Friday, 30 December 2016

Shirenewton and Chepstow

More examples of leaf mines were found at both Shirenewton and Chepstow on the 24th and 27th of November respectively.
These leaf mines were found on Elm leaves at both locations and involve the work of micro moth Stigmella ulmivora or Barred Elm Pigmy.

Quite a few leaves were collected and photographed.
As you can see one leaf contained two larvae to help identify the species.
However in this case things were more difficult to determine and not straight forward.
I had to check and in some cases re-photograph all the other leaves and find out as to where the larval emergence holes were- a difficult process!
Thankfully they all were the same being the upper side of the leaf.
As for records apparently there are very few at just 5 or 6 only prior to these finds.

Late November at Howick and Shirenewton.

As it has gone quiet on the blog I thought I would 'put up' some things of interest that happened several weeks ago but considered fairly important by Sam Bosanquet.

They involve leaf-mines.
I touched on leaf-mining last year but this year I have made a big effort to try and understand the process and identify some 'Leaf miner's' with help from Sam. It is difficult but rewarding when you get a few correct!
The two Leaf mines shown here are on Lime and Oak.

The first example on Lime leaves was found both at Howick on the 19th November and near Shirenewton just five days later on the 24th.
The micro Stigmella tiliae or Lime Pigmy larvae was at work here. (picture below).
It has been found in the vice county to the NE and SE, but Sam informs me it is scarce in Wales overall.

Stigmella tilliae mines

The second micro in larval form, called Stigmella samiatella or Chestnut Pigmy, was found by pure chance in an isolated copse at Howick again on the 24th November in a 'green' Oak leaf that had been blown down by the winds a day or so before.
In fact several examples were found in Oak leaves on that visit, although I believe it can also be found 'mining' Sweet Chestnut leaves.

 One example of Stigmella samiatella 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

6th December and 23 December Moths

The "heat wave" prompted me to run 2 traps last night. I ran the MV at Haisbro Avenue and Redhouse Barns. At Haisbro Avenue there were 10 December Moths, one Mottled Umber (melanic), a Chestnut and 4 Epiphyas postvittana. At Redhouse there were 13 December Moths, one Angle Shades, one Feathered Thorn and 2 Epiphyas postvittana.
This evening there was a Cypress Carpet on the kitchen door.


Not seen a moth for the first 6 days of December. The work security lights turned up a Winter Moth, December Moth & this Dark Sword-grass on the 7th.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Slim pickings

Occasional moths are appearing on the Dingestow Court windows and porch light, but the season is essentially over.  An MV on 11th November produced a December Moth and several Green-brindled Crescent, but the best moth that night was a (rain tattered) Sprawler under the porch light.  Winter Moths, Feathered Thorns and Eudonia angustea have appeared on a few nights since then, but we need to hope for a winter immigration for any more excitement this year.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Late mines - Oak and Birch

As the year draws to a close there is still time to add species to your home patch list; indeed it is almost the only time of year when Oak Stigmella are vaguely possible.  I collected several Oak leaves with 'green islands' in the SAC Parc Lodge Wood on the south-east side of the Sugarloaf today, and found that most of them held Stigmella mines complete with larvae.  Eggs on the underside and narrow black frass ruled out most species, leaving just the similar-looking Stigmella atricapitella and S. roborella.  Most larvae had dark heads, indicating the former, but a few shorter mines were occupied by larvae with pale heads, and belonged to the latter species (which has only one previous record from VC35).  It is interesting that the larvae and mines of Stigmella atricapitella were consistently larger than those of S. roborella today.

Stigmella atricapitella (left) has a black head and dark sclerite plates;
S. roborella (right) has a pale head and no dark sclerite plates

On my way from school drop-off to Abergavenny I paused briefly to record mines near Llanfihangel Crucorney.  As well as more Stigmella atricapitella and some Ectoedemia subbimaculella (see last week's post) I was pleased to spot mines of E. occultella with their distinctive central spots on Birch.  This is only the 6th county record.

Sunday, 30 October 2016


The work security lights have been a bit slow in turning up the moths of late but did produce a lifer for me tonight (30/10) while out on one of my teabreaks on the nightshift in the form of this Gem.


Funny things on Oak

Late October leaf-mining on Oaks at Dingestow produced two larval signs of interest: the larval mines of Ectoedemia subbimaculella with slits that frass is ejected through, and frass-covered tubes on the underside of leaves which had me totally baffled but which were IDed as Gypsonoma dealbana by Billy Dykes.

The blotch mines of Ectoedemia subbimaculella have a slit at one end, from which the larva ejects frass.
This is unique to this species, which is a notably late feeder, with larvae occupying the mines well into November,
often continuing to feed in 'green islands' after the leaves have dropped. 
Earlier in the month, the similar (but slitless) mines of E. albifasciella were commonplace.

The common Tortricid Gypsonoma dealbana makes a silk tube, covered with frass, on the underside of Oak leaves.  Something new I learned today!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Redhouse Barns, 26th October

Not a bad catch for the time of year. 7 Large Wainscots, 15 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 3 Angle Shades, 1 Silver-Y, 3 Epirrita spp. 1 Figure of  8 and a Green-brindled Crescent.

Green-brindled Crescent

3 of the 7 Large Wainscots

Figure of 8

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Late October MV trapping


Two nights with the MV at Dingestow Court showed that moths are still around in reasonable numbers so long as it isn't too cold.  A female Autumnal Moth was the moth highlight of the 13 species caught on the drizzly night of 24th October, although a calling flyover Dunlin at 07:18 was new for Dingestow and much more exciting!  Southerly winds on the 25th October didn't produce any migrants, but they boosted the count to 20 species, with a male Vapourer the stand-out.  Supporting cast included Blair's Shoulder-knot, Merveille du Jour, BrickSallow f flavescens (when you see something so uniformly pale on a southerly airflow in late autumn your mind whirs through various rare Mythimna spp., but sadly this was just a Sallow!) and Hypsopygia costalis.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Ectoedemia argyropeza

It is a good time to look for the uncommon Micro Ectoedemia argyropeza, as fallen brown Aspen leaves may hold 'green islands' caused by the mines of this species.  Today I found it at the Yew Tree Wood - the 4th record for VC35 and the 500th Micro for my Dingestow recording area.  Spotting this species earlier in the year is very difficult, because it mines the leaf stalk of Aspen forming a small frass-filled gall.  It is even difficult in early autumn when the larva moves to the leaf base, because the mine is small.  Luckily the mining causes part of the leaf to stay green when the rest goes brown; this 'green island' is very easy to spot.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Vapourer eggs at Uskmouth

Tara from RSPB pointed this Vapourer cocoon covered in eggs to me. Its on an NNR sign at 

Uskmouth. She spotted the wingless female and a male mating on the cocoon a couple of weeks ago. The sign is approx 15m away from the nearest potential food-plant, a sallow, so the newly hatched caterpillars  will have quite a trek to make when they hatch in the spring.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Autumn brightness

Cloud cover and light winds, albeit from the north, produced a good, warm night on 7th October, and the Dingestow Court MV was suitably productive.  70+ moths of 27 species appeared, including a nice array of autumn's brightly-coloured species.  Highlight was Dingestow's 3rd Large Wainscot (previously recorded here in September 2004 & 2005), which must have wandered a good distance because of the lack of local reedbeds.  Dark Swordgrass finally made a 2016 debut, and there were 3 Plutella xylostella.  Nice-looking resident species included Barred Sallow x3, Merveille du Jour x3 and Grey Shoulder-knot x1.  Both Willow Beauty and Pale Mottled Willow were carefully checked in case either was something more notable.



Thursday, 6 October 2016


Not a lot of moth activity under the works security lights while working the night shifts this week.

Highlights were these two from Tuesday & Wednesday nights, The Delicate & a Dusky-lemon Sallow.

                             The Delicate
Dusky-lemon Sallow

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sorbus mines at the Wyndcliff

A day GPS-ing the Wyndcliff Whitebeams on Friday gave me a chance to look for mines on these scarce trees.  One tree held mines of Phyllonorycter mespilella and another had what I guess is Stigmella mespilicola, each of which has single previous VC35 records, both from the Wyndcliff in the past.  The Wild Service Tree near the carpark also had presumed S. mespilicola mines.

Madder Pearl damage?

The larvae of the Pyralid Mecyna asinalis (Madder Pearl) feeds on Rubia peregrina (Wild Madder), forming windows on the leaves.  I'm pretty certain this is the feeding damage observed at Wyndcliff on Friday.  Surprisingly, I can only find one previous VC35 record of this species, from Caerwent, although I have a nagging doubt someone else has reported it here.  Wyndcliff is really regularly trapped, so it would be odd for this distinctive moth to have been overlooked there.  All in all, a bit of a mystery.

Brown-spot Pinion among the Beaded Chestnuts

A Brown-spot Pinion - uncommon here at Dingestow Court - was highlight of 50+ moths of 10 species that came to MV on 30th September.  I regularly stare at Beaded Chestnuts with dark costal markings, just in case, but - as is so often the case with moths - the real thing is instantly recognisable.  The rounded orbicular stigma contrasts nicely with the narrow one on Beaded Chestnut.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Goldcliff 29th September 2016

I put out an actinic Skinner Trap for the 5th time this September after Mallow moths. At last I caught one. Hopefully more in the next couple of weeks.


Had to wait till the last trap of September (30th) for this Convolvulus Hawk-moth to drop onto the sheet next to the MV trap. A lifer for me and one i had been really hoping for this year.

Ran the trap for 5 hours and little else dropped in but Blair's Shoulder Knot and Barred Sallow were new for year.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Haisbro Avenue, Newport, 27th September 2016

Sheila and I ran the MV over-night. In the morning, just after the light had gone off, but before we could check it, one of our Main Coon cats jumped onto the trap, knocking one of the plastic rain-guard veins onto the bulb, cracking the bulb and melting the vein. Some of the moths escaped and flew off. Despite this, we had a pretty good catch of 46 moths of 20 species. High-lights were a Large Ranunculus, a Pinion-streaked Snout, a Large Wainscot, the first Blair's Shoulder-knot of the autumn, an Angle Shades and the scarce migrant Palpita vitrealis or Jasmine Moth.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Kymin mines

Sorry, after a few posts with actual moths I'm going to revert to squiggles in leaves!  A half hour lunchtime walk at The Kymin produced 20 species of leaf-mining moth, including a good haul on Birch and Rowan before these species drop their leaves.  Highlights were Bucculatrix ulmella, Stigmella samiatella, Phyllonorycter muelleriella and Tischeria ekebladella on Oak, Stigmella nylandriella and S. magdalenae on Rowan, and Stigmella continuella and S. sakhalinella on Birch, whilst the Beech trees that dominate the woodland held abundant Stigmella hemargyrella, S. tityrella and Phyllonorycter maestingella (but no Parornix fagivora despite deliberate searching.

Stigmella samiatella (dispersed greenish frass, a yellow larva still present in the mine) & Phyllonorycter muelleriella (long, tubular mines with pupa fixed to upper surface only, and little bound frass)  

Tischeria exebladella (a large mine with a silk blob and almost no frass) & Bucculatrix ulmella (a tiny squiggle near the midrib, with the larva leaving early) 
Stigmella continuella (dispersed green frass and no larva) & S. sakhalinella (coiled brown frass, mine already vacated)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Scarce Bordered Straw


Strong southerlies tempted me to put the Dingestow Court MV out on 23/9, and I'm glad I did.  A Scarce Bordered Straw (4th Dingestow record and 1st here since 2006) was the highlight among 80+ individuals of 21 species.  Autumn residents included Pink-barred Sallow, Sallow, Red-line Quaker, Beaded Chestnut and Black Rustic. On the other side of the house, the porch light attracted this gorgeous Orange Sallow.  Ivy blossom held 4 moth species and 17 individuals of the uncommon beetle Oedemera femorata.