Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Recent Moths

 Another load of belated sightings from June and July thanks to my slowness with the backlog of photos and ID-ing!

On the 15th of June I returned to Chilswell Valley for another fairly quiet session dusking. Highlights were Epermenia falciformis in the fen, Pretty Chalk Carpet flying around Traveller's Joy, Aethes smeathmanniana and Coleophora trochilella (kindly dissected by Peter Hall).

On the 20th, inspired by my visit to Otmoor I went over to Wendlebury Meads in search of larvae on Dyer's Greenweed. It was getting a little late for most of the species on this plant, and the fact it was raining heavily and the plants were in flower rather obscured any spinnings making things a little tricky. I had quite a long search before I found a few larvae of Mirificarma lentiginosella on a particularly large and lush plant. I'd initially been searching the plants systematically heading out from the site entrance, many of which were rather runty with few leaves and flowers. After finding the first larvae I switched to focusing on the largest, lushest plants and was soon rewarded with more, finding a total of 9. I think the advice is to rear these out to confirm the ID (and they are currently pupae in my garage!), but pretty sure they'll be this species. Other highlight here was another specimen of the lovely Devil's Bit Scabious feeding Aethes piercei.

Mirificarma lentiginosella larva

I returned to Otmoor on the 23rd, thanks to Nick Bowles, to have a look for larvae of Narrow-Bordered Bee Hawk after the sightings of adults and eggs a couple of weeks before. I only had a couple of hours and so didn't cover much of the site or the Devil's Bit Scabious, searching 23 plants. On these I found 30 larvae (2 in 3rd instar, 13 in 2nd instar and 15 in 1st instar) and 13 eggs. This seems to be an extremely high density for this species, which hopefully bodes well for the future of this new colony.

Narrow-Bordered Bee Hawk larva

Narrow-Bordered Bee Hawk larva and eggs

On the morning of the 16th of July I dug the LUN lure out the freezer and set it up in the orchard of Wytham Woods. By evening it had attracted one specimen of the rather scarce (but perhaps more under-recorded) tineid Triaxomasia caprimulgella, attracting several more as well as three Lunar Hornets over the next couple of days.

I also put the lure out at Sydlings Copse while trapping there on the 21st and managed to get 4 more caprimulgella between 20:00 and 22:00 (with none after when the lure was taken in at 01:00), which I think are the first Oxfordshire records. I put one LED trap on the heath, one under some large oaks near the site entrance, and two in the fen in the vain hope of Dentated Pug. There was still plenty of interest though, with a good selection of wetland species, including Phalonidia manniana, Dotted Fan Foot, Round-Winged Muslin, Lesser Cream Wave, Gelechia sororculella, Argyresthia pygmaella, Donacaula forficella, Limnaceia phragmitella and Hemp Agrimony Plume. Other interesting species were Parectopa ononidis, Haworth's Pug, Sorhagenia rhamniella, Argyresthia glaucinella, Schreckensteinia festaliella, Monochroa cytisella and Pediasia contaminella. Not sure how common the latter is in Oxfordshire, it was netted by the LED trap set on the sandy grassland on the heath, which seems like suitable breeding habitat.

Pediasia contaminella

Triaxomasia caprimulgella

A few days before, on the 17th I had a good visit to Aston Rowant, starting early afternoon to look for leafmines and day-fliers, before trapping on Linkey Down in the evening. Highlight of the day time session was definitely the mines of Parornix carpinella on the Hornbeams along the ridgeway. It's one I've been aiming to see for a little while, and I think it may also be new to Oxfordshire. Other mine interest was provided by Parornix fagivora on Beech (just the one mine, I've never found more than one or two at any given site) and Perritia obscurepunctella mines on Honeysuckle along Hill Lane. Sweeping on Beacon Hill was very productive, with Bucculatrix cristatella, Scythris picaepennis, 2 Nemophora minimella, and a single Trifurcula headleyella. The latter two are both the third records for Oxfordshire, following single records at Aston Rowant and elsewhere on the Chilterns in the last couple of years. As dusk drew in, I also saw Dusky Plume and Acompsia schmidtiellus flying around their respective foodplants.

Parornix carpinella mines

In the evening, trapping produced c130 species, with highlights of Argyresthia dilectella, Coleophora lixella (5), Royal Mantle (2), Satyr Pug, Beautiful Carpet, Large Twin-Spot Carpet, Haworth's Pug, Elachista subocellea and another Pimpinel Pug after one here last year (a lovely fresh one that sadly escaped before photography!).

One the 25th I joined Doug Boyes for a session at Wytham Woods with a few traps around the chalet that proved quite productive. Alongside a few more Parectopa ononidis the definite highlight was a single Olive Crescent (Doug's pic here: https://twitter.com/diarsia/status/1419564085671337989) which seems to be the third VC22 record after a couple in 2017.

On the 26th Doug and I headed out again to trap at BBOWT's Warburg reserve on the Chilterns. With 9 traps mostly provided by Doug (a mixture of MVs, actinics and LEDs) there was lots of new stuff for both of us, even if the hoped for Campanula Pug didn't show. There's an old record from the site and we set a couple of MVs next to a fairly decent patch of Nettle-Leaved Bellflower, but it was always a long shot. Out of 220+ species, highlights were Waved Black, White Satin, Acompsia schmidtiellus, Lunar-Spotted Pinion, Maple Pug, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Triple-Spotted Pug, Mocha (plentiful!), Sorhagenia rhamniella, Caloptilia cuculipennella, Large Twin-Spot Carpet, Psoricoptera gibbosella, Haworth's Pug, Lunar-Spotted Pinion, Pine Hawk, Small Purple-Barred, Royal Mantle,  Dark Umber, Bucculatrix frangutella, Parachronistis albiceps and Carpatolechia alburnella.

Big thanks as always to Peter Hall who confirmed a number of the trickier species mentioned here by dissection.


  1. Some good and interesting moths in amongst that lot, Will.

    1. Thanks, Andy! Been a fun spell, although always tricky fitting it in at this time of year.

  2. Very interesting reading yet again, Will. I was particularly pleased to see that your return visit to Otmoor came up trumps with Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk larvae. That's hopefully a species we'll all be seeing locally quite soon.

    1. Thanks, Dave! It certainly seems well-established there, the larvae and eggs were extremely easy to find, and plenty more similar habitat along those rivers (eg. at Wendlebury Meads). Fingers crossed.


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