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.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Redhouse Barns, 20th September

I ran the MV over-night. This morning the high-lights were 3 Vestal, 1 Dark Swordgrass, an L-album Wainscot, a Sallow and an Angle Shades.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Redhouse Barns, 18th September 2016

I ran the MV over night and the high-lights were an L-album Wainscot, Bordered Beauty, a Beautiful Snout, Meal Moth, 2 Black Rustic, 2 Beaded Chestnut and 2 Lunar Underwing.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Garnddyrys mines

Rowans at Garnddyrys, on the north side of the Blorenge held mines of both Stigmella magdalenae (narrow frass line, only 1 previous VC35 record) and S. nylandriella (broad frass line, seemingly common on Rowans in VC35), as well as Phyllonorycter sorbi.  There were a couple of species on Birch and Hawthorn too.

Mystery of the day is whether a mine on Sheep's Sorrel could be Enteucha acetosae.  It is rather spiralling, but lacks red coloration and the frass is pretty sparse.  I'm guessing it's some kind of fly, but it doesn't match the 3 Pegomya species very well.  It would be new for southern Wales...

Another Vestal

I missed last week's southerlies with a lurgy, so was glad to catch up with part of the Vestal influx: a small, brightly-marked one to MV at Dingestow Court on 17/9.  Among the 19 other species in the trap was an Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, and fresh-looking Eudonia pallida and Carcina quercana.  The previous night - 16/9 - was chilly and the MV only attracted 10 species.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

(Leaf) Mining in NW Gwent

Quick stops at Bryn Bach Country Park and Waun y Pound helped slightly with rebalancing the eastern bias of leaf mine recording in VC35.  It was slim pickings, with just 13 species shared between the two sites.  Most were on Hawthorn, with a couple on Rowan, Oak and Willow.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was Phyllonorycter viminiella on introduced Osier.  Searches of several birch trees produced no moth mines, but an abundance of Sawfly blotches. 

I wonder whether the Micro fauna is limited by the number of host tree species that occur naturally in these areas; most of the trees/bushes at Bryn Bach were in obviously planted landscaping blocks.  Are the common miners of lowland Monmouthshire, such as Phyllonorycter coryli and Stigmella floslactella present on almost all Hazels in the Valleys in the way they are in the east?  More questions than answers from this brief visit.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Tricky Elm mines

The leafmines season is well under way, so apologies for the regular pics of leaves on the Blog (perhaps it will inspire a few more people to record mines).  I'm making brief (10 minute) stops in far-flung bits of VC35 to try to boost Micro records, and it's good to get some records from September because several trees, especially Birch and Rowan, lose their leaves very early.  The west still needs some concerted mining effort if anyone wants to try...

Anyway, this week my focus has been on Elm, which is abundant in many hedges in the north-east of Monmouthshire.  Phyllonorycter tristrigella (12 previous VC35 records) and Stigmella lemniscella (10 records) are frequent, whereas S. ulmivora (4 records) seems to be genuinely uncommon.  Most P. tristrigella mines are obviously long and narrow, but two rounder ones near Skenfrith got me hoping for P. schreberella (4 previous records).  I opened one up, and the larva inside was obviously pale green, so this was just P. tristrigella after all.


This morning, a stop near the Hendre revealed more P. tristrigella, followed by an underside mine that was more obviously circular from above as well as being broad below.  Sure enough, this one held a yellow larva: the 5th Monmouthshire record for P. schreberella.

The same length of hedgerow also held a short, vacated mine of Bucculatrix albedinella, which has just two previous records.  Stigmella viscerella is my final Elm target: it has just three previous records and is clearly rare here.

Redhouse Barns 15th September

I ran the MV over-night. My first Lunar Underwing and Black Rustic of the year made me think autumn is definitely on the way. However, 3 Silver-Y's, a Vestal and a Rush Veneer gave a definite late summer feel to the catch. A Pyrausta purpuralis was also nice to see.

Black Rustic


Pyrausta purpuralis

Monday, 12 September 2016

A really distinctive Salix mine

I saw several mines of Phyllocnistis saligna on Crack Willow and White Willow by the River Wye at Wyesham during a lunchtime walk.  This is a really distinctive mine: large, with a silvery upper epidermis, central frass line, and extension into the petiole.  This is the 4th record for VC35: following 2 by Robert Homan on the Wye at Monmouth and 1 by me on the Usk at Abergavenny.  I'm not aware of records further west, though I assume it's in Glamorgan.  It's definitely one to look for in SE Carms.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A distinctive Sycamore mine

Several mines and rolls of Caloptilia rufipenella were on Sycamores along Hadnock Road on 5/9/16.  This species makes a tiny mine, followed by 3 rolls on leaf edges - numbered in the photo.

An influx of earwigs

7 Lesser Earwigs (a very scarce species in Wales) came to the Dingestow Court MV last night, along with one example of the bug Ledra aurita.  These were highlights of what I had hoped would also be a memorable mothing night. 

As it was, the warm southerlies brought just 10 Silver Y and no other migrants, although overall numbers were high and there was reasonable diversity of locally-bred species.  Alongside nearly 100 Large YU, there were 10 Centre-barred Sallow, and singles of Autumnal Rustic, August Thorn, Oak Hooktip, Pinion-streaked Snout and Bulrush Wainscot.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Up in the limes

A survey with a difference last week - Rob Bacon (NRW) and I spent two days in the basket of a cherry picker beating lime trees for caterpillars of Scarce Hook-tip. We last tried this in 2014 and had just three larvae in two days at St Pierre's Wood. This time we tried Barnets Wood, where there is good access to several mature Small-leaved Lime trees from the forestry tracks.

The cherry picker allowed us to reach the dizzy heights of 18m above ground. In theory the machine would allow us a little higher but it was a little un-nerving at anything over 15m, with the basket swaying as we moved about in it.
Cherry picker in action
At 3:50pm on day two we had recorded not a single Scarce Hook-tip larva and were feeling pretty downhearted. "Let's just do one more" we said to each other. And guess what plopped onto the beating tray! This was after 145 beatings of 6 mature lime trees.

Scarce Hook-tip larva, 14mm
The larva was 13.5m above ground, within the 13-17m range we recorded last time. Though not in the canopy (see red circle on photo below for approx. location) it adds some weight to the idea that this species breeds high on the trees. It's just a shame we didn't find any more, so we can't really claim this with any certainty.

We found plenty other species of interest: larvae of Pale Tussock, Red-necked Footman, Buff-tip, Lime Hawk, Roeslerstammia erxlebella, as well as the two Small-leaved Lime specialist micro-moths Salebriopsis albicilla (4 larvae) and Dichomeris ustalella (21 larvae).
Dichomeris ustalella
Red-necked Footman
And lots of other interesting insects including:
Pediopsis tiliae (a nationally scarce lime specialist leafhopper)
Longhorn beetle Pogonocherus hispidus
Nymph of the leafhopper Ledra aurita
All in all an interesting two days.