Friday, 30 June 2017

Daytime at Dingestow

Brief excursions at lunchtime and after work produced various noteworthy Micros at Dingestow, as well as my first good views of Hummingbird Hawk-moth this year.

The larval Mompha tally (blogged a couple of days ago) was increased by the discovery of M. subbistrigella larvae in the seedpods of small Willowherbs in the garden - the pods were obviously small and curved.

Brightly coloured rarity of the day came in the form of the amazing Pammene aurana forma aurantiana, with extensive orange covering its wings unlike the typical orange-spotted form.  MBGBI 5 says that forma aurantiana is common in continental Europe but unknown in Britain, but that surely cannot be the case any more!

Finally I spent an hour mothing in the hedges around Dingestow Castle, where a good tally of common Micros included Acleris ferrugana, Prays fraxinella, Ditula angustiorana, Blastodacna hellerella and Grapholita funebrana.  Checking an apple tree revealed the mines of Bohemannia pulverosella.  This last record turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword, as I didn't realise it was new for Dingestow at the time.  It has now turned out to be the 513th Micro for Dingestow and my 900th moth species here.  I was hoping for something memorable as #900, and this wasn't really it!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Mothing in Tintern

My parents moved to Tintern a couple of years ago, and since February of this year Mum has been running a 125w Robinson trap in the garden. The house is ideally situated above a wooded valley, and she has amassed a healthy list of species already, including several that I have yet to record!

Views towards Glynwood from the house

Highlights of the year so far have been (in date order) - Acleris umbrana on 19/2, which we believe to be the second county record; Barred Umber (Plagodis pulveraria), several records from 19/4; well over 30 records of Little Thorn (Cepphis advenaria) since 3/5; 3 Alder Kitten (Furcula bicuspis), first recorded on 7/5. Also, a few Beautiful Snout (Hypena crassalis) since 11/5; 2 x Barred Hook-tip (Watsonalla cultraria); several Satin Lutestring (Tetheella fluctuosa) from 22/5, up to 4 per night. Poplar Lutestring (Tethea or) has been regular since 25/5, as have Blomer's Rivulet (Venusia blomeri), first taken on 28/5. A couple of Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata) brightened up the moth trap on 29/5 and 20/6. Up to 3 Cloaked Carpet (Euphyia biangulata) per night have turned up from 30/5, plus a handful of Waved Carpet (Hydrelia sylvata) from 10/6. The stunning micro Oecophora bractella graced the trap on 18/6 and 20/6; Eudonia delunella has been frequent in the trap this June, plus one or two sharp-angled Carpet (Euphyia unangulata). 

Acleris umbrana - 2nd County Record?
Kent Black Arches - New to VC35
The highlight of June was a first county record of Kent Black Arches (Meganola albula) on 19/6. A Ruddy Carpet (Catarhoe rubidata) was recorded on 26/6, and a 4th county record of Barred Carpet (Martania taeniata) on 27/6.

Small Mottled Willow

A wooded valley isn't the most ideal location for immigrants, yet 2 Small Mottled Willow (Spodoptera exigua) found their way to Tintern on 27/6, plus a Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon) and a handful of Silver Y (Autographa gamma) in recent 
Clouded Magpie

Eudonia delunella

Little Thorn

Oecophora bractella

Ruddy Carpet

Satin Lutestring

Poplar Lutestring

Waved Carpet

Not the best photo of a Sharp-angled Carpet (on the left!) 

Beautiful Snout

Blomer's Rivulet

Cloaked Carpet

Double Line

Barred Umber

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.