Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Red-belted Clearwing exuviae

It's odd what one finds in the back of a drawer... I recently came across a matchbox that says "Red-belted Clearwing exuviae, Fishpool Orchard 2003".  I knew I had seen what I thought were Clearwing exuviae protruding from a frass-covered Perry Pear trunk at some point in the early 2000s, but it was great to have confirmation.  Sadly the Pears died soon after, although the Orchard remains and another attempt with the lures may produce an imago (though I doubt it, because I have never had any luck with Clearwing lures).

Crassa tinctella new for Monmouthshire

It may just look like a Caddis, but this is the scarce, deadwood-feeding Oecophorid moth Crassa tinctella.  I beat three out of the sheltered, SW side of a parkland Oak at Dingestow Court on the late afternoon of 30th May 2016.  As well as the early flight date (May-June), this species differs from the commoner C. (Batia) unitella in its level resting posture (C. unitella rests with its head very down-pointing), pale tegulae, and overall pale colouration.  I have been hoping for many years that the Dingestow parkland could support this uncommon moth, so was thrilled finally to catch one.
Yesterday's hour of beating and sweeping was frankly more productive than running overnight MV and Actinic traps.  Beating and sweeping produced nearly 30 species, including 4 Diamond-backed Moth (part of a national influx from the north-east), Mompha langiella (swept from an Oak trunk), Phyllonorycter kleemannella, Bucculatrix thoracella and Ectoedemia albifasciella.  The traps held around 30 species as well, but almost no Micros and little of interest apart from an Alder Moth and a Fern.

Monday, 30 May 2016

An ascent of The Skirrid

Inspired by the Swallows & Amazons' ascent of Kanchenjunga, Bea and Johnny were keen to climb a real mountain.  I opted for The Skirrid, partly because it's a relatively easy climb but mostly because it's in Gwent so any moths 'counted'.  The only previous records of Micros from the mountain came from a June 2007 walk at the south end, which produced 21 species including Pempeliella, Neosphaleroptera, Agonopterix purpurea and Paraswammerdamia nebulella.  The 15 species noted on 28th May 2016 included just one overlap with that previous trip, so it was very worthwhile!


Highlight was the distinctively marked Gelechid Teleiopsis diffinis, which has a characteristic dark, curved mark near the wing base.  Nick Felstead made the only modern Gwent record of this species in the SE last year, and Horton reports only two other sites.

The abundance of Glyphipterix simpliciella on the heathy ridge was remarkable, and this tiny moth was present all the way to the summit.  Other species noted included G. fuscoviridella, Coleophora otidipenella, Pyrausta despicata and a Nematopogon that I should have brought home to gen check for N. pilella.  The only Macros we saw were a single Common Heath and a very odd-looking carpet (below) which seems to be a (Not Very) Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, but a Red Admiral was basking near the summit.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


Ran the 4x30w actinic from 2130 to 0315 last night. NE7mph 17° down to 12° part cloudy. clear by 0200.
92 moths of 35 macro 4 micro species dropped in on or around the trap and were potted.

NFY were.

Poplar Hawkmoth
Flame Carpet
Clouded Silver
Figure of Eighty
Treble Lines
Peach Blossom
Scalloped Hazel
Brindled Pug
Yellow-barred Brindle
Purple Bar
Burnished Brass
Clouded-bordered Brindle
Setaceous Hebrew Character

Others of note were.
Obscure Wainscot
Puss Moth
Freyer's Pug
Dogs Tooth

Friday, 27 May 2016

Hedgerow bashing

A quick bash of a hedge full of White Bryony at The Bryn yesterday, on the slim chance of Phtheochroa rugosana (no such luck - look it up on UKMoths to see why I want to find one!), produced a couple of other Micros.  These were Glyphipterix simpliciella, Anthophila fabriciana, Mompha subbistrigella and two Phyllonorycter.  The tiny size of these is indicated by the photos of P. trifasciella, which lives on Honeysuckle; its companion was the strikingly marked (but poorly photographed) P. geniculella, which feeds on Sycamore.  We're getting into peak diurnal Micro season, so please take your nets out and catch some interesting stuff!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Another diurnal Micro challenge

With Greater Stitchwort festooning the hedges (at least in NE Monmouthshire), now is the time to look out for Coleophora (Metriotes) lutarea.  This is a medium-sized Coleophorid with slightly shiny grey wings, and despite looking like many Coleophora species, is distinctive because it holds its antennae up at an angle (rather than straight forward as in Coleophora).  It also sits around on Stitchwort flowers, which I've never seen other Coleophora doing.  I saw one this morning during a brief stop in a lane near Dingestow, and sunny mornings are an ideal time to look.  As with so many other Micros, there are very few VC35 records: this is the 7th, and the 5th from Dingestow (whilst another was made by George Tordoff from a couple of miles to the east).
The same lane held Psychoides filicivora, Glyphipterix simpliciella, Esperia sulphurella, Adela reaumurella and two species of Phyllonorycter, plus a couple of Silver-ground Carpet and a Common Wave.  It's slow going though!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

May Micropterix

The Micropterix season has started, at least according to my contacts in Carmarthenshire - please look for them on buttercups.  I still haven't spotted any M. calthella or M. aruncella feeding on pollen this year, but I did sweep a M. tunbergella from a lane bank at Priory Grove (near Hadnock) at lunchtime today.  The only other moth I saw during my walk was a Psychoides filicivora.  Both these common species are new for the VC35 bit of SO51.  I hope that future lunchtime walks will be slightly more productive.

As with several previous posts, a non-lepidopteran invert was highlight of the day.  This smart male Portevenia maculata was resting on a Wild Garlic leaf.  It's a widespread but rather uncommon hoverfly, host specific to Wild Garlic.

Cuckooflower Longhorn

Please look out for the Longhorn moth Cauchas (Adela) rufimitrella on Lady's Smock (aka Cuckooflower) flowers if you're out on daytime walks.  I have seen it 4x in the last week here at Dingestow, and Steve Williams saw one near Cwmbran yesterday.  Bizarrely there are only 9 previous VC35 records of this common little moth in the database, 6 of which are mine.  It's very distinctive: metallic green with medium-long white-tipped antennae.

Don't confuse it with the metallic green Micropterix calthella, which is about 1/2 the size, has short antennae, and sits on Buttercup/Kingcup flowers (and a few other things) munching pollen.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mompha langiella

This small, drab Micro was fluttering in the morning sunshine in the Dingestow Court garden today.  I assumed it was going to be an oddly marked Psychoides filicivora, but the resting posture, palp length and markings were all wrong.  Then I twigged it's a Momphid: the uncommon Mompha langiella which has only 3 previous VC35 records (the last in 2002 at Dingestow).  Unlike most British Momphids, which feed on Willowherbs, this one lives on the closely-related Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea).  This foodplant is a problem weed in the garden here, so it's nice to know that this particular cloud has a silver lining.

My other invertebrate highlight today was spotting the spectacular Orange-sided Comb-horn cranefly (Ctenophora pectinicornis) by Dingestow Court Lake: another good addition to the parkland invert fauna.

Near Trellech

8th May
A very good evening near darkest Trellech.
75 moths of 24 species in just a few hours or so!

Amongst the haul was Square Spot, Frosted Green, Barred Umber, Least Black Arches, Pale Feathered Bright (Incurvaria pectinea) and a now the correctly named Grey Birch.

Pictures from top to bottom are:
Barred Umber, Least Black Arches, Pale Feathered Bright and Grey Birch.

St. Pierre's Great Woods

6th May
Not a bad night at all at the wood, calm, reasonable warm with no breeze.
Had 33 moths of 18 species turn up with the actinic.

There were three micros of interest to Sam Bosanquet all of which belong to the Elacistidae group of moths.

Agonopterix alstromeriana is quite common nationally but few records exist in Vice county 35, this was only the 8th time any body had seen one but no doubt there are plenty out there.

Pictured right:
Agonopterix alstromeriana (Brown-spot Flat-body)
The other two micros Semiocopis steinkelleriana (Dawn Flat-body) pictured on the left, and Semiocopis avellanella (Early Flat-body) pictured on the right are Nationally localised and are indeed very uncommonly recorded in the county according to Sam.

Just 4 definite records of each moth have been logged previous to this sighting at St. Pierre.
My thanks go to Sam for confirming these records.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

A chilly night but a sunny day

I normally wouldn't bother to trap in cool northerly winds, but our new puppy meant I had to be up at 05:30 anyway and it seemed worth a try.  The MV lived up to expectations, with a paltry 10 moths of 7 species; highlight perhaps being a Shuttle-shaped Dart as they are absent from my previous home in central Carmarthenshire.  4 of the 7 species were Prominents, easily able to cope with the chill.

Far better was a warm afternoon with plenty of Micros on the wing.  Tapping Oak revealed Phyllonorycter harrisella, P. messaniella and P. quercifoliella, whilst Hazel held P. coryli.  A sweep of some tall grassland produced Glyphipterix fuscoviridella and G. simpliciella.  Sadly, puppy and parent duties meant I couldn't do any other active searching.  Highlight of the day was the rare bee-mimic hoverfly Brachypalpus laphriformis which I spotted on a Hawthorn blossom: a new species for Dingestow (and for me) and a good indicator of ancient trees.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Llanmelin Hill Fort
5th May

Went to look for butterflies at the 'fort' but only saw two which was a bit disappointing.
However I did disturb 4 moths in and around the site and chased down two.
Both were new to me and Martin has confirmed them as Little Thorn and Square Spot.
The Square Spot flew across in front of my car as I was leaving and landed upon an ivy laden entrance pillar to a farm. My first photographic shots were taken from within the car with the window down parked in the middle of the lane. I only got out when I felt confident enough that the moth had settled there to get close-up's.
Thankfully nobody wanted to get by apart from a Lycra clad cyclist, because frankly I just was not going to miss getting a picture of a new moth species.
So if you see a car parked at right angles in the middle of the road in the future, please understand, more than likely it's me grabbing a photograph!


Ran the 4x30w actinic last night 12/5 at home.
NNE14mph Clear & 11°

39 moths of 11 macro 5 micro species. Best of the moths has to be this Orange Footman as it was a new moth for me.

Lower Ochrwyth - 12 May

A warm evening, but a little windy at times nevertheless best catch of the year so far with a total of 30 moths of 19 species: Brimstone x3, Lime Hawkmoth, White Pinion Spotted x2, Brown Silver line x2, Common Carpet, Lesser Swallow Prominent x2, Coxcomb Prominent, Dark-barred Twin Spot Carpet, Flame Shoulder x2, Common Quaker x4, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Hebrew Character, Brindled Beauty, Spruce Carpet x2, Peach Blossom, Engrailed, Twenty-plume  x2, Common Plume, Agonopterix arenella.

Thursday, 12 May 2016


Under the works security lights when i got in this morning.

1x Lunar Marbled Brown & this Puss Moth.
Both NFY.


Ran the 4x30w actinic last night 11/5 at home.
ENE5mph cloudy 13° with light rain on & off.

38 moths of 13 macro & 2 micro species.

12 Brimstone Moth & 5 Angle Shades making up the bulk of the numbers.

NFY were:-

Oak Hook-tip
Flame Shoulder
Common White Wave

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spring butterflies

Thought I would put up a few pictures of early spring butterflies to cheer us up this damp, unsettled and wet couple of days!
These butterflies were about in the warm sunnier spells that we experienced prior to the two inches of rain we've had here.

Broom-tip sightings

A follow up to Sam's post I'd thought I would report the two sightings of the Nationally 'Scarce B' Broom-tip moth I've had in the last few days.
The first sighting was on the 1st May at the Coed Golley area near Trellech.
It was a poor evening due to the exposure of the site. Drizzle blown in by a keen wind eventually succumbed to low cloud and fog fairly soon after so things were a little difficult.
Had just two moths turn up in 1 hour 40 mins and I quite frankly gave up on the whole session (which is unlike me).
A Common Quaker and what I eventually found out was a Broom-tip moth was the result, so a tough night was not all in vain.
The second encounter of a Broom-tip happened just 5 days later at St. Pierre's Great Woods, where the night was in complete contrast to Trellech with little winds, no precipitation and an altogether quieter atmosphere to record lepidoptera. Suffice to say I didn't give up on this evening!

I have noted that on both occasions the Broom-tip turned up early in the trapping session, say within the first 40-50 minutes if that is of any interest to any moth trappers out there.
I don't know if this is the case where there are likely to be more active earlier in the evening perhaps.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Broom-tip and Chocolate-tips

At last, a night to remember!  It was warm and overcast here at Dingestow Court last night (7/5/2016), and moth numbers were well up on the previous night, with 77 of 29 Macro and 8 of 6 Micro.  The forecast drizzle arrived in the early hours, so things were pretty soggy, but moths do seem to fly in good numbers on warm, damp nights.

Highlight was a Broom-tip - the 2nd for Dingestow and first here since 1997 - but 6 Chocolate-tips were a nice surprise as I seldom caught that species when I was trapping regularly in the early 2000s.  Other nice moths included 1 Lobster-moth, 1 Acleris literana, 4 Waved Umber, 2 Plutella xylostella, 1 Scalloped Hazel, 1 Sallow Kitten, 1 Lesser Swallow Prominent, 1 Poplar Hawkmoth, 1 Oak Nycteoline and 1 Oak-tree Pug.

Broom-tip seems to be having a good year, with several people reporting them on Twitter, often accompanied by comments like "only a handful of previous VCxx records".  Nick Felstead had one in southern VC35 recently, which I'm hoping he'll post a photo of.  I'm not sure whether these records indicate local wandering (our nearest Broom are about 1km away, albeit perfectly in line with last night's SSE breeze), national wandering or an immigration.

Saturday, 7 May 2016


Ran the 4x30w actinic last night 6/5 at home.

ENE5mph, part cloudy & 12°

34 moths of 13 macro & 5 micro species. The first trap this year where moth numbers were far above those of previous traps so far this year.

NFY were:-

Lesser Swallow Prominent
Iron Prominent
Powdered Quaker
Common Pug
Chinese Character

Bee Moth

A warm night at Dingestow

The forecast warm night came true, and my MV at Dingestow attracted >40 moths of 19 species.  This is pretty good compared with recent catches in south Wales (where everyone is commenting on how late the season is) but is below par for early May. 

Highlights were Pine Beauty (photo) and Depressaria chaerophylli (the 5th Dingestow and VC35 record, identifiable by the dark palps with a pale tip, the lack of a white spot in the forewing, and the contrastingly pale thorax; photo).  The children enjoyed Swallow Prominents (photo), Lunar Marbled Browns (photo) and Brindled Beauties, but nobody was impressed by the 5 grotty Elachista canapenella!

Hawthorn Shieldbug (photo), Cockchafer and the caddisfly Limnephilus sparsus also came to the MV.