Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Micro queries

 April was very disappointing.  May has started out better in terms of new species appearing, if still in very low numbers.  In the last week, the Notodontidae have put in an appearance: I've had Lesser Swallow Prominent, Swallow Prominent, Iron Prominent and Pebble Prominent appear, the last two of those being new for the garden list.

There have been three new species of micro-moth for the year, all of which have given me trouble with identification.

Tentatively, I labelled the first one as Agonopterix yeatiana due to the black shading near the base of the wings and to the small white dot beyond the large black blob in the middle of the forewing.  Then my doubts began to increase when I researched its distribution.  The Sterling & Parsons field guide says simply that it is "more frequent towards the coast", although the distribution chart does shade in most of southern England, including areas well away from the coast.  However, looking at records in inland counties neighbouring Bucks, it seems that records are very sparse indeed.  So now I'm wondering if it's A. arenella.  What do other people think? The moth is in my fridge, in case gen. det. is required.

Possible Agonopterix yeatiana.
Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

The second micro seems to be a Tineid.  Some of them have similar yellow or orangey colouration to the head, but I can't match the plain appearance of its forewing (c. 7mm long) against any images that I can find, including the species not illustrated in the field guide.
Micro 2.  Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

The third micro has a forewing length of about 4½ mm.  In some respects, it resembles Apodia bifractella, but the wing shape looks wrong and it is the wrong time of year.
Micro 3.  Newton Longville, 7th May 2021

Any help gratefully received!

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Micro Query

My mercury vapour trap in Wheatley contained three Swallow Prominent this morning and one each of White Ermine, Muslin Moth, Powdered Quaker and Hebrew Character, as well as the micro in the attached photo.  Is this a Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana ?



Monday, 10 May 2021

Another Chamomile Shark

A quality catch for Ched George in his garden trap at Radnage, Bucks last night comprised Frosted Green (1), Brindled Pug (1), Lesser Swallow Prominent (1), Pale Prominent (1), Shuttle-shaped Dart (1), Chamomile Shark (1), Mullein (2), Hebrew Character (2) & Dotted Chestnut (1).  The Chamomile Shark was his seventh garden record after two in 1993, two in 1995 and two in 2002.

Chamomile Shark, Radnage 9th May


Late Small Brindled Beauty?

Last year I had this moth on 4th of March, this year on 9th of May well beyond it's normal time.  Are we to expect more like this on what has been a very unusual spring?


Steve Lockey, Garsington


A varied catch...

A varied catch last night, consisting of four caddis flies of two species, [Stenophylax permistus and Limnephilus sparsus (I think)], one small spider, one Sexton beetle, one woodlouse and one small snail! Oh, and a Hebrew Character. 

Things can only get better...

Phil T

Hurrah - Longwick comes alive!

Well finally the moths started to appear with 19 moths of a dozen species. The first Poplar Hawk of the year was hopefully the first of many. On Friday night and on Sunday night I trapped two, different I believe, Dark Swordgrass which I wasn't expecting. Finally I'm rusty on pugs at this time of year. Is the pug below a Dwarf Pug or are the costa markings not strong enough -  which would suggest Oak Tree?




Saturday, 8 May 2021

Westcott, Bucks

After a promising start on the 1st, the remainder of the first week of May saw very little improvement over April in the garden here, with the following brought to the actinic light: 

     (1st)  Ypsolopha mucronella (1), Garden Carpet (1), Brimstone Moth (1), Brindled Beauty (2), Small Quaker (1), Common Quaker (1), Powdered Quaker (6), Hebrew Character (3).
     (2nd)  Brindled Beauty (1), Shuttle-shaped Dart (1), Hebrew Character (2), Dotted Chestnut (1), Nut-tree Tussock (1).
     (3rd)  Trap not run due to very high winds.
     (4th)  Hebrew Character (4).
     (5th)  Hebrew Character (1).
     (6th)  Hebrew Character (1).
     (7th)  Powdered Quaker (2), Hebrew Character (3), Early Grey (1).

Ypsolopha mucronella, Westcott 1st May

Garden Carpet, Westcott 1st May

Shuttle-shaped Dart, Westcott 2nd May

The three moths illustrated above were the only year-list additions from the trap, although during the daytime on the 7th I did find a Common Pug lurking inside our garden shed:

Common Pug, Westcott 7th May

While on the subject of Pugs, it is interesting to note that I've not yet seen either Brindled or Oak-tree in the garden.  Both still have an opportunity to appear as they often keep going here until late-May.  They've never yet missed a year but I suppose there's always a first time!

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Larva id Watlington Hill

 Not sure whether this is the right place to ask for help with id of this larva which I manage to see rather than tread on on the path up the Shirburn Hill area of Watlington Hill.  Wonder if anyone recognises this please? Help appreciated and apologies if this is the wrong forum to ask.



 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Phyllonorycter ulicicolella parasitoids

Last December, Will Langdon posted about finding the winter mines of Phyllonorycter scopariella and ulicicolella on broom and gorse respectively, and in a comment I asked if he might keep an eye open for parasitoids.  While the parasitoids of "typical" Phyllonorycter on deciduous trees are relatively well known, those on these hosts very much less so.  Will collected further P. ulicicolella from near Oxford last month and reared two tiny 1-1.5mm long wasps which he kindly sent me.  They turned out to be Cirrospilus viticola (Chalcidoidea: Eulophidae) which seems only to have been recorded definitely once before in the UK, from Surrey in the mid-19th century (there is one further record marked "unconfirmed" on the NBN database).  It is an ectoparasitoid that kills mid-late instar larvae and then pupates in the mine; on the continent it has been recorded from other Phyllonorycter and different miner genera.

Forgive the non-moth post but it does show it is worth saving parasitoids, especially if reared from unusual hosts.  Many thanks to Will for sending the specimens.




Cornelian Cherry

A bit late for the flowers, I'm afraid, but they look like this:


 They are supposed to grow cherry-like fruits later, but I've never seen those. 

Overwintering micros from Chorleywood.

 Last autumn I collected a number of different leaf-mines and set them up to overwinter. I brought them in about a month ago, so that the warmth could encourage them to emerge early. I have to say the returns have been pretty thin on the ground, with very few adults appearing. This is not a new phenomenon for me - the mortality rate amongst insects is very high. 

I've photographed three of the ones that did come out:


Phyllonorycter joannisi, from Norway Maple. 


Phyllonorycter cerasicolella from Wild Cherry.


Antispila treitschkiella from Cornelian Cherry.

The British Antispila species were re-catalogued in 2018; what was thought to be treitschkiella was not and was recognised as petryi, but the true treitschkiella was recognised as being host-specific to Cornelian Cherry. 

Monday, 3 May 2021

A Poor Week

 


Much like everywhere else, it's been a very bad week for moths here in Witney. I had one night (Tuesday), which looked reasonably good and so set up two traps in woodland close by. It started raining after 20 minutes and the result was 2 Brindled Pugs, a Nut Tree Tussock and a Lunar Marbled Brown. In the garden, it's been just two or three moths on the few nights I've bothered running a trap; Hebrew Character and Muslin Moth. Last night was slightly better with Spectacle, Early Grey, Lesser Swallow Prominant and the above worn individual which I'm struggling with rather. A bit suggestive of Blossom Underwing but just another Common Quaker....?




Sunday, 2 May 2021

Sphingidae pupa ID?

 I wonder can you ID the species from the pupa? 



This one was found in the top layer of turf or just below the surface.

Isobel Huggins, Goring on Thames

Chamomile Shark

As others have already said, April hasn't been brilliant for moths. It was therefore quite a nice surprise to find a fresh Chamomile Shark on the outside of the trap on the night of the 27th April. Marc Botham, Didcot

Friday, 30 April 2021

Westcott, Bucks

Yet another week goes by with little to show for it, the average catch over the last seven nights here at Westcott being six moths of four species to the actinic trap.  While others may also have seen a very slight improvement in diversity over the past two or three nights thanks to cloud cover which hid that bright full moon, I think most of us will be very glad to see the back of this very cold and very dry April.  Not that the first half of May looks an awful lot better, but at least there 'should' be a gradual warming-up with no more overnight frosts!

An Angle Shades on the 26th was the first adult of that species to be recorded this year although it has already been counted on the garden list thanks to a larval sighting back in January.  However, Chinese Character, Brimstone Moth & Chocolate-tip (all 27th), Knot Grass (28th) and Early Tooth-striped & Puss Moth (29th) were new here for 2021.

Chinese Character, Westcott 27th April

Puss Moth, Westcott 29th April

Chocolate-tip, Westcott 27th April

Knot Grass, Westcott 28th April

Neither Early Tooth-striped nor Puss Moth are guaranteed annual visitors here.  The former was the first for three years, while the latter (a smart male) was actually the sixth year in a row that Puss Moth has made a garden appearance but before that it was rarely seen.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Friday, 23 April 2021

First Garden Emperors

First time I have tried the Emperor moth pheromone lure in my garden. The first customer arrived within half an hour. Later on, in the early evening, with the lure now in the house with the door open, I had a second visitor this time inside the house. So that's a first for the garden list with not one but two moths, excellent result, especially as I was not convinced I would attract Emperor Moths to my urban setting.

                                                                                      

Emperor Moth, Aylesbury 22nd April

Jeremy Palmer Aylesbury, Bucks

Westcott, Bucks

Considering how bitterly cold it has been overnight it might seem rather foolhardy of me to have run the garden actinic trap at Westcott on all but two of the last 22 nights.  Four of the 20 attempts produced no moths at all while the others saw varying numbers but there was almost nothing of interest.  Just 16 different species have appeared in the trap since 1st April, all of them macros, of which Muslin Moth (18th) has been the only species new for the year.  The most prolific visitor so far this month has been Hebrew Character with 51 appearances, turning up on all but one of the nights when I had any moths at all.  Powdered Quaker (28) was next in line, while the others comprised March Moth (1), Shoulder Stripe (1), Streamer (1), Red-green Carpet (1), Early Thorn (3), Brindled Beauty (6), Red Chestnut (2), Blossom Underwing (3), Small Quaker (15), Clouded Drab (11), Common Quaker (25), Twin-spotted Quaker (2) & Early Grey (6).  Hardly earth-shattering!  Our local Brown Long-eared Bat population has been active on quite a few of the nights but I imagine they will have had very slim pickings indeed.  

Muslin Moth, Westcott 18th April

Luckily I've had one or two extras here during the daytime to move this year's garden tally along to 65 species.  They included six male Emperor Moths on the 17th which were assembled between 3pm and 4pm to eight caged females who had been outdoors since mid-morning.  There must have been a significant emergence locally that day because the same females were left outside on the 16th with no success at all.  On the 18th I found Phyllocnistis unipunctella and Aphomia sociella indoors, the former wandering around on the inside of an open kitchen window, while on the 20th I happened to be watching as Caloptilia rufipennella landed on the outside of my study window and I managed to pot it before it could escape.  The four British Phyllocnistis species over-winter as adults.  I get saligna (associated with willow) and unipunctella (black poplar) regularly in the garden, while xenia (white/grey poplar) lives about a mile away, but ramulicola (sallow) hasn't yet been found in Bucks.      

Phyllocnistis unipunctella, Westcott 18th April

Over the past week I've also been out and about during the daytime with varying numbers of captive-bred female Emperors and having the usual mixed results in attracting "wild" males, some successes and some failures during the 40 minutes I allow myself at each location.  I've had the MOL pheromone lure with me too and have added a few more sites for Pammene giganteana in oak woodland (almost always with a result in five to ten minutes) although I haven't yet had luck under single hedgerow oaks or even small groups of them.  Examples of successes include Round Wood near Barton Hartshorn (an under-recorded part of north-west Bucks) which produced both Emperor and giganteana on the 20th, while straying into VC23 😲 yesterday afternoon (22nd) I got both species again in Waterperry Wood, Bernwood Forest along with a Light Orange Underwing which was netted to confirm.  

Emperor Moth pair, Round Wood 20th April

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks   

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Bernwood Forest, Bucks

With us set to keep winds from the north-eastern quadrant for the remainder of April, it is going to get very cold after dark whatever the daytime temperature so the unexpectedly mild forecast (relatively speaking) for last night looked as though it could provide my only opportunity this month for some successful away trapping.  The suggested temperature of 10C at midnight did prove to be correct for once although, as usual, the promised cloud cover to hide the moon failed to materialise.  Three traps were taken to Bernwood Forest, one actinic being run in Oakley Wood and the other two MVs in Shabbington Wood.  The combined total came to only 23 species of which Frosted Green (41) was the most abundant.  Proving that Pammene giganteana does come to light as well as pheromone lures, each of the MV lights brought in that species.  Of the others, the only ones which I hadn't yet seen this year were Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, Early Tooth-striped, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Great Prominent (six of them) and Lunar Marbled Brown, so not a particularly good return for the usual three-hour stint. 

Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, Bernwood 20th April

Lesser Swallow Prominent, Bernwood 20th April

Great Prominent, Bernwood 20th April

Lunar Marbled Brown, Bernwood 20th April

The actinic amongst birches in Oakley Wood was targeting Scarce Prominent, one of my favourites from that group and a moth that isn't all that common locally although Bernwood is a stronghold.  It only flies in April and the first half of May and doesn't come back with a second brood like many of its relatives.  Almost all of the 60+ individuals I've seen have been in April, many of them from the first half of the month, so I was rather disappointed not to record it last night.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks    

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

A Few NFY

 In spite of the cold nights of late, I left a light at work and added a handful of species to my year list, which I'm sure everyone else has already seen for the year. Semioscopis steinkellneriana, Yellow Horned, Early Thorn, Pale Pinion, Clouded Drab and Nut-tree Tussock. 

Also in my garden this afternoon, a single Adela reaumurella.


Dave Morris

Chalfont St Giles


Monday, 19 April 2021

Another Emperor

 My first Emperor moth ever to a pheromone lure in the garden.



Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Emperor

 As Dave predicted I had my first Emperor moth to its pheromone here in Longwick (Bucks) yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Clouded or Lead-coloured Drab

Hi there,

The antennae on this are not linear, but I don't know if they are sufficiently feathered for Lead-coloured Drab. Can anyone help?

Thanks, David



 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Early tooth-striped??

 Not a moth I'm very familiar with. Have I got it right, please?

Best wishes

David



Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Scarlet Fever

 


It's too cold at night for me to trap just now, but it was good to find this portent of a Scarlet Summer on a neighbour's comfrey.  She was understandably concerned about the caterpillars' tremendous appetite, but we agreed that a fine brood of Scarlet Tigers will be worth the sacrifice. The moth always does very well round here and its daytime flying often attracts attention and questions - a welcome chance to show that not all UK moths are small, hairy and drab.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Micro ID


Found in my shed this afternoon in West Oxon. Caloptilia cuculipennella is all I can come up with. I assume dissection is the only option for ID ......?

 

Emperor emergence

Three male Emperor Moths emerged at Westcott this morning.  These were the first to appear from my over-wintered pupae, having reared through a large batch of caterpillars when we were stuck at home last summer.  

Captive-bred Emperor Moth male, Westcott 13th April

These three moths were released about 15km away, over the county line near Bicester in Oxon, so that I don't get them back when I try assembling for a garden record when the first female eventually appears.

Today's emergence is a fairly typical date for those I've reared here, which are kept in our unheated and unlit garage until early March then transferred to the garden shed to get used to daylight again.

2007

9th April (male)

11th April (female)

2008

18th April (male)

21st April (female)

2009

10th April (male)

12th April (female)

2010

17th April (male)

19th April (female)

2011

7th April (female)

8th April (male)

2012

13th April (female)

19th April (male)

2013

29th April (male)

30th April (female)

2014

7th April (female)

Not recorded (male)

2015

17th April (male)

17th April (female)

2016

20th April (female)

28th April (male)

2017

7th April (male)

8th April (female)

2018

20th April (male)

20th April (female)

The missing date for a male in 2014 is due to me being away from the 8th onwards and that year's pupae were left to fend for themselves in the garden.  In 2019 and 2020 I successfully used the EMP pheromone lure to bring males into the garden and this was achieved on 28th March and 3rd April respectively, much earlier than normal.  I know that males have been seen in low numbers since the last week of March this year too but now must be the ideal time to try for them if you've got the lure.  They'll cope with the cold if the sun is out.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks  

More Pammene giganteana

 Having left my FUN lure trap out for a few days another P. giganteana arrived last night and then another six in the space of one hour in the sunshine this afternoon,



Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Epermenia chaerophyllella

Found this micro flying around my kitchen yesterday. In close up, it reminds me of a prehistoric fish, with the distinctive tufts resembling fins. This is the second time I have recorded an Epermenia chaerophyllella in April.
Steve Trigg, Cookham

Westcott, Bucks

There's little to say about the last seven nights.  For the most part it was cold, dismal weather and no moth species at all were added to the year list.  There was a heavy frost (down to -3C) on the 5th and 6th when the trap brought in nothing at all and I suppose I should be thankful that those were the only blanks.  Last night's collection of 15 hardy individuals to the twin-30wt actinic light was fairly representative of catches on the other nights:  Brindled Beauty (1), Small Quaker (1), Powdered Quaker (3), Common Quaker (2), Clouded Drab (3), Hebrew Character (4) & Early Grey (1).  The only other species seen over the seven nights were Shoulder Stripe (4th), Early Thorn (4th & 7th), Red Chestnut (4th & 7th), Blossom Underwing (2nd & 4th) & Twin-spotted Quaker (4th).  It seems that we might have frosts to look forward to again this weekend before a slow but gradual improvement as next week progresses, so I'm not expecting much progress here until the week after.

There have been no signs yet of adult emergences from my Emperor Moth pupae (sensible of them!) but I would expect them to begin appearing next week.

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks   

Drabs and similar again

 I'm still struggling with some of the Orthosia individuals.




Number 2 I recorded as Clouded Drab. In each case I have tried to get images that show the antennae clearly.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.