Saturday, 29 February 2020

Kitchen Moth

The wind and rain are absolutely keeping things away from my trap at the moment, but I did get my first Orthosia of the year this evening, with a Small Quaker in my kitchen.

Dave Morris
Seer Green

Common plume

Common plume. only 6th moth of 2020
and second of that species.

Alan Diver

Monday, 24 February 2020

Things are picking up

Much the same as happened in the final week of February last year (when we had a mini heat-wave), the number of moths in the garden has started to pick up and last night saw my first double-digit count for 2020:  Agonopterix heracliana (1), Small Brindled Beauty (1), Dotted Border (1), Clouded Drab (1), Common Quaker (4), Lead-coloured Drab (1) & Hebrew Character (2), along with an example of the large diving beetle Dytiscus marginalis (a regular visitor here). 

There are 13 previous records for Small Brindled Beauty in the garden but it is by no means an annual visitor so that was a welcome sighting.  On the other hand, with around 100 records of more than 200 individuals, Lead-coloured Drab is very much a garden regular thanks to all the local poplars although it is usually a moth of March and April and this was only my second February record here after one on the 22nd in 2011.  It is also worth mentioning that it wasn't as obvious a specimen as they usually are.  A male, it had the clearly feathered antennae (which distinguishes it from Clouded Drab) but then again so does the male Common Quaker, of which this looked like a very grey example.  However, on closer inspection the sub-terminal line was the wrong shape and less obvious than it should be on Common Quaker, while the two wedge-shaped marks mid-way along the sub-terminal line's inner edge - typical of Lead-coloured Drab - became obvious on the photo (in red here rather than the usual black).

Small Brindled Beauty, Westcott 23rd February

Lead-coloured Drab, Westcott 23rd February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Finemere Wood, Bucks

With the temperature holding at around 8C and with the rides there well sheltered from the high winds, last night I carried out another three-hour trapping session from dusk at nearby Finemere Wood.  The results were much as you'd expect in oak woodland at the end of February with just over 400 moths attracted to the MV light, more than half of them being the only micro species, Tortricodes alternella.  The Orthosias were just starting to make their presence felt and the Small Quaker total could easily have been much higher if I'd stayed for longer because they were still appearing regularly as I packed up.  The full list was as follows:  Tortricodes alternella (212), Yellow Horned (7), Shoulder Stripe (3), March Moth (10), Small Brindled Beauty (41), Pale Brindled Beauty (7), Oak Beauty (1), Spring Usher (11), Dotted Border (24), Early Moth (1), Chestnut (10), Clouded Drab (2), Common Quaker (10), Small Quaker (67) & Hebrew Character (1).  One of the Clouded Drabs was a really smart example of one of the less frequent forms.

Yellow Horned, Finemere Wood 21st February

Oak Beauty, Finemere Wood 21st February

Clouded Drab, Finemere Wood 21st February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks   

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Caterpillar Field Guide

Just a reminder that this new field guide from Bloomsbury, illustrated by Richard Lewington, is due out on 19th March and pre-publication offers are still available through various natural history book suppliers.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Cydia pomonella in February!

I found this moth flying around my kitchen yesterday evening. I have no idea where it has appeared from, although there are apples and pears in the fruit bowl.

Has anyone else recorded the codling moth adult this early in the year?

Steve Trigg

Monday, 17 February 2020

Common Quaker

Common Quaker came to light 13/14 Feb.
(What is the convention about dating a find?
Is it the date you put the trap out, or the date you check it?)

Alan Diver

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Storm Dennis Moths

Just to show that moths don't always go along with our view of "suitable weather", another four came to light in the garden at Westcott last night despite the wind and rain:  March Moth (1), Early Moth (1, the first here since 23rd January), Hebrew Character (1) & Chestnut (1), along with a caterpillar of Large Yellow Underwing, three of the as yet un-named winter version of ichneumon wasp Ophion obscuratus (which have been regulars here since 13th January) and a Smooth Newt which was presumably feasting on the many small flies around.  Even the RIS trap at Marsh Gibbon managed Tortricodes alternella (1) last night, only its seventh individual moth of the year!

Large Yellow Underwing caterpillar, Westcott

Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris, Westcott

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 14 February 2020

More signs of life

Before last night, I had run my traps on six nights in 2020. I've been running two at the same time in different parts of the garden: one has a 15W actinic strip and the other is my self-designed c. 13W LED light. I alternate the lights between the two parts of the garden.

I had had two blank nights.  Across the other four nights, I'd caught a total of nine moths of four species (Pale Brindled Beauty, Early Moth, Common Quaker, Dark Chestnut). Last night looked like the last chance to run the traps for a few days, but the temperature was forecast to drop down to +1C.  In the event, the temperature remained at about 5C until 01:00 and then steadily dropped to 3C by 04:00, with only a brief drop to 1C before climbing again. So it wasn't as cold as I had feared it would be.

It turned out to be a good night: between the two traps I had a total of seven moths of five species. Pale Brindled Beauty and Common Quaker showed up again, but I got three new-for-the-year species: Chestnut, Dotted Border and Hebrew Character. Nothing unusual about those, except that on entering the records into my database, I discovered to my surprise that the Chestnut was the first one I've had at home in the 18 months that I've been trapping. I've had one at the end of September at a site in Northants, and one in France between Christmas and New Year.  I have had Dark Chestnut on five occasions here at home, but I don't think I've been confusing Chestnut and Dark Chestnut - for example, I posted one here on 4th December, which Dave confirmed was Dark Chestnut. Anyhow, I was pleased that in one night, I got more species than I've had all year so far.
Dotted Border, Newton Longville 13th February

Hebrew Character, Newton Longville 13th February
Chestnut, Newton Longville, 13th February

By the way, I've been experimenting with photographing the moths on "graph paper" - the dotted lines are at 2mm intervals.  In the past, I've forgotten to measure some moths where I've been uncertain of the ID, so I thought that I'd start taking my photographs against a background where I could measure the forewing length from the photograph.  However, I don't think it does much for the aesthetics of the photo, so I'll revert to a plain white piece of paper for normal shots, and switch to the graph paper if I'm unsure of the ID - if I remember!

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Westcott, Bucks

It has been quiet in the garden of late but another Dotted Border turned up on Wednesday night while last night saw the appearance of five moths:  Agonopterix heracliana (1), Tortricodes alternella (1), Pale Brindled Beauty (2) & Chestnut (1).  So, nothing of particular note but any moths at all are a welcome sight at this time of year!  The Tortricodes alternella was a rather typically nondescript male (as opposed to the nicely marked female illustrated back on 3rd February) and takes this year's garden tally to 21 species.

Dotted Border, Westcott 12th February

Tortricodes alternella, Westcott 13th February

Chestnut, Westcott 13th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Retrospective ID help please

In clearing photo files this am I came across this one from 29 June 2019. Photographed in garden at Goring on Thames Oxon. Seems most likely to be Brown Scallop as we have Buckthorn in the garden but looks more pug like than the references I have looked at?? Isobel Huggins

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Shed Moth

This Double-striped Pug was found flying around inside the garden shed yesterday afternoon.  Probably the safest place for it in the current weather conditions, always assuming it can avoid the spiders in there!

Double-striped Pug, Westcott 8th February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Early moths in Cookham

Last night's garden trapping produced the best haul of moths so far this year - a grand total of 3. These comprised 1 Early Grey, and 2 Tortricodes alternella (last recorded in the garden in Feb 2015).

Tortricodes alternella

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Dark chestnut

I think Dark chestnut.
Came to light 3/4 Feb

Alan Diver

Monday, 3 February 2020

Another Moth Fix

Last night I had another look at Finemere Wood, Bucks for the usual three hours.  The MV brought in just over 280 moths but they were drawn from only seven species so the diversity wasn't particularly good:  Tortricodes alternella (118), March Moth (1), Small Brindled Beauty (4), Pale Brindled Beauty (8), Spring Usher (136), Dotted Border (8) & Chestnut (7).  It was good to see Tortricodes alternella out in force with Small Brindled Beauty just starting, much as you'd expect in oak woodland in early February, but the poor numbers of Pale Brindled Beauty and complete lack of both Mottled Umber and Early Moth suggest that those species might be almost over around here already.

Tortricodes alternella, Finemere Wood 2nd February

March Moth, Finemere Wood 2nd February

Small Brindled Beauty, Finemere Wood 2nd February

Back in the garden at Westcott I had just singletons of Dark Chestnut and Pale Brindled Beauty to the actinic, but the previous night (1st Feb) had brought in my first Hebrew Character of the year which co-incidentally was also the date it first appeared here in 2019.  

Hebrew Character, Westcott 1st February

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks     

Early Grey

January has been very poor in my Didcot garden despite (or because of??) some very warm nights. usually Epiphyas postvittana does its best to hold the spirits up while awaiting spring species but even that seems to have been thin on the ground this winter. it was a bit of surprise therefore to finally get a moth on the last night of January, well early hours of February really and for it to be an Early Grey. I have seen a record elsewhere even earlier than that this year, can't remember where, but I think this must be the earliest ever I have personally recorded it. The following night I then almost fell over in shock when I got another moth - two nights in a row after weeks of blanks - this time Common Quaker. Back to blanks for the time being. Marc Botham, Didcot.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Bladon Heath

While looking at the mosses in the wood at Bladon Heath today I came across a couple of moths.  The first I'm pretty sure is a Spring Usher.

Yep, it landed upside down!

The second is a bit more of a puzzle for me. Any ideas please?

Phil Cutt