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


 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.


 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


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.


9th April (male)

11th April (female)


18th April (male)

21st April (female)


10th April (male)

12th April (female)


17th April (male)

19th April (female)


7th April (female)

8th April (male)


13th April (female)

19th April (male)


29th April (male)

30th April (female)


7th April (female)

Not recorded (male)


17th April (male)

17th April (female)


20th April (female)

28th April (male)


7th April (male)

8th April (female)


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.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Pheromone success

Unlike Neil (see here) I was a bit late off the mark in using the Grapholita molesta pheromone lure to attract its by-product of Pammene giganteana, but a quick tour around some sites within 5km of home between 2.30pm and 4pm this afternoon in quite mediocre weather (overcast and breezy, 9C) brought success at three places where giganteana has not previously been recorded.  Each location comprised established oak woodland where I could escape the breeze, at Kingswood, at Rushbeds and back here at Westcott (Gypsy Bottom, about 1km south of the village), and at each one the moth turned up within five minutes of putting out the lure.  I had tried it in the garden for a couple of hours before going out but was unsuccessful (much as expected, with no nearby mature oaks here) and I also had no luck at two other sites which weren't woodland but had lines of old hedgerow oaks (probably too breezy today).

Pammene giganteana, Kingswood 8th April

Pammene giganteana, Westcott 8th April

The moth is not very exciting to look at and its 'local' status must in part be due to under-recording because of its very early flight season (March and April).  Its larvae feed inside the soft hymenopteran galls on oak (Oak Apples).  The adult does come to light and I've had 13 records of it that way from seven different sites across Bucks over the past ten years, but the speed at which it responds to this pheromone lure is going to make mapping its presence so much easier!

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Chancing my arm . . .

 OK - having been told that my last post was indeed a Brindled Pug, I'm boldly claiming that the two below are Brindled and Common. Am I right? And isn't it a bit early for Common Pug?

Best wishes, David

Monday, 5 April 2021

Which Pug??

 Hi there,

I'm trying to make this into a Brindled Pug, but am confused by the white spots and the lack of a prominent central elongated black spot. But then, I'm easily confused . . . . and not only by pugs!!

Thanks, David

Difficult Drabs ......

Clouded Drab (left) Lead-coloured Drab? (right)


Lead-coloured Drabs? (left hand same as above)

Lead-coloured Drab? least I find them difficult. 
Four different moths here, all from last night in my Witney garden. Any guidance on identification appreciated. I'm pretty confident of the Clouded Drab, that wing shape is very distinctive.

Dark Sword-Grass

 Although I've had very few of the normal moth species I would have expected this year I got one I didn't expect, a Dark Sword-Grass. 

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Pammene giganteana to MOL pheromone

Having seen lots of comments on social media about the new pheromones MOL (for Grapholita molesta) and SKI (for Grapholita lobarzewskii) and the numbers of a different moth Pammene giganteana attracted to both lures, I decided to invest in them.  Pammene giganteana is associated with oak and is flying now.

I put the lure out this morning and within a couple of hours I had nine Pammene giganteana in the trap.  I have lived here just over 20 years, and run a moth trap regularly during the flight season, but this is the first time I have recorded it.  

It is described as Local, but given the number of records being reported to the new pheromones it may be much more abundant than previously thought.  

Neil Fletcher

Walter's Ash, VC24

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Blossom Underwing

I'm sure this moth, in my trap here last night, must be a Blossom Underwing but as it is the first I've seen I would appreciate confirmation.  It does have pinky-white underwing and feathered antennae.

Richard Ellis

Friday, 2 April 2021

Another Red Chestnut?

This one appeared near Tring (just into Herts) and I confess I would have trouble separating it from the very variable Clouded Drabs that I get lots of. Can someone confirm it as Red Chestnut, and perhaps help me with what features to look for to be sure?

Thanks, David

Micro ID

 I found this moth in my garden on 30th March. My attempts to identify it have drawn a blank. Any suggestions?



Semioscopis species

Two micro-moths to be on the look-out for now, both classed as "local".  Semioscopis steinkellneriana is the more widespread species, a moth of woodland and old hedgerows and its larvae feed mainly on blackthorn.   

Semioscopis steinkellneriana, Finemere Wood 10 April 2018

The other one, similar in some ways but with the black markings arranged differently, is Semioscopis avellanella.  This species is understood to be found mainly in established birch or small-leaved lime woodland, those being its main larval food-plants.   

Semioscopis avellanella, Chorleywood 15 March 2011

There are about 140 records of Semioscopis steinkellneriana for Bucks and it is spread right across the county, but there are far fewer records for Berks and Oxon.  For Semioscopis avellanella there are about 20 records for Bucks but from only three sites in the south of the county.  The majority have come from the Rothamsted Insect Survey trap at Burnham Beeches, while the other two locations are at Farnham Common (on the edge of Burnham Beeches) where Jonathan Jones had one on 16th March this year and at Chorleywood where Andy King had the one illustrated above in 2011.  In Berks there are only six records for avellanella, the most recent being from Temple Golf Course at Maidenhead (2010) and the earlier ones all from the area around Bucklebury.  In Oxon the moth has yet to trouble the scorers so you could make a name for yourself with a find in VC23!     

Westcott, Bucks

Another seven nights are up so time for a quick review of garden activity at Westcott.  March was seen out by three nights of southerly winds but unfortunately there was no sign of any migrant activity here, just plenty of Saharan dust!  There were quite a few resident moths added to the year-list though, starting on Saturday 27th with a very nice Blossom Underwing, then Epiphyas postvittana & Brindled Beauty both on Monday 29th, Streamer, Early Thorn, Dotted Chestnut & Herald all on Tuesday 30th and Caloptilia semifascia, Elachista apicipunctella, Alucita hexadactyla & Nut-tree Tussock all on Wednesday 31st.  There was a second very plain-looking Caloptilia on the 31st which will probably also be new for the year but it couldn't be determined on sight alone.  

Elachista apicipunctella, Westcott 31st March

Streamer, Westcott 30th March

Early Thorn, Westcott 30th March

Brindled Beauty, Westcott 29th March

Blossom Underwing, Westcott 27th March

The Elachista came as a bit of a surprise because that's three weeks earlier than I've ever recorded it before, although I see that it is only a couple of days prior to the earliest sighting for Bucks on 2nd April.  I usually get to see Elachista canapennella here first, and in some numbers.  For me Brindled Beauty has always been an April moth locally, but like many others its flight period is moving slowly forward.  The example on the 29th was my first ever March record and I had another on the 31st then two more last night (1st April).  Up to 2018 I was lucky to see more than one in the garden per season but then in 2019 I had eight and in 2020 seven so, despite the gloomy outlook for it in the BC Atlas, it might have had a change in its fortunes around here.  With four already, I wonder if the garden count will get into double figures this year?

As of 31st March the garden year-list stood at 61 species which is a record first-quarter count for the site.  That list comprises 35 adult macros, 22 adult micros, two macro larvae and two micro leaf-mines. I've had higher totals for adult macros (37 in both 2017 & 2019) but the micro count is well above average, 15 being the previous highest total (again in both 2017 & 2019).

In the warm sunshine on Wednesday 31st I hung out the pheromone lure for Emperor Moth just to see if any were around locally yet, but there was no sign of activity during three hour-long sessions spread across the day.  That was no real surprise because this year I have a plentiful supply of pupae from caterpillars reared in 2020 and there has been no sign of them emerging yet, although I'm sure it won't be long now.  Although not in the garden, another day-flyer which I first saw in the local area on the 30th and have now encountered at a couple of sites is Light Orange Underwing.  It usually appears after Orange Underwing so presumably means that both are now flying.  These moths need to be netted to be sure of the species (males of Light Orange Underwing have feathered antennae).     

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks     

Red Chestnut?

 Wing shape looks right, is it a Red Chestnut? 

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Pine beauty and friends

 In view of the warm weather, I ran my traps in the garden on Monday night and on Wednesday night.  Monday night had been rather disappointing, but I was quite hopeful for Wednesday night, even though the weather forecast said the cold front was going to move through during the night.

Between the two traps, I caught 44 moths of a dozen species.  I am not getting the large numbers of Small Quakers that other people have reported: the five that I caught was the highest total this year.  Double-striped Pugs first appeared on Monday night and I had six on Wednesday. There was a single Chestnut - the first I have seen for a couple of months - and I was happy to see an Oak Nycteoline.

The best moth was my first-ever Pine Beauty.  I suspect that both it and the Oak Nycteoline were feeding on the catkins on the adjacent willow.

Pine Beauty
Newton Longville, 31 March
The warm weather also brought insects of other orders.  Ichneumons have been coming for a couple of weeks: I don't attempt to identify them.  The first caddisfly (Trichoptera) came on 27th, and on Wednesday night I had two.  Using a two-page PDF written by Ian Wallace and Sharon Flint that covers the separation of species in the Stenophylax and Micropterna genera, I managed to use a hand-lens to identify that both of the caddis were Stenophylax permistus (one male and one female).  This breeds in seasonal ponds, and there is one in the field 10 metres away from the garden.  There were also three leaf-hoppers that I suspect were Populicerus laminatus (Hemiptera): I must try to work my way through a lengthy key to confirm this.

I am a little concerned that my LED light might not be as electrically efficient as I had hoped.  After I had gone through the traps and packed them away, I came indoors and happened to glance at the display on our smart meter.  This shows the value of electricity and gas consumed since midnight.  The central heating hadn't come on by then, so the only consumption had been electricity.  The actinic light had been running from a battery, so apart from the fridge and some low-power items like chargers, the only device that would have consumed power would have been my LED light.  Either SSE were playing an April Fool prank on me, or I have an explanation for why the LEDs get a bit hot.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks