Friday, 17 September 2021

Is this what I think it is?

 My daughter snapped this on the wall of the Lexicon shopping centre in Bracknell today 17th September. I have no good measure of the size or of the underwing…surely not…

Pandemis cinnamomeana?

 I think this is Pandemis cinnamomeana? It seems more by luck than judgement the only photos I have are slightly head on and so you can see the white. Can someone conirm? Also how common is it around here?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

A very poor night until...

I trapped in some mixed woodland on the border with Northamptonshire not far from Silverstone last night and the results were dire despite reasonable weather.  Two 125w MV lights between them managed just 41 moths of 19 common species in the allotted three hours, while a 15w actinic almost out-performed them by bringing in 45 moths of 14 species until the moth below turned up just after midnight as I was packing it up.  Yet another new site in Bucks for this fantastic beast!  I haven't explored the wood thoroughly enough to know if it contains aspen but there are certainly plenty of mature poplars.

Clifden Nonpareil, 16th September

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Dark Spectacle

Pretty sure this is a Dark Spectacle but as it's a species which has eluded me up until now I'd appreciate confirmation.



Autumnal Rustic

I saw Dave's post about finding Autumnal Rustic for the first time in Bernwood Forest and his lament about the disused railway cutting at Salden (near Mursley) where he had eight to light twelve years ago, but which has been destroyed as a habitat by East-West Rail's work to re-construct the railway line.

Salden cutting is just down the line from my garden - about 3¼ km - and the almost-adjacent Salden Wood is slightly closer.  Even though my garden is not near any significant piece of good woodland, I had a total of nine Autumnal Rustic in my own garden last year, spread across four nights in an eight-day period starting on 14th September.  So when I set out the traps on Wednesday night (15th), I was keeping my fingers crossed.

Two individuals duly turned up: I found one outside the trap at about midnight, and the other was found when I emptied the trap the next morning.  Under "habitat", the guide book says "Heathland, moorland, rough grassland, downland (provided it is not heavily grazed) and other open country, on light sandy or chalky soils.  Also fens, shingle beaches and open woodland."  Well, in my intensively-grazed corner of the heavy clay of Aylesbury Vale, most of those are noticeable by their absence.  The reference to rough grassland does intrigue me because in my village there is an area of rough grassland where grazing was abandoned ten or more years ago and it is gradually scrubbing over.  Unfortunately, that area lies immediately south of the Varsity Line, and EWR have built one of their haul roads across a part of it.  If that's where the local Autumnal Rustics call home, then they have escaped destruction by a gnat's whisker.

Considerably more likely though is that they have taken a slightly longer flight from somewhere on the greensand heath or woodland just over the county boundary in Bedfordshire.  Indeed, a glance at iRecord shows a cluster of records from Heath & Reach, which is only about 8 km from my garden and 11 km from Salden.

Autumnal Rustic
Newton Longville, 15th September

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Westcott, Bucks

The number of species visiting the garden continued to drop this week, partly due to the disappearance of the majority of the micros which always happens in September.  The last good night for them was the 8th (23 micro species) but from the 10th onwards there have been fewer than ten species per night (just six on the 13th).  Setaceous Hebrew Character and Common Wainscot have been making up the bulk of the macro catch but even they are beginning to wane and I'm now waiting for Lunar Underwing to take off.  

     (8th)  404 moths of 60 species; nothing new for the garden year-list. 
     (9th)  338 moths of 50 species; Deep-brown Dart new for the year-list.
     (10th)  402 moths of 51 species; Sallow & Lunar Underwing new for the year-list. 
     (11th)  258 moths of 40 species; nothing new for the garden year-list.
     (12th)  337 moths of 40 species; nothing new for the garden year-list. 
     (13th)  293 moths of 41 species; Mallow new for the year-list.
     (14th)  256 moths of 41 species; nothing new for the garden year-list. 

Sallow, Westcott 10th September

The only migrant recorded this week was a single Dark Sword-grass (8th).  A further six Clifden Nonpareils visited, including three on one night (9th), so the garden tally for 2021 is now eight which equals last year's count already.  

A couple of posts ago Neil Fletcher mentioned White-point and that has been doing very well here too.  I had 25 individuals of the first brood in the garden between 28th May and 7th July, while second brood specimens have been appearing since 11th August and their count has now reached 174, so almost 200 seen already this year and the moth should be around at least until the end of this month.  That total compares with 145 here for the entire year in 2020, itself a garden record.  White-point has been appearing annually at Westcott in ever-increasing numbers since 2014 and before that my only sightings in Bucks were in 2006 (an excellent year for migrants) when one visited the garden on 9th June and in 2013 when I had a pair to light on 28th August on the top of Pitstone Hill.  While its numbers will certainly still be topped up by migrants, this is undoubtedly a widespread resident species in our area these days.  It has appeared at every other site I've trapped at this year.        

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

A new species for Bernwood

I ran three lights (two 125w MVs and a 15w actinic) in Oakley Wood, Bernwood Forest last night as part of my annual search there for Oak Lutestring.  Yet again the moth didn't show but I shall keep persevering.  As usual in woodland at this time of year there were plenty of hornets around but few moths, with just 36 species turning up, only one more than the count at Finemere Wood two nights earlier.  The highest totals were provided by Apotomis betuletana (33), Epinotia nisella (17), Red-green Carpet (14), Light Emerald (21) & Snout (34).  Amongst the micros it was nice to see Epinotia ramella, Epinotia trigonella and Eudonia truncicolella.   Epinotia trigonella is supposedly common but in Bucks it seems to be restricted to just three or four sites of which Bernwood is the most reliable.
Epinotia trigonella, Oakley Wood 13th September

There were good numbers of Red-green Carpet but the only other autumnal macros seen were Brindled Green, Centre-barred Sallow and Sallow.  Apart, that is, from the best moth of the session which was an Autumnal Rustic - a first for Bernwood!  This moth is very restricted in range within Bucks, the main sites for it being the Ivinghoe hills and Rammamere Heath.  The field guide does mention open woodland as one of its habitats and twelve years ago I did get eight of them to light one night in the disused railway cutting near Mursley which was then partly wooded (but now trashed by East-West Rail), however my experience of it otherwise in Bucks has always been on very exposed heathland or chalk downland sites.  It was so good to see it in the forest and it would be nice to think that this smart noctuid wasn't just a wanderer but that it has now taken up residence there.    

Autumnal Rustic, Oakley Wood 13th September

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks 

Monday, 13 September 2021

Unusual White-point

I've been seeing a lot of White-point Mythimna albipuncta  this year, I've had seven or eight a few times.  Last Saturday I had quite an unusual one, the white-point, which is usually quite round in this one was very extended.  I've seen a few where the spot was not quite round, but never one as unusual as this.  

I was quite excited at first, assuming it was something else, but the more I looked at it, I could not rule out White-point.  Worth knowing that the "point" can vary quite a bit!

White-point Mythimna albipuncta 11-ix-2021 Walter's Ash

Neil Fletcher
Walter's Ash, VC24

stumped by these 2 so help appreciated please!

Failing to id some new (to me) moths from my trap on 7 Sept, a nice warm evening.  The totrix looks like a marble but doesn't quite fit any descriptions I've found and I don't know where to start with the lovely leaf look alike

.  So your help would be much appreciated.  Many thanks

Toadflax Brocade

Just discovered a Toadflax Brocade caterpillar in my Stoke Goldington garden. This is the second year running for confirmed breeding here, but over two weeks later than last year.

Longwick Leafmines

 With Dave's post as a reminder I did as he said go out and about in the village looking for leaf mines.

Pictured are a couple of Blackthorn leaf mines which look a little like the Lyonetia pictures Dave posted but they might not be quite the same? Also I found mines on Willow - sadly the photo has focussed on ones which might not be lepidopterous as opposed to the mine which is out of focus below! The mine seem to start in the petiole - I wondered if it was possibly Phyllocnistis saligna?

I am working through quite a few mines which were visible on hazel at the moment. One thing about staring at leaves - you actually see larvae! I came across at least three species including well grown Vapourer and Pale Tussock.

A couple of noctuids from last night

Approximately three-quarters of last night's catch was accounted for by two noctuid species, with 166 Common Wainscot and 72 Setaceous Hebrew Character, but there were a couple I wasn't entirely certain about. However I'm pretty sure this is a Lunar Underwing

and I think this is Deep-brown Dart, although it's not a very good photo I'm afraid.

Confirmation, (or otherwise!) appreciated as always.


Phil T

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Finemere Wood, Bucks

The usual three-hour session from dusk at Finemere last night produced very little between the two MV traps deployed, only 35 species putting in an appearance.  However they did include some of the moths I'd hoped to see, of which Oak Lutestring was probably the most important.  It is a difficult species to find locally, having seemingly all but disappeared from Bernwood Forest where it was common in the 1980s.  There has been only one subsequent record of it at Bernwood (in 2006) and that's despite me searching for it there annually over the last ten or more years.  Luckily, like Burnham Beeches in the south of the county, Finemere is still a reliable site for the moth and three came to light last night.  

Oak Lutestring, Finemere Wood 11the September

Oak Lutestring, Finemere Wood 11th September

Other species seen as expected were Pale Eggar (uncommon locally away from my garden and the RIS trap at Marsh Gibbon which sadly ceased operations last year) and Figure of Eight which both turned up to the traps.  However, I still await an adult Clifden Nonpareil in the wood despite the presence of aspen and a larval record there a couple of years ago.  It was perhaps still a little early for most of the autumn noctuids apart from Centre-barred Sallow, but a single fresh Brindled Green did put in an appearance.

Figure of Eight, Finemere Wood 11th September

Brindled Green, Finemere Wood 11th September

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks           

Saturday, 11 September 2021

The new kid on the block

Anyone out walking in the countryside now should keep a look-out for the mines of Lyonetia prunifoliella on blackthorn (young growth seems to be preferred).  The species is a recent re-colonist of southern UK counties and seems to be spreading quite rapidly.  The first records for Bucks came as adults via the Rothamsted trap at Burnham Beeches (2018 & 2019), then Andy King trapped one in Chorleywood in July 2020.  Breeding in the county was confirmed later the same year when I found some active mines in the centre of Finemere Wood and reared them through (see here).  It has certainly been found in Oxfordshire and I imagine should also be present now in Berkshire too.

Today I found a couple more mines on very young blackthorn planted recently by HS2 Ltd in BBOWT's meadows on the south side of Finemere Wood.  The whips had only a short amount of stem and a few leaves protruding above their rabbit protectors.  The mines were at a fairly early stage but the larvae soon consume most of the interior of the leaf and the blotches then become blindingly obvious! 

Mines of Lyonetia prunifoliella, 11th September

While walking around the same meadows I was also pleased to find some active mines of Phyllonorycter lantanella on Wayfaring Tree Vibernum lantana, a moth species I've not previously recorded in Bucks.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks   

Clifden Nonpariel - at last!

I was beginning to think that Clifden Nonpariel was avoiding me as everyone else seemed to be catching them, but perseverance eventually paid off and I was pleased to see this one in my trap last night. A truly impressive moth.

Richard Ellis


 This is the sort of macro that I have trouble with - can anyone help?

Thanks, David

Clouded Silver

 Along with the usual for the time of year I was surprised to catch a Clouded Silver last night. I see that they are reported as occasional Autumn immigrants on the South Coast but I was certainly not expecting one here.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon

Friday, 10 September 2021

Surprise in Little Linford Wood

Despite Clifden Nonpareil becoming considerably less scarce (witness recent items on this blog), Ayla Webb and I were astonished and hugely excited to find two in my small actinic battery-operated trap in Little Linford Wood on the early morning of 6th September.  It only has six small egg boxes, though on this morning 120 moths were present.  During my study since May 2018 there has been little sign of unexpected 'visitors', so the presence of two Clifden Nonpareil suggests it is now a local breeder.  For those of you who rarely visit the north of Buckinghamshire, Little Linford Wood is primarily a modest-sized Oak wood, but with very few ancient trees.  Of possible relevance to this sighting, while I'm not aware of Aspen (the favoured food-plant of this moth) in the immediate area of the wood in which I site the trap, there is a decent amount in the southern section which has grown up since the area was felled in the 1980s.

Andy Harding 

Query from Longwick

 Hi everyone,

Had a fairly uneventful trap full last night with only Maiden's Blush as a fairly irregular visitor amongst the large volumes of currently common noctuids. However I am confused by the moth below which was resting on the shed outside of the trap this morning.

Looking at the guides and internet most of the options appear to be in the wrong season or to be unlikely in Longwick  at best. I thought it looks closest to Horse Chestnut but that would seem unlikely too! Thoughts welcome.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Away trap results

I've trapped away from home in Bucks for the last three nights in a row, making good use of the warm weather, and there were indeed plenty of moths to be seen although very little of particular interest to report.  On the chalk grassland at Grangelands on Monday night (6th) there was nothing unexpected, with Pretty Chalk Carpet still going strong (nine seen) and visits to the traps by Gypsy Moth males (four) and Jersey Tiger (one) although those two are expected pretty much anywhere in the county these days.  Tuesday night (7th) in woodland near Silverstone I had an unusually high count of Vapourer Moth males (11 of them between two lights) but perhaps the most interesting thing there was my first ever September record of Pale Oak Beauty.  It is normally a moth of May and June but the flight period chart in the BC Atlas does give a hint that occasional second-brood specimens have been recorded post-millennium. 

Pale Oak Beauty, north Bucks 7th September

Last night (8th) I trapped on farmland near Tingewick, Bucks and was very pleased to get nearly 90 species, including in excess of 600 Common Wainscots.  Sightings of autumnal species there included my first records this year of Brown-spot Pinion and Lunar Underwing, while I had my third ever visit to the traps of a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Speckled Wood, Tingewick 8th September

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Interesting Pyralid?

I found this presumed pyralid this evening in the house.  Lots of windows open, so presumed to have flown in, several other moths, craneflies etc.present.

Forewing length 12mm.  The size seems to rule out most things that look similar, mostly adventive Vitula / Ephestia spp. 

 Suggestions most welcome!

Voucher retained!

Neil Fletcher
Walter's Ash, VC24

Westcott, Bucks

There were a fair few moths around in the garden during the first week of September but only one or two were of any significant interest.  Brimstone Moth, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic and (in particular) Common Wainscot have been appearing in very large numbers.  I haven't had a Gypsy Moth for a few nights now but Jersey Tiger is still appearing regularly with another two last night accompanied by a fully-formed Clifden Nonpareil. 

     (1st)  288 moths of 51 species; nothing new for the garden year-list.
     (2nd)  376 moths of 69 species; nothing new for the garden year-list.
     (3rd)  251 moths of 56 species; nothing new for the garden year-list.
     (4th)  282 moths of 52 species; nothing new for the garden year-list.
     (5th)  349 moths of 60 species; Acleris emargana the only one new for the year-list.
     (6th)  366 moths of 58 species; Orange Sallow new for the year-list.
     (7th)  385 moths of 68 species; Caloptilia cuculipennella & Beautiful Marbled new for the year-list (in fact both completely new for the garden).

Caloptilia cuculipennella, Westcott 7th September

Migrant activity during the week included Nomophila noctuella (two on the 1st, three on the 2nd) and Dark Sword-grass (singletons on 3rd and 6th).  I haven't yet joined this year's Cydia amplana club but I was more than pleased to "make do" with the moth below!

Beautiful Marbled, Westcott 7th September

The excellent weather of the last few days has brought about a "last hurrah" from the micros and, for example, it was good to see 22 different species amongst those trapped on the 6th, including Hedya salicella (my third September record after individuals in 2016 and 2018, perhaps suggestive of attempts to establish a second brood) and Oncocera semirubella (my second ever September record but in poor condition so may just have been a long-lived individual).  Over the week more than 50 different micro species came to light in the garden.  

Hedya salicella, Westcott 6th September

Noteworthy macro-moth sightings here have included Heart & Dart (4th, my first anywhere since 1st August), Buff Ermine (5th, the first since 10th August and my first ever September record) and Poplar Hawk-moth (7th, only my second September record after one on the 2nd in 2006).  

Buff Ermine, Westcott 5th September

The appearance in the table above of just four new species this week belies the fact that the 2021 garden list has now risen to one short of 600 for the year.  To make up for the lack of adult moths I've made a bit of an effort with leaf-miners which has added a dozen or more species to the list.  I had to give our alder a serious trim and the leaves on the cut branches were closely inspected but, yet again, I was presented with two vacated nepticulid mines so I'm still none the wiser as to whether I've got Stigmella alnetella or Stigmella glutinosae here (one day I'll get to find an active mine!).  Unfortunately the Alder Leaf Beetle Agelastica alni found the tree this year and its little black larvae made a right mess of most leaves on the lower branches, but other mines found did include those of Phyllonorycter rajella and Phyllonorycter klemannella as well as the fly Agromyza alnivora and saw-fly Fenusa dohrnii.  A single mine of Stigmella tiliae was found on our lime, not an annual here so always good to see, but the best discovery by far was on Orache, a common weed growing in an old flower pot.  On the 4th I noticed nine active mines of the tiny gelechiid Chrysoesthia drurella on its leaves.  I've had daytime sightings of the smart little adult in the garden a few times in past years (although not since 2015, the last one illustrated below) but this was the first time I'd found evidence of it breeding here.

Mines of Chrysoesthia drurella, Westcott 4th September

Chrysoesthia drurella adult, Westcott 25th May 2015

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks


Cydia amplana?

 Not sure about this one. It's not in good condition. Can someone confirm?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Another Cydia Amplana

This time at Waterstock Mill, Oxfordshire. According to social media there is currently a big dispersal movement occurring (from southern counties or further).  

Wainscots and recent catches

Most examples of these two species are not difficult once you've become familiar with them. In Mark's latest posting, look at the shape of the forewing, in particular the breadth, and also the shape of the termen (outer edge). Mark's other post shows an extreme pallens. These are very uncommon but do crop up when numbers are high, and examples with extensive dark scales on uns forewing are not uncommon especially 2nd brood. 

I have never seen a 2nd brood impura in spite of seeing many claims (no doubt due to over-focussing on hindwing colour), and I doubt its existence. As far as VC23 is concerned, in current climatic conditions I consider any records of it beyond about 20th or so of August to be dubious and in need of confirmation. The odd late straggler cannot be ruled out. I would be happy to dissect possibles. 

It has been quite good this week in the garden MV. Consecutively, Dark Crimson Underwing, Clifden Nonpareil and this morning Cydia amplana. 

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

A few nice moths, and some questions

Given the warm night last night, I ran a couple of traps in the garden. About 40 species recorded, including a few moths which I did not immediately recognise and which I hope are interesting.  And several others that I have not seen since last year and needed some time to remind mysolf what they were!

I think this is Vagrant Piercer Cydia amplana but I would welcome confirmation or correction.  New for me if it is.

Really not sure about this, looks like it might be a worn Six-striped Rustic Xestia sexstrigata, but not convinced.  I've tried unsuccessfully to turn it into several other things.  I have a nagging doubt that I've overlooked something obvious.  Your views most welcome.

 I'm completely flummoxed by this one.  Can't seem to match to anything obvious.

This one had me confused for quite a while, but I have persuaded myself it is Green-brindled Crescent Allophyes oxyacanthae. Hopefully someone can confirm or correct.

All have been retained, just in case.

Neil Fletcher
Walter's Ash, VC24

Worminghall, Bucks, A couple of firsts for garden


Vagrant Piercer, Cydia amplana

Clifden Nonpariel 

A dark moth

 I have run my traps twice in the last week.  Sunday night was after a warm day and produced significantly more moths than on the first night of the month, but only a few more species.  I haven't made a final tally of either night yet, but the 1st produced around 220 moths of about 35 species, whereas the 5th was my busiest-ever September night with around 450 moths of about 40 species.

The difference was largely made up by huge numbers of Square-spot Rustic and Common Wainscot.  I am going cross-eyed counting all of the "X", "V" and "I" tally marks in my notebook, but I think there were 177 of the former and 113 of the latter.  Neither night produced anything particularly noteworthy, but there were a couple of satisfying appearances:

The 1st produced my first-ever record of Small Square-spot (two, in fact), and the 5th produced five in total.  Sunday night also produced a couple of Cypress Pug: I have had these in past years, but feared I would have lost them when I had the two biggest out of five huge Leyland cypresses felled earlier this year.

An almost-exception to the "nothing particularly noteworthy" summary was a late and tatty example of Common/Lesser Common Rustic. This is a rare visitor to my garden - there were none at all in 2020 - possibly because I do very little trapping between mid-July and late August due to absence and other commitments.

One of the moths on the 1st was hard to identify as it was very dark.  My provisional conclusion is that it is simply a very dark form of Phycita roborella, but I'd be glad for any confirmation.  I'm familiar with the normal form and know that some can be fairly dark, but this one is very dark.  There are two versions of the photograph below: one is substantially unmodified; the other has been fiddled with to try to show up any pattern or colour.

Possible Phycita roborella
Newton Longville, 1st September 2021
(top: natural colour/contrast; bottom: enhanced)

When I get chance I do try to record some of the other orders attracted by the lights, though I do this in moderation as apart from a few of the easier caddisflies, the others take me ages.  I don't attempt anything needing a microscope to get to species level, nor do I normally "do" Ichneumons or Diptera, but I did make an exception for Volucella zonaria - an enormous hornet-mimicing hoverfly with only one potential confusion species.  I also made an exception for a nice-looking fly which I initially guessed was a kind of picture-wing fly, but which after much work turned out to be Anomoia pumundana, a kind of fruit-fly.  Apparently, its larval foodplant is primarily hawthorn berries, a plentiful shrub in my garden.  These will end up on iRecord.
Anomoia pumundana
Newton Longville, 5th September 2021
The one slight disappointment recently was that a walk around the local fields inspecting the blackthorns didn't find any signs of mines of Lyonetia prunifoliella, so they may not have reached my corner of the county yet.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks