Sunday, 4 June 2017

Westcott, Bucks

There hasn't been much of particular interest in the garden trap over the past few nights but the following have been added to the site year list:  31st May Pandemis cerasana, Anania fuscalis, Riband Wave (my first ever May record) & Cinnabar; 1st June Anania perlucidalis & Mottled Rustic; 2nd June Aphelia paleana, Miller & Fan-foot, along with Nematopogon metaxella & Small Dusty Wave which were recorded during the daytime.  There was nothing new last night unless a retained Phyllonorycter species turns out to be something good, but Yellow Shell active in the daytime today was another garden first-timer for this year.

Aphelia paleana, Westcott 2nd June

Miller, Westcott 2nd June

Fan-foot, Westcott 2nd June

The plain but distinctive Timothy Tortrix Aphelia paleana is just as likely to be seen in the daytime and is worth keeping an eye out for, especially in rough grassland.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


  1. When I submitted my Oxfordshire micro moth records last year it was pointed out that Aphelia paleana really needed examination of genitalia to check that it wasn't A. unitana. As it happens I also got one in the trap on 2nd June and it is on its way to be checked.

    1. I don't think dissection is really necessary, Andy. In the micro-moth verification guidelines issued by the National Moth Recording Scheme last year, Aphelia paleana is listed with the code '1' which means that it is a distinctive species which is unlikely to be confused with anything else, although if you were trying to claim Aphelia unitana then that species is listed as '4' (dissection required). For the most part, what we know as Aphelia unitana seems to be a northern moorland species and it looks rather different to paleana. I also seem to remember that there is a school of thought that unitana is actually just a sub-species of paleana. Perhaps someone else knows more?

  2. Looking a little further into this, Keith Bland in MGBI Vol.5(1), which may perhaps not be the most reliable of sources, lists paleana as Aphelia paleana paleana (Hubner, 1793) and unitana as Aphelia paleana ssp. unitana (Hubner, [1796-1799]).

    Concerning unitana, he goes on: "Very similar to the nominate subspecies but with the forewings more greyish white, although often tinged lemon-yellow in the female. Underside as in nominate species. Note: Some populations can be clearly ascribed to paleana and others to unitana based on coloration alone, however populations with intermediate coloration also occur. Inspection of the aedeagus of the male of a substantial series of both "species" has found that the projections of this structure are quite variable with no consistent differences between the two groups. Gaedike (1989) reported similar findings. All specimens examined had a ventrolateral subapical spine slightly to the left of the midline. This can usually be seen in dried specimens without dissection, however in slide mounts the position assumed by the aedeagus may obscure this spine. A. unitana may be a species in the making but at present there appears to be no morphological or substantial biologival grounds for retaining it as a separate species, hence its demotion to subspecies."

    His suggestion appears to be that dissection won't tell you much anyway!

  3. Thank you for your detailed response. I raised the issue as it was one of a couple of my records that were considered questionable.


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