Monday, 31 August 2020

Fraxini again

Robin Knill-Jones had a Clifden Nonpareil to his trap in Denham, Bucks on the night of 29th August, a first for his garden.

Radnage, Bucks

Not the sharpest of images but there's no doubt what this is!  Continuing the migrant theme, Ched George had the smart micro-moth Palpita vitrealis in his garden trap last night.  It appears to be the eighth record for VC24.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Convolvulus hawk-moth, Worminghall

 A family friend found this in her garden on King's Close, Worminghall today. 

National Moth Night no.3

Last night's results here for the final NMN session were as dismal as the previous two with 104 moths of 25 species to light in the back garden.  Here's the full list:  Paraswammerdamia albicapitella (1), Yponomeuta sp (1), Celypha lacunana (2), Agriphila tristella (7), Pale Eggar (4), Chinese Character (2), Garden Carpet (1), Brimstone Moth (6), Light Emerald (7), Large Yellow Underwing (18), Lesser Yellow Underwing (1), Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (1), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2), Setaceous Hebrew Character (4), Square-spot Rustic (3), White-point (1), Common Wainscot (3), Centre-barred Sallow (2), Angle Shades (3), Flounced Rustic (9), Rosy Rustic (3, having an excellent year locally), Vine's Rustic (16), Burnished Brass (1), Silver Y (5) & Snout (1).  The wine rope in the front garden brought in Large Yellow Underwing (1), Square-spot Rustic (2) & Old Lady (2).

It was a pity that the weather didn't play ball.  For the target species I had just the one Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) on the first night with, much as expected, no sign of the crimson ones.  Migrants were limited to Udea ferrugalis on the first and second nights and Dark Sword-grass just on the first.  Did anyone else have any luck?

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks        

Red Underwing? Moth Night no. 3

 I think this is a Red Underwing rather than the Dark Crimson I got last year. Bigger, greyer and distinctly red rather than pinking when it escaped the net. Whatever it is it was very welcome.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

National Moth Night no.2

As expected after a rainy day then very cool overnight temperatures in that northerly breeze, the total number of moths to light in the back garden fell sharply once again:  86 individuals of 25 species with nothing of particular interest and none of NMN's target species.  The wine rope in the front garden managed to bring in four Square-spot Rustics and an Old Lady.

Old Lady, Westcott 28th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Friday, 28 August 2020

National Moth Night no.1

Only 141 moths of 36 species came to light in the back garden here (half the previous night's total) but at least they did include a single rather worn Red Underwing.

Red Underwing, Westcott 27th August

There was nothing at all exciting to a wine rope hung out in the (dark) front garden, unlike the previous night when I had Old Lady, Red Underwing and Clifden Nonpareil all at the same time.  The prospects for tonight and tomorrow night aren't looking too good at all!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Death's-head Hawk-moth larvae in Bucks

On 26th August 2020 Brian Laney and Tim Pickering found 5 larvae on a potato crop at Aston Clinton allotments, the first Bucks records since 2008. Thanks to Brian for supplying information and pictures and allowing them to go on the blog. How many more allotments and gardens have them?

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Confirmations please

I think I have Willow Beauty again - the lines don't quite meet but I think that's still what it is. No Mottled Beauties at all this year.

Then a White-point rather than Clay even though the point isn't particularly round. Getting a few of these lately.

Finally Cochylis molliculana? Seems to be now one of the commonest micros I get. (What happened to all the grass moths this year?)

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Treble-bar/Lesser Treble-bar

I'm having difficulty identifying this moth. Is a Treble-bar or Lesser T-B?

Help required - Nutmeg?

Not a usual moth here but mention by Dave of his Nutmeg the other night made me wonder  - as I can't quite place it otherwise. Thanks.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

National Moth Nights

A reminder that the annual National Moth Nights event co-ordinated by BC, Atropos & CEH will take place at the end of this week (more information here).  While organised activities are not currently possible due to the coronavirus, it is hoped that as many people as possible will contribute records from their gardens on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights - all three if you can!  This year's event is timed to co-incide with the flight periods of the Red/Crimson Underwing species which are perhaps more likely to be seen by using methods other than light-traps, so as well as running your trap why not try your hand at wine ropes or sugaring?


Westcott, Bucks

Another week goes by, during which even fewer moths are added to the garden year-list.  The species count for 2020 currently stands at 537 which is 104 behind the total achieved by this date in 2019.  Dissections should eventually narrow the gap a little, but not by very much!

(19th)   Hedya ochroleucana, Cosmopolitan
(20th)   Nutmeg
(21st)    - nil -
(22nd)  Acleris cristana
(23rd)   - nil -
(24th)   - nil -
(25th)   - nil -

The Cosmopolitan (19th) joins Silver-striped Hawk-moth and Convolvulus Hawk-moth as a really good migrant species for the garden this year and we've still not got to the traditional "migrant months" of September and October - I wonder what they'll bring?  Nutmeg is an interesting moth here.  I rarely get more than a handful and some years it doesn't turn up at all.  More often than not it is second-generation individuals like the one on the 20th, when I haven't seen anything of the first brood. 

Until last night the lack of new species had been more than made up for by quantity with moths such as Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Vine's Rustic appearing in good numbers.  My garden Large Yellow Underwing count is already well over a thousand and only about a hundred behind the same date in 2019 when I ended up with a record site total of 2,313 individuals for the year. 

The MV trap was run on its own last night, well anchored down because of the 45mph gusts from Storm Francis and, even though the catch was much reduced, 22 species turned up.  There was also no let-up in the number of wasps which have been a particular garden hazard this year.  The full list was as follows:  Cochylis molliculana (1), Agriphila tristella (6), Agriphila geniculea (1), Orange Swift (1), Chinese Character (1), Brimstone Moth (3), Dusky Thorn (1), Light Emerald (2), Turnip (3), Large Yellow Underwing (4), Lesser Yellow Underwing (2), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (3), Square-spot Rustic (1), White-point (1), Common Wainscot (3), Copper Underwing (1), Angle Shades (1), Flounced Rustic (14), Rosy Rustic (1), Vine's Rustic (10), Silver Y (1) & Snout (1).  The Silver Y was a tiny form gammina (wing length only 12mm) which is generally thought to be a long-distance migrant rather than the larger well-fed moths we get at this time of year which will mostly be locally bred individuals, the progeny of migrants which arrived in May and June.

Silver Y f. gammina, Westcott 25th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Very wet rain.

 Running two lights in my back garden (two nights ago) was producing reasonable numbers of moths and everything was fine, so I left them on and retired to bed. Around 4.00 a.m. I heard rain. Cue a long and very wet saga in the dark. I don't like running lights in the rain. The moths seem to be fine with the rain, but the water on top of the trap and the wet sheets destroy them so quickly.
Before all this I potted up three particular individuals:

This one, which is surely in the running for 'most boring-looking moth' is a Lesser Wax Moth (Achroia grisella), and is significant to me because I don't think I've seen it before. Curiously, I think I'm demonstrating false memory, because I thought I'd seen it before, but no records nor photos are registered.
Epinotia nisella comes in several named forms and this on is form decorana:

Not an uncommon moth, but I'm not sure I've seen that version before. 
The third one is always contentious:

I'm calling Prays ruficeps. What do you think?

The equipment hasn't dried out yet. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Second generation Blackneck

I was hoping to trap once again in one of the Milton Keynes woods last night but chickened out in the end because of the likelihood of getting soaked.  Instead I took a couple of traps to nearby Finemere Wood where I could always abandon ship and get home very quickly if the weather deteriorated (and luckily it stayed dry for the duration).  Two possible targets there were Oak Lutestring and Clifden Nonpareil but unfortunately neither one turned up at the two MV traps which were run for the usual three hours.  It may be a few days early yet for Oak Lutestring, but Clifden Nonpareil is definitely flying already.  I took some wine ropes with me too but they didn't tempt it out either.  The moth is presumed to be resident at Finemere after a caterpillar was found there in July 2018 but to date there has been no sign of the adult as far as I'm aware.  It is unfortunate that BBOWT have since felled some of the oldest aspens (where the larva was found) but there is plenty more of its food-plant available in the wood.

Amongst roughly 60 species shared between the two MV lights, the most interesting was a Blackneck.  It is quite a common moth in this area but normally flies in June and July and this was my first ever August sighting out of more than 200 records (300+ individual moths).  My last record this year was on 4th July, also at Finemere.  I see from the flight period graph in the BC Atlas that there are signs of September records and I also remember a trapping session at Otmoor in September 2007 after David Redhead thought he'd seen a similarly late specimen in the area that month but the moth didn't show at the lights.

Blackneck, Finemere Wood 24th August

Other species recorded last night included Epermenia falciformis, Cochylis molliculana, Pale Eggar, Hoary Footman, Webb's Wainscot and Tree-lichen Beauty, of which Cochylis molliculana, Hoary Footman and Tree-lichen Beauty may well be additions to the already extensive moth list for Finemere.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks     

Monday, 24 August 2020

A touch of autumn

I had a go with my mercury light last night here in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire - not to much effect, but I did get a few new species, including the attached Centre-barred Sallow, which feels like an early sign of autumn...

Centre-barred Sallow, 23/8/20

One slightly confusing micro from last night: it looks like a Gracillariid, though the stance isn't quite right; but the spots at the tail end, and the row of four or so above the thorax look fairly characteristic. It was about 5-6mm long - I'd be grateful for any suggestions as to its identity.

Possible Gracilllariid, 23/8/20

Steve Goddard

Agonopterix assimilella?

 After much to-ing and fro-ing arrived at this conclusion. Is it possible to reach a conclusion from this image?  Thank you.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Dark Sword-grass and Indian Meal Moth?

 Bit of an odd combination.
I think the first one is my first Dark Sword-grass for several years. Bit worn but I think I see the sword.

The other I think is an Indian Meal moth, Plodia interpunctella which turned up in the house. As you can probably see it's already been in the freezer so if it cannot be ID'd 100% from the photo it can be checked. Not sure though that there is anything else like it.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Help with ID welcome

 Help with ID welcome.

Tackley 5/8

Alan Diver

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Webb's Wainscot?

I have been looking at the many wainscots arriving here more closely than usual, following Dave's post about his Cosmopolitan the other day. I wondered if this one, resting near my MV light, is a Webb's - again, following Dave's mention of the species on 19 August. Unusually for me, I have been organised to keep the moth temporarily, so can take more pics if needed. To my eye, the colouring of the first two photos is normal and the lighting on the third has made the moth appear more beige.  Help much appreciated, as always. I am near the canal and Cherwell. And thanks again, Dave, for putting me on the alert; I'd not have noticed it otherwise.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Friday, 21 August 2020

Howe Park Wood, Milton Keynes

I trapped at Howe Park Wood again last night and it became clear that, in local woodland at least, we've definitely entered that lull between the moths of summer and those of autumn.  The best of the three traps brought in only 50 species and I probably didn't add more than a dozen more from the other pair, with only just over 200 moths altogether.  However, as is often the case, one moth put in an appearance to brighten up the evening and this time it was a smart Clifden Nonpareil.

Clifden Nonpareil, Howe Park Wood 20th August

The damper areas of the wood have quite a lot of aspen so hopefully this is a sign that this stunning moth is now resident here.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Marbled Beauty?

 I suppose this must be a Marbled Beauty albeit rather unusual markings and colouration.  Or maybe not?
Richard Ellis

About time...

I'm especially fond of Old Lady as a species - I think they look spectacular in an understated way - but hadn't had any this year in our new garden in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire. So it was nice to find one, albeit a rather battered specimen, in the trap on Wednesday night. Even nicer was to finally get in on the act where Tree-lichen Beauty is concerned: one individual in the same trap, which just barely stuck around long enough for me to fire off a record shot.
Tree-lichen Beauty, 19/8/20

Rather knackered Old Lady, 19/8/20

Steve Goddard

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Chevrons, variation and wear

A chevron shape (^) can be a useful identifier on a number of moths.  Probably the most common moth with this shape at the moment is the tiny micro Blastobasis adustella, but due to variation and/or wear this can be difficult to see:
A few days ago I was momentarily nonplussed to see the following macro-moth with a central chevron:
but closer examination showed at one end was a whitish round mark; i.e., this was a White-point or Clay. Looking at further examples of the Clay, and sometimes of the White-point, one can often see this chevron shape at least faintly (it is effectively the proximal edge of the kidney mark).  When seen on the White-point it is very faint and usually slightly lighter than the ground colour (reddish-brown), while on the Clay it is often a pale cream colour and stands out more (see also below). Indeed the illustration by Richard Lewington in the Waring & Townsend field guide shows a pale area adjacent to the white spot for the Clay, but not for the White-point. The Clay is reputedly more variable in colour, and may be pale as in this case, but the white spot is usually small and/or tear-drop shaped.  However, to me the overall size and shape, as well as the shape of the white spot, etc. make this 'chevron' specimen more like the White-point than the Clay - so is this another case of variation and/or wear making identification difficult?

John Thacker, Harwell


The MV and actinic traps were run as usual in the garden last night despite the blustery and wet conditions.  With the winds still from the south there was always the possibility of immigrants and in an otherwise mundane catch I was lucky to find this rather battered Cosmopolitan amongst all the Common Wainscots.  The only other migrant was a Dark Sword-grass (the fifth specimen here over the past four nights) although the Silver Y count was well into double figures.  I think this is only the second record of Cosmopolitan for Bucks after one caught by Martin Harvey at Kimble a couple of years ago.

Cosmopolitan, Westcott 19th August

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Cydia atricapitana ?

 Sorry about the washed out photo. Any help appreciated.

Steve Lockey (Garsington)
Thank you

lime speck pug

 a very worn pug caught last night,when it settled outside of the trap shape wise it looked like a lime speck pug.not sure if it is possible to id it from this photo .can anyone confirm please.
Mike Banbury oxon

MV Bulbs - ballasted or not?


I'm in the process of ordering a new 125w MV bulb for my trap. I have a 125w ballast made by Paul Batty and it all works fine, if a little hot sometimes. 

I noticed on EBAY you can buy BHPM  160w MV bulbs that can be plugged directly into the mains without a ballast. Has anyone tried this? Do you notice any difference in moth numbers or variety?  All thought welcome. Thanks

Andrew Cornick SU28

A pug and a micro

I had this pug a few nights ago in my garden trap, fw length 10mm. I am leaning towards Currant Pug, but I know pug ids can be tricky just from a photo.
Last night I had this micro come to a lit window. It looks like one of the Mompha species, and the fw length is 6mm.
Steve Trigg, Cookham

This week in Chorleywood.

 Jersey Tigers are old hat, now, with everybody catching them. However, the three that have arrived this week were all form lutescens, which is to say the hindwings are yellow, instead of orange.

When I ran the lights in my back garden on the 16th August I was impressed by how small quite a few of the examples of several species were, eg Tree-lichen Beauty and Cydalima perspectalis.
Species notably lower in numbers compared to the 7th August included Dun-bar, Yellow Shell, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Holly Tortrix, Mother of Pearl, Brimstone, Endotricha flammealis and Cydalima perspectalis. 
For the second time in a row I took a single Water Veneer, a species I associate with large numbers whenever it does appear.
Tachystola acroxantha continues to turn up, all the way through from May.
When I cut open a wind-fall apple this fat little caterpillar hopped out:

Codling Moth, aka Cydia pomonella. Interestingly, I also caught the adult at the lights this week. Within 24 hours it was attempting spin a cocoon in which to hibernate, which apparently they do as larvae, not pupae.