 7 years of trapping. Can someone confirm?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Leaf Mine

A recent comment on lack of leaf mine interest made me bring this Holm Oak leaf back for a bit of practice. Well we all have to start somewhere!

I have come up with Stigmella suberivora. Anywhere near?

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Newport Pagnell, Bucks

Only 2 moths recorded at the 125Watt MV lamp left overnight at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve yesterday evening. One was a Pale Brindled Beauty which was no surprise but the second, an Oak Beauty, was.  My earliest record for this moth is 20 February so this one is almost a month early.

                                                                          Oak Beauty

There has not been much else to report from Linford Lakes Nature Reserve over the past fortnight.  An Early Moth on the 17th, Pale Brindled Beauty occasionally and the odd Dark Chestnut and Chestnut so the "early" Oak Beauty was a bonus.

Westcott, Bucks

The last two trapping sessions in the garden have produced reasonable returns for January.  Wednesday night seemed to be particularly suitable locally for the few moths that fly at this time of year and I had Epiphyas postvittana (1), Pale Brindled Beauty (5), Spring Usher (1) & Early Moth (2) to the actinic light, while last night produced Pale Brindled Beauty (2), Spring Usher (1), Early Moth (1) & Satellite (1).  The Satellite takes me to 12 adult species so far this year, which is one ahead of the same point in 2019, so things are ticking along quite nicely at the moment.

Spring Usher, Westcott 23rd January

Satellite, Westcott 23rd January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Thursday, 23 January 2020

March already?

The trap in the burial park this morning brought us the first March Moth of the year.

My only other January record was one at home on 28th Jan 2015, but I'd be interested to know how early they've been seen in the county?

Dave Morris
Seer Green

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Time for a lick of paint

In the summer of 2018, I bought a Skinner trap made of uncoated, exterior-quality plywood. I selected a wooden trap partly because it was relatively cheap, but also I wanted to avoid plastic.  It got limited use until the summer of 2019. As last autumn wore on, we had damp weather more frequently, and although I don't run the trap when rain is likely, there were several times that I was caught out by unexpected showers or by condensing fog. The consequence of this - and then storing the trap in the garage - was that mildew started growing on the bare wood. To keep the trap above the damp lawn, I was putting it on a wallpaper table, which also started to get a bit of mildew.

I recently determined that I needed to do something about the mildew problem, so I decided to paint the trap and the table. As I've now worked out a way to run two traps in the garden simultaneously, I also bought a second, identical trap and table. It has taken about ten days to sand down the old trap, and to apply two coats of paint to all four items.

I opted to paint them white to increase the amount of light reflected and thus the attractiveness to moths. It will also help me to see moths that have hidden on/under the table - on several occasions last year, despite what I thought was a careful check while unloading the trap, I failed to notice some moths until I was putting the kit away. I also decided to use black paint in the inside of the trap behind where the egg trays are put, to encourage the trapped moths to settle down. My original intention was to use matt black as being less reflective than gloss, but when I went to the local DIY store, I had to settle for "eggshell".

Here are some "before" and "after" photos. One photo shows how the trap and table should look (these are actually the identical models that I bought last week). The adjacent photo shows how mouldy the original trap had become - I took the photo after I had started to paint the fiddly bits as the new paint highlights the contrast.
As it became: mildew-covered trap
(painting under way)
Original condition (new trap/table)

The last two photos show the original trap (and table) after painting, with a close-up showing the black interior. The white "streaks" in the corner are actually very small gaps between the sides, through which the white paint outside is showing.
Detail of  interior

Trap & table after painting

Originally, the traps could be dismantled. The wood is cut to rather broad tolerances and whereas there are 2mm gaps in some places, other parts were a tight fit even when not painted. Before I started painting them, I realised that I would lose the ability to dismantle the traps, but I decided that would be OK as I almost never do it anyhow.

I was away for three weeks over Christmas and New Year and when I add time spent painting, it's just over a month since my last trapping session at home.  So I'll start again in a couple of days, when the nights aren't frosty any more.  Now I'll have two identical sets of equipment that I can use simultaneously, in order to simplify my actinic-vs.-LED light comparisons.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Moth records for balcony

Moth records for Iain Brown in Sibford Ferris

Since late May 2019 I have recorded 172 species using a 6 watt actinic moth trap
136 macro and 36 micro
I trapped for 75 nights and in total caught nearly 2000 moths, my best night was 25/7/19 when I had 159 moths of 35 species. I’ve been told that my best moths were Garden Dart, Shark, Birds Wing Pine Hawk-moth and Sallow Kitten

Garden Moths

Moths have continued to appear sporadically in the garden here at Westcott, albeit in very small quantities.  Tuesday night added Acleris logiana and Early Moth to the year list, Wednesday brought in only a brown winter form of the Green Shield-bug Palomena prasina, Thursday night produced the plume Emmelina monodactyla along with two more Early Moths and a Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris (they're regulars foraging around the trap here), while last night another three Early Moths appeared before the temperature dipped below freezing.

Early Moths, Westcott 17th January

It looks as though we've got a run of frosts to come now so I doubt there'll be any significant activity in the garden for a few nights.  At least the results here have been better than the Rothamsted Insect Survey trap which I look after at nearby Marsh Gibbon,  whose 200wt clear tungsten bulb has picked up just two moths so far this year, a Dark Chestnut on the night of the 5th and an Early Moth on the 16th.

In the garden here I get Acleris kochiella regularly (its larvae feed on elm) but Acleris logiana (a birch-feeder) also started to appear in 2017 with two records that year.  Both are very similar in appearance.  I didn't get logiana in either 2018 or 2019 but I'm reasonably sure that this one has been correctly identified, although it will eventually be given closer examination just to be 100% sure.

Acleris logiana, Westcott 14th January

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 17 January 2020

Black-spotted Chestnut - again!

Another Black-spotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginosa last night, the third in 12 months for Robin Knill-Jones in Denham, means that this recent arrival in the UK really must be established now in the Colne valley (Bucks/Herts/Middx border area).  It is certainly something for other recorders in the area to keep an eye out for this month - in fact it is surprising that our Chorleywood residents haven't already found it!

Black-spotted Chestnut, Denham 16th January

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Sibford 2019

As I am suffering from a lack of moths having caught almost nothing for two months I thought I might pull together my 2019 statistics using a similar format to Dave Wilton's earlier post.

Nights trapped 151 - 98 with 125w MV and 53 with 20w Eco bulb.
Total number of individuals 16,961.
Total number of species caught  461 - 267 macro and 194 micro
Nights with 100+ species 3
Best night 25th July 1077 individuals 125 species
Highest number of individuals for a species Heart and Dart 1197
New for the garden (bringing the total to 574) 77 species of which 21 were macros and 56 micros. Many thanks to Peter Hall for his willingness and patience sorting many of the micros including a batch that went mouldy in transit in the hot weather.
Best of the macros were Silver Cloud, Satin Lutestring, Crescent Dart, Dark Crimson Underwing and Clifden Nonpareil. Best of the micros Zelotherses unitana, Bryotropha basaltinella, Batrachedra pinicolella, Phyllonorycter blancardella and Bohemannia pulverosella The last two although 'Common' had apparently not been recorded in Oxfordshire since 1988 and 1987 respectively.
Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Westcott, Bucks

January and February are always tediously slow months here for moths and I'm actually quite pleased to have reached six species already in the first two weeks of this year:  Mompha jurassicella, Winter Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Mottled Umber & Chestnut, plus an active leaf-mine of Stigmella aurella

Mine of Stigmella aurella on bramble, Westcott 5th January

This quiet period is of course a necessity to allow everyone to get records for 2019 sorted and dispatched to your County Moth Recorder!

Mr Hall has kindly completed my garden dissections for the year (thank-you, Peter) so I can add a little more to the statistics posted back in December.  Firstly I need to correct the overall total number of moths recorded in the garden, which actually amounted to 54,400 for the full year (my earlier adding-up left a little bit to be desired!).  That total includes the usual pairs of aggregate species like Common/Lesser Common Rustic which are always worth recording but doesn't include things like those Yponomeutas which can't be determined or any Coleophorids and Cnephasias which haven't been dissected.  The first two don't ever amount to very many moths but I do get a significant number of Cnephasias here with 377 of them remaining unidentified and therefore unrecorded during 2019.  They'll be drawn from incertana, stephensiana, asseclana and communana which are the four I get regularly in the garden.

The final moth species count for the year came to 699 (344 micros, 355 macros) and, for anyone who is really that interested, the full list is available on a Google Sheets spreadsheet here.  32 of them were new to the garden, the 11 macros as previously listed and the following 21 micros:  Stigmella crataegellaStigmella samiatella*, Bohemannia pulverosella, Ectoedemia heringella*, Tischeria ekebladella*, Phyllonorycter klemannellaYpsolopha alpella*, Scrobipalpa obsoletella*, Scrobipalpa atriplicella*, Carpatolechia alburnella, Coleophora milvipennis*, Coleophora lassella*, Elachista gleichenella*, Elachista consortella*, Elachista stabilella*, Choristoneura diversana*, Cochylis nana, Epinotia cinereana*, Cydia amplana, Anania lancealis and Pediasia contaminella (those marked * were dissected to confirm).

The garden moth list currently stands at 1,003 species (560 micros, 443 macros) with the Dewick's Plusia on 14th September 2019 taking the prize for being the 1,000th.  It will be interesting to see how many more can be added!  It also suggests that with a lot of perseverance and someone willing to carry out any necessary dissections then this kind of total must surely be achievable by anyone with a bit of decent habitat nearby.

Update:  Actually, it turns out to be 1,002 garden moths (559 micros, 443 macros) with Dewick's Plusia now relegated to the 999th species and the 1,000th being Phyllonorycter klemannella!  I thought I'd checked for duplicates (62.065 Ephestia unicolorella/woodiella being the obvious one if you ask MapMate to produce a species list) but I've just found that 15.054 Phyllonorycter salictella and Phyllonorycter viminiella are both still in as good species too even though they are actually one and the same moth.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Moth Fix

Sheltered woodland is the place to be for moths at this time of year so, in order to get a decent 'fix' for January, last night I trapped in BBOWT's Finemere Wood, Bucks for the usual three hours from dusk.  More than 200 moths came to the MV light in that time, comprising Acleris ferrugana/notana (1), Acleris hastiana (1), Winter Moth (17), Pale Brindled Beauty (86), Spring Usher (73), Mottled Umber (16), Early Moth (11), Satellite (1) & Chestnut (21), while many more Winter Moths were to be seen sitting around on nearby tree trunks along with a solitary female Dotted Border.  There was nothing unexpected and, if anything, I'm surprised that the mild conditions didn't tempt one or two more species to fly, but then I was there for only a relatively short part of the night.

Acleris ferrugana/notana female, Finemere Wood 7th January

Spring Ushers, Finemere Wood 7th January

Early Moth, Finemere Wood 7th January

Acleris ferrugana (an oak feeder) and Acleris notana (a birch feeder) can't be safely separated without resorting to dissection but this will almost certainly be ferrugana, which is by far the more common of the two species locally.  Even though there is plenty of both food-plants at Finemere I've never recorded notana there and most of my records of it are actually from heathland sites.  It was interesting to see the variation in size of Spring Ushers this year and there were two like the midget shown above which had a wing-length of barely 12mm.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Monday, 6 January 2020

Update on Berkshire moth records

This message is for moth-ers in Berkshire.

Having let things slide a bit following the big push in 2017 to sort out records for the national atlas, I've managed to start catching up a bit this winter. As some of you will have noticed, I am back up to date with checking the iRecord records. This is in part thanks to very welcome help from John Thacker, who has joined the verification team (well, there are now two of us so that's a team!) and is concentrating on records with photos. I'm hoping that between us we will be able to respond more quickly over the coming year.

There is still a long way to go to catch up with records supplied via spreadsheets or MapMate, but they are within my sights now!

If anyone on this blog hasn't yet started sending in records please do consider doing so, they all help build up a picture of the county's moths and support the work that Butterfly Conservation and others do to conserve moths. For Berkshire I'd love it if you could add your records to iRecord as that makes my life a lot easier, but spreadsheets and MapMate are among the other options. For Bucks and Oxon see the recording page on this blog.

And a big thank you to everyone who has sent in records! 
Martin Harvey
Berkshire County Moth Recorder
Berkshire moths iRecord summary for 2019

Sunday, 5 January 2020

First moth of the year, Chestnut?

Unfortunately it's a bit worn on the wing tips but I'm thinking Chestnut rather than Dark Chestnut. Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Ypsolopha ustella?

My first micro of the year, I think it is Ypsolopha ustella  caught in the moth trap on 2nd January in Burghers Hill, Wooburn Common.

Happy New Year

Friday, 3 January 2020

Pearly Underwing or Turnip?

I have been adding my last year's records to iRECORD as usual at this time of year and this one has been queried by the County Moth Recorder. The moth was attracted to light on 25 June 2019 (photo on grey background with mm ruler).  After initially considering it as another Turnip moth (but with little evidence of a 'club' mark), on examining the underwings (see below) I concluded that it might be a Pearly Underwing (although the photo doesn't really show the bluey-white sheen on the underwing).  Martin Harvey suggested that I might put this on the blog to get other opinions - he commented "It's a very odd moth, with the orbicular stigma greatly elongated and the claviform stigma obscured. It doesn't look right for Pearly Underwing to me, partly due to the wing shape, partly due to the markings and partly due to the lack of a grey line in the cilia of the hindwing."
Thanks for any input, as ever.

John Thacker
Harwell, Oxon

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Last of the Decade

Singletons of Winter Moth and Mottled Umber rounded off the decade for my garden last night along with the noctuid caterpillar below which was found crawling up the conservatory wall near the light.  At only 18mm it is an early instar so rather difficult to place because many species change considerably in appearance as they grow, but I think that it might be a rather dark form of Old Lady.  The markings, if not the ground colour, are a good match for the 26mm larva illustrated on Reg Fry's website (if anyone has other ideas about its identity, please let me know!).  Hopefully our ability to identify anything other than final instar caterpillars will improve immeasurably when the new field guide illustrated by Richard Lewington comes out in March (see here, pre-publication offers are available from other book suppliers too).

Possible Old Lady larva, Westcott 31st December 2019
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

A "late" Brick at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve

A Happy New Year to everyone and may the moth gods be with us all in 2020.  Robinson traps were  set in my garden in Newport Pagnell and at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve last night and they yielded 4 moths one of which was this Brick which was at LLNR.  I note the comments made a a week or so ago about late ones turning up.

                                                                 A late Brick

The others were 2 Mottled Umbers and at home just 1 moth on the shed door, a Pale Brindled Beauty.  I have been running the trap at LLNR through much of December, low numbers, below 10 and comprising December Moth, last on 21st, Mottled Umbers, Chestnuts and Dark Chestnuts, Winter Moths, Scarce Umbers , a Satellite and 1Pale Brindled Beauty on 27th.