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!