Sunday, 12 January 2020

New moth for Wales and Vice County 35

5th January 2020

Ninewells Wood, Llandogo.

Potentially a slightly milder evening forecast tonight than of late, so wanted to venture out to new unvisited sites at this time of year on higher ground to see what moths might operate there.

On my trip around I visited Cleddon Bog, Ninewells Wood, and Bargain Wood which all range over 200 metres above sea-level.
All sites contained Winter Moth albeit in low numbers. Bargain Wood had one Chestnut Moth found on bramble, whilst at Ninewells Wood I had more of a headache trying to work out what a tiny moth was, after luckily discovering it on the roof of my car.

Acleris albietana (Perth Button) 

My first thoughts were, it could be a Oak Nycteoline as they are variable, but I could not match it for markings at all. Next I looked at the Acleris group of micro's of which A. hastiana would surely be a contender, as it again is variable in markings. This again proved an unlikely match.
Whilst flicking back through my guide book once again, another moth then struck me as being a possibility in the form of Acleris albietana. This seemed a bit far fetched though, as associated maps had it based in northern England and Scotland.
After further head scratching I decided to take it back and investigate at daybreak to shed.... 'literally' more light on it.
More photographs taken in the morning and a forward e-mail to Sam Bosanquet, then had us both agreeing that the Scarce A listed Acleris albietana was a likely candidate.
Further correspondence to George Tordoff and David Slade via e-mail made sure that it was indeed this species along with the added status of it being not just being new to Vice County 35 Monmouthshire, but also completely new to the Principality of Wales.

Looking closely above, some of the many scale tufts that adorned the forewings of this micro.

A brief history of the moth shows it has spread south from it's original founding county of  Perthshire in Scotland (c.1965) right down through Britain to the south.
Relatively close by Vice counties of Worcestershire and Herefordshire encountered it in 2011, whilst more recent sightings have appeared Gloucestershire and even Devon.
Given timings and its rapid spread recently, I suspect it may well have arrived here much earlier in the county and just be lurking in a coniferous wooded area, awaiting discovery.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Look Back at 2019

2nd July 2019

Livox Quarry (Private site) 

Rare Onocera semirubella sighting in V35

Oncocera semirubella (Rosy-striped Knot-horn)

Continuing the lookback series of 2019 I had to post this visit to the Private site of Livox Quarry.
Kind permission was granted by the owner and overseen by the caretaker whilst I was there, so my thanks go to them for allowing me to look around.

A very warm start to day with little in the way of clouds around was a too good a opportunity to visit Livox Quarry. Arranging this visit beforehand and with the weather forecasters holding true for today, the day was set for plenty of hot sunshine.
Primarily I had set out to look for butterflies but took my sweep net and my camera along if I had the chance find moths whilst I disturbed the undergrowth.

With butterflies the count came to 66 of 6 species with Meadow Brown (36) and Small Skipper (14) the highest counts however the discovery of Marbled White (8) was a nice surprise. I always suspected it could set up residence here for several years on previous visits but never found it, so good news.
Whilst I was there a Thistle Ermine came into view on a grass stem.

Finishing with butterflies I had enough time to have a wander around the site for around 90 minutes.
The late afternoon was baking hot on the stony ground reaching over 28c.
A sweep across some Bird's-foot Trefoil in a couple of areas came up with 2 Six-belted Clearwing in the net, so it's doing well here.
As I thought my luck was in, my thoughts then turned to a specific area that I found the rare Oncocera semirubella a couple a years ago. Getting to the quite large area I decided to scour it systematically otherwise I'd loose track. Spending quite some time on it, I was beginning to think the original sighting in 2017 was a rare isolated case that luckily came my way.
Then with 20 minutes remaining of my allotted time here, something flew out in front of me and landed about 10 feet away on nearby 'seeding' grass stems. Approaching with extreme caution I suddenly realised that lightning does strike twice on the same spot.
It was Oncocera for sure and it was great to see it again. With this extra sighting exactly two years to the day from the original, this probably underlines the moths status as resident at Livox.


Monday, 6 January 2020

Look Back at 2019.

22 June 2019

Cleddon Bog, Llandogo.

An ideal evening saw 48 species arrive at this location whilst I was there.
Some new and lesser seen macro moths were exciting discoveries for me at this locality although quite possibly some may have been already discovered here before.

Four-dotted Footman, Broom Moth, Spinach, Barred Red and Brown Rustic were amongst the good turnout which kept me on my toes today.
All were personally new macro moths to me in Vice County 35.

I had nearly forgotten that I had seen Four-dotted Footman once before some 7 years ago; whilst I was updating my files.
This time I had inadvertently discovered it during the daylight hours attached to grass stem whilst looking for butterflies in a grassy meadow area at Moseley Green, Parkend on 17th June 2012.
Although in Gloucestershire Vice County, it had made an impact on me then. It's been a long time between sightings but equally exciting, and worth the wait to see it again.


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Look back at 2019

There was a number of posts I unfortunately did not get around to posting on the Blog from June 2019 onwards so I thought I would recap and give everybody an small insight to what we could find in 2020. Best wishes to everybody for the year ahead by the way.

June 21st 2019

Slade Wood, Highmoor Hill

The afternoon locally saw more sunshine as skies cleared, this situation continuing into the evening when I set out to trap. It was a mostly clear sky with just a few clouds about with temperatures falling away steadily.
The course of the trap saw quite a few species arrive eventually numbering 40.
Of the species I had a nice Purple Clay which I've only seen a few times. Normally a deciduous woodland moth so slightly surprised to see it here but several foodplants do occur around the wood.

Purple Clay

There were two others that I had never seen before, one each of Macro and Micro, but both presumably connected to the Scott's Pine in here.
The macro, being Bordered White was a pleasing find, and something I was hoping to see on my list sooner than later. Given that I'm around some Pine on some traps I think I should have seen it sooner.

Bordered White

An exciting find was this very colourful micro which again feeds on Scott's Pine.
Lozotaeniodes formosana (Orange Pine Tortrix), is fairly common to the southern half of Britain reportedly. Somerset Vice County nearby to the south has several locations for it.
It also appears from a Welsh perspective along the South Wales coastline with less records to the north.
I'm unaware of its distribution in our Vice County 35 though?    

Lozotaeniodes formosana

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

22nd December

Various localities

Managed to see 41 moths today the 22nd of December.
36 Winter Moths and 5 Mottled Umbers.

A Chepstow town walk turned up 5 Male Winter Moths.


At night, I decided to try somewhat higher up than previous trap at St. Pierre's Wood to see if moths were active above 100-200 metres plus.
The first port of call in Whitelye was unfortunately out of bounds due to the excessive amounts of rainfall making placing the car and trap hazardous to say the least.
Further down the road at Upper Hale Wood there was a decent platform to set up.
The weather forecast was not too bad for the evening with showers still a possibility. Setting up the trap early and supping coffee, I then wished I had delayed for another 30 minutes or so, for the only isolated shower of that evening turned up soon after and gave the site and kit a good soaking.
Had to wait some time before big drips off the major trees relinquished before any activity arrived in the form of one moth. This winter moth prompted me to have a look around the site to see if any were nearby and sure enough there were. I quickly found 6 more all perched on lower sapling trees as if all waiting for a passing bus. None wanted to turn up at the light.
 Female winter Moth 'playing dead'

Next further down the hill at Lower Hale Wood. At the gate 3 more Winter Moths were seen but once again the site was out of bounds and virtually waterlogged. Was not prepared to risk getting stuck!

On the way back home tried for one more locality in the form of Ravensnest Wood: another site I had not visited during December.
Here, another messy set up being wet and a little muddy, but the final throw of the dice proved to be very much worth it.
The brief hour I was here I did see 23 moths, with 5 Mottled Umbers of various forms turning up within 20 minutes. Quite pleasing as I normally don't see many totals over 3.
Winter Moths dominated again. These again frequently found on lower limbs of trees like Hazel or Beech and even on grass blades.
It was here that I discovered something that I had been on the look out for several seasons..... a Female Winter Moth. These flightless moths had proved very elusive but there is nothing like seeing them up close.
These 'bug-like' insects were much smaller than I had imagined and difficult to see. Two mating pairs were found low down on grass blades of all places, making the whole mucky, damp effort, all worth it.

'Wingless' female Winter Moth now very much alive


Sunday, 22 December 2019

2019: another record breaking moth year at Dingestow

I have just finished inputting my moth records for 2019 and totted up my totals for Dingestow. I recorded 15,461 individuals of 543 moth species at Dingestow, on 139 dates, beating last year's total of 12,339 of 532 on 121 dates into a cocked hat.

Top nights, with over 100 species, were:
1st August - 690 individuals of 114 species (2 traps)
26th July - 775 individuals of 108 species (2 traps)
8th July - 486 individuals of 103 species (2 traps)
10th July - 448 of individuals of 103 species (2 traps)
These are exceptions though, and probably relate to significant influxes from the wooded ridge to the south, and the mean species tally for summer trapping (June to August) was just 54 species.

10 new species of Macro and 10 new species of Micro take the Dingestow totals to 413 and 541 respectively. The majority of Macro additions were migrants or wanderers from elsewhere in Britain, whilst half the Micros are likely to be overlooked local residents.
Residents: Pale November Moth, Adela croesella, Narycia duplicella, Coleophora albitarsella, Hysterophora maculosana, Dichrorampha montanana
Wanderers: Satin Wave, Pine Hawkmoth, Campion, Double Lobed, Small Rufous, Dark Spectacle, Biselachista albidella, Aphelia viburnana, Catoptria margaritella, Scoparia basistrigalis
Migrants: Bedstraw Hawkmoth, White Point, Small Marbled, Crombrugghia laetus

Out of all 15,000 moths there is one I will never forget: the Bedstraw Hawkmoth that arrived on 4th August! Happy New Year to all Gwent Moth'ers - may 2020 bring us all lepidopteran riches.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

21st December

Wet evening at St. Pierre's Great Wood, Mounton

I was keen to get out into the wild woods again before the year is out so choose a local wood quite close to me. The weather looked a bit iffy, however it was going to be reasonably mild this evening and overcast with just light rain at times. The forecasted rain did not seem to be materialising here at Chepstow until I was about to depart.
I was already packed and I was going I thought.... looking out of the window at the rain.
The rain was mainly light throughout the evening mirroring the forecast, although some moderate spells did occur especially towards the end around 8pm. This was when I started to get soaking wet and promptly packed up.
Still, it was a good exercise to get out there in the rain and just see what affect it might have on the moth population. The moths did not seem to bothered I can report, as 22 moths of 4 species turned up, although one did reside a distance away on vegetation.
Winter Moth (10), December Moth (9), darker speckled forms of Mottled Umber (2) and a single surprise Yellow-line Quaker. Quite late in the season for this species and the one that sat some 18 feet away from the trap. I was lucky to see it.
I was pleased to discover it because it's my only sighting of this moth this year.