Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My first hawkmoth of the year

Unlike in Marc's garden, my moths and cockchafers we're not grounded by fog. My weekly UV trap contained 6 cockchafers and 12 moths - 4 Muslin Moths, 2 Nut-Tree Tussocks, 2 Brimstone Moths, 1 Hebrew Character, 1 Scalloped Hazel, 1 Twenty-Plume Moth and finally 1 Lime Hawkmoth.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Pug ID

Ran the trap last night - got my first Waved Umber which was nice, plus Garden Pebble, 2 Muslin Moths, an Early Grey, 3 Hebrew Characters and a Brimstone.

Picture is a pug from a few days back - I was going to put it down as a Double Striped but I'm not sure. Sorry no size, I didn't manage to get it potted up before it flew off.

Mark Griffiths

Fog all!

Usually when I potter out into the garden at this time of year in my customary optimistic style expecting to see no moths in the trap I am made to eat my words as there's at least one Hebrew Character or Common Quaker. Last night the temperature in my garden was still above ten degrees at about 11.30pm and I haven't had a zero for weeks now, even on those much colder nights. But this morning it happened. When I finally located my traps in the thick fog, there was indeed not a sign of a moth. The banded snail that has taken residence in my MV trap was still in there happily rasping away at the egg cartons - I leave it in there hoping, probably in vain, that one day I'll get off my lazy backside and identify which species it is. There wasn't even a cockchafer which have been coming in in small numbers for the last week. Given this, I was, even by my standards, extraordinarily unhopeful about what I would find in two actinic traps I set at Millbrook Mead (VC 23) last night, but there was at least a handful of moths which included my first Clouded Border of the year and two nice fresh Muslin Moths. Marc Botham, Benson

Muslin Moth at Millbrook Mead 29th April
Cockchafer at Millbrook Mead 29th April

More micros, with apologies

Several mystery micros in our trap on 28th April, as well as a healthy number of Epiphyas postvittana. All help with species much appreciated: the first appears to be some sort of longhorn or ally; the second clearly one of the Torticidae along the lines of Epinotia nisella, and the third some species of Acleris or similar - possibly Acleris laterana? If anyone can cast light on any of them, that would be great. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I.d help, please!

I found this micro on a Beech leaf in Lower scrubs near Coombe hill on Sunday afternoon, and was wondering if it could be Phyllonorycter maestingella? Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Dave Maunder

The May bug season is with us

Thirteen Cockchafers came to light at our Holtspur Bottom reserve, Bucks last night, outnumbering any of the 30+ moth species caught!  Light Brocade was nice to see there, but otherwise the only new-for-year sightings were micros (including Nematopogon swammerdamella, Pseudoswammerdamia combinella, Prays fraxinella, Cochylis atricapitana, Syndemis musculana, Dichrorampha acuminatana & Evergestis forficalis).  Back home at Westcott, Bucks the rather poor garden collection did include a nice female May Highflyer, a moth I seldom see as there doesn't seem to be much alder in this part of the county.

Dave Wilton

Melolontha melolontha, Holtspur Bottom 28th April

Light Brocade, Holtspur Bottom 28th April

May Highflyer, Westcott 28th April

Micro guessing game (again)

Orange Footman, Red Twin-spot Carpet and this micro which I think is Cochylis atricapitana (confirmation/correction much appreciated) have brought my tally for the year to 50 species. Other eggbox residents were a very pretty Twenty-plume with wings outstretched, a Muslin, a Brindled Beauty, a Pale Prominent, a Powdered Quaker, a Clouded Drab, a Hebrew Character, a Caddis fly and an earwig. Outside the trap in the long grass, three Brimstone moths were kipping. We have meanwhile declared war on that loathsome insect the Blandford Fly and got off to a good start when we disturbed a handsome slowworm while chasing one.

Update: could I just check this pug which I put on my own blog as a Brindled but a wise commentor there suggests its an Oak Tree - ie an error the exact opposite of my claim last week of an Oak Tree which was actually a Brindled. Many thanks.

Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Couple of Confirmations

Reasonable night last night, I got my first Pebble Prominent and I think a couple of ones I saw when I started trapping last autumn, I think I have a Cabbage Moth and a Light Brown Apple Moth. Can someone confirm? many thanks,

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Monday, 28 April 2014

Still Slow in Central Oxford

It's still rather slow here in central Oxford though last night picked up a little with a catch nearly back in double figures which included my third Least Black Arches of the year and micro which I think I'm right in saying is a Scrobipalpa costella. This is not only new for the year but is also a new moth for the garden.

Adam Hartley

presumed Scrobipalpa costella

Powdered Quaker

I've noticed one or two comments recently from people having difficulty identifying Powdered Quaker, so I've included below a picture of two from here at Westcott, Bucks last night along with a rather worn Common Quaker for comparison.

The variation shown in the pictures in the Waring, Townsend & Lewington field guide can be a bit misleading if the text is ignored.  My experience (and most years I get 100+ in the garden) is that locally our specimens show very little variation and they all look like the left hand example of the four shown in the book (pale sandy grey background with fine black speckling).  The wing-tip also gives the appearance of being slightly hooked when at rest, which is more akin to Clouded Drab than Common Quaker.  You'll know when you've caught one!

I'm afraid Steve and Xander's presumed Powdered Quaker and tatty unknown shown below are both Common Quaker.

Update:  I should perhaps also have mentioned that last night's garden catch here comprised a reasonable 20 species despite indifferent weather although Epinotia immundana, White-spotted Pug, Common Wave & Pale Tussock were the only ones new for the year.  The smelly sexton beetle Nicrophorus humator has been visiting the trap regularly over the past two or three weeks but last night I was pleased to get an example of the massive water beetle Dytiscus marginalis (the Great Diving Beetle).  They're powerful flyers and you haven't lived until you've been hit on the back by one of these while standing by a light trap!

Dave Wilton

Common & Powdered Quakers

Dytiscus marginalis, Westcott 27th April

More new species coming in....

Last night I had a Marbled Brown in the garden trap for the first time, another species I associate with mature oak woodland and another really worn male suggesting local migration again like with the Great Prominent. Along with this I had my first lobster Moth of the year although I was less than happy to have to identify it from its remains as the Robin has twigged onto the trap earlier this year than ever before.

At work today on outside of building at Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Crowmarsh Gifford, there was a Green carpet and a Small Dusty Wave. Still no male Emperors to assembled females in local area. Marc Botham, Benson

IDs and a question

Had a few Carpets over the past few days, I think they are Garden and Red Twin Spot? Carpets but I'd appreciate confirmation.

The other picture is something very familiar from books but I've not been able to find it.

Finally a question - how do you tell the difference between Powdered Quaker and Common Quaker?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

... but a few uncertainties

We weren't altogether sure about the moths below, however, all from the 26th: there's a pug, possibly Oak-tree; what looks like a Powdered Quaker, but with rather more prominent veins than we've been used to seeing on that species; and a rather tatty unknown, probably another species of quaker. As ever, any help with ID would be much appreciated. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Possible Oak-tree Pug, 26/4/14

Presumed Powdered Quaker, 26/4/14

Slightly tatty unknown, 26/4/14

Quality, not quantity

Actually, today's catch was fairly numerous by recent standards: 16 moths, though only of four species - one of them a handsome Pale Prominent, which is another example of an apparently rather early appearance. The same was true of several moths in our rather scanty catches last week: all of Least Black Arches (23rd April), Orange Footman (24th) and our favourite, the first Poplar Hawkmoth of the year (24th) are 'officially' supposed to emerge in May. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Least Black Arches, 23/4/14
Orange Footman, 24/4/14
Poplar Hawkmoth, 24/4/14

Pale Prominent, 27/4/14


More evidence for moths being early this year? A Spectacle arrived last night, a moth which always makes me chuckle. The Bible suggests its flight season usually starts in late May. My expert friend over on Essex Moths, Ben Sale, has meanwhile had a Lime Hawk 34 days earlier than his previous earliest.  Also, have we any scatologist in our ranks who could identify what left these droppings on the rainshield of my Robinson trap? I am having to get up earlier and earlier to try to ensure the safety of my moths...  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Only three

A couple of hours last night produced just singles of Brimstone Moth, Nut-tree Tussock and Marbled Brown, the last being a garden first.
Dave Ferguson, Beaconsfield, Bucks

Flying shuttle

My first Shuttle-shape Dart of 2014 was one of a handful of visitors on Friday night and today this battered Swallow Prominent was another new arrival for me this year, bringing my Prominent tally to five. Note its rather convincing false 'eye'. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Help requested with a micro

Rather thin pickings in Wolvercote over the last few days - a few more details to follow of what we have had - but before that, could anyone confirm the ID of the beast below? It's clearly a Phyllonorycter of some sort, but I can't make up my mind which... All help gratefully accepted! Steve and Xander Goddard.

Presumed Phyllonorycter species, 25/4/14

Presumed Phyllonorycter species, 25/4/14

Bedroom visitor

This rather smart Scorched Carpet appeared in one of our bedrooms in Beaconsfield last night.
Dave Ferguson

New for year

Lots of new species for this year over the past week, Spruce Carpet, Angle Shades, Bright-line Brown-eye, Pale Prominent, Pale Tussock and Yellow-barred Brindle, also 2 new for my garden, Mullein and Coxcomb Prominent. 1 micro which i think is Light Brown Apple Moth, please could someone confirm
Thanks Darren Seaman

Friday, 25 April 2014

Damp in Oxford!

I've been struggling to catch much over the last couple of days in the damp conditions in my central Oxford garden but have still managed a couple of NFY in the form of a Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner and a poor Pale Prominent that alighted on the garden shed by my actinic trap only to be set upon by the spiders that lurk in the cracks and pulled partially into their lair. I tried to rescue it and managed to retrieve it though it later died of its injuries. I also managed a second record of the rare county micro Psychoides filicivora which has obviously taken a liking to our ferns in the back of the garden.

Adam Hartley

Pale Prominent battered by spider attack
Psychoides filicivora once again


A couple of MV lights run for three hours at Round Wood near Barton Hartshorn, Bucks last night produced just over 20 species but there was little of note in the catch.  Numbers of individuals were not high either, with Epinotia immundana (25) and Pebble Prominent (18) being the only species present in any quantity.  It was nice to see a pristine Seraphim out already but pride of place goes to the female Emperor Moth illustrated below, an early visitor to one trap who promptly laid 50+ eggs. 

Assuming that the eggs are fertile, that should ensure a continued supply of moths to "assemble" with in 2015.  I was away on holiday during the main emergence period this year so gave away the majority of my cocoons to others, but I've had one female emerge since my return and she is still awaiting a mate after four days despite visits to normally productive sites.  As Marc Botham has already mentioned, "assembling" (the attraction of wild males to a captive virgin female) has been particularly difficult locally this season, at least in Bucks and Oxon where this lovely moth is known to be quite widespread but only in small numbers.  Maybe the poor spring weather in 2013 had a significant effect on the species.  They can over-winter twice or even three times in the pupal stage so perhaps we'll see an improvement next year.

Dave Wilton

Emperor Moth, Barton Hartshorn 24th April

This Week at the Burial Park

Last nights trap at CWBP contained 3 very worn tinea-type moths, 3 Nut-tree Tussocks, and singles of Engrailed, Pebble Prominent and Esperia sulphurella (the last new for the site).

Also present was this stripey green caterpillar, with pink legs. Can anyone tell me what our hopefully future trapee will be?

Dave Morris

Tiny speck

Could I ask whether I'm right in thinking that this minute arrival last night is Caloptilia semifascia? It shared the eggboxes with my first Red-green Carpet of 2014, one Chocolate-tip (with a wing fragment from another outside the trap), three Clouded Drabs, two Hebrew Characters, a Common Quaker, a large beetle and an earwig. The thing in the background is my Biro, for scale. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Some additions.

Bagley Woods (VC 22) last night - Numbers weren't fantastic but got 29 species including some new for the year for me: Seraphim, Dwarf Pug, Pale Tussock, Small Phoenix, Spruce Carpet, Maiden's Blush and Syndemis musculana were those that might not have been noted before.Barely any Orthosias, but lots of Brindled Pug and Eriocrania subpurpurella with a healthy number of Nut-tree Tussocks.  Least Black Arches has been popping up but saw my first last night and my first Muslin Moth of the year graced my otherwise-almost-empty garden trap. Marc Botham, Benson

Curious damage?

My fourth Prominent came last night to the Robinson trap at Thrupp, Oxon - this gloriously-coloured Iron Prominent. The other newcomer for me this year was a Least Black Arches, little scrap of a thing. Also in the eggboxes were four Clouded Drab, three Pebble Prominent, two Powdered Quaker, one each of Early Grey, Streamer, Common Quaker, Pale Prominent, Hebrew Character and Flame Shoulder, plus three Brindled Beauties, one of them with these curiously symmetrical bare-looking patches on the forewing. Any ideas about the cause of this?  Martin Wainwright

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My pug

Belatedly and now beaten to it by Steve, here is the pug I referred to earlier. I think it's an Oak Tree one but would be very grateful for confirmation or correction.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

On the move

An interesting record for my garden last night, a Great Prominent. I usually only catch these in fairly substantial oak woodlands with old oaks in. My garden seems an unlikely place to catch one, but it was a male and fairly ragged and I suspect it has been doing some dispersing. It was a nice surprise anyway on what was a pretty poor night for moths otherwise. Marc Botham, Benson

A Few NFY In Oxford

I got a few new for the year moths in my modest catch in central Oxford last night which did just manage to break double figures for the first time in nearly three weeks. Pick of the bunch was a lovely Waved Umber, with V-Pug and Garden Carpet also going down on the year list. 

Adam Hartley

Waved Umber

Double-striped Pug?

Before Martin posts his picture of a pug, I thought I would get in first with this one that was in my trap last night. It is small, forewing 9mm, and my thought is a Double-striped Pug, but feel free to agree or disagree.

Steve Trigg, Cookham