Saturday, 30 June 2018

Two top-notch Geometrids

The heatwave delivered Dingestow's first Blomer's Rivulet - which could be present in nearby woodland although I never caught one when I was trapping intensively in the local woods - and the site's second Cloaked Carpet.  My only previous Cloaked Carpet was in 1999, so I have waited a long time for another!  Mompha ochraceella was also new for Dingestow, taking the overall Dingestow moth total to 921 species.  Other highlights included Eana incanana (2nd Dingestow record), 2 Small Yellow Wave, 1 Blue-bordered Carpet, 3 Rosy Footman and a Leopard Moth. 

The Blomer's Rivulet was discovered on the grass 2 metres from the trap whilst I was clearing up: yet another example of the star moth of the night being easily missed if I had just looked into the trap (or hadn't come down at 4am to beat the birds to the trap).

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Heatwave wanderers

The heatwave produced two new Macros for my home patch last night (27/6).  A Blackneck (#394) was reasonably predictable because its foodplant (Tufted Vetch) grows in some of our fields, but I suspect this was a wanderer from further south in the county.  An Obscure Wainscot (#395) was altogether more surprising given the rarity of Reeds in most of inland Monmouthshire, although it is perhaps no more unlikely than my 8 records of Large Wainscot.

note the pale costa, white 'antler', widespread dark scales, curved line of black dots,
and pale diagonal wingtip mark on the Obscure Wainscot

Another really notable wanderer in the trap was the Mayfly Ephemera lineata - with its unique rows of dashes on each abdominal segment - 2 on 25/6 and 8 on 27/6.  This species only breeds in the Wye and the Thames, but it is a powerful flyer and clearly wanders quite widely in search of new rivers.

A rare Torticid turns up in Blackwood

Last Saturday morning (23rd June) I was just about to start investigating the contents of my trap when I noticed a largish (approx. 12mm) Tortricid moving about under the Perspex cover of the trap, and it was quite lively. My initial thoughts were that it looked like a light greyish version of Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix but I was not convinced. So I photographed the moth through the Perspex cover, not the best photograph resulted but I didn't want to allow the moth to escape before photographing it.
On removal of the cover the moth instantly flew off never to be seen again...
Whilst checking the moths in the trap I also had a couple of the large Tortricid Lozotaenia forstorana which got me thinking again about the original escapee since it was very similar to L. forstorana but with a less broad forewing and not quite so large. A further check of the photo it revealed a basal patch which is not present on L. forstorana. Further checking in the moth guides I thought that it could have been the localised Choristoneura hebenstreitella (quite a mouthful!) and I couldn't see the moth on the list of micros for Gwent, so I got onto Sam Bosanquet for confirmation, which he did, and added that there were only 3 previous Gwent records and that they were all in the 1980's so the first record for Gwent in over 30 years!
I think that this is one to look out for and the message being that when you have L. forstorana in your trap it might be worth giving them a second glance...

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Two rare Tortricids from Penallt


Ian Rabjohns dropped by this morning to show me four micros he has caught recently at Penallt; two Notable A Tortricids were really remarkable.  The more distinctive was the Maple-feeding Pammene trauniana, which is distinguished from the common Sycamore-feeding P. regiana by its paler dorsal blotch and squared-off back end to that blotch.  It has one previous Gwent record (Nick Felstead's at Dewstow last May).  The other was a (recently deceased) tiny, dark Cydia with faint pale cross-bars and a few black lines in the ocellus.  Ian reckoned it was C. illutana rather than the similar C. cosmophorana and C. coniferana, and that was confirmed by Sam B using genitalia dissection.  This appears to be the first Welsh record of this rare conifer-feeder.  Ian found it in his greenhouse, which acts as an interception trap (just like my polytunnel).

The valva shape of this male Cydia illutana is typical, with a very broad, hairy cucullus (outer end), a limited median notch, and a large tuft of hairs on the basal part; the adeagus was also of typical shape and lacked spines.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Highmeadow Woods

I had an interesting time surveying in the Wye Valley with Mike Howe and Rob Bacon (both NRW) yesterday. Thanks to Sam for reminding me about Caloptilia semifascia leaf cones on Field Maple. We saw quite a few of these near the river.
The most pleasing sightings of the day were two Wood Whites (in SO5414 & SO5415). We also saw nine Drab Loopers in this area, which was a bit of a surprise as I thought they'd be going over by now.
Micros were generally in short supply though I did beat Psychoides verhuella from tree foliage and we saw several Olindia schumacherana.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Ancylis obtusana (like london buses)

There were just 4 records of the Buckthorn-feeding Tortricid Ancylis obtusana from VC35 until this year: 1976 Hael Wood, 1982 Hendre Wood, 1986 Hael Wood and 2006 Llandogo.  I therefore got rather excited when Steve Nash emailed me a photo of one from his Mum's trap in Tintern.  I had still never seen my own individual of this species, so one that I netted during a quick stop at Dixton Embankment this morning was mighty nice.  Four other additions to that site's Micro list take it over the 100 mark, with mines and spinnings of Caloptilia semifascia on Field Maple being the most interesting of these extras.  It's another useful stop on my way back from school, so I'll be pausing there again.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Rarities in Abergavenny

We’ve been running a 30W actinic Skinner trap in our Abergavenny garden for just over a year, building up a list of 130, mostly attractive but unremarkable, species. This week, the trap has clearly decided that we've now completed our apprenticeship and it can get on to real mothing.

The first surprise, on Thursday night, didn't actually make it into the trap at all. While sleepily covering the box with a cloth at 5am, I spotted a small pale moth clinging to a grass stem nearby. Rather than leave it to become robin-food I popped it into a pot and into the fridge. When we looked again at a more civilised hour, we realised we had added a Nationally Scarce B to our list: a Mocha. From the current distribution maps, it seems this is the furthest north-west these have been seen in Gwent, so we were very happy.

Then on Monday morning, a battered and worn example of a rather dull brown species was down in the egg-boxes. We looked through the field guide several times, not believing what it was telling us. A tweet confirmed – with many thanks to @mothIDUK – that we now had something seriously exciting: an RDB Silurian! OK, the UK distribution for these is centred on Abergavenny, but they belong 400m higher up, among the bilberries. I can only guess that Sunday night’s wind had blown this one down off the Blorenge.

Fortunately I don’t think "quit while you’re ahead" applies to mothing, so this won't be the trap's last outing.

Last night in Tintern

71 species were recorded at light, in mum's garden in Tintern last night. Highlights included Eudonia delunella, Dioryctria abietella, Beautiful Carpet, Cloaked Carpet, Little Thorn, 15 Elephant Hawk, Leopard Moth, 2 Red-necked Footman & Green Arches. Also, this rather nice aberration of Blood-vein. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Psychid Hotspot in The Buckholt

Another 10 minute stop at the Buckholt on my way back from the school run produced the Psychid Diplodoma laichartingella fluttering in the morning sunshine: the 3rd county record following singles at Coed-y-cerrig and Dingestow.  Other additions to the site list included Tischeria ekebladella and Olindia schumacheriana.  This Psychid Hotspot (the Psyche casta earlier in the week is also in the Psychidae) is building up quite a Micro list, pushing 50 species, although I suspect that almost any area of Monmouthshire would produce 200-300 Micros if someone was looking (to date, only 7 tetrads have topped the 200 mark).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Denisia albimaculea new at the Buckholt

I made a 15 minute stop at the SE entrance to the Buckholt Wood, Monmouth before starting work today, hoping to find a few moths.  I netted a couple of Micros that were fluttering in the morning sunshine over the ride, and was amazed to find a Psyche casta and my first ever Denisia albimaculea sharing the net.  The latter is a really uncommon deadwood-feeding micro, with one questionable record from Glamorgan* the only one I can find for Wales.  A very worn Spatalistis bifasciana swept from grasses by the ride capped off a really worthwhile visit, as it was only the 4th county record.

*Denisia augustella and D. albimaculea were split into separate species in the late 1970s, and there is only one confirmed and localised British record of the former. MBGBI 4(1) shows VC41 as one of 10 counties with a confirmed record of D. albimaculea, but Moths of Glamorgan states that there is no specimen to cover the only county record and that it cannot therefore be identified to either species.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Tapping hedges

I stopped briefly on the way back from school this morning to sweep/tap some hedges near Llangattock-Vibon-Avel (NE Monmouthshire).  They were hard work, as is often the case early in the morning, but a couple of Udea olivalis and Tortrix viridana flew out, as did a White Plume.  Slightly better was a Wood Carpet, but surprise find was a Celypha rivulana.  It's easy enough to overlook this species and its lookalike C. cespitana among the commonplace C. lacunana, but the lack of a pale patch on the central band is distinctive.  I'm 99% certain it's C. rivulana, with relatively broad wings, but as it would be new for VC35 I will need to gen det it.

A couple of days earlier I tapped a dusky little Grapholita tenebrosana from a hedge at Dingestow - only the 5th county record.  Please get out and tap those hedges!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

1st June

Rogiet- A Coastal Experience

Thought I would take a change of scenery this evening from the normal woodland pursuits and go on a rare coastal experience.
I was a bit nervous as to what to expect but it all proved very much worth it despite a coastal breeze for the early part of the evening.
My home site is quite similar when I think about being not too far away from the influences of the River Wye and Severn Estuary so I should not have been too worried.
A reasonable turn out produced numerous quantities of Flame shoulder and Common Swift which would seemingly take a age to settle down if at all.
I seem to having quite a few Hawk moths turn up at my trap this year which is unprecedented for me and tonight was no exception. An enormous Poplar Hawk-moth literally 'thumped' its way down on the sheet after doing a 360 degree survey of the light. It's one of our largest moths I read although I initially thought a large bat had intervened at first but this proved thankfully otherwise.
A nice Peach Blossom (I always enjoy seeing these) turned up along with some expected coastal moth species including Common Wainscot (although generally widespread), and a female Small China-mark.
Two others especially caught my eye. These were the stunning looking Cream-spot Tiger and what I think might be Dog's Tooth pictured directly above in more 'dressed-down' attire.
Both I believe would be new to this site.
I'm going to get this confirmed but if anybody would like to pass comment on what they it is, they are most welcome.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

A bit of a Hedya-ache

My first Hedya nubiferana of the year appeared last night, hot on the heels of Hedya pruniana caught a few days ago.  Both of these Tortricids are easily tapped from hedges in lowland Monmouthshire, and are much commoner than the lookalike genus Apotomis in most of the county, so please rule them out when you catch one of these black & white Torts.  The black spot, arrowed in the photo, is key to identifying these two Hedya - it's on the costal side of the angle in the dark basal patch in H. nubiferana and distad (towards the end of the wing) of the angle in H. pruniana.  There are useful annotated photos on the Carmarthenshire Moth Blog (

Luquetia lobella - another new Micro for VC35


I nearly ignored this apparently dull, grey Micro as a Cnephasia, but then I noticed it had black scale tufts.  This rang a bell, although I couldn't think why, so I looked at it a bit closer and noticed the amazing upcurved palps.  The name Luquetia lobella was bubbling around in the back of my mind - one of those minor genera alongside Agonopterix and Depressaria that I never thought I would see - so I checked on UKMoths and sure enough that was my moth!  There appear to be 1 or 2 Glamorgan records and perhaps one from Radnorshire, but it's mighty rare in Wales and was new for VC35.

That would have been enough, but as I packed the eggboxes back into the trap I noticed another Micro that I had missed.  The distinctive hooked wingtips, bumps on the back and black, orange and buff colours made this instantly recognisable as Epermenia falciformis: only the 3rd Gwent record after one I caught at Magor Marsh in the early 2000s and one Nick Felstead caught a couple of years ago.  Two new Micros for Dingestow, taking the site total to 525 Micros.

Scarce Hook-tip

RDB species Scarce Hook-tip (Sabra harpagula), in mum's Tintern garden moth-trap last night - only the 2nd garden record.