Monday, 24 April 2017

Please look for Eriocrania mines

Now is the prime time to look for the mines of Eriocrania micros - a desperately under-recorded genus in Monmouthshire because they fly so early in the year.  As I said a couple of weeks ago, adult Eriocrania are on the wing in April/May and we have had three records of E. salopiella so far (by Nick Felstead and Richard Clarke as well as my ones from Trellech).  The early season means that some species' larvae are already well-grown, and the distinctive grey E. sangii will only be visible for a couple more weeks: please look for this species on your local birches ASAP!  Some other larvae aren't old enough to identify yet, although the E. salopiella have clearly been laying eggs aplenty. 

The following photos were taken at Redding's Inclosure at lunchtime today (24/4).

Eriocrania sangii has uniquely grey larvae.
Eriocrania salopiella starts its mine in the middle of the leaf, whereas most others start on the edge.

Eriocrania cf semipurpurella starts its mine on the edge, but so do a couple of other species;
I need to return when the larvae are older.

I intend to check birches in NE Monmouthshire several times in the next few weeks to bump up the paltry county records for the genus: chrysolepidella 1 record, unimaculella 2, salopiella 1, cicatricella 2, sangii 1 & semipurpurella 3 prior to this season!

Ian Rabjohns has just sent me this characteristically multi-larva mine of E. cicatricella from Penallt.

Whilst looking for Eriocrania on Birch, it's also worth looking for Coleophora cases, although all I ever seem to manage is the common C. serratella.

A quick stop at the Yew Tree Wood, Penyclawdd on my way home produced more E. sangii and E. cf semipurpurella.  The abundant Greater Stitchwort on the verge held an adult Metriotes lutarea, and some larval spinnings of Caryocolum tricolorella.  


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Prominents aplenty

There were good numbers of Prominents among the 85 moths of 21 species that came to the Dingestow Court MV on 21st April - perfect for showing our holiday guests how gorgeous moths are.  Lunar Marbled Brown always used to be uncommon here when I was trapping 15 years ago, but 8 came to the trap last night.  Lesser Swallow Prominent was less abundant than Swallow Prominent, as is usually the case here at Dingestow (but not at my birch-rich Carmarthenshire trapping site).  V-Pug and Oak-tree Pug accompanied 9 Brindled Pugs, and a Least Black Arches allowed me to explain 'bird poo mimicry' to our guests.

Another Bagworm

Whilst looking at lichens on the parkland oaks at Dingestow Court on 17th April I noticed a Psyche casta case.  This species is present in woodland on the Penyclawdd ridge, just south of Dingestow, usually attached to low herbage.  I hadn't found it in the parkland here before.  Luffia ferchaultella is present on about 50% of the parkland oaks here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Lower Ochrwyth - 12 April

60 moths of 17 species came to MV.  New for year were: Nut-tree Tussock; Lesser Swallow Prominent; Lunar Marbled Brown; Least Black Arches; V-pug; Spruce Carpet and Caloptilia (betulicola?) - photo of latter follows, I would welcome views on species.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Help fill the gaps initiative

In the latest Newsletter, Martin draws attention to those parts of the Vice County where little or no recording has been done of butterflies or macro-moths.  Further details about this, including recording to date at a 1km x 1km level can be found on a new page on this blog.  A link to the page is located on RHS entitled "Help fill the gaps initiative".

Monday, 10 April 2017

Grey Birch early and netting Birch early

14 species of moth to MV at Dingestow Court on 9th April included single Grey Birch and Scorched Carpet.  Both are quite early, and the former is doubly interesting because it's only my 3rd Dingestow record of the species.

Spurred on by the sunny weather I went looking during my lunch break for Eriocrania at Penyclawdd Wood - the birchiest woodland on my home patch.  This was a total failure; goodness knows why.  On my way back from work I stopped at Trellech Hill Quarry for another try, and this time caught at least 5 purple Eriocrania cf sangii (I've got one to gen det) and a couple of golden E. subpurpurella.  This genus flies very early in the year, and is extremely under-recorded in Gwent: if mine is E. sangii then it's the 2nd county record and if it's the other alternative E. semipurpurella then it's the 3rd.  A better option for recording them is to look for leaf mines in April and May, but I forget most years until it's too late - the mines can only be identified if larvae are still present.  This genus is a top target for me in 2017!

Thursday, 6 April 2017


After watching a bat take an Emperor Moth just inches of me being able to pot it from under the works security lights 2 years ago. I decided to have a go with a pheromone lure this year.

Lure arrived this morning and after just 80 mins of it being out on my patio this Emperor Moth was flying around the garden.

I am well chuffed to of had this beauty in my hand but i do also feel a little guilty that i used a pheromone lure.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

3rd April, Gordon Road, Blackwood - ST171966

I put the 20W actinic out and the best night of the year so far with a total of 40 moths of 10 different species - including the first migrants of 2017 - namely Dark Sword-grass and Rush Veneer, also included in the haul was one of the darkest Clouded Drabs I have had, and my second ever Red Chestnut.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Haisbro Avenue, Newport, 31st March

Sheila and I ran the MV and were rewarded with a bumper catch for the time of year -  15 species, including 40 Common Quakers, 3 Brindled Beauty's, 3 Pine Beauties, 1 Twin-spot Quaker, 1 Oak Nycteoline, 1 Early Thorn, 4 Clouded Drab, 5 Hebrew Character.


This very dark form of Epermenia chaerophyllella was fluttering at 19:00 on 1st April in the Dingestow Court garden.  It hibernates as an adult, but only one of the eight previous Gwent records was from spring.  Most of the individuals I've seen have been paler and better-marked, but the bumps on the back are distinctive even on such a dark individual.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Lower Ochrwyth - 30 March

Very mild night persuaded me to set the MV for a couple of hours in the garden for the first time this year.  A total of 77 moths of 14 species with the bulk being Common Quaker (54) and the highlight being a Dotted Chestnut (2nd for garden - the first being in 2014).  Other species included: Shoulder Stripe; Early Thorn (5); Oak Beauty; Twin-spotted Quaker; March Moth (3); Hebrew Character; Small Quaker (2); Double-striped Pug (4); Brindled Pug; Engrailed; Early Tooth-striped; and, Twenty-plume Moth.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Can you "Go Wild?"

Caerphilly County Borough Council will host the "Go Wild!" biodiversity event on Sunday 11th June.  Butterfly Conservation (Wales) and MMBG has always been represented by Martin Anthony at past events, but unfortunately this year he will not be available.  He is therefore looking for volunteers who might help fly the flag for BC(W) and MMBG. This usually involves setting up a stall, which might include live specimens as well as information about moths and butterflies and then chatting with people about these fantastic insects.  If you think you can help and have a general knowledge of butterflies and/or moths and an enthusiasm to share it with the general public, then please get in touch with Martin. 

If you haven't been to a "Go Wild!" event previously, then you really have missed a treat as they provide a fantastic day out with all things "green" - bird box making, learn about wildlife and conservation and what you can do to help locally.  "Go Wild!" will start at 11am,  finish at 4pm and will be held at Parc Penallta, Ystrad Mynach.  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Monmouthshire Moth & Butterfly Group AGM

Wednesday 22nd March 

 Royal British Legion Club, 
Old Market Street, 
NP15 1AL

 7.30pm - 9.30pm 

Dr Rupert Perkins will give an illustrated talk on the butterflies and moths of “Blaenserchan and Beyond”
All welcome.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Haisbro Avenue 13th March 2017
Myself and Sheila ran the MV over-night. In the morning we recorded 9 species: 27 Common Quaker, 4 Clouded Drab , 3 Hebrew Character, 2 Early Grey, Twin-spot Quaker, Small Quaker, Early Moth, Double-striped Pug and a Yellow Horned.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ypsolopha mucronella

This Ypsolopha mucronella was star catch at Dingestow Court MV on 11th March 2017 - there are only 4 previous Monmouthshire records, two of them from the 1970s.  It was very jumpy and flew off as soon as I tipped it out of the pot in the hope of taking a better photo.  The MV attracted 42 moths of 15 species, which is pretty good for mid March.  A couple of Grey Shoulder-knot and another Plutella xylostella were notable.

Friday, 10 March 2017

March mothing

The Dingestow Court MV produced my earliest ever Water Carpet on 9th March, along with 10 other spring Macros such as Double-striped Pug, Small Quaker and Shoulder-stripe.  The Actinic on 10th March held Oak Nycteoline and the first ever March record of the migrant Diamond-backed Moth for Monmouthshire.

Bashing Yew

Once a week I do an hour's nature walk for our guests at Old Lands, during which I show them a range of intriguing insects, plants etc.  A couple of weeks ago I started by showing them the wealth of insects hibernating in Yew: out came a Caloptilia betulicola as well as loads of leafhoppers, spiders etc.  Last week I bashed the same Yew with my net and caught a C. elongella.  Today a different Yew tree held a C. falconipenella.  The shelter provided by Yew during the winter is ideal for hibernating Micros; I wonder what would be found by tapping Yews in places like the Wyndcliff?!

Caloptilia betulicola, with light brown wings, slight patterning, and white hindlegs

Caloptilia falconipenella, resembling C. semifascia but longer winged and with a dark-speckled white costal blotch (albeit most prominent on its leading edge) rather than a uniformly coloured wing with a white wedge.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Small Brindled Beauty (at last!)

I started mothing in 1994.  Every February I put out my MV trap at Dingestow Court (and in Carmarthenshire when we lived there) hoping for a Small Brindled Beauty, but they never came.  After 23 years of trying, I have finally been rewarded with one of these truly beautiful moths: to MV at Dingestow Court on 20th February 2017.  They are reassuringly distinctive - narrow and almost noctuid-like - and I now know that my past careful scrutiny of Pale Brindled Beauty just in case was pointless.  Martin's map indicates that this is a very rare moth in Gwent, so I'm doubly pleased to catch one.  I hope I won't have to wait another 23 years before my next!

Redhouse Barns, 20th February 

I ran the MV last night. This morning there were no moths in the trap, but one Oak Beauty on the barn wall approx 10' away.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

14 February- Chepstow
Psychoides fillicivora

This is a follow up on Sam's post.
Thought I would include a picture of the Fern that is in my garden upon which P. fillicivora feeds upon.
I now believe this is possibly a (soft) Shield Fern. (open to debate/ comments).
I checked over the underside leaves, fronds on all plants in my garden and I can report there is no visual sign of any activity.

A bit later in the year I will keep an eye out for any activity and try to post up the signs of 'feeding damage' and hopefully several adults. For those who are keen eyed -there is a white butterfly upon top of the post, but only an ornamental one!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Psychoides larvae

When we sat down for lunch during a family walk in Piercefield Woods I noticed some rather manky Hart's-tongue Ferns and decided to check them for Psychoides larvae.  Almost immediately I noticed a round cluster of sori (the round spore-bearing bits), which I prodded and out popped a brown-headed larva.  The brown head indicates the commoner P. filicivora rather than the uncommon P. verhuella.  This is quite an easy Micro to spot in midwinter!

This is what the adults look like - distinctive too in their own small way.

Thankyou to the good folk of the Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan Moth Blogs for the heads-up about Psychoides larvae being identifiable.

Friday, 3 February 2017


Not seen a moth since 10.1.17 It's either RAIN. WIND. or too damn COLD sometimes all three at the same time.

The night of 2.2.17 was windy with some heavy rain & 6°.

I did'nt hold out much hope of finding any moths under the works security lights when i checked them at 0615 prior to the start of a dayshift.

But i found this Acleris umbrana.

Sam tells me it is a new micro species for Gwent.

Acleris umbrana

Showing scale tufts.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Change of date for AGM

Please note, the date of the Monmouthshire Moth & Butterfly Group AGM has been changed to Wednesday 22nd March. Its at the Usk Royal British Legion Club, (Old Market Street, Usk, NP15 1AL). The main speaker will be Dr Rupert Perkins, Cardiff University, talking on the butterflies and moths of “Blaenserchan and Beyond”. 7.30pm start. All welcome.
December report

Landevenny and Chepstow

14 December 2016- Landevenny
Upon finishing work and getting into my car that evening I glanced across to my passenger side and there was a small outline of a micro moth upon the outside of the car window. Being a recorder of lepidoptera as you know, you just have to find out what it is but I had a dilemma given where it was positioned and as to what to capture it in.
A quick search around the vehicle came up with nothing, so I had to use my initiative and resort to emptying my lunch box. It glad to say it worked fine after my gentle, stalking, approach work so not to disturb it.
(I have not dared tell the wife about my last resort with the lunch box as I may have not written up this post!)
The next morning in good light pictures revealed this micro moth pictured below.
It was a new moth to me and one perhaps I should have encountered before given its widespread distribution and frequent habitat.
Acleris hastiana or Sallow Button by its common name, is classified common in the U.K. but a highly variable species with numerous named forms.
In fact literature states that it is "probably the most Polymorphic Tortrid".

16 December 2016-Chepstow
A wander through the town today produced this Blair's Shoulder-knot.
It was found in the lower part of the town upon a wall. It was nice to see as I have not seen one in a while and an unexpected surprise given the time of year.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

December sightings continued....

14th December 2016

A chance encounter with a butterfly in what turned out to be my final sighting of one 2016.
(Not seen one yet for 2017).
An odd place to see on the back of car I thought, (unless it had spotted something in the boot) but given the winter sun was out and quickly warming up the painted, metal surface of the vehicle and radiating heat, I suppose the Red Admiral wisely found that a very good way of getting temperature into its body.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

December 2016 Sightings continued...

8th December 2016

Whilst looking out the back window of the house at the sky and back garden today, I couldn't my help but notice a small dark anomaly on the bottom of the pane on the inside.
This, upon closer inspection turned out to be a micro moth, possibly thinking about hibernation. It looked familiar, but as it was quite small I needed to make sure with the camera that it was what I hoped it could be.
Pictures taken of the moth were confirmed by Sam Bosanquet as yet another sighting of Mompha Divisella here at my site.
I say 'yet another' because it seems to be common, a regular visitor /permanent resident with 9 of the 12 Vice County sightings being made here.
Ever since my first sighting here in April 2013 I often encounter it at some point during the year often without seriously looking for it, even for example with a light source as it flies around happily during the daylight.
Its food plant willow-herb, is common in my garden once again, for at one time I thought it as a weed until this Scarce A moth turned up on the scene.
I now do my utmost to encourage it within reason amongst the regular flowers.
Looking around the estate I've often seen willow herb dotted around, so more possibilities are likely that this scarce moth is in a few other gardens under 'Joe Public's' noses!

Friday, 13 January 2017

December 2016 sightings

7th December
St. Pierre's Great Woods

A late night trapping session after work produced 26 moths of 4 species here at this site.
19 December Moth's turned up at the light show plus Feathered Thorn, November moth agg. and this 'little micro gem' pictured below.

Acleris schalleriana or Viburnum Button by its common name, has been rarely recorded so far in Vice County 35.
Sam Bosanquet reports it as a "great record" and informs me that this was just the 5th record he has in the data bank.
It is localised throughout the British Isles and feeds on Guedler-rose and Wayfaring-tree which incidentally Sam tells me are found in scattered locations in the Lower Wye Valley.

Acleris schalleriana (Viburnum Button)

Sunday, 8 January 2017

December 2016 sightings

A bit belated post but thought I would continue the recent theme of micro's and keep the interest alive over the quieter coming weeks- further posts will follow.

Newhouse, Chepstow
3rd December 2016

With my interest in micro's taking on a new direction in the form of leaf mining, at the latter part of the year, I thought I would have a wonder around my local patch, choosing Newhouse Industrial Estate on the outskirts of the town.
You would not think it would offer much but some areas have a few trees and shrubs dotted mainly around the outer periphery of the buildings and units.
To my surprise I found several leaf-mines amongst the greenery. Many micro's of the 'common type' were discovered, however two Sam Bosanquet found quite important.
Thanks to Sam's help on identification, I managed turned up Stigmella alnetella (Silver-barred Alder Pigmy) and a rare county record for Ectoedemia intimella (Black-spot Sallow Pigmy.
This was only the 3rd Vice county record for this latter mentioned micro species upon which I've decided to feature below with a couple of photographs.

Individual Sallow leaf above with a now 'blackened' area developing where mining has taken place.

A close up of the blotch mine along with a resident larvae in the photograph below.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

A record-breaking year for Micro records in VC35

Last night I converted the 2016 micro datasets from Nick Felstead, Kevin Hewitt and Bob Roome and added them to the VC35 Micro database, which now stands at over 23000 records.  Last year was a record breaker, as there were 4055 records of Microlepidoptera made in Monmouthshire whereas no previous year has topped 2000.  The big total was helped by the three aforementioned moth'ers, as well as Keith Jones, Mel Jones, Simon Phipps, Ian Rabjohns, Steph Tyler (who all contributed >100 records) and a few others.  I wonder whether there are other Gwent moth'ers who haven't raised their heads above the parapet and sent in their Micro data yet.

A plot of the number of records per recorder per year shows the rise in the number of significant Micro observers, with the lines getting much more crowded in the last few years.  It also reveals Dr Neil Horton's hard work in the 1970s and 1980s, blazing the trail for VC35 moths, and my own keen period in the late 19990s before I moved to west Wales.

Let's see if we can top 5000 in 2017!