Wednesday, 19 February 2020

2nd February

Buckle Wood, Chapel Hill

80 minutes, 106 moths of 4 species, 87 Spring Usher! 

Took a chance this evening to venture out into the woods today. It was very mild this evening for February remaining around 11c throughout, so I was hopeful I could encounter a few moths.
Showers were forecast for the early hours of Monday 3rd and they duly arrived quite heavy but I had an opportunity to run the light-trap for a good 4 hours at a few locations prior to this warning.
A potential issue was the wind which was gusting at times from the south, however, getting to the site I quickly made up my mind it could work here.
Setting up I did place a few stones on the ground sheet for it was needed especially at the start of the evening before things calmed down a little later.
Almost immediately moths arrived in the form of Tortricodes alternella (15) and then a Chestnut- the only one of the night.
Sipping a coffee and looking down at the surrounding around area, it soon became apparent that other moths were taking an interest.
I managed to capture one that arrived on the ground sheet, a Spring Usher. Then another flew past me followed by two more. These moths seemed to be appearing in good numbers. I say good numbers because I already was approaching my best total of this species- totalling 6, as I had had at any trap site before.
They kept coming over the next hour with 3 Pale Brindled Beauty's mixed amongst them. The ground surrounding the trap appeared to be alive with moths and I had to be careful where I placed my feet.
The ground sheet itself became peppered with Spring Usher moths, the light and the trap itself hosted many resting up at different angles vying for space. It turned out an exceptional night for this species with the warmth and timing playing an important factor in the numbers I believe.
I counted the amount three times and came up with 87 in total (with 20 or so in pots), after spending only 80 minutes at the site.
A total of 5 only were in the trap box and 82 were outside for the stats.
I know for sure if I had remained there for another 20-30 minutes I would have had over 100 of this species, which is extraordinary. A night to remember for a long time for me!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

January-February 2020

'Early Moth' encounters

Have been out there in the wilds trapping for a few years now but never surprisingly, encountered an Early Moth anywhere, until now. The main reason I think is I don't trap near to hedgerows where it's foodplant Blackthorn and Hawthorn are.
Still, It's a little odd how things transpire... where you don't see certain moths for years and then you have a running sequence where they turn up anywhere and everywhere. So, I've now come up with 3 sites over the last 3 weeks on the current run.

Early Moth

My first sighting was on January 18th by pure chance in the daytime whilst using a subway near to the village of Caerwent. One was seen close to a light on the wall. I've revisited here three times and each time Early Moth was present peaking at 3 on the 26th January. Mainly hedgerows around here.

The next site was again backing onto hedgerows. On the 5th February early Moth was found this time resting up in a gatehouse during the day at Llandevenny presumably attracted to the night-time spotlights.

The third location was at Glyn Wood, Chapel Hill late at night, just before midnight.
This actually arrived at the light-trap for a change.
It's quite open here so I guessing it may have got blown in from nearby hedges by accident as I don't recall Blackthorn or Hawthorn at site.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

13th January

Newport Road, Chepstow

Acrocercops brongnairdella on Holm Oak

Whilst inspecting some maturing Holm Oak trees this morning for leaf-miner's, I managed to find all  three of the leaf miners that host on this tree.
These being Phyllonorycter messaniella (Garden Midget), Stigmella suberiova (Holm-oak Pigmy) and Ectoedemia heringella (New Holm-oak Pigmy).
It was what I hoped for but was quite surprised as this the busy road in and out of Chepstow and didn't really expect these moths to put up with traffic and higher levels of pollutants.
There are three trees lined up here at location and as I hadn't visited the third yet, decided to make an inspection. It was here I came across a group of large papery blotches close together. It immediately struck a chord but what exactly had caused them was best found out online.

Acrocercops brongnairdella leaf mine

Looking at a leaf-miners site I soon found the cause, the micro Acrocercops brongnairdella (Brown Oak Slender.
Contacting Sam Bosanquet, he informed me that it was very uncommon in Vice County 35 and had never been found on Holm Oak before.
He had only seen it on deciduous Oak, however it does mine evergreen Oak too.
I had only thought 3 leaf miners had hosted on this tree until now, however this new discovery has opened the door to a 4th to look out for in the future.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Look back at 2019

13th July 2019

Chepstow Park Wood, Devauden

6th county record of Sycopacma larseniella (White-strap Sober)

Continuing with a look back at 2019 season here. The reason is I have only fairly recently had this micro confirmed.
I only spent an hour here at this site due to feeling unwell which was a shame, as I had the impression it could have been quite productive.
The most common species was Rosy Footman at 7, but at the rate they appeared I'm sure they could have reached 15+ easily.
The other really interesting moth that came to my notice just before I packed up, was an small but distinct micro with a white band across it's forewings.
A glance through my book brought on complications for it was part of the Syncopacma group which requires Genitalia Examination.
Three contenders entered the frame in including S. cinctella, S. taeniolella and my hunch, S. larseniella which all feed on Bird's-foot trefoil.
My thanks to Sam Bosanquet who determined by Gen. Det. over the Christmas/New Year period, that this micro was indeed a male Syncopacma larseniella. Although there are other unconfirmed records, this was the 6th county record determined by this procedure, so well worth the 5 month wait.

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.