Monday, 1 March 2021

Ectoedemia decentella and Diurnea lipsiella

 Some County '1st's' from 2020

Chepstow- May 27th

A new micro was recorded for the county today completely unbeknown to me until quite recently when Sam pointed this out to me. Ectoedemia decentella (Sycamore-seed Pigmy) turned up at my light-trap and although it looked interesting in it's bright black and white colours, was indeed new to my site and localised, I really had no idea nobody had registered it in the county. 

Given the micro feeds in seeds of Sycamore it really makes perfect sense for it to be present nearby as there are plenty of Sycamore trees of various sizes just to the south-east of my position here.  

Wentwood- November 11th.

Another potential 1st for the county is another micro that turned up on a warm night in the second week of November. Aptly found in November and named November Tubic- Diurnea lipsiella, this moth feeds around Oaks and Bilberry, so a good, appropriate habitat to discovery this micro here at this site. 

An inconspicuous looking brown micro with a few darker markings doesn't really draw great attention, but I have learned over time that you should not dismiss these features and these moths even if you think they could be common, which I did at first.

All species; as per recent conversation with Sam Bosanquet, are important be it rare or common to build up a list present at sites. It seems with Diurnea lipsiella there is a little question mark as to whether it is a county first or second or other. The late G.A. Neil Horton does not list it in his book 'Monmouthshire Lepidoptera' for a start, so checks may need to made?

It certainly could be the first photographic evidence of the moth existing nonetheless in the county, so I thought I would share.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Sallow and Bucculatrix thoracella- new county 1st's for me

 Look back at...2020

September 8th

Coatgae, Bullyhole Bottom

Whenever I visit this site I really have no idea what to expect when doing a survey. Moths turn up that I don't really bargain for, and I suppose it adds to the excitement and curiosity value. I visited early here today to check out a few 'leaf-miners'. I found several on hawthorn and a couple on a Birch. One 'L-shaped' mine on a Birch leaf had me a little perplexed until I went back and read up on it the next day. Apparently, occasionally, Buccalatrix thoracella (Lime Bent-wing) does use Birch as it's foodplant. I have discovered plenty of mines on Lime but this is the first time I have found it on Birch in the county.

Bucculatrix thoracella using Birch

At the light trap later that evening, 60 moths of 24 species were registered. 11 Green Carpet were top scorers but although common, the likes of Dusky Thorn, Canary-shouldered Thorn and Common Wainscot I had not bargained for. Centre-barred Sallow arrived but then a slightly Sallow species arrived. This turned out to be a Sallow. It once again was the first time I had seen one in the Vice County.

Epinotia trigonella
Yponomeuta rorrella

For micro species it was nice to see a couple of different Epinotia arrive with both Epinotia ramella (Small Birch Bell), and a nice Epinotia trigonella (White-blotch Bell). The best to turn up was Yponomeuta rorrella (Willow Ermine). This was a secondary sighting over the last few weeks or so with the first discovery not too far away at Chepstow Park Wood, so linking the two sites.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Stigmella assimilella sightings

 Look back at …September 2020

Aspen Pigmy, various sites- 6th-27th September

Intrigued and inspired by some photographs I saw online in 2019 I decided I would have a more concentrated effort to attempt to find a leaf-miner on Aspen. I had a short opportunity in 2019 but I fear I missed the small opportunity by several weeks and was too late for Stigmella assimilella.

I already knew of a couple of sites that Aspen was growing that might yield potential, so that was to be my starting point. Two small sites around Rogiet I certainly felt there was great potential. However my first attempt was disappointingly fruitless and left me wandering if it was actually here at all at this site or even present in the Vice county. (I'm still unaware if it has been seen even to this day in the county as I've not forwarded to Sam Bosanquet as yet.) After wading through some awkward scrub and bramble I was left puzzled as I felt this was the best chance. Perhaps it was timing again, maybe I was too early this time. A slow drive back home to reset my thought process would help I hoped. Two days later on the 6th I returned to the same site and as I parked up, other small developing Aspen suckers came into view. I scanned these, but no luck. Then I decided to go down another side lane and more were here. This time I walked straight to the tree that contained mines, at last!

Three mines in one leaf, one departed but two small developing larvae.

Exactly a week later the 13th, another site a mile or so away, another attempt was undertaken. Conditions were very difficult again with brambles and tall nettles a hazard in order to try thoroughly search this small site. Spending over 30 minutes here I did managed to grab another example of an larvae on aspen, this time getting close to the point of exiting the leaf. 

Two weeks later on the 27th after trying this site twice before, I returned another positive result.This site was much easier to access than the previous and I spent much less time finding another occupied leaf. Three sites in four weeks was very pleasing. A lesson that I have certainly learnt over the last few years is to be patient and persistent, for timing can be key.


Sunday, 10 January 2021

1st confirmed record of Anacampsis populella

Look Back at ..August 2020

Saturday 22nd August

Glyn Wood, Chapel Hill

A fairly newish site I've started to try out was visited tonight at the edge of Glyn Wood. A breezy afternoon saw winds diminish by the time the light was fading and my arrival here. A mostly clear night enfolded however showers did encroach affecting the site towards the end of my stay and this prompted me to pack up for moth activity had nearly stopped.

Peacock Moth

Not had a great return of moths here before and I suppose the same was of tonight with 54 moths of 31 species turning out. Still quantity does not equal quality and this should applied tonight for some species were not expected or ever seen by me before. The coming and going of Peach Blossom moths kept my attention to the trap tonight. A Buff Footman, Black Arches and an immigrant Dark Sword-grass dropped in before the surprise macro of the night arrived in the form of a Peacock Moth. I don't recollect it ever being recorded whilst I've been on watch within this woodland complex before, so very welcome indeed. 

Micro's were rather interesting too, in fact more so.

Argyresthia bonnetella (Hawthorn Argent)

Two types of Argyresthia were recorded. The first one Argyresthia bonnetella is common but caution apparently should be applied on the angle of markings on the forewing to differentiate from A. pruniella. The other species of Argyresthia that arrived was completely new to me and apparently a much rarer find. Argyresthia semitestacella is an uncommon find in the county although it's foodplant Beech, is fairly widespread. It is one of the larger of this group and flies later than most although care should be applied in identification to the white band that runs down the back. Sam Bosanquet was particularly pleased that quality of the photograph that showed the 'bands' on the cilia which can be an additional aid to identification. Thank you Sam.

Argyresthia semitestella (Large Beech Argent)

Still after this pleasing find what more could better or equal this?

An unidentified greyish looking Anacampsis waited for an ID. This is a moth I really have wanted to get to the bottom of in respect of identification. Over the last few years or so I have encountered this guy infrequently but never could actually be precise as to which was present: Anacampsis blattariella or Anacampsis populella. Identification purposes were generally applied to which foodplant was in the vicinity previously. Given I came into contact with Birch trees virtually all the time A. blattariella agg. was favourite and applied with a slight air of caution. Poplar trees -which Anacampsis populella relies on- although not uncommon, were not anywhere to be found around my trap site position for a considerable distance if at all.

Confirmed case of Anacampsis populella (Poplar Sober)

So when I sent this specimen off to Sam for identification purposes it came as a shock to me when he told me I had found a male Ancampsis populella. This is the first confirmed record by Gen. Det. to have been done in the county and throws a bit of a spanner in the works. I don't know where its foodplant is? I will be trying to find it later this year to tie things up, but like many moths they do wander from time to time I suppose. A very pleasing and perplexing record regarding the foodplant at the moment.  

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Calamotropha paludella in prime habitat

 Look back at August 2020

18th August

Wilcrick Moor, Llandevenny

I'm often looking about here at Wilcrick for moths. Many over the years I see on a regular basis but every now and again something turns up here across the Marshes area that leaps out as an uncommonly seen moth or in this case a brand new one that needs serious investigating and photographing. This pale looking moth immediately looked like something to do with the marshland here. I wondered if it may be a 'wainscot' like Silky Wainscot but ruled this out. It sort of looked familiar and something I may have seen years ago but could not really put a finger on it. Eventually after checking photographs and sites on-line I have come up with Calamotropha paludella (Bulrush Veneer) pictured below. 

When filling away I found out that I had seen it before at my home site in Chepstow but way back in 2015.The larvae use Reedmace and Bulrush for it's foodplant of which plenty is in the area feeding within dead stems of bulrush.   

Oak feeders in good numbers

 Look back at August 2020

15th August

Buckle Wood, Chapel Hill

A good spread of moths this evening totaling 98 of 40 species. Thought I would feature two Oak feeders that were attracted to the light, both of which I have only recently discovered here at this site over the last year or two.

Oak Lutestring (pictured above) I discovered here in 2019 in quite good numbers and it seems it is continuing to do well. It is supposed to be a declining species and one of concern, hence classification as 'Local' in Britain. It actually overwinters as an egg attached to a twig on Pedunculate or Sessile Oak trees before larvae emerge around April-May when leaves are starting to appear. Adults then are on the wing from August through September.

Another Oak feeder that I have seen here in good numbers is Phycita roberella (Dotted Knot-horn) pictured below.

It emerges earlier than Oak Lutestring but crosses over into it's flight season in August. It's a common micro but quite striking when found newly emerged in reddish brown hues. It feeds mainly on Oak but has been reported on Crab Apple, Pears and Hazel. 

Saturday, 26 December 2020

2nd County record of Oxypteryx atrella discovered

 Look back at.... August

9th August

Wentwood (Kemey's Craig)

A hot afternoon locally transpired into a very warm evening across the tops of the Wentwood hills. The approaching evening was pretty much clear when I arrived and would remain so with only a slow fall of temperature. No winds to speak off here, just gentle stirrings not long after the sun dropped below the horizon. The area I selected today came under the Kemey's Craig section of Wentwood. I had been to this site last year in the autumn season but never followed up until now. A quick scout around the site after setting the light up found my eye diverted to a large caterpillar on a plant stem, upon which two eyes stared back at me, warning me off. This large elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar would be the first of two sightings this evening and unusually for me both adult and caterpillar would be found at the same site at the same time.

Gold Spot

Through the rest of evening I would be kept reasonably busy noting and collecting specimens of moths of various sizes whilst into between, lulls in activity would allow me a coffee and a good view of the twinkling lights Newport and Magor and other small hamlets further afield across the Bristol Channel at this advantageous position over 780 feet, 240 metres above sea level. Moth-wise, about 100 moths of 49 species arrived whilst I was there. 8 localised* and 1 Scarce B moth species were recorded. I hadn't really bargained for Black Arches here or Scarce Footman, Rosy Footman and Buff Footman. I especially did not expect Yellow-barred Brindled at such a high altitude. A good cross section of moths arrived mainly in singles with a nice Small Wainscot and an eye catching Gold Spot.

Mompha propinquella (Marbled Cosmet)

However two other moths classified under microlepidoptera really intrigued me greatly for I felt I had not seen them before. A quick photograph in the dark of both allowed me some idea of what I was looking at, but further investigations would have to take place in the morning light.

Oxypteryx atrella (alias Stephensia brunnichella)- Basil Dwarf

The morning photographic session of these moths revealed two new encounters for me at this site in the form of a fabulous Mompha propinquella (Marbled Cosmet), which later I found I had, had encounters before at my home site in 2017 and 2018, feeding on Willowherbs. The other micro looked like an Stephensia brunnichella (Basil Dwarf) which had a few bells ringing when I looked at it's distribution, or lack of it. 

This latter micro I felt needed checking with Sam. He agreed with the sighting after returning my mail, stating in was 'only the 2nd county record after one sighting made by George Tordoff in Caerwent in 2016'.  After a recent name change this moth is now known as Oxypterx atrella not Stephensia brunnichella. The micro not surprisingly as the name suggests, feeds on Wild Basil which has only small pockets of it about in the county. It may be hard to tell in the photographs but up close, it looks like some artist has brush-stroked liquid mercury across the forewings 

A real surprise to me what I came up with up here- I shall return.