Thursday, 19 April 2018


Had an hour sat out in the garden with the EMP pheromone lure this afternoon. It didnt take long for two Emperor Moth to drop in.

Heatwave arrivals

The April 2018 heatwave produced two new macros for Dingestow in one night!  My long-awaited first Dotted Chestnut - a species that most other Gwent moth'ers have caught over recent years - and a pristine Scalloped Hook-tip.  I assume that the latter drifted across from the woods on the Penyclawdd Ridge (2km to the south) where there is abundant birch regeneration following some clearfelling.  Macros 391 & 392 for Dingestow (moths 911 & 912).

The overwintering micro Digitivalva pulicariae was also notable - just the 4th Dingestow record.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

7th April

Slade Wood- Notable Micro's

I had another try at this wood because the last two visits I undertook were under not the best of conditions.
This time a much more rewarding evening came forth with several species.
The best of the macro's for me was the Pine Beauty which I had found here before, but none the less, it is a delight to see with its beautiful colours of red, orange and white in this case.
Pine Beauty

I have not seen a great of micro's so far this year so to have a couple of important ones in the same evening was pleasing.
The first encountered was Semioscopis steinkellneriana which quite happily came to the light.
A localised moth which may have been seen at this site before by George Tordoff recently.
I'm not entirely sure if it was S. steinkellneriana or S. avellanella that George saw? If it was the former then it is good to know its thriving here.
Semioscopis steinkelleriana

The second one was a very lucky capture because I only saw it when I was about to pack up the kit.
This tiny micro had perched on the roof of the car right at the back end towards the boot.
Only the combination of light and my height gave this one away as its shape silhouetted against the background, so very lucky indeed.
I did not think it relevant at the time when I viewed it, but its nose was pointing downwards.
It was only after I looked over it with the few photographs taken the following morning, that this posture became more important.
Zelleria hepariella

I did think it was a type Caloptilia species at first namely C. betulicola, but then found Zelleria hepariella-Brown Ash Ermine, only adopted this posture where as Caloptilia species sit with front legs high at a steep angle.
Its food plant is indeed Ash, which is of course is common and fairly widespread so there should be plenty around I would have thought.
The biggest issue here is they are very small and this must lead onto a under-recording situation most likely. Sam Bosanquet reports that they are 'Uncommon' in the county which must mean there not too many records of this micro, so not a bad night at all.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

White-marked at Dingestow at last

I caught my only Dingestow White-marked 16 years ago, in March 2002, so was thrilled to find one in the trap this morning.  I even thought it was new for the site, having forgotten the 2002 record.  Warm conditions produced 16 spp. at MV, including Frosted Green, 2 Satellite and Acleris literana.  One very grey Drab among the 14 varied Cloudeds had wing markings that were very reminiscent of Lead-coloured Drab, and its (tatty) wing tip looked rather rounded.  However, the antennae were not obviously feathered (and it's definitely a male) - they have paired cilia pointing in each direction - so I suspect it isn't Lead-coloured.  Any thoughts from other moth'ers would be welcome.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Looking at lichens


I spent a day at Ian Rabjohns' house in Penallt last week looking at lichens and bryophytes.  Ian pointed out the old stone barn where he had been shown "larval tubes of a micro" by Dave Slade a few years before, and sure enough, there were plenty of lichen-covered tubes on the surface of Lepraria etc.  These were made by the uncommon 'clothes' moth Infurcitinea argentimaculella, which I have only seen twice in the county (imagos once at Dingestow and once at Caerwent).  There are also several records of larval tubes made by Dave Slade - from Penallt, Caerleon and 2 or 3 sites in Newport (duplication makes the records a little ambiguous).  A quick check of some walls here at Dingestow failed to reveal any larval tubes, but they must be here somewhere as I've seen the imago...

there were 4 larval tubes in the top photo, zoomed-in and ringed here

Friday, 6 April 2018

26th March

Monmouth Town

New record for Vice county 35

A visit to the town of Monmouth on Monday 26th of March for the good lady to conduct a little casual shopping produced a very unusual sighting of a micro moth.
A wander back along Monnow Street looking at various shops did not initially hold too much interest for me that is until we got to this clothes shop. The shop window front came into sharp focus all of a sudden because a moth was attached to it.
I immediately knew what it was.... a Small Magpie.

After getting a photograph, the first question for me was what was it doing out now?
I checked the flight season after getting back home and e-mailed Sam Bosanquet because this moth is normally flying around June and July at its peak.
Sam returned my mail to point out that one late April sighting had been made in the databank but never one in March, so this becomes the earliest ever sighting by far for Vice county 35.
Glad I went shopping with the wife now!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

22nd and 24th March

New locations with new questions 

Small Brindled Beauty- Part 3

I ended up trying two new locations for the Small Brindled Beauty moth a bit later into this topsy-turvy March month this year.
This was due to the snow event mainly through the 17-18th and strong winds lasting across the three days to the 19th March.
The weather had settled back down by Thursday 22nd to allow me another attempt at finding this moth at another location. The conditions were good and site favourable that evening I would have thought, but I was disappointed as I never came across one at all even despite giving it plenty of opportunity to arrive.
Two days later I tried another favourable site close by. With cloud and a few spots of rain in the air towards the end of the session, once again I was thwarted with no sighting of the Small Brindled Beauty.
Afterwards I wished I had found them here because now a few questions were rolling around in my head after finding none. Questions like these below came up....

1. Why were they not at these favourable sites nearby?
2. Do they remain at lower altitude sites and are not found higher up?
3. Could it simply be that they have not colonised these sites yet?

After several days pondering and trying to gather information I am coming around to a possible explanation that may give some light on this oddity for me.
I'm beginning to think that maybe the emergence of this moth here may have happened between the two cold, March snow events.
From around the 4th to 5th right through to the 16th conditions did improve and become much milder and this may have allowed this moth to take flight.
Given that I found 6 moths on the 6th, and then 11 on the 10th, nearly double, earlier in the month, just maybe they were close to peak population just after the latter date here. Its still possible that the secondary site maybe more of a nucleus area then the first but given that they are close together I'm tempted to rule that notion out.

The height situation I don't think would make much difference in this case I've concluded.

The other fascinating thing I did find very interesting was the statement on the Hampshire moth site. This could answer one or all the questions I posed and explain what happened here.
They mention in the literature that the moth has a 'very short flight season'  (a real possible scenario that may have happened here) and it can go 'under recorded some years' due to the early spring weather. Spring is certainly a difficult time to go out trapping with weather very changeable, I can certainly vouch for that especially this March.
This may very well likely be the case here where it had a short opportunity of around two weeks or so between the cold snaps then suddenly disappeared off the radar.

Still, out of all of this the highlight over the two nights for me was this really nice Herald pictured below.
I do find this moth is very infrequently when I trap and I'm not sure why. Very few sightings for me overall which must be my bad luck because it comes to light and is quite distinct in shape with bright autumnal colours- not easily missed!