Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Juniper Carpet - New for VC35 on Friday 13th October.

Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky Moth Night for me in Blackwood, as I checked the trap at about 6:00AM I noticed what looked like an interesting Geometrid on the shed by the trap (first thoughts were - great my first Cypress Carpet). So I immediately potted the moth and popped in the fridge for further checking once the light had improved.
Well - when I checked the moth it definitely wasn't a Cypress Carpet, and the best match that I could find in the Waring Guide was Juniper Carpet, which is quite rare in South Wales. So having photographed the moth and emailed Martin Anthony, he confirmed that it was indeed a Juniper Carpet, and a first record for VC35!

Monday, 16 October 2017

12th October

Abundant Argyropeza on Aspen

Along with Sam's quest to look for Poplar mines I've managed to come up a few more sites for the newly found Stigmella trimacullela in the county and two more sites for Phyllocnistis unipunctella.

Further investigations to the south around the Rogiet area have proved to be fruitful for a difficult to find micro Ectoedemia argyropeza. I've already found two other potential spots for Ectoedemia argyropeza which feeds on Aspen which comes under the Poplar family, but these sites have drawn a blank. It ties in with Sam's efforts at finding evidence of this moth which again have not been forthcoming.
This time though today I was finally rewarded highly for my efforts.

Its a bit difficult to spot exactly what tree you are looking at from a distance but I find you can gradually get to know the taller Poplar but Aspen is some what more difficult but can be mastered after a several attempts.
Aspen itself is a bit of an odd tree where one tree can support several others in the form of Ramets or suckers. These are formed from an potential extensive underground root system which can travel some distance from the parent tree. New trees can shoot up from this system eventually forming small groves with each tree of the same sex, male or female only.

There was such a small group of Aspen here, if fact two I believe although its possible they could have been connected. A awkward passage to get to them to check leaves was ultimately very rewarding especially the first batch where I readily collected 41 leaves (39 on show on the cloth photograph). There were 15 on the other section of trees but I'm sure there were plenty more.
It proves if conditions are right the moth can flourish left undisturbed. 



National Moth Nights at Dingestow

Moth Night 2017 was a good one at Dingestow, in contrast to some previous National Monsoon Nights.  Winds were southerly, with warm conditions and little rain.  Ivy produced 11 species on 12/10 and 10 species on 13/10, with Pale-mottled Willow, Brick, Dark Chestnut, Flounced Chestnut and Satellite all appearing on the Ivy flowers but not in my MV traps.

MV catches of 26 species on 13/10 and 27 species on 14/10 were really good for this time of year.  A Shoulder-striped Wainscot was the surprise highlight of 13/10 (I wish it had be an L-album), along with a couple of Grey Shoulder-knot, a Mompha divisella and Dingestow's 5th Large Wainscot.  A long-awaited first Dingestow record of Four-spotted Footman was star of 14/10, along with an extraordinary 4 Large Wainscots (we have no Phragmites anywhere nearby), my 5th record of Orange Sallow, and a couple of November Moth agg.  A total of 44 moth species at Dingestow on the 3 nights of National Moth Night was much better than expected!





Thursday, 12 October 2017

Cardiff City mining

The easternmost part of the Cardiff Unitary Authority is in VC35 (Monmouthshire), although not the old Gwent.  I treat it as part of my VC35 patch!  A lunchbreak wander around St Mellons from the NRW office produced a good range of miners, including several of interest.  Highlights among >20 species were Phyllocnistis unipunctella and Stigmella trimaculella on Poplar, Phyllonorycter esperella on Hornbeam, and Stigmella glutinosae on Italian Alder.  The Phyllocnistis and Phyllonorycter only had Dingestow/Monmouth records, S. trimaculella was found new for the county this year, and S. glutinosae has only one previous county record.  That sole record of S. glutinosae came from Allt-yr-yn (ST28Z) in Newport, which is the only site in south-westernmost VC35 with a decent leafminers list, thanks to a visit by Dave Slade in 2003.  Welfare Park in Rogerstone also has a few Stig/Phyllo records, but there is huge scope for finding notable Micros in this part of the county.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

19th September- late post

Highmoor Hill- yet another new micro for V35.

I've been meaning to put this post up for some time, so here it is.
It was a reasonably rewarding evening trap at Highmoor Hill with 37 moths of 18 species turning up, mostly with a common status tag.
A couple of micro's were localised however.
One of them especially, looked decidedly battered and faded under the actinic light and I paused to think about it.
A few more moments passed before I collected it anyway put it in a pot and set it to one side until I decided to pack up later.

Upon packing up I went through what had turned up and again came to this battered faded moth in upright posture a type of Gracillariidae.
I placed a torchlight across it and then began to see markings and colours along its flank. I then realised that it wasn't in bad condition at all, quite the opposite.

Caloptilia populetorum (Clouded Slender)

The next day's photoshoot saw this moth in completely different light. It took me a while to decide on which species it was whilst looking at my moth book and indeed online but I felt I could assign the moth's name under Caloptila populetorum before sending it off to Sam to have a look at. I was pleased, for it was another potentially new moth for me and as is often the case I'm unaware of the county status of many moths.
Sam returned my mail to report it as indeed Caloptilia populetorum to my surprise and yet another new micro for the Vice County.
The list is growing for micro's in V35 and in a recent correspondence Sam informs me that the past two years have been very productive "outstanding years". As years progress additions now to the vice county list are much harder to find.

The moth prefers Birch which is reasonable widespread in the county so why have we not seen it before?
I can think of three things why maybe this moth hadn't been seen...
  • It may have just been ignored because not too many people record micro's in the county
  • Moth trappers (me temporarily included) felt that it was poorly marked and did not consider it further investigation
  • It may be reluctant to come to light/ only receptive to certain light spectrums 


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

An extraordinary coincidence

Dave Brooks, who records moths in Caerleon, recently sent me photos of two interesting Micros he caught this week.  One was an extraordinary coincidence: Dave caught an unfamiliar Pyralid on 8th October 2017 which a friend IDed as the very rare Etiella zinckenella.  The coincidence is that the only previous Welsh/Gwent record was from almost exactly 4 years to the day before Dave's record: Nick Felstead caught one in Chepstow on 7th October 2013.

Dave's other Pyralid, caught the night before (7th October 2017) was the strikingly-marked Box-tree Moth Cydalima perspectalis.  This Asian moth was first seen in Britain in 2007 and has increased rapidly in SE England, becoming a pest of Box in some areas.  Its arrival in Gwent has been anticipated for a couple of years, but it is still a notable new species for the county.  There has been a previous record from Glamorgan, but Dave's is probably the second for Wales.

Well done and thankyou Dave!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

6th October

Virginal pigmy

A return visit to a isolated wood this year proved to be good timing on my part.
I chanced upon Great Wenault Wood last year and uncovered Ectoedemia argyropeza in the most unlikely of situations.

 Ectoedemia argyropeza (Virgin Pigmy)
The four leaves here all contained larvae.

You would not believe that Populus tremula (Aspen) would be in this wood at all given the amount of  non-deciduous trees. I looked last year and again this year, but finding the tree itself is near impossible for it must be high in the canopy fighting for light. It seems quite incredible this one isolated tree harbours an important moth, but there it is.....somewhere?

Larvae aligning the central vein

Last year I took photographs of the leaves themselves showing the characteristic 'green islands' but not the larvae itself.
This year I decided to get some close-ups, with hope that the larvae may be present, which proved ultimately fruitful. I actually found 7 leaves with 4 larvae present plus 3 vacated mines.
There must be more trees about here somewhere surely but actually finding the trees will prove difficult indeed if this one is anything to go on. Hopefully I can scour thoroughly and turn up another this week, fingers crossed.

October Fest


A haul of 23 species of moth at Dingestow Court on 7th October was good going for the time of year, and included a wandering Large Wainscot (4th site record), a Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Merveille du Jour, a Barred Sallow and a lingering Canary-shouldered Thorn.  Well-marked Lesser Yellow-underwings seem to turn up more often in autumn than summer here; I wonder whether they are local or wanderers.



Thursday, 5 October 2017

even more (Un)Pop(u)lar Mines

Nick Felstead recently emailed me some photos of mines on a hybrid Poplar near Magor, which were eventually IDed as Stigmella trimaculella thanks to help from George Tordoff.  This is a new species for VC35, although it is quite frequent in Cardiff and has clearly been overlooked here for a while.  I found it a couple of days later in Monmouth, and added it to the Dingestow list this morning.  Another miner of hybrid/Black Poplars, Ectoedemia hanoverella, remains on my list of targets...


My quick stop in Monmouth produced two other miners in addition to the S. trimaculella, both on White Poplar (Populus alba).  One was a rather scrappy Stigmella assimilella, new for VC35, with visible frass in the rather worn mine; the other was a flat-looking Phyllonorycter mine that I almost overlooked.  Subsequent investigation revealed a Phyllonorycter pupa with a parasitoid wasp pupa alongside, and checking the Phyllonorycter confirmed its ID as P. comparella (with the end two cremaster spines close together) new for Wales!

Another stop, on Friday morning, allowed a brief search of some of the huge Aspens on the edge of Vauxhall Field in Monmouth.  I was astonished not to find any Stigmella or Ectoedemia, but there were two old blotch mines with split undersides that I'm sure were Phyllonorycter sagitella (the undersides have a central crease so are Phyllo rather than fly mines).  This would be a new species for South Wales, so I'd really like to find a tenanted mine before recording it: one for next year...

Poplar miners are definitely under-recorded in Monmouthshire, and need to be sought presto pronto because most Poplars are dropping their leaves at the moment.  Leaf-base/petiole mining Ectoedemia on Grey Poplar and Hybrid Poplar would be new for the county, and I only have a couple of records of E. argyropeza on Aspen.  Phyllonorycter sagitella on Aspen would be an exciting find, there are very few records of Phyllocnistis unipunctella on Hybrid Poplar, and P. xenia on White Poplar would be thrilling.  It's all to play for!!!

Friday, 29 September 2017


Ran the MV for a few hours tonight 29.9.17 but it was very slow with just 21 moths 11 macro & 3 micro species. The only nfy was this Mallow. Never saw one last year so nice to catch up with one again.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

still warm at night

Warm southerlies, accompanied by quite a lot of rain, tempted me into trapping on 25th and 27th September.  Both nights were reasonably productive, albeit without any notable migrants.  Small Wainscots on both nights were the 4th and 5th Dingestow records, whilst August Thorn, Willow Beauty and Flame were all my latest ever records here.  Classic autumn moths such as Frosted Orange, Black Rustic, Barred Sallow and Beaded Chestnut are appearing.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mining near Grosmont

A couple of hours on the SE slopes of Graig Syfyrddin produced a few new Micros for the under-recorded SO42.  Adult moths were thin on the ground, although there were quite a few Nettle-taps on the wing (I'm so used to seeing them with their wings held in Delta-form that closed-winged individuals were very intriguing), a couple of Epinotia tenerana and an Eudonia angustea.

 Mines of Stigmella tiliae were the biggest surprise, because I thought this species was restricted to the south-eastern parts of the county where Small-leaved Lime is commonest.  Mines of Ectoedemia occultella on Birch, with their dark central blob, were also notable.

New mines and a potential Small Eggar web

A quick walk at Dingestow this morning (24/9) produced three surprises.  First I noticed a mine of Bedellia somnulentella on Bindweed - only the 5th county record - a distinctive mine that others should be on the lookout for.  The larva eats windows out of the leaf from below, and one can usually find frass caught up in a faint web underneath the leaf.

Next I spotted the circular mines of Leucoptera malifoliella in a hedgerow Pear - the second county record and a new species for Dingestow.

Finally, an old larval web in a hedgerow Hawthorn caught my eye.  This had really dense silk and was full of frass, but the only larval remains I could find were very shrivelled and old.  I think/hope this could be Small Eggar, following on from George's discovery of a web of this species a few miles away in early summer.  Are the long pale hairs on the larvae and the density of the web sufficient for ID?

A warm night at last

Chilly nights and northerly winds put me off trapping for the last 2 weeks, but the winds swung to the south for 23/9/17 so I put out 1 MV and 1 Actinic in the garden at Dingestow Court.  Results were pretty good for the time of year, with 27 species (>100 individuals), although migrants were poorer than anticipated.  Highlights were my third Dingestow Brown-spot Pinion (new for the site in 2015), several vivid Brindled Greens, a Dark Sword-grass, a Merveille du Jour and a couple of Acleris sparsana.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Late post, Late August

26th August
Chepstow Park Wood-battling bats

I decided to go to one of my local woods this evening. Cloud was beginning to break up as I arrived and soon cleared here by 10pm BST.
It was fairly calm overall so I set up in hope of finding something interesting.
A late passer by with her dogs at dusk was interested in what I was doing and wondered if I was surveying for bats perhaps.
'No' I said 'moths', but I just as well have been surveying for bats than moths because during the evening I set up in three locations within these woods hoping to get in a clear area that was Bat-free.
Every site I chose at least one bat had a look in and interfered with the trap.

I persevered, kept going undeterred and had 30 moths of 14 species.
After battling bats in a frustrating evening, a nice reward for all my efforts came forward in a form of a micro, Epermemia falciformis (Large Lance-wing).

This micro has hardly been encountered at all in the county. It had only one previous sighting 14 years ago by the one and only Sam Bosanquet.
It apparently likes to reside in damp woodland or marshland with its larval food plant being Wild Angelica and Ground-elder.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

22nd August


Only the second home trap conducted this year was very rewarding after going through the egg boxes and surrounding foliage nearby. Considering I only run an actinic trap the 212 moths that took an interest in the light show was very good.

Of the 53 species, the macro's I enjoyed seeing Yellow-barred Brindle and a Mocha (both fairly common moths around the town lately), Maiden's Blush, Red Underwing (another regular), a new addition to the site in Beautiful Carpet (above picture) and a nice pristine Vestal (below) which I believe is the only sighting in the county so far to date.

Micro's were of  several species with again new additions on site.

Three new additions included:
From top to bottom
Euspilapteryx auroguttella (Gold-dot Slender)
Argyresthia bonnetella (Hawthorn Argent)
and a plain looking Scarce B classified micro in Bucculatrix maritama (Saltern Bent-wing).

All in all a very good return.