Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Like the good old times ... but with a Nutmeg

This time last year (25/8/16) I had a big haul of moths to MV at Dingestow and Blogged that it was "like the good old times (but with a White Colon)".  Roll on a year, and a lovely warm night produced 400+ moths of 70 species, including nearly 100 each of Large YU and Setaceous HC, and a really good range of other species.  Macro highlights were Dingestow's first Nutmeg (388th Macro for the area), a Small Mottled Willow, 2 Broad-bordered YU, 1 Lime-speck Pug, 1 Maiden's Blush, 2 Flounced Rustic, 1 Centre-barred Sallow and a 2nd generation Clay Triple-lines (which got me hoping for False Mocha or Blair's Mocha).  The Micros were diverse but unremarkable.

The white discal spots, black speckling and dotted border made me hope that this small Cyclophora might be False Mocha or Blair's Mocha, but the cross-lines seem too complete and I have concluded it's just a Clay Triple-lines
Nutmeg is rather uncommon in Gwent, although Martin's map shows recent records for two other sites in SO40 close to Dingestow, as well as a concentration of records in the Newport area.  I don't know how far this one will have wandered from though.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

12th August

New Micro for Vice County 35.

Cosmopterix pulchrimella

Another new micro for the vice county list was confirmed by Sam Bosanquet just recently.
The list of new micro's this year must make quite impressive reading.

George Tordoff informs me that it has been found in Wales but only on two other occasions to date.
Cosmopterix pulchrimella (New Marsh Cosmet) is a relatively newcomer to the British Isles being found in Dorset in 2001.

I got a heads-up from Sam around late June I believe it was, about looking for this moth on a strange plant I've never heard of called Pellitory-of-the-Wall.
I decided I would have a go, but finding the plant let alone a leaf mine was my biggest problem to start with but at least I had one clue from Sam that it was in Chepstow.

I found it after searching for hours the plant that is! That was one part of jigsaw.
The more I looked around the more I found it in cracks, crevices, on walls in quite a few mini sites, I was becoming familiar with what it looked like, at least.
No breakthrough though after extensive searching this time.

Then I stumbled upon another site purely by accident some distance from Chepstow after simply turning off the road to visit a church. The plant was there also. I spent hours going these plants over two visits to see if the moth had arrived there. Again, another blank despite searching plants in its preferred shaded areas with broader leaves. 
Another thorough check around the town of Chepstow over several hours and hundreds of plants again drew a blank. I was at the end of my searching, the point of giving up.

Sam concluded that perhaps the moth had not arrived here yet but to keep an eye out anyway.

Clump of Pellitory-of-the-Wall which may have been mowed on my previous visit

I kept looking but nothing showed.
Then whilst on a walk around the town on the 12th August I went into little visited area to have a look around for Prickly Lettuce and Small Ranunculus and low and behold a clump of Pellitory-of-the-Wall appeared in the line of sight under a fir tree. I went over to it and then almost immediately started to find mines under the shade of the tree. Excitement and relief poured over me, this was the holy grail surely. Indeed it was.
Several mines were found within three leaves, upon which 4 larvae were photographed from within the clump of plants.
Two larvae of Cosmopterix pulchrimella on one of the leaves

After all the hours and hundreds of plants checked it is very rewarding to have found it.
A bit luck and hard work was involved but it proves if you keep looking persistence may pay off.


Eupoecilia angustana at Dingestow

The warm night of 21/8 produced only a single migrant - a Nomophila noctuella - despite southerly winds, but resident species were out in good numbers at Dingestow Court.  Slender Pug, Maiden's Blush and Treble-bar were pick of the macros, whilst micros included an Agriphila selasella hiding among abundant A. tristella (these are much harder than the 'never white' comment in the book suggests), a Batia unitella, a Lesser Wax Moth and an interesting-looking B&W Cochylid.  I assumed that this last would be one of the suite of Cochylis species, but it turned out to be Eupoecilia angustana new for Dingestow (515th Micro for the site).  I'm not at all sure why this species has not appeared here before, as it feeds on meadow plants such as plantain and yarrow and is one of the commonest micros in our garden in Carmarthenshire; I don't think the Dingestow individual belongs to the heather-feeding f. fasciella, which I saw earlier in the year on the Blorenge.  I also have no idea why there are so few Gwent records of E. angustana full-stop: just 10 prior to 2017.

Friday, 18 August 2017

12th August

Small Ranunculus still hanging on in there!

A few weeks ago after hearing about Small Ranuculus arriving at Abergavenny in Sam's post dated 23rd July, I went in search of some at Chepstow.
I've found larvae and indeed captured an adult in the garden over the last few years, but I was very worried about a development that had started to place on a site that had contained 10's of larvae.
My worsts fears were realised when they tarmacked over the group of Prickly lettuce creating an entrance to the building site.

2017 larvae, 4 in view.

After searching on scattered plants that were starting to re-colonise gaps in pavements, rough stony ground, that was nearby, I come came up with a complete blank.

Still, it was positive that other plants were beginning to grow on edges of  pavements after seeds had been scattered, until unfortunately they were then sprayed by the council. (This seems to happen everywhere with councils.)

One larvae here, which are sometimes difficult to see as they lay along the stem

Then several weeks later I came across a patch of wild flowers that presumably the council had seeded to encourage bees and insects. Looking closer I then espied Prickly Lettuce was in amongst the flower mix and rushed to have a look.
Great news as several minutes later a Small Ranuculus larvae came into view, then another and another.
I found 7 in all, but I'm sure others are there because these were at a quite small stage of development.

Adult found in garden in 2013.

It is very positive news but I do wonder how the moth will fare and survive in the near future when on one hand plants are sprayed and possibly larvae killed and on the other, plants are inadvertently re-introduced in a seeded flower mix every year in selected areas by the council, time will tell.      

Thursday, 17 August 2017

6th August

St.Pierre's Great Wood, Mounton

After arriving during a mild but breezy evening, a quick rethink of my position in the wood had to be worked out, so a more sheltered spot had to be found.
Finding one, and eventually feeling comfortable with the position of the trap, I sat back waiting with coffee in hand for things to develop. With the problem of the breeze eliminated I thought it was to be an easy evening listening to owls hooting and collecting moths, not a bit of it!
Another issue decided to rear its head.....Hornets!
I've had Hornets before but the number here took me by surprise and they kept arriving. They thankfully stopped after about 50 minutes but numbered 5 in total- the most I've seen before. They would be left in pots to buzz around until last thing.
With that out of the way, the night turned out to be not to bad at the end of the session with 94 moths of 25 species which was pleasing. 5 localised macro, one Scarce B macro and 1 localised micro were notable.

The best of the bunch turned out to be a little micro featured below.
A bit of a rare find in the county apparently with Sam informing me that there are 2-3 records only in the Database for V35.

Hedya atropunctana

The Shoulder-spot Marble, Hedya atropunctana is mainly a northern species according to many sources, but it is found in the south to a lesser degree.
It feeds on Bog-myrtle, Sallow and Birch of which the latter two which would makes sense at the site.
It would also seem that I caught the second generation in this instance.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

31st July

Ninewells Wood, Cleddon

I never expect much from this wood but am pleasantly surprised what turns up on occasion.
I had 36 species this evening which ain't too bad really considering.
A few micros but Macro's were order of the evening including notable Black Arches, Clay Triple-lines, Scallop Shell, Satin Lutestring, Scarce Footman, Oak Nycteoline and this nice surprise Welsh Wave.
Another new addition to the collection I thought the Welsh Wave, but looking back it appears I turned it up at Cleddon Bog in 2015 relatively close by.
Cleddon Bog was on of my first field trips away from the comfortable routine of my back garden, and it proved to be both exciting and daunting at the same time, but ultimately successful as it got me hooked.

Welsh Wave

One of the most notable features to look out for is the two blackish spikes on the central cross-band, the other Martin Anthony points out is the familiar V-shaped posture when at rest to separate from Waved Carpet.

Belated June sightings

After a backlog of records to trawl through due to computer issues, Martin Anthony has confirmed the two macro moths featured below.

Both are welcome new additions to me which adds to the great excitement of not exactly knowing what will turn up of an evening.

The first one Waved Carpet was found at St. Pierre's Great Wood on the 15th June had me spending some time working it out. I first thought that it had lost some of its scales during its lifetime and I wondered about dismissing it completly. Then I started to look at a type of Seraphim and although similar the posture did not fit but after more searching on-line I eventually found it.
The moth has a scarce distribution apparently and I wonder if it does not like coming to light.

Waved Carpet

The second macro featured is Haworth's Pug.
This was captured 5 days later at a Private Wood which the owner kindly allowed me to trap at. Wallwern Wood is relatively small and an unknown quantity but seemed to produce quite a few species during a very warm evening of the 20th June.
Suffice to say, it is a new site for Haworth's Pug. The caterpillar reportedly feeds on Traveller's Joy or possibly cultivated Clematis of which the former I see quite often around hedgerows and woods.

Haworth's Pug


Friday, 11 August 2017

A heathland wanderer - Matilella fusca new for Dingestow

The night of 11th August was relatively warm, and over 150 individuals of 44 species came to MV at Dingestow Court.  Most were ordinary, with my first Six-striped Rustic of the year the most interesting of the Macros.  However, two good Pyralids made an appearance: an Agriphila selasella and the dark but distinctive Matilella (Pyla) fusca.  The latter was new for Dingestow, taking the site total to 514 spp of Micro.  There are 9 Gwent records of this heather feeder: 7 come from lowland heath (Cleddon Bog, Wentwood) and upland edge (Cwmtillery, Sugarloaf & Blackwood), presumably indicating breeding colonies, whilst there are two records of wanderers to Dr Neil Horton's gardens in Usk and Llansoy.  There was a long gap in records between Dr Horton's last one in 1987 and those by Nick Felstead (2015) and Kevin Hewitt (2016), and I have waited a long time to see this species in Gwent. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Notocelia incarnatana new for VC35

Bob Roome caught this Notocelia on 6th August and identified it as N. incarnatana, although he said "it seems unlikely as it isn't even on the county list".  I'm sure he is correct as the markings match perfectly, as does the long-winged appearance, even though this is a difficult genus.  This species has a coastal distribution in Britain, although it also occurs inland in some areas, and I wonder whether Bob's moth wandered from the coast or perhaps from the limestone near Risca.  Moths of Glamorgan mentions N. incarnatana as occurring in Cardiff.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Uskmouth Reedbeds 4th August
Every year in August I target an area of reedmace for Bulrush Wainscot. I'd noticed a good stand of it in one of the reedbeds at Uskmouth last winter when I was cutting the reeds in an amphibious reed-cutter. There was a culvert entrance nearby with a wooden platform over it which would make an ideal place to put the Skinner actinic trap. The only thing standing in my way was a thicket of bramble 8 foot high and about 6 foot deep! I decided to give my self 30 minutes to try and cut my way through with a pair of shears. It was easier than I had thought - within about 15 minutes I had reached the wooden platform. I set up the Skinner trap and came back this morning at 6am. Going through the egg trays there were only 7 Southern Wainscots, a Flame Shoulder, 2 Large Yellow Underwings and 7 Ringed China-marks on the 1st 3 trays I checked. Disappointment. Turning over the 4th tray I was delighted to see 3 Bulrush Wainscots!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Plain Pug at Dingestow

In June 2014 a Plain Pug appeared on a window at Dingestow Court.  I assumed this Orache/Goosefoot feeder was a wanderer from saltmarshes on the Gwent Coast, but yesterday (1/8/17) I found another one in the Court Farm yard (where Atriplex and Chenopodium are abundant).  It is clearly now a resident species here!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Uskmouth 2nd August 

Whilst cutting some brambles back along the Wales Coast Path I spotted this beauty. He/she was lucky not to get cut in half with my shears! I found one a few meters away this time last year too.

Emperor Moth larva

Last year's had yellow tubercles:

Monday, 31 July 2017

24th July

Chepstow Town- central.

Went for an early morning stroll in the town around 7.30 GMT today.
Nice and quiet not many people around and found this beauty, a Garden Tiger perched upon a window sill looking very fresh.
This moth can be found around urban habitats apparently, as in the case of this one.
The plants it feeds on include herbs, nettles, Docks and Burdocks which are often found throughout the countryside so maybe it should be found frequently elsewhere.
It is supposed to be classified common throughout the UK in my moth book but I find that hard to believe. It is now a moth of concern however and this probably is more of a realistic situation because many vice counties are reporting drastic declines in moth numbers in recent years.

As always if you don't trap in the correct places at the right time you can miss anything but I have trapped in various places at different times but not seen it. It flies late into the night so this could be a reason to have missed it possibly.

Its taken me 4 years to the day to have seen an adult once again. I'm extremely pleased to have encountered it once again because its a beautifully marked moth both on the fore and hind wings.
Hopefully Kevin Dupe will remember four years ago when I came down to Newport Wetlands to see what he had trapped in the reed beds and he picked up an egg box to reveal a lovely Garden Tiger. I managed to take some really nice pictures then and I ended up taking plenty of pictures once again because its so photogenic. A beautiful moth indeed and a pleasure to photograph.
Hopefully it will not take so long to see another one in the future!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

14th July

Chepstow Park Wood, near Devauden

A breeze was blowing here this evening from the south-west. It was from a mild direction though and was not to last dying down as the evening progressed.
I did not expect much at this site I had chosen but was optimistic none the less because you just do not know until you try.
A bit of an unknown site as I said but pleased to encounter a good 49 species from 86 moths.
Many varieties of moth, most of which were common nationally. A few moths shone out amongst the crowd including an unexpected Black Arches (2), and Buff Footman (3). Rosy Footman did best if we did not included grass micros with 7 in total.

Micros were in reasonable numbers but mainly in singles.
The four photographs I've included in this post were all new encounters to me and I particularly like the close up I obtained of Ysolopha nemorella, hope you agree!

 Brown-barred Tortrix (Epagoge grotiana)
 Larch-bud Moth (Spilonota laricana)
 Rush Marble (Bactra lancealana)
Hooked Smudge (Ypsolopha nemorella)

9th July

Fryth Wood, Howick

A belated post due to computer issues and a backlog of paperwork.
A trip to one of the local woods near me was very productive with 120 moths containing 51 species over the course of approximately two and three quarter hours.

15 nationally 'localised' species of moth turned up with one 'Scarce B'.
Of the macros Blomer's Rivulet, Coronet, Black Arches, Rosy Footman, a nice addition Satin Lutestring, Clouded Magpie, Scorched Carpet, Clay Triple-lines, an eye-catching Scallop Shell (pictured above) plus a surprise Small Emerald (pictured below).

If fact 4 types of 'Emerald' were here that night. Small Emerald, Common Emerald, Light Emerald and a trap-shy Large Emerald which kept flirting around the light-trap.

Micro's were equalling interesting, in fact even more so, with some new additions to me.
I've featured some here below with names underneath.

 Cochlis roseana (Rosy Conch)
 Aethes rubigana (Burdock Conch)
 Yponomeuta sedella (Grey Ermine)
Yponomeuta cagnagella (Spindle Ermine)
Eana incanana (Bluebell Shade)
Morophaga choragella (Large Clothes Moth)

All six micros above I've never seen before apart from Bluebell Shade. The micro also resides in a wood nearby but appears to be seemingly quite rare considering the amount of woods I've been in so far. It could be possibly I've just missed it.

The last featured micro Morophaga choragella is certainly a bit of a rarity.
Sam Bosaquet said 'he had never seen it' which is a surprise in itself. He went on to say that it had been seen only twice in the county, 1979 and 2006.  
When I saw it under torchlight that evening it appeared to be in its latter part of its life with what looked like broken scales, faded colours. Never the less it looked windswept and interesting so I had to take it back to get a closer look. My moth book describes it as 'dirty whitish', 'sandy brown' and indeed that is just how it is under daylight. The moth feeds on Bracket fungi of which there must be a few places in this wood where it grows.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Black Mountains Micros

Monmouthshire's northernmost hectads - SO22 and SO23 - are woefully under-recorded for Micros.  SO22 had 49 recorded species and SO23 had just 4 (although only a small part of the hectad is in VC35).  After a day's work in Radnorshire I returned home via the Llanthony Valley, and stopped at three places to beat the hedges for Micros.  The first, near Capel-y-ffin, produced 13 species of Micro, all new for SO23 but all mundane.  The second, north of Llanthony, also held 14, with 12 new for SO22 and 4 Caryocolum blandella (new for Monmouthshire) disturbed from the hedge bank.  The third, in forestry south of Llanthony, produced 22 species including 8 additions for SO22; the distinctive orange Zelleria hepariella was pick of the bunch there.

There are still a lot of under-recorded hectads, especially towards the edges of the Vice-county, and diurnal micro recording can add a lot to these totals even if trapping is impractical.  Micro totals in two formats follow:

SO10 93 ST18 16
SO11 29 ST19 158
SO20 101 ST27 55
SO21 151 ST28 241
SO22 49 ST29 166
SO23 4 ST38 188
SO30 304 ST39 174
SO31 89 ST48 310
SO32 61 ST49 175
SO40 528 ST58 30
SO41 291 ST59 356
SO42 39
SO50 398
SO51 275


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Penyclawdd Wood revisited

I spent a lot of time mothing in Penyclawdd Wood in the early 2000s but haven't been there much at night recently.  A torch-lit check of the former Glow-worm colony (seemingly now gone) produced a reasonable range of moths, with good numbers nectaring on Hemp Agrimony flowers (eg 30+ Small Fan-footed Wave, 20+ Dingy Footman, 10+ Rustic, 10+ Common Rustic sp and various micros).  It was pleasing to find that a number of Micros associated with Fleabane and Hemp Agrimony are still present in the wood's main ride, including the Cochylid Phtheochroa inopiana, the Gelechid Apodia bifractella and the plumes Oidaematophorus lithodactyla and Adaina microdactylaBlastobasis lacticolella were commonplace, and I netted 6 Bordered Beauty, a couple of Devon Carpet and a Treble-bar.  36 species in total, all with torch & net.

The lid of the tube is the same size - Adaina is barely half the width of the tube whereas Oedaematophorus is full width!
Phtheochroa inopiana - plain for a Cochylid but quite large

Prochoreutis sehestediana new for VC35

A quick stop on the NW slopes of the Blorenge on the afternoon of 25th July produced 9 species of Micro in rather blustery conditions.  Undoubted highlight were 2 Prochoreutis sehestediana (the white speckling mid-wing reaches almost to the costa) swept from a flower-rich flush that held some Lesser Skull-cap.  There are 5 Monmouthshire records of its cousin P. myllerana.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Small Ranunculus reaches Abergavenny

I have had my eye on the increasingly large colony of Prickly Lettuce in the Llanfoist/Abergavenny area for the last couple of years, and eventually I found time to stop for a Small Ranunculus search.  After about 10 minutes I found the distinctive larvae feeding on the upper flower buds - 10+ in all, on 2 of the 30+ plants I checked.  I remember finding them in Newport XX years ago, shortly after Roger James caught the imago and re-established this species as a Welsh resident, and the species has slowly spread along the SE Wales coast.  Abergavenny is a significant inland step for this increasing moth; now I need to check the scattered Prickly Lettuce plants in Monmouth...

The Lettuces also held a couple of small, pallid, grub-like larvae that might be identifiable.  Mines of Chrysoesthia sexgutella were on Goosefoot nearby.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

7th July

Least Carpet established here?

Its amazing what you can find when you go for a wander into Chepstow town for shopping or a simple leisurely stroll.
This year I already have seen Fern, Mocha, Scorched Carpet, Treble-brown Spot, Sycamore and Scarlet Tiger amongst others in the town.
Today the 7th July I was finding a few moths about once more in the heart of the town.
On this stroll my wife and I decided we would take a look at the river before heading back.
I always am on the look out for moths and low and behold below a strip-light for a public house sign was a tiny moth. It was difficult to see but I immediately knew it was important with the darker markings towards the top forewings. Excitement swept over me when after taking several pictures Least Carpet came into larger view on my camera.
I knew it was possibly around after visiting the Norfolk Moth site that week when they had a sighting, but really had not expected this.

My wife said that we needed provisions so we diverted our course to Tesco's.
On our way we took the subway just off Nelson Street to avoid traffic. I always look in here and immediately to my left yet another shock awaited me in the form of another Least Carpet which was perched on the paint work. A great opportunity to get a close up.

Martin Anthony found one in 1991 I believe and I did see one in the town three years ago in 2014.
Finding 2 in one day seems absolutely incredible given previous sightings of years apart and of just singles.
It is classified as local nationally but in Vice county 35 it surely is 'red data book rare' at present until maybe we can conjure up more sightings.
To put it in perspective; You are more likely to find Scarce Hook-tip than Least Carpet in the county.
It may be bold of me but perhaps it is indeed established here at Chepstow or immediate vicinity with this additional sighting.