Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Farmyard mines

I had a quick look for mines and galls in the Court Farm yard at Dingestow, and was surprised at how many I found.  Unlike autumn mining, which focuses on trees, today's focus was on two groups of plants: Willowherbs for Mompha and Goosefoots/Fat-hen for Chrysoesthia.  These are mostly really colourful moths when adult, and I have swept several species from the mixed beds of Fat-hen and Willowherbs in the farmyard over the last few years, but today was about the mines.  Please check local scruffy areas for these under-recorded Micros!

Chrysoesthia sexgutella (white mine with little frass, grouped in the centre) & C drurella (browner mine with wandering broadly linear frass), both on Chenopodium or Atriplex

Mompha locupletella on Epilobium ciliatum and Mompha langiella (I believe) on Epilobium parviflorum
Stem gall of Mompha divisella on Epilobium ciliatum {I can't rotate the pic despite trying}

Monday, 26 June 2017

Mid June stopoff

After doing some business in the town of Monmouth I decided to take a quiet stop off at Dixton for a sandwich and drink, a bit of peace and quiet.
I decided to have a stretch of the legs and looked down along this hedgerow and chanced upon a strange looking anomaly upon a leaf.
Upon closer inspection it looked like some construction of sorts. It triggered off  a thought in my head that it could be an insect at work possibly a fly, beetle or maybe a moth. I was sure I'd seen something somewhere in a book or on-line, so I quickly took some photographs.
Getting back and looking through my micro moth book an image of this remarkable construction came up.
It was assigned to the work of a Bagworm moth, the group of  Psychidae micro moths.
This particular one which Sam Bosanquet has confirmed for me, is under the name Psyche casta (Common Sweep). It is indeed common as it's name suggests but I can't say I've seen it before. It is a group of moths that I've always looked at but thought I would never find so I'm very pleased to have encountered one.
Amazingly it attaches blades of grass or rush longitudinally in a cluster (health and safety would have no issues with this I believe) and can be found in a range of habitats.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

An exciting find in my trap in Blackwood this morning

Whilst trawling through the contents of my two traps this morning (over 300 moths!) I came across a micro which I couldn't pin down an ID on. I initially thought that it might be a worn Acrobasis advenella, and sought confirmation on the UK Micro Moth Identification page on Facebook where upon an experienced moth-er suggested that it could be Pempelia palumbella a new moth for me, and on looking up in the Glamorgan Atlas it appears that it is not very common so I sent a photograph attached to an email to our recorder Sam.

He came back confirming the identification as Pampelia palumbella and that it is a 1st record of this species in Gwent!!!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Redhouse Barns, 21st June 2017

I ran the MV overnight and recorded 38 species, including: 1 Double-line, 1 Eyed Hawk, 1 Poplar Hawk, 10 Elephant Hawk, 1 Miller, 1 Sycamore and a Blair's Mocha (a 1st for Vice-county 35).

Beware Ghost's about.

The last few weeks throughout June I've been turning up Ghost Moth under the group of Hepialidae, Swift Moths.
I'm sure many or you 'moth trappers' out there have seen one at one time or another.

Ghost moth (female) night time photograph 

I had a male the other day which did throw me a little when I first saw it, because it is not exactly a common encounter for me.
Plenty of the larger more decorative females around there seems, adorned in yellow and orange.
It then threw up a question in my mind.

Ghost Moth (male) 

Why was I seeing very little of the male of this species?
Is it less common than we are led to believe within the population, or is it trap shy, only attracted to certain types of light?
Or maybe I've been just unlucky.
Would be interested to know if many out there see the male often??


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Argyresthias etc


A quick stop at Trellech Hill Quarry on my way back from fieldwork produced a few each of Argyresthia brockeella and A. retinella on Birch, as well as A. conjugella on Rowan.  Tapping these trees in June/July is a great way of seeing this genus.  Sweeping a Willow trunk revealed Batrachedra praeangusta: another regular at this time of year.  The tiny Ectoedemia subbimaculella came from sweeping Oak leaves.  Among the Bilberries were Northern Spinach and Bilberry Pug.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Mega night at Dingestow - 3 moths new for the site

Lots of south Wales moth'ers are reporting a good diversity of moths in the heatwave, and that was certainly true at Dingestow on 19th June.  60 species of Macro and 40 species of Micro was a good tally, although absolute numbers were relatively low; 1000s of Caddis and beetles meant the trap was bouncing though.  It's hard to pick the highlight, but 4 species stand out: Round-winged Muslin was the 387th Macro for Dingestow; Small Elephant Hawkmoth was only my 2nd record here; Monochroa lucidella was Dingestow's 511th Micro; and Phtheochroa rugosana was the site's 512th Micro.  I was probably most excited about the Phtheochroa, because this extraordinary bird-poo Tortricid was caught by two other Gwent moth'ers earlier this year and I exchanged jealous emails with them!


Supporting cast included 3 Blotched Emerald, 2 Blue-bordered Carpet, 2 Figure-of-80, 1 Miller, 5 Heart & Club, 1 Scallop Shell, 1 Green Arches, 2 Small Yellow Wave, 1 Achroia griseella, 3 Scythropia crataegella, 2 Eudonia delunella and 2 Eudona pallida.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Spatalistis bifasciana near Grosmont

Half and hour mothing in the Tresenny lane, just south of Grosmont in late afternoon sunshine on the swelteringly hot 19th June 2017 produced 16 species of Micro, along with Yellow Shell and Snout.  This site is in SO42, in NE-most Monmouthshire: one of the most under-recorded squares in the whole county.  The entire 10km square had just 38 recorded species of Micro, and both of the 1km squares I visited (SO4023 and SO4024) had no moth records at all!  All but one of the Micros I saw were new for the VC35 bit of SO42, the exception being Olindia schumacheriana as I saw that near Skenfrith last year. 

Highlight was a stunning Spatalistis bifasciana (photo above) - a Tortricid with just 2 previous Gwent records, both from the Wye Valley, and a species I've never seen before.  It was swept from a sparsely vegetated lane bank through mixed woodland.  Also of note were mines of Mompha langiella on Enchanter's Nightshade: this has 8 previous Gwent records but only one of those was away from Dingestow.  A Paraswammerdamia nebulella swept from Hawthorn was peculiar because both of its forewings were recurved at the tip!  Visits like this are great for filling in gaps.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Hummers by day and warmth by night

MV trapping at Dingestow on two warm nights produced about 70 species each time, with a few local wanderers but none of the migrants I was hoping for.  However, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth flew north through the garden on the afternoon of 17/6, and the same or another was seen near the GWT office that evening by one of our holiday guests.

Blotched Emerald (photo) (very rare at Dingestow until 2016) appeared both nights, as did Beautiful Hook-tip.  Another Scythropia crataegella on 14/6 and two more Heart & Club (photo) on 16/6 suggest that both are becoming commoner here.  14/6 also produced a Synchopacma larseniella/cinctella, a Dioryctria abietella (photo), 2 Ancylis achatana (photo) and an white Coleophora that needs to be checked.  My second garden record of Mocha (photo) and 2 Pretty Chalk Carpet (photo) were additional highlights on 16/6.  Other people are catching nice migrants, but they aren't (yet) appearing here.



Thursday, 15 June 2017

New V35 county Micro confirmed

May 18th

Last month I tried a new spot to set up a trap, 'completely off the cuff' so to speak.
It surprised me just what turned up there, some new encounters.
The highlight of the evening ended up being a new micro to me although at the time it was not the case.
In fact it very nearly did not end up on the list for the night at all, for I had packed up my kit and was about the turn the ignition key in car when an outline of a small micro on the front windscreen captured my attention.
I raced around and coaxed it into a moth pot and thought nothing of it until the morning when I photographed it.
Pammene truniana (Maple Piercer) 'Scarce A' micro

After photographing it and a look around in my book, I came to the conclusion that Pammene regiana looked correct.
I had to send a gallery of micro moths pictures off to Sam Bosanquet a day or so later and decided at the last minute to include it, to get it confirmed as it was new to me.
He was happy with all my other suggestions of the other moths bar this one.
That's a Pammene truniana he said and a new micro for the county.

Apparent there are very few Welsh records and not a great deal of records Nationally from what I can gather on-line etc.(although I might be corrected on that) The micro tends to remain towards the top of Field Maple trees by day and occasionally it comes to light.
Considering there is quite a bit of Field Maple around it seems a bit odd it has not turned up more frequently.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Praying for better weather

I wouldn't normally have trapped last night (12/6) as it was quite cool, but we had holiday guests staying and I wanted to show them some moths.  In the end it was pretty mediocre, with 32 species, but our guests liked the furry Pale Tussock, twig-like Buff-tip and black & white Small Ermine.  My highlights were a Hawthorn Moth (Scythropia crataegella), which I have only seen once before at Dingestow and there are only 8 previous Gwent records, and 2 Heart & Club, which is my first here since 2007 and only the 3rd Dingestow record.  Both are presumably wanderers from the south of the county, but I wonder whether they might become established here if there's continued climate change...

It's always a bad sign when I start looking at Caddis rather than moths, because it indicates there aren't enough ID challenges among the moths in the trap!  A Phrygaena grandis was no ID problem though!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A visit to Caerwent

I have never been to Slade Woods and have never seen its special micros - Anania funebris, Ethmia dodecea and Eucosma aspidiscana - anywhere.  After a day working at the computer I thought it was time to correct these omissions and headed down to this significant moth hotspot.  Now I have been to Slade Woods, but I still haven't seen any of its special micros!  Luckily there were other things to see, especially in the quarry - Pancalia leuwenhoekella (photo, with white antenna bands to contrast with the other day's P. schwartzella), Heliozela hammoniella around birches, the brightly coloured Tortricid Lobesia reliquana (photo), Olindia schumacheriana and best of all Elachista gangabella (photo) new for Monmouthshire.  The Elachista was swept from a ride verge, but sweeping was otherwise rather unproductive and the majority of the micros that I encountered were netted in flight.

After Slade Woods I tried Brockwells Meadows SSSI, but this was very disappointing, with no real highlights in half an hour.  The same was true at New Grove Meadows last year, and I wonder whether haymeadow management might be good for flowers but bad for moths.  Luckily the day ended well, as I found a footpath along the top of Caerwent Quarry (ST472896), where Homoeosoma sinuella, Dichrorampha aeratana (male gen det, 4th Gwent record) and Endothenia ustulana (photo, new for Gwent) were netted in flight, and an Isotrichas rectifasciana (photo, new for Gwent) was spotted on a Hazel leaf.  The path edges with Marjoram and other flowers look perfect for diurnal Micro recording, and this site definitely needs more visits.

There are still loads of Micros that have been recorded in adjacent counties but not in VC35, and diurnal searching is an enjoyable way to find new things.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Night & day

Evening walks in the Penyclawdd/Cwmcarvan area (under-recorded for Micros) on 29th & 30th May were followed by MV trapping at Dingestow Court.  Both days/nights were pretty good.

Penyclawdd Wood 29/5 held clouds of Glyphipterix simpliciella and Coleophora caespititiella, but also some more notable species such as Cochylis nana (poor photo, 3rd VC35 record), Ancylis diminutana (photo) and Ectoedemia sphendamni.  Tiny round mines of Incurvaria pectinea (mostly excised but three with dead larvae) were new for the Dingestow area (Micro #509 here).

The MV in Dingestow Court garden produced 70 species on 29/5, with Lime Hawkmoth (photo), Orange Footman, 4 Plutella xylostella, 1 Nomophila noctuella, 1 Deltaornix torquilella and 1 Pseudoswamerdamia combinella among the highlights.  Star species was Anania (Opsibotys) fuscalis (photo) new for Dingestow (Micro #510) - a wanderer because Yellow Rattle doesn't grow here.  The origin of this moth is a bit of a mystery, as there are only 10 previous Gwent records and several of them are from good migrant/wanderer years.

An evening walk at GWT's Croes Robert Wood on 30/5 was a bit slow from a micro standpoint because there is little low foliage for tapping.  A couple of Eulia ministrana and the county's third record of Grapholita tenebrosana (photo) were the highlights, but all 13 species I found were new for this nearly blank tetrad.  I then headed to the relatively well-recorded Trellech Hill Quarry, where 8 Micros were new for the site, with Ancylis uncella (photo) the most noteworthy (4th county record).

The Dingestow Court MV was quieter on 30/5, with 50 species.  A May Highflyer (photo) was the star Macro, with 3 Nematopogon metaxella (photo) and a Coleophora mayrella being the best Micros.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Pancalia new for the county

The beautiful orange, black and silver micro Pancalia schwartzella was a surprise county first during an afternoon walk along The Tumble tramroad near Abergavenny yesterday.  Its relative, P. leuwenhoekella has 7 Gwent records from the south-east of the county; this one has a more northern British distribution and lacks white antennal rings.
The walk was pretty productive despite limited time and two children to entertain.  I also swept Ancylis myrtillana (photo) and Pleurota bicostella (photo; 2nd county record) from heathy areas, and netted a Pammene rhediella (photo; 6th county record) over Hawthorn.  Two Micropterix aureatella beaten from Hawthorn were new for western Gwent (bizarrely for a species that is often associated with Bilberry), and a Pyrausta cingulata was the first record from this site for 18 years.  It is now absolute peak season for diurnal Micro hunting, so please go out looking!!!!