Tuesday, 31 March 2015


I got around to having a look at some teasels today which are growing near our house in Westcott, Bucks.  I cut off a random sample of 20 seed heads, of which 15 were found to be tenanted with single caterpillars of Endothenia gentianaeana.  I've previously found them elsewhere in the village but these are close enough to add to the garden list!  The larvae were confirmed as gentianaeana by the deep brown head and lack of an anal comb (see UK Moths), but all the same a few have been retained to rear through. 

Endothenia gentianaeana caterpillar in teasel

Endothenia gentianaeana caterpillar

Endothenia gentianaeana caterpillar (lack of anal comb)

This is the most likely species to be found in teasels but the larva does have to be inspected to rule out Endothenia marginana and the two common Blastobasis species (all of which can also be found feeding on the central pith) and Cochylis roseana (which burrows through the seeds).  The best way to open the seed head is to make a short vertical cut with a penknife at the top and then pull the teasel gently apart, otherwise you might end up slicing into the caterpillar.  Its presence will be obvious because most of the central pith will have been eaten and there will be lots of frass, although the beast itself may need coaxing out because when disturbed they often wriggle backwards into the stem as shown in the top photo.  Once inspected, I close the teasel and use an elastic band to keep it together, giving the caterpillar a chance to complete its life cycle.
Dave Wilton     

Suspect leafmine found on Disraeli's Patio

During a trip to Hughenden Manor today, I spotted some Hart's Tongue on the terrace at the back of the house - the plants looked half dead, but having seen Neil's post about  Psychoides verhuella , I had to take close look and found a couple of suspected leafmines, one of which I accidently knocked over. I couldn't actual see any larvae due to lack of glasses and being lashed with gale fuelled rain, I couldn't really get a good photo. Would welcome any comments.
Robert Payne

Monday, 30 March 2015

All Quiet on the Westcott Front

The actinic trap here at Westcott, Bucks has been run almost every night this month as temperatures have generally remained above freezing, at least until the early hours.  The nights of 22nd-24th March resulted in a heavy frost before dawn but I still caught a reasonable number of moths each time (for example 42 individuals of seven species on the 23rd).  However, species-wise I haven't really had a great deal to show for this effort and over the last ten days the only new ones added to the garden year list have been Red-green Carpet & Early Grey (both 20th), Oak Beauty (21st), Satellite & Dotted Chestnut (both 26th) and Lead-coloured Drab (29th).  Pale Pinion has appeared twice more since the singleton on 18th March. 

Oak Beauty, Westcott 21st March

Lead-coloured Drab, Westcott 29th March

Lead-coloured Drab was my 22nd garden macro species of 2015 and that's up to the average of what I can expect to see here before the end of March in any given year, so it hasn't really been any worse than normal so far.  In any case, those years in the recent past with below-average counts over the same period (15 in 2006, 9 in 2013) both went on to be bumper seasons here!
Dave Wilton

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Early Thorn

Early Thorn in garden trap for last 2 nights running. Marc Botham, Didcot

Mursley moths

Apologies for idiot questions, but I didn't start trapping in my garden until late May last year so finding moths now that are slightly puzzling. I think these are a very worn Common Quaker and a Chestnut (though it doesn't quite match illustrations I've got). I've also had a number of Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Many thanks
Mick Jones

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Re: Small Eggar

So what's this glow-stick then Marc ? Large numbers near sallows is not unusual but it wasn't that warm on Friday night. I've come on the site to ask if anyone local to Oxford has an ALS 15w actinic that I could look at or you could give customer comments on as I'm mulling over possibly retiring my 2 6w ones as they are rather long in the tooth (ideally by just replacing the electrics), but are Heath traps about to be/have been revolutionised ?

You may have an eternal virus but you are also the eternal optimist ! In case anyone else isn't aware, Small Eggar hardly comes to light even in places where it is relatively common. In Oxfordshire the best area for it seems to be around Burford/Witney way. The larval tents are of course very obvious.
Martin Townsend

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Scarce VC24 species found at Grangelands

Went to Grangelands (Bucks) today for a walk.  Very little about, but looked at some Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart's-tongue) in the hope of finding leaf-mines on the way back. To my surprise, it turned up trumps with a tenanted mine of Psychoides verhuella.  When I got home I thought I'd better check the plants in my garden, and I found it there, so a garden tick too!
There appear to be very few records of this species (in VC24 at least).  However, the fact that I found it in two different places today, without really trying too hard, means that it must be common where the foodplant occurs.  The larva is clearly around at the moment, though it has been found throught the year.
There are two Psychoides species which mine this plant.  Larvae of both usually feed on the underside of a fern frond under an untidy mass of sporangia, but on occasion enter the leaf to make an extensive irregular blotch mine (British leafminers). P. verhuella in later instars has a black head which distinguishes it from P. filicivora.
Neil Fletcher

Ruby Tiger caterpillar?

Despite the temperature dropping below freezing last night, my weekly garden moth trap yielded 4 Hebrew Characters, 1 Oak Beauty and 1 Pale Pinion.
While doing some tidying up in the garden on Sunday, my wife spotted this small caterpillar enjoying the sunshine. I thought it might be a Ruby Tiger?

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Not the post I was hoping to give

Despite still recovering from what seems like an eternal virus I ventured out to Chimney Meadows again last night to try again for Small Eggar. I got there a bit earlier this time and had a potter around to locate some better sites with gently trimmed and rather fantastic looking mixed hedgerows dominated by Blackthorn and Hawthorn. I put out five Actinics (would've been six but a battery failed) and sat with 2 MV traps until 10:30pm. Unfortunately the cloud cover that meant seeing the solar eclipse earlier in the day was not possible had disappeared and the temperature was not great, though considerably warmer than last time I trapped there. This was reflected with much greater activity at the MV's though it was still fairly quiet with just over 100 individuals of 16 species. None of these were Small Eggar. Best of the bunch was my first Lead-coloured Drab of the year and three Grey Shoulder-knots. Of the five actinics, I placed one of them under the same Sallow as last time, still very much in flower although a lot of the flowers have started to go over. The other four actinics were left overnight along the best hedgerows and really didn't catch much at all. The trap by the Sallow was once again extremely impressive. What looks like a small blue glow-stick drew in over 320 moths of 14 species, led by an impressive 133 Hebrew Character, 111 Common Quaker and 61 Clouded Drab. Pale Pinion was the best moth along with a further six Lead-coloured Drabs. The total species count across all traps was 21 listed by most abundant species first:
Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab, Shoulder Stripe, Lead-coloured Drab, Small Quaker, Satellite, Engrailed, March Moth, Oak Beauty, Grey Shoulder-knot, Dotted Border, Twin-spotted Quaker, Agonopterix heracliana, Diurnea fagella, Agonopterix alstromeriana, Emmelina monodactyla, Chestnut, Red Chestnut, Pale Pinion and Red-green Carpet. As you can see, NO Small Eggar sadly and thus not the post I was hoping to give. March is almost over and the weather forecast is not brilliant for the next week or so. However, it might be late this year with it being such a cold start and I intend, weather permitting to give it one last go, otherwise next effort will be to search for larval webs later in the year. Marc Botham, Didcot

A smart Hebrew Character that got my attention - Chimney Meadows 20/03/15

Lead-coloured Drab - Chimney Meadows 20/03/15

Pale Pinion - Chimney Meadows 20/03/15

Friday, 20 March 2015


On the subject of something different from Orthosias, I came across a Mompha epilobiella trapped in a bird hide at College Lake Nature Reserve today. The sunshine had doubtless shifted it from hibernation mode.

Andy King.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Pale Pinion

Here at Westcott, Bucks I'm still getting little to the garden actinic trap apart from Orthosia species but at least their numbers are at last steadily increasing.  One slightly more interesting arrival last night was a Pale Pinion.  I used to get them regularly until 2010 then there was a gap until last year when the moth re-appeared.  Its stable-mate Tawny Pinion was always far less frequent here and I haven't seen one anywhere locally for five years now, but live in hope that it might come back.
Dave Wilton

Pale Pinion, Westcott 18th March

Diurnea duo

I've now had at least 1 moth a night for the past fortnight, with the maximum on the 12th with 27 moths of 10species. New for year in the last week are Engrailed, Oak Beauty, Twin-spotted Quaker, Powdered Quaker on 12th, Small Quaker(14th), Shoulder Stripe(15th), Diurnea fagella(17th) and Early Grey(18th), as well as plenty of Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, with the odd Satellite, Chestnut, Dotted Border, Agonopterix heracliana and Tortricodes alternella. A nice selection. No Small Eggar yet though, but fingers crossed.

Darren Seaman, Milton Keynes.

Monday, 16 March 2015

A couple of recent moths

Not in the trap, which hasn't yet emerged from the shed, but a small dark brown micro that had found its way into my car and was fluttering against the window on my commute last Thursday (12th).  Obviously a caloptilia sp, but when I arrived at my destination I had a chance for a better look and found that it was Caloptilia semifascia.  Not uncommon in my garden in Marlow Bottom and had presumably been enticed out from the winter by some milder weather.

The other was an Orange Underwing, which braved a rather cold morning last Saturday (14th) on Stoke Common, right next to a large stand of Silver Birch.  You can just about see the unfeathered antennae in this shot - I've blown the picture up at home and it looks like the fairly typical serrated looking antenna.

Adam Bassett

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Better late than never!

Very belatedly I have emerged bleary eyed from hibernation to report that I have recorded only 3 moths so far this year (not got round to setting the trap as yet) but one of those was on 1st Jan - Herald - found indoors and almost certainly smuggled into the house in the Christmas tree. Others which have come to the porch light have been March Moth on 5th March and Dotted Border on 6th March. Looking forward to dusting off the Robinson trap soon!
Alastair Driver

A bit more variety

Moths have finally started turning up in the garden moth trap - small numbers but a good selection considering such: Common Quaker, Small Quaker, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab, Dark Chestnut, Grey Shoulder-knot,  Early Grey, Agonopterix alstromeriana and Amblyptilia acanthodactyla. with the exception of Common Quaker I have never had more than one each of these and the greatest number of moths in a night was 5. Plenty of Scarlet Tiger Moth larvae around the garden though, must be at least 50 in one corner of the garden. There is no Green Alkanet or Comfrey (recently planted some of the latter) and they feed on Forget-me-nots (Myosotis sp) - these are also in the Boraginaceae so I guess it makes sense and our garden is stuffed with them.

On thursday evening I put a trap out at Harcourt and also sat with a sheet trap for an hour just after 9pm. At the sheet trap I had my first Yellow Horned along with another 14 species: Oak Beauty (10+), Small Brindled Beauty (2), Dotted Border (2), Common Quaker (4), Small Quaker (20+), Hebrew Character (2), Clouded Drab (3), Twin-spotted Quaker (1), Red Chestnut (4), Chestnut (2), Satellite (1),  Acleris ferrugana/notana (1), Tortricodes alternella (2), Ypsolopha ustella (1). Still fairly small numbers but a nice mix for just an hour's trapping. The over night trap added 3 smart Dotted Chestnuts (the most I've had in one trap) and a March Moth, whilst from under the nearby security light I added Engrailed, Agonopterix ocellana, A.heracliana and Emmelina monodactyla. Marc Botham, Didcot

Dotted Chestnuts, Harcourt Arboretum 12-03-15

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Yellow horned moth

I had a fine female Yellow horned moth hatch a few days ago, reared from eggs obtained from moths trapped in the Chilterns last March - the larvae are very attractive, too. Dave Maunder
Yellow horned moth, captive bred.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Merveille du Jour of the micro world

I had a smart Acleris literana in Bernwood Forest, Bucks last night as well as my first Dotted Chestnut of the year.  The results (20 species to a single MV) were otherwise very similar to Finemere Wood the previous night, the only additional items being Grey Shoulder-knot and Early Grey.  There was no sign of what seems to have become the "moth of the moment" here (Diurnea fagella), but that's no great surprise because I rarely see it before the second half of March.
Dave Wilton

Acleris literana, Shabbington Wood 12th March

Dotted Chestnut, Shabbington Wood 12th March

Another Diurnea fagella?

Turned up this morning.

Mark Griffiths,Garsington, Oxford.

Diurnea fagella

Well, Andy (see below)...

I put my actinic out on Wednesday night; the total haul was 3 March Moth, 2 Emmelina mondactyla, 2 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, 1 Agonopterix heracliana and 1 Diurnea fagella.
(there's a pic of it on iRecord).

Also, the Burial Park 6w heath trap was on last night; 1 Tortricodes alternella, 1 Hebrew Character and 1 Small Quaker.

If nothing else, all but the March Moth were new for my year list!

Dave Morris

Slightly interesting.

Four Diurnea fagella in my trap at home (Chorleywood) last night. I'm a little bit surprised nobody else seems to have reported them yet.
Andy King.   

Confirmation and ID please

After about 2 weeks of trapping in my Benson Garden caught my first moth yesterday, an Hebrew Character. Strangely it was keeping company with a Ruby Tiger caterpillar. Three moths in the trap this morning, an Hebrew Character and the two pictured here. After not seeing a moth for so long I don't trust my identifications. Fairly sure the first is  a Grey Shoulder-knot but the second???
Very grateful for Confirmation and ID if anyone can help.
Tom Stevenson

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Early Moth (ID confirmation)

Like others I had a go last night and got what I think is my first Early moth. I also got a couple of Common Quakers and had a March moth over the weekend.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

First Trapping of the Year

I finally decided to get my actinic trap out last night for my central Oxford garden on the promise of cloudy, calm and relatively mild conditions. To be honest I wasn't holding out much hope so I was presently surprised to find three moths in the trap the next morning: a Common Quaker and two Depressaria species. The latter are rather worn but I'd appreciate some help in narrowing it down: I think that it's D. radiella (Parsnip Moth) but would like to rule out things like D. daucella or ultimella. Any help with the ID would be much appreciated.


The Common Quaker
Depressaria sp. 1
Depressaria sp.2

A proper start to the season?

If you have yet to dust off your trap for this season, now's the time to do it!  A single MV light run for three hours from dusk in Finemere Wood, Bucks last night did at last produce a reasonable total of moths from 20 different species, even though the only food source there at the moment would appear to be hazel catkins.  Like everywhere else locally, there is no sallow blossom available yet (Marc must have been lucky to find a flowering bush at Chimney Meadows the other day).  The trap produced Tortricodes alternella (62), Agonopterix heracliana (2), Acleris ferrugana/notana (1), Yellow Horned (10), March Moth (11), Shoulder Stripe (7), Red-green Carpet (1), Engrailed (3), Small Brindled Beauty (25), Pale Brindled Beauty (4), Oak Beauty (2), Spring Usher (1), Dotted Border (6), Small Quaker (26), Common Quaker (41), Clouded Drab (7), Twin-spotted Quaker (3), Hebrew Character (3), Satellite (5) & Chestnut (26).  Back home at Westcott the garden actinic trap didn't do too badly either, bringing in Agonopterix heracliana (3), Agonopterix arenella (2), Dotted Border (2), Small Quaker (1), Common Quaker (6), Clouded Drab (1), Hebrew Character (6), Grey Shoulder-knot (1) & Chestnut (2).  At least in our garden there is some nectar available from mahonia which is a useful winter-flowering plant to have.  It is always worth inspecting the flowers even if the trap is in operation nearby.
Dave Wilton

Yellow Horned, Finemere Wood 11th March
Twin-spotted Quaker, Finemere Wood 11th March
Common Quaker, Westcott 11th March


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Small Brindled Beauty in garden

My MV garden trap in Cookham last night yielded 1 Hebrew Character, 1 Small Quaker and 1 Small Brindled Beauty - a first for the garden. I know Small Brindled Beauty is a common moth in woods, but maybe not so much so in gardens.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Slightly more common Eggar

Not quite as rare as the beast Marc was looking for, but this morning, while searching some hedgerows at Bernwood Meadows, Bucks that we didn't get around to on our Brown Hairstreak egg search a couple of weeks ago, I found this early instar Oak Eggar caterpillar over-wintering on a blackthorn stem. It was only 1.5cm in length.
Dave Wilton 

Oak Eggar caterpillar, Bernwood Meadows 11th March


Small Eggar

On Monday night I went trapping at Chimney Meadows, near Shifford lock where there is a Rothamsted light trap. A few years back I used to identify the catches from that trap and there was a Small Eggar in March one year so I thought I would go and have a proper look for it with the original forecast for Monday night, well at least the one I was following, suggesting a warm, cloudy night. I set up 2 MV traps and 3 Actinics (which were left running overnight) near Blackthorn/Hawthorn hedgerows. One of the actinics I placed under a flowering Sallow, the only one I could find and which stood out quite remarkably with its fresh yellow catkins. The catkins were being visited by lots of moths, invariably Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab with the odd Chestnut and the trap positioned underneath it had 174 moths the following morning. Well over a hundred of these were Common Quaker, with another fifty made up of Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab. Other species included Shoulder Stripe, Dotted Border, Twin-spotted Quaker, Dark Chestnut, Chestnut and Satellite. I gave up with the MV traps at 21:30 after catching less than a dozen moths between them in over 3 hours and the temperatures having plummeted with superbly clear skies and the promising cloud and light drizzle at the start of the night showing no signs of returning. The other actinic traps fared similarly badly, adding just a March Moth to the overall species list. No Small Eggar, but it was too cold and there is so much potentially suitable habitat there that for an increasingly scarce moth it felt a little bit like trying to locate a needle in a haystack in a freezer. I intend to return on a warmer night in the near future for another go IF the weather improves enough - the nights are so cold at the moment. Small Eggar is a moth I have seen a number of times as larvae, I have reared them and even found the odd cocoon, but have never actually personally trapped an adult. The signs are that it has greatly declined and it would be nice to try and find out more about its distribution and ecology so that we can try and implement suitable conservation. Waring, Townsend & Lewington suggests hedgerows that are lightly cut in Autumn are favoured. In my experience of farmland locally outside of nature reserves there is no such thing as a 'light trim'  so I guess it shouldn't be too surprising this moth is doing so badly.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A few moths at last

I finally got my first moth of the year in my Aylesbury garden trap last night - a single Common quaker! I ran my actinic 15 watt trap in the Chilterns near Dunsmore also last night, but only got three moths as it was clear, beezy and around 6 c. - these were a Dotted chestnut, Small brindled beauty and a Tortricodes alternella. Dave Maunder
Dotted chestnut, 7-3-2015

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Still slow going

So far this month it has been very slow going in the garden here at Westcott, Bucks.  Apart from Agonopterix heracliana which has appeared almost nightly, the only moths have been Hebrew Character (2nd), March Moth, Dotted Border & Common Quaker (all 5th) and another Common Quaker (6th).  I took a single MV light to nearby Finemere Wood for a few hours last night and got a bit more variety - but not much!  Acleris notana/ferrugana (1), Tortricodes alternella (5), March Moth (1), Small Brindled Beauty (25), Pale Brindled Beauty (7), Oak Beauty (5), Dotted Border (1), Clouded Drab (1), Hebrew Character (1) & Chestnut (4).
Dave Wilton

Finemere Wood, 6th March

Friday, 6 March 2015

First Moth of the year! ID please

I've run the trap a few times nothing. This one turned up on the kitchen window and I found another one inside.

I'm thinking Agonopterix heracliana - I had a quick look at the underside, yellowish brown, no pink I could see.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Sunday night

A couple of moths came to my trap in my Milton Keynes garden on Sunday 1st March, a Satellite and a Clouded Drab. Hopefully this week will be the start to getting regular moths, this time last year i was getting at least one moth per night.

Darren Seaman, MK

Grey Shoulder-knot

I am still trapless but enjoying the relatively quiet life and the chance to stay a bit longer in bed of a morning. It's also quite bracing to have to look for moths at other sources of light and this Grey Shoulder-knot has kindly doubled my tally for 2015.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Moths Count

February's 'Mothy Mutterings' from the Moths Count team are available here.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Garden Moth Scheme

Several of the 'regulars' from this blog attended the Garden Moth Scheme conference last Sunday at Jordans, near Beaconsfield, and a very enjoyable and informative day it was too. If you're not familiar with the GMS it involves running a moth trap in your garden once a week, on the same day each week, whatever the weather, and recording the numbers of moths from a standard list of about 220 species. The 2015 recording season starts this coming Friday, so if you want to take part you need to dust off your trap!

Click here for full details of how to join in the GMS, and following on from the conference I've just added to my blog a post about moth monitoring in general and the GMS in particular, including links to some of the research that GMS data has been used for.

I'm now looking forward to my first GMS session at the end of this week.