Friday, 30 September 2016

Still a few newcomers

Numbers have reduced in recent days in our garden in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire; but a few new species are still turning up (no Convolvulus Hawkmoths yet, though). As well as common species which we don't always get such as Pink-barred Sallow, we have a few slightly unusual species, such as this Cypress Carpet:

Cypress Carpet, 28/9/16
and what I'm pretty sure is a tattered Large Ranunculus:

Presumed Large Ranunculus, 25/9/16
The only slightly contentious species is this, of which two showed up in the trap on 25th September - judging by other people's photos, I'm inclined to think that my first impression, that this is Deep-brown Dart (as well as the general appearance and feathery antenna in the photo, it had a whitish hindwing), is correct. Not a rare species, but if that's what it is, it would be a garden first - if anyone's able to confirm, that would be good!

Probably Deep-brown Dart, 25/9/16
Steve and Xander Goddard

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Westcott, Bucks

I was beginning to think it was something I'd said ... until 6am this morning when I was greeted by the sight below while securing the actinic trap in the garden.  Better late than never!

Convolvulus Hawk and little friend, Westcott 28th September

Other recent additions to the 2016 garden list have included Small Wainscot (24th), Blair's Shoulder-knot (25th), Mallow & Red-line Quaker (26th), Orange Sallow (27th) and Yellow-line Quaker (28th).  Unfortunately, as far as macro-moths are concerned there are now only about a dozen regular species left to be seen here this year.  Last night's collection was typical of recent catches, comprising 143 moths of 21 species.  The highest counts were provided by Lunar Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character & Black Rustic, with Beaded Chestnut now into double figures and on the increase.

Last night I also took three MV lights to National Trust chalk grassland in the Hughenden Valley, Bucks for the usual three hours.  Despite the annoyingly strong breeze they produced a reasonable selection of seasonal moths, including my first Satellite of the autumn, but rather unexpected was a fresh Kent Black Arches.

Satellite, Hughenden Valley 28th September

Kent Black Arches, Hughenden Valley 28th September

My experience of Kent Black Arches this year is that it did exceptionally well at sites in the Chilterns (and in my garden, for that matter, where it appeared on four separate occasions).  It shouldn't really be a big surprise that it has joined the list of univoltine species now attempting a second brood.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Query re Brown-spot Pinion

Several Beaded Chestnuts arrived in my garden trap last night, but also the moth below which looked different. Am I correct in thinking it is a Brown-spot Pinion?

For comparison, below is the same moth with a Beaded Chestnut to the left.

Other new-for-year moths were Blair's Shoulder-knot, Pink-barred Sallow and Merveille Du Jour.

There were hardly any micros in last night's trap, but I did find another Cydalima perspectalis. This is the fourth one I have recorded in my garden this year.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

A couple of queries: edit

I just realised that I didn't attach the photo of Tachystola acroxantha in my recent post, so for completeness here it is.  How widespread is this species in Bucks now?

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

Autumn collection

Moth trapping last night at Ali's Pond LNR in Sonning was dominated numerically by Hornets, Yellow Underwings and Lunar Underwings, but amongst them was this wonderfully colourful collection - Red Underwing and Beaded Chestnut (both new site records), Sallow, Barred Sallow and Green-brindled Crescent.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A couple of queries

My garden trap last night was much more productive that the previous two evenings - still no sign of any migrants though!

I have a couple of queries.  Firstly, this rather fresh Endothenia is a new one for me, but I'm undecided as to which one.  It looks likely to be marginana or gentianaeana, though both are supposed to be on their way out by now, both sides shown below.

Edit: actually having now had a closer look, I think it is most likely Endothenia oblongana, the length, which I should have posted earlier, supports this as well being about 7mm. I was swaying back to marginana, but went to check the hindwings, which are supposed to be obviously white in marginana. They appeared very dark, both upper and lower, which again supports oblongana.  The late date seems odd though - perhaps another double brood?

Secondly, can this Caloptilia be safely distinguished from this photo? I think it looks a likely betulicola.

Edit: I suspect that this is one for you Peter.

The following is just my indulgence as I had quite a few new species for my garden list, though none of them particularly exciting: Deep-brown Dart, Scrobipalpa costella, Choreutis pariana and Tachystola acroxantha.  Also, having only just added Achroia grisella, another specimen turned up.

I should have included photos of the two Merveille du Jour that turned up, as best looking of the night, but as they are regular Autumn moths I didn't take any, just these brown things above....

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Alder Moth, in September?

This Alder Moth came as a surprise during one of my regular trapping sessions in Bernwood Forest, Bucks last night.  Yet another species attempting a second brood.

Alder Moth, Bernwood Forest 24th September

Otherwise the only thing of interest was a Figure of Eight, no doubt the first of many as the moth is quite common in woodland locally.

Figure of Eight, Bernwood Forest 24th September
Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Actually, make that two Convolvulus Hawks

After my second Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli) in two weeks, last night at the trap, I was stunned this morning to find another one this morning in the trap.  I assume they were attracted initially to a large patch of Tobacco Plant (Nicotiana) - Sensation Mixed, grown from a packet of seed which I got last year with Atropos.  So three in two weeks is more than I could have hoped for, I wonder how many there are around!

The behaviour of Convolvulus Hawk is interesting, they were obviously attracted to the nicotiana initially, but the moth trap light pulled them in, but two of the three did not go in the trap.  They settled on an adjacent brick wall, so worth checking around the trap.  The one that landed there last night around 10:30 pm, did not move again, it was still in the same place this morning, and stayed there all day.  My very limited experience of this species, based on two previous sightings, is that they will stay put in the open (assuming they are out of the sun and not disturbed).

I put the second moth on the wall with the first after I emptied the trap first thing this morning, then moved it for a side by side shot, but otherwise they did not move all day.

Neil Fletcher, Walter's Ash, VC24

Riverside Mothing

Tried a new site last night, on private land on the banks of the Chess at Chenies, with Messrs. King and Payne. With the clear skies, it became noticeably cold down there, and with the mist rising from the river, there weren't as many moths as I would have hoped.

New for my year as adults were Herald, Black Rustic and Barred Sallow. We also found the caterpillar of Dot Moth, and started looking for leaf mines due to the lack of flying insects (there were a few bats and owls though).

Andy has id'd the leaf mines, with the best of the bunch (OK, new for me at least) were Phyllocnistis saligna, Phyllonorycter viminiella (both on Crack Willow) and Stigmella regiella on Hawthorn.

Dave Morris, Chenies.

Friday, 23 September 2016

I can't believe it - another Convolvulus Hawk

I thought I would put the trap out in the garden tonight as there seemed to be some warm airflow coming up from Europe, but the clear skies and cooling temperatures made me think it might not be very productive.  However, a quick check of the trap at 22:00 looked very thin, virtually nothing showing in or on the trap, until I checked the wall near the trap and there was another Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli).  Definitely not the same one I had 10 days ago.  I can't believe it!

Neil Fletcher, Walter's Ash, VC24

Westcott, Bucks

The moths at this time of year are hardy individuals and even though the temperature fell to 5C last night they were still arriving at the trap when I secured it just before dawn.  21 species appeared, including Barred Sallow and Dusky-lemon Sallow (a slightly deformed individual) which were new for the year list.  Dusky-lemon Sallow appears here without fail several times each season but the garden is still the only place in Bucks that I've ever seen it despite a lot of away-trapping across the county at this time of year.

Lunar Underwing has quickly become the most numerous species in the garden with 44 individuals caught last night.  Amongst the others was Bright-line Brown-eye, a moth which does sometimes have a partial second brood at this time of year although I personally haven't had a September record of it since 2010.

Dusky-lemon Sallow, Westcott 22nd September

Bright-line Brown-eye, Westcott 22nd September

A further look at our young hazel three days ago produced a second leaf-mining species, this time Phyllonorycter nicellii (another new one for the garden list!) whose tell-tale mines are on the underside of the leaf although they leave a characteristic pattern on the upper surface as shown in the image below.

Mine of Phyllonorycter nicellii on hazel

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

COAM Moths

Had the trap out last Sunday night at COAM; new for my year list were Frosted Orange, Lunar Underwing and Brindled Green, plus these:

 I think this is Eudonia pallida, but would appreciate confirmation

 ...and this I'm not really sure about

Dave Morris, Chalfont St Giles

Thursday, 22 September 2016


Up on the hill at Garsington Large Yellow U/W still lead the way followed By Setaceous Hebrew Character. Black Rustic also having a good year with 17 last night. A smattering of migrants so far this year including this Dark Sword Grass last night.
Being involved in the GMS and therefore trapping on the same night for most of the year my figures to date are down 50% on the same time last year.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Autumn in spades

After a week or so without putting the trap out, as I was away, we had a reasonable night last night in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, with 47 moths of 20 different species, of which three were new for the year, all three distinctly autumnal: Lunar Underwing, Sallow and Black Rustic. That last is an especial favourite of ours: for some reason, it seems quite a charismatic moth (later correction: on going through our records, it looks as though an Acleris emargana was also NFY; I'd have sworn we'd had one already, and didn't even bother with a photo).

Black Rustic, 21/9/16
Migrant-wise, nothing doing other than a Silver Y. I was also a little surprised, given its dates in the literature, to have what I can only identify as a Marbled Beauty: it seems rather late for it, but we had plenty earlier in the year, so perhaps it's one of those species which is having a good second or third brood -- and I can't see what else this specimen is going to be!

Presumed Marbled Beauty, 21/9/16
Steve and Xander Goddard

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Another Convolvulus Hawk

Gaynor Norman kindly sent the following message:  "I thought you might be interested to know that we had a Convolvulus Hawk Moth in our back garden in Marlow, Bucks on three evenings last week.  It was feeding on Nicotiana plants which I have never grown before but certainly will again next year!"

Convolvulus Hawk-moth, Marlow

Convolvulus Hawk-moth, Marlow

This sighting actually pre-dates Neil Fletcher's record from Walter's Ash by 24 hours as the moth was first seen in Marlow on 12th September.  Excellent news for us to have had another Bucks record and shows the value of planting tobacco plants which the moth seems able to detect from miles away.  Hopefully there are still more of them out there waiting to be seen...!

Large Ranunculus, Large Wainscot, and Burnished Brass

My garden trap last night attracted 91 moths of 24 species. The top three were Large Yellow Underwing (22), Willow Beauty (18) and the first Lunar Underwings of the year (11).
Like Marc, I also saw my first Large Ranunculus of the year.

Other new for year moths were Red-green Carpet, Black Rustic and the Large Wainscot below.

Finally, one of my favourite moths also turned up last night - a Burnished Brass (f. aurea). Not only is it an attractive moth that shimmers in the light, but it also sits quietly while you take its photograph.

Steve Trigg, Cookham

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


1st Blair's Shoulder-knot of the year for me in Didcot last night along with my first Large Ranunculus of the year of which there were three. Lunar Underwings not yet in any decent numbers and still haven't had any of the Sallows in the garden yet. Did have a nice Orange Sallow at work a couple of nights ago, but numbers of moths generally are still desperately low. Marc Botham, Didcot

Blair's Shoulder-knot, Didcot, 19-09-16

Two of the Large Ranunculus around the trap, Didcot, 19-09-16

Monday, 19 September 2016

Quiet Everywhere

I ran three MV lights on chalk grassland above Princes Risborough, Bucks again last night because it had been a reasonably warm day and the minimum overnight temperature was forecast to be 14C with some cloud cover.  Needless to say, the forecast proved incorrect and by 10pm the skies had cleared to reveal a bright moon, the temperature then plummeted and moth activity dried up.  However, up until 10pm there had been a fair amount of action so it was a worthwhile visit and I came away with 44 species, not a fantastic total but acceptable in the circumstances.  Orange Sallow was the moth of the night, with 38 individuals caught (the third highest species total behind Setaceous Hebrew Character and Square-spot Rustic).  Unexpected second broods included Pandemis cinnamomeana (10) and Pretty Chalk Carpet (4), all fresh individuals, while the only 'migrants' were Plutella xylostella (3) & Dark Sword-grass (1).  One other moth worth a mention was a Cypress Pug but they seem to be turning up quite regularly in Bucks these days.

Orange Sallow, Princes Risborough 18th September

Pandemis cinnamomeana, Princes Risborough 18th September

Back home at Westcott, Bucks the garden actinic trap has been quite quiet for the past week and nothing further has been added to the year list.  Last night's selection (90 moths of 15 species) was fairly typical, including just two individuals of Lunar Underwing.  It and the other autumn species seem to rely to a large extent on ivy blossom as a source of food and the flowers are only just starting to open here.  The little Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella doesn't seem to want to give up this year and eleven of them appeared at the trap last night, the highest total this month and the latest date I've recorded it.  The one below must be a particularly hardy specimen because, unusually, it survived until this morning!

Acentria ephemerella, Westcott 18th September

Back on 16th September my eyes were drawn towards an odd-looking triangular arrangement of branches on a young birch in our garden and closer inspection showed the culprit to be a Peppered Moth caterpillar.  Measuring 6.5cms, it must be nearly fully grown.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks              

Friday, 16 September 2016


Is it possible to put an identity on this Dart. Sorry about the quality.
Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Rain, what rain?

Having run three lights at BBOWT's College Lake reserve on the Bucks/Herts border last night, I got an e-mail from one of their staff today asking how wet I got because by this morning they'd had a power cut and the car-park had become a lake.  Well, I did have a good view of thunderstorm activity all around but no rain fell on College Lake while I was there, nor did we get any rain at home until dawn, so it seems I was rather lucky! 

It was perfect mothing weather, warm and still with the full moon well hidden behind clouds, but there actually wasn't a vast amount of activity around the traps although the list for the usual three hours eventually came to an acceptable 53 species.  Autumn moths predominated, including Black Rustic, Deep-brown Dart, Brown-spot Pinion, Sallow, Centre-barred Sallow and my first Barred Sallow of the season, but most pleasing of all was to find a handful of the smart Autumnal Rustic (give me a grey moth over yellow and pink ones any day!).

Autumnal Rustic, College Lake 15th September

Amongst the 20 micro species was a stunningly fresh specimen of Oncocera semirubella which, contrary to the books, at this time of year must surely be a second brood example.

Oncocera semirubella, College Lake 15th September

On a hawthorn bush next to one of the traps I found a final instar Pale Tussock larva, in my opinion one of our prettiest caterpillars.

Pale Tussock caterpillar, College Lake 15th September

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks