Thursday, 30 June 2016

Scarlet Tigers at Uskmouth, 30th June 2016

Today I saw 7 Scarlet Tigers at Uskmouth, 2 near the Visitor Centre and 5 on the Wales Coast Path between the hide and the end of Farmfield Lane and Saltmarsh Lane.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Olindia schumacheriana

I noticed several insects fluttering over the lane as I drove back through Skenfrith after school drop-off, so stopped briefly to net some.  It turns out that the gorgeous black & white Tortricid flies actively in morning sunshine: I netted 3 males in flight and swept a female from the hedge.  The larger, broad-banded female was much more placid when I photographed them later, whereas the smaller, broken-banded male flew off as soon as I released him from the tube.

My day started early, with an 04:30 check of the MV that I'd run overnight in the hope of migrants on the southerly wind.  The catch of 50+ species was better than in recent weeks, but didn't hold anything of particular note.  Perhaps the most interesting species were Beautiful Hook-tip, Beautiful Golden Y, Broad-bordered Yellow-underwing, Small Dotted Buff and Lychnis.

Numbers might have been higher if it wasn't for the furry little fellow who was hanging in the porch above where I was trapping...

Monday, 27 June 2016

Hands up if you like Micros...

Stathmopoda pedella rests with its hands (well one pair of legs) up in the air.  This is an uncommon Micro with very few Welsh records, the majority of which come from Gwent (3 from Dingestow and 1 from Chepstow).  I beat one today from an old Alder during an unsuccessful hunt for clearwing exuviae.

Probably even better was the Longhorn Beetle Glaphyra umbellatarum: a Notable species with perhaps no previous VC35 records (NBN shows one from Brecknock and a few from 10km squares in Herefordshire bordering Gwent).  This was a lucky catch, by hand, as it flew through the garden this evening.

Tiger in the park, Newport 27th June

I was sat in Beechwood Park this morning waiting for the cycle shop opposite to open. After I'd been there about 15 minutes, something red fluttering caught the corner of my eye. It was a very tatty, bird pecked, Scarlet Tiger.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A beautiful wanderer

A Beautiful Snout that came to my MV at Dingestow Court on the night of 24th June was a major surprise, because its foodplant (Bilberry) grows nowhere in the vicinity.  The nearest Bilberry I know of are on the Trellech Ridge, at least 6km to the SE.

Dingestow's 3rd Lilac Beauty (and first since 2003) was another highlight, whilst Lackey, Light Arches and Catoptria falsella made their 2016 debuts.
A short session of beating trees produced the Tortricids Grapholita (Cydia) janthinana and Pammene fasciana, as well as two fresh Diamond-back Moths.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Truly grotty

The Elachistidae (in the traditional sense) includes some small, indistinctly-marked moths, and Elachista rufocinera is one of the less distinct.  One I swept today at Dingestow had scattered rufous scales on a white wing, and a dark line in the cilia, so I'm pretty certain the ID is correct (various other families were ruled out, eg because of smooth head scales, lack of eye-cups etc).

Elachista rufocinerea from Dingestow (left) and Surrey (right), the latter for comparison

A Beautiful Hook-tip was the only other notable moth imago during a brief session of beating and sweeping, although an Oak Beauty larva was nice to see.  Other invertebrate highlights were the Longhorn beetle Stenurella melanura and the Hoverfly Chrysotoxum verralli.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

More daytime spotting

Whilst plodding around setting up a marquee etc for a friend's party at Dingestow, I noticed two diurnal Micros: 2 Endothenia nigricostana sitting on Ivy leaves near a Woundwort patch, and a Monochroa tenebrella fluttering around Sorrel plants.  Both were new for Dingestow, raising the site Micro tally to 489.
A poor photo of Endothenia nigricostana (the other individual had a better yellow dorsal patch)

Nearby was an Anaglyptus mysticus Longhorn Beetle feeding on pollen, and I also saw Strangalia maculate and Stenocorus meridianus over the weekend.

Anaglyptus mysticus

Dinegstow's third Blotched Emerald was the highlight of 25 species to MV on 16th June, although our visitors were much more impressed by an Eyed Hawk-moth.

Blotched Emerald


Clearwings revisited

A return to the Yellow-legged Clearwing Oaks on 15th June revealed 3 new exuviae, on parts of the trunk I had previously searched.  I kept all three, so as to be able to monitor total production through the season.  Another look on 17th June didn't produce any more, but I will keep checking.  Attempts at luring an adult Clearwing were compromised by curious cows, but it was rather early in the day (09:30).  I will try again.

The Clearwing lure in a small white bag hanging on the further tree.

A speculative search of two similarly old Oaks at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire today (21/6) failed to reveal any clearwing exuviae.

Beating the Dingestow Oaks on 17th June also produced Tortrix viridana (the first of this common moth that I have seen for several years!) and Aliemma loeflingiana.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Magor Marsh

On 29th May I visited Magor Marsh with the kids, and was very impressed by all the nice beetles, flies and dragonflies on display. We didn't see many moths on the day, but I took home a rolled sallow leaf and stuck it in a pot and forgot about it. Yesterday I noticed something flying around in the pot, and lo and behold, this lovely moth had emerged...

Anacampsis populella

The best of the beetles seen on the day was probably this 'false darkling beetle' Melandrya caraboides, which landed on my arm.

Melandrya caraboides (female)

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Yarrow Tortricids

5 spare minutes waiting for a friend to drop Bea off after school gave me an opportunity to sweep the herb-rich grassland verge (with pollinator signs) by the St Dial's slipway, Monmouth.  Three Yarrow-feeding Dichrorampha were present in quantity: D. petiverella (curved yellow blotch), D. montanana (triangular grey blotch) and D. sequana (square white blotch; photo).  The last of these has rather an odd series of VC35 records: two from Usk by Neil Horton, a series of sightings in a garden in Rhymney in 1997; and my record from Dixton Embankment in 1999.  It's a distinctive little thing, so seems genuinely scarce here.

Almost as nice as these Micros was the dark-winged Robberfly Dioctria atricapilla.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Bagworms and Clearwings

Two of Britain's oddest moth families brightened up my day.  I was working in the kitchen at 10:30 and noticed a dark-looking Micro fluttering near the doorway.  I potted it, expecting a Psychoides, but the moth was unfamiliar.  After a red herring check of the Tineidae I realised it was a member of the Psychidae (Bagworm): the almost unpronounceable Diplodoma laichartingella.  The only modern VC35 record of this reclusive moth was one I netted by day in 1999 at Cwm Coed-y-cerrig, although Horton points out that it is mapped for the county in MBGBI 2.

With Psychids on my mind, I decided it would be worth photographing the peculiar Luffia ferchaultella for the Blog.  A quick walk after work to the nearest big oaks produced good numbers of Luffia cases on the lichen-covered trunks.  Like all British Bagworms, the larvae of this species construct portable cases, which they carry around as they munch algae, lichens or plant detritus (in contrast to those other case-bearers, the Coleophorids, which mine living leaves).  Luffia ferchaultella goes one step weirder, as it is only ever female and produces its young by self-fertilizing (ie it is parthenogenetic).  The wingless adult female lays its eggs in/on the case, which provides initial food for the next generation of larvae.

While I was photographing the Luffia cases I was amazed to spot a pale brown exuvia (empty pupal case) protruding from the bark.  Further searching revealed 4 more of these tantalising signs of the presence of Yellow-legged Clearwing.  Now that I know there's a colony of this species within sight of my home, I'll make morning searches for adults and will try the pheromone lure.  Clearwings are ridiculously elusive, and I have only ever stumbled across one imago of a wood-feeding species (the herb-feeding Six-belted and Thrift Clearwings are much easier).

The only adult moth I got a good look at on the oak trunks was a Brown House-moth, which I photographed, but a one second glimpse of a pale-looking, tineid-shaped Micro with some black markings reminded me that Dystebenna stephensi really ought to be here.  Another thing to keep searching for!


Sunday, 12 June 2016

National Moth Night continued at Dingestow

I very nearly didn't trap on the 3rd night of NMN 2016, because of forecast heavy rain at 05:00, but I couldn't resist and put out the Actinic as it is relatively waterproof.  As it happened, I woke at 03:50 so was able to close the trap then, pre-rain, and return to bed.  I'm glad I did, because there was Dingestow's first Broom Moth waiting inside, along with various geometrids that hadn't appeared at my MV the previous night (perhaps because of bird predation resulting from an 06:00 start).

Broom Moth - Dingestow's 863rd moth species (377th Macro)
Other species of vague interest were Scorched Carpet, Purple-bar, Coronet, Tinea semifulvella and another Eyed Hawk-moth (my first here didn't appear until 2005 but now they are regular).  Hardly vintage, but worth the effort.
Also of note is the continued presence of Large Tabby in the archway at Dingestow Court, despite the area being cleaned and repainted over the winter (for the first time in decades).  This species eats detritus, so I was worried it might have been wiped out.



Saturday, 11 June 2016

Moth Night 2016 at Dingestow

60 or so moths to MV on Friday night (the 2nd of the 3 Moth Nights) entertained my niece and nephew - Figure of 80, Eyed Hawk-moth, Buff-tip, Lobster Moth and Beautiful Golden Y were among their favourites.

My somewhat less attractive highlights included Small Clouded Brindle (less than annual here), Ephestia parasitella, Acentria ephemerella and Argyresthia spinosella.



Dixton Embankment revisited

I last mothed at Dixton Embankment in the 1990s, when I saw some excellent Micros on Teasel, Ploughman's Spikenard etc.  A lunchtime visit on 6th June was therefore a bit of a disappointment, as the sedge-rich damp grassland produced very little and the steeper banks are rather overgrown (but clearly being managed to prevent additional loss).  I made 6 additions to the list of 84 Micros recorded previously on the site - Adela fibulella, Glyphipterix simpliciella, G. fuscoviridella, Crambus pascuella, Coleophora trochilella (first record for VC35 for 20+ years) and Pammene germana - and I also saw several Burnet Companions and lots of orange Lathronympha strigana.  It's definitely a site to return to, but perhaps not the treasure trove I had been hoping for.