Saturday, 31 May 2014

Steady stream

The last couple of nights in Wolvercote, Oxon, have returned to reasonable numbers of individuals and species: enough to take a while to work through. The 29th brought our first Eyed Hawkmoth of the year (only our second ever), and a garden record of six Poplar Hawkmoths, as well as the year's first Common Wave; and the 30th brought two Telechrysis tripuncta, possibly suggesting there's a reasonable-sized local population, plus the year's first Blood Veins and Straw Dot. We think it also brought our first (appropriately-named) Uncertain of the year, plus a Mottled Beauty and a Small Clouded Brindle (judging by the white-outlined kidney spot), which would be a garden first.

Presumed  Mottled Beauty, 30/5/14

Presumed Small Clouded Brindle, 30/5/14

Uncertain living up to its name, 30/5/14

Inevitably there are some we're not so sure of: what I think may be an Epiblema scutulana (similar, to my eye, to a Notocelia cynosbatella, but the head isn't obviously yellow and the wing-pattern is different); a possible rather washed-out Grass Rivulet; and what looks like a Cochylimorpha straminea, though there are alarming number of similar species in the micro-moth Field Guide.

Possible Epiblema scutulana, 30/5/14

Possible Grass Rivulet, 30/5/14

Possible Cochylimorpha straminea, 30/5/14
And I'm afraid there are several we're very unclear on: one which may well not be a moth at all (but is rather a pretty insect); and an unfamiliar micro and macro, both of which I've searched for in vain in books and on the Flying Tonight website. As ever, we're very grateful for all confirmations and suggestions. Steve and Xander Goddard.

:Possibly not a moth at all

Unknown micro, 30/5/14

Unknown macro, 30/5/14

BIG Trip to the Burial Park

An excellent session in the Burial Park today in the company of proper experts added a few moth species to the lists, including Mother Shipton (a lifer for me), a newly-emerged Red-necked Footman, caterpillars of Mullein on figwort and some leaf mines for Incurvaria pectinea, found by Mr King on hornbeam and (having learnt about them from him) myself on birch.

More tonight....!

Red-necked Footman
Dave Morris

Thrupp queries

Lots arriving at the moment including Snout, Common Wainscot, Middle-barred Minor, Lychnis, Poplar and Elephant Hawks - and these three. Are they Dusky Brocade, Pale Oak Beauty and Rosy Minor by any chance? Wiser counsels sought; thanks in anticipation, Martin Wainwright

Some confirmations please

First moth sighting was before I got to the trap, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on valerian - unfortunatey all I got were blurred photos - the best one was from an unusual angle.

Apart from a Puss Moth it was the usual fare for me, plus a presumed The Flame and what I think might be Aphelia paleana. I spotted another micro which I think may be Anthophila fabriciana.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Friday, 30 May 2014

Confirmations please

I'm reasonably confident of these although they are all new for me except one.

Bright-line Brown-eye, Campion, another Marbled Minor agg. and a Silver-ground Carpet.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Westcott, Bucks

Over the last two nights the actinic trap here at Westcott, Bucks has done reasonably well, with between 40 and 50 species each session.  New for the garden year list have been Bucculatrix thoracella, Scrobipalpa costella, Blastobasis lacticolella, Spruce Carpet, Freyer's Pug, Grey Pug, Green Pug, Peppered Moth, Willow Beauty, Buff-tip, Large Yellow Underwing, Large Nutmeg, Mottled Rustic & Snout.  Unlike Martin W I'm nowhere near a complete set of Hawk-moths yet though, Poplar and Small Elephant being the only ones which have graced my trap to date.

Sandy Carpet is a lovely little moth which is supposed to be common but I don't see it all that often.  A singleton seems to appear in the garden here every second or third year, but this year I've had three already (two last night) and it has also come to light at other places which I'm trapping at regularly.  It must be another species having a good year. 

Dave Wilton

Sandy Carpet, Westcott 29th May

Low level

Interesting trapping here in Thrupp, Oxon, last night. I put the Robinson under the treehouse which my wife and I are slowly building for our granddaughter, for fear of rain. None came but there was a surprisingly large (to me) haul of moths in this confined space, closely surrounded by cow parsley, nettles and a hawthorn hedge, with the treehouse floor above and altogether very little room for flying. New arrivals for the year included a  Large Yellow Underwing (a tribe which drove me bats in Leeds where they swarm), a Clouded Border, a Straw Dot, a Green Pug, a Pebble Hooktip and two micros -  Crambus lathoniella and the one below which I thought was Celypha lacunana but just wondered from the leading edge pattern near the forewing tip, whether it might be C.cespitana. Sorry not an ace pic but views much appreciated.  Martin Wainwright

Burial Park Trap

The 6W trap caught 14 species overnight; new for the year on-site were Lobster, Green Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Pebble Hook-tip and Tawny-barred Angle, a Cnephasia sp., plus this micro if anyone can id it from the pic?


Also around the site new for year was a damaged Buff Ermine.

Hopefully tomorrow nights trapping session will add considerably to our list; please get in touch if you want to join us!

Dave Morris

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sword-grass, but which one?

Nothing much doing the last few nights - indeed, we've not put the trap out several nights as the rain just seemed too heavy - but on the 28th, we had the individual below in Wolvercote, Oxon. It's a sword-grass, I'm pretty sure; but is it, from my rather poor photos, possible to tell which? My best guess is that Red Sword-grass is likeliest, but I'm open to correction. Steve and Xander Goddard.

Sword-grass sp.?, 28/5/14

Sword-grass sp.?, 28/5/14

Chimney Sweeper

A visit to the disused railway cutting near Salden Wood, Bucks today produced examples of Pyrausta nigrata (not recorded there previously, so far as we are aware) and Chimney Sweeper (16 counted).  Our access to this excellent site for lepidoptera in north Bucks has been under threat ever since the decision was taken to re-open the railway line between Bicester and Milton Keynes.  That day seems to be getting closer now, judging by the new warning signs which have just been posted.

Mick Jones
Pyrausta nigrata, Salden 29th May

Chimney Sweeper, Salden 29th May

Salden 29th May
Mark - Green Pug. The others are correct

For Confirmation Please

From last night, all are new except possibly the Setaceous Hebrew Character - I don't remember it being so big last year and I've noticed it's not exactly the V mentioned in books.

So I think I have Clouded Silver, Middle Barred Minor (?), Setaceous Hebrew Character (?), Marbled Minor (?) and V Pug (?)

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Adam - top one isn't olivalis. It looks like a washed out Pyrausta aurata, but that's much smaller than olivalis. Second one - if it is the right size and colour for postvittana that's what it is. They are very variable.
Mark - Small Square-spot. Square-spot Rustic is never that rich colour and doesn't fly until August. You might want to remove those slugs - the big ones are predatory.
Keith - could be but looks more like worn arenella.
Martin Townsend

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Central Oxford Micro Puzzles

I've got a couple of left-over unidentified micros that I'd appreciate some help with. The first looks like Udea olivalis except that it's missing most of the pale markings on the wings including the main large square ones. The second is a Tortrix species that may just be a Light Brown Apple Moth (which I get a lot of in my garden) though it looked sufficiently different for me to think it might be something else.

Adam Hartley

Tortrix species

Do moths fly in the rain?

Yes, in Thrupp, Oxon, they do. Frustrated after a few nights of non-trapping and confident in Mr & Mrs Robinson's simple but very effective rain shield, I lit the lamp and the following species arrived: the last of my six predictable hawk moth species, the Elephant (following Poplar, Lime, Privet, Eyed and Small Elephant); a Swallow Prominent; a Spectacle; four each of Treble Lines and Flame Shoulder; a White Ermine; and a solitary Cochylis atricapitana which chose one of the two eggboxes which had got damp. Perhaps they enjoy the damp or salt, like mud-puddling butterflies?  Martin Wainwright

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

One for Confirmation

Ever the optimist I put the trap out last night - amongst the catch were some very large slugs but also a perfect Peach Blossom, a first for me. And I suspect, a Square Spot Rustic - can someone confirm that please?

Finally as I was packing up I noticed what I took to be another huge slug on the inside of the handle of the watering can a few feet away. It turned out to be a pristine Eyed Hawkmoth, another first for me.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Burial Park Randoms

All my moths at the moment are coming from the Burial Park; without the benefit of any traps, this morning Cinnabar, Silver-ground Carpet, Brown Silver-line, Common WavePseudargyrotoza conwagana and Marbled White Spot (NFY)

Marbled White Spot

Also, we came across this fairly large caterpillar and I'm not sure what it is:

Monday, 26 May 2014

Stoke Goldington

Poor catches continue in my garden in Stoke Goldington - single figures most nights. Recent "highlights" include Pale-shouldered Brocade, Clouded-bordered Brindle, The Miller, Poplar Grey, my first Elephant Hawk-moth of the year, Spruce Carpet and a smart Purple Bar (photo below). In the daylight, on 21st May I caught a pale micro (photo below), which is troubling my id skills. The nearest I can get is a worn Agonopterix propinquella (if the overwintered adults are still on the wing in May).

Purple Bar

Agonopterix propinquella?


Bozedown, Whitchurch (south-facing unimproved chalk downland slope and woodland) 19th May 2 MV overnight 111 species and counting (when the last of the micros come out of the freezer). It was very warm (min. 15C) but this is an exceptional catch for May. Light Feathered Rustic numerous (the target species), 3 Pauper Pug, about 10 Haworth's Pug which I don't think I've ever seen in May, Light Brocades by the dozen and 2 Great Prominents were highlights that spring to mind. I wasn't expecting 2 Neofaculta ericetella but that just shows how far 'resident' species travel. Only a very small handful of the early spring species and some of the expected May things were already going over. Sometimes in May one can build up a long species list but with only a few individuals of each, but these were big catches. I didn't do headcounts but there was a lot in the grass and I reckon 300-400 per trap. The Toadflax Brocade in Oxford recently is new for VC 23 btw.
Martin Townsend

Another BAP Species

With the weather looking to be cool and wet now until towards the end of the week I took the almost foolhardy decision to try for another NERC Act S.41 (the former UK BAP list) Priority Species in Bernwood Forest, Bucks last night.  The temperature was a tolerable 11C at dusk but had fallen to 6C within a couple of hours under clear skies (why is it that the Met Office are singularly incapable of accurately predicting cloud cover at night?).  I stuck it out and was rewarded with a grand total of 43 moths of 21 species in the allotted three hours, within an area of prime woodland habitat that on a warmer night would have been heaving with moths!  However, happily for me the desired species did put in an appearance, a single male of the (not so) Common Fan-foot entering the trap while a pair in cop landed on the grass nearby.

Dave Wilton

Common Fan-foot, Bernwood Forest 25th May

By Request - Forester from Aston Rowant last year

hi, by request here it is. I think Wendy Campbell attempted to get this ID'd at the time. Not a good photo but there were lots of them - photo taken 8/7/2013.

The moths were on the part of the reserve north of the M40 (access via the old A40). When you go from the carpark you go down through the wooded area to the foot of a south facing steep hill that looks over the M40. Go up as soon as you get out of the wood and they were on the steep part - lots of rock rose there.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Hedgerow hunting

In between the rain showers two days ago I took myself for a search along the roadside in Chorleywood, Bucks, looking for leaf-mines. The top photo shows the typical pattern of multiple blotch mines, in this case on Hornbeam, of Incurvaria pectinea. The mine becomes a hole as the caterpillar cuts it out to use as a home. It drops to the ground to continue its rather secret life there. The last photo shows a Coleophora solitariella case on Greater Stitchwort. It was part of a colony on clumps of the foodplant and the bright white excavations of the Stitchwort leaves advertise their presence pretty well. I'm quite pleased with this as its a 'new-for-me'.
Andy King.