Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Flying high

I was working from home this morning, so able to set the moth trap on what was looking to be a promising night. I ended up with my best totals of the year, 58 moths of 28 species, which is not bad for my 20w actinic heath. Also a perfect number for going through before work.

I did not record any new species for the garden, but there were plenty that I have not recorded too often. First of all here is one of two May Highflyers, the fourth and fifth recorded in the garden.

May Highflyer

Unlike most of the recent traps, there were quite a few micro moths. One of these was the succinctly named Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (that's easy for you to say). This is just the second record for the garden of this distinctive moth, and it is the first time it has appeared on this blog.

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana

Also from the tortrix family was one of the easiest to identify, Epilblema cynosbatella. As suggested by the second part of the Latin name, this is sometimes given the English name of Yellow-faced Belle. It is easy to see why. Another new one for the blog.

Epiblema cynosbatella

A gradual increase in size to this Middle-barred Minor. The minors are some of the smallest of our macro moths, and can be impossible to identify without 'further determination'. Thankfully the Middle-barred Minor is one the family that can be readily identified, and this is only the second record for my garden.

Middle-barred Minor

From the smallest macro moth in the trap to one of the largest. There were two of these Elephant Hawk-moths, always a treat.

Elephant Hawk-moth

The final picture is this Silver-ground Carpet. This is a common moth that I regularly record in the late spring and early summer, and is often seen flying in the day around the garden. This is notable in being the first time I have managed to get a decent picture of one.

Silver-ground Carpet

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Every Cloud...

A gap in work commitments, along with promising conditions overnight, meant that Tuesday night was moth trap night. The returns were modest, with 27 moths of 13 species, but this included a new macro species for the garden and two new for the year appearances.

The crowd-pleasers were this squadron of Poplar Hawk-moths. Having been waiting for my first record of 2014, three arrived at once. All were beautiful fresh-looking individuals, with the lovely lilac sheen on parts of the upper forewing.

Poplar Hawk-moths (with Brown Rustic)

The new macro species for the garden was this Clouded-bordered Brindle, and very nice it was too. Not a record that caused much of a surprise, except for why this has taken so long to appear here. This is a common moth species, and the larvae feed on various grasses (which are not in short supply here).

Clouded-bordered Brindle

The other new species for the year was the only micro moth amongst the 27, this Teleiopsis diffinis. This is one of the gelechids and though apparently common over much of the country, it does not seem to be recorded particularly frequently in moth traps. It is a species that I have recorded several times, though the number of records for Shropshire is quite small.

Teleiopsis diffinis

One of the other highlights was this lovely Scalloped Hazel. Before this spring my only record had involved a dead individual found in my porch, however this is the third 'live' individual I have found this year.

Scalloped Hazel

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Picking up

Not much activity here for the last few weeks, mainly due to a distinct lack of activity in the moth trap. With the sunny weather though the moths have started arriving, with nearly 30 moths last night, compared to the threes of fours we have been recording.

I was pleased to record two new species for the garden over the last couple of sessions. One is a species I have been looking out for, the other was a bit of a head-scratcher - by methodically trawling through the UK moths website I finally identified it!

Here is the first, a Muslin Moth. This is a male, I know this because while the females are white the males are grey-brown. I am more likely to catch males in the trap as whilst the males are nocturnal, the females fly in the day.

Muslin Moth

The second new moth was a micro, Blastobasis lacticolella. This is not originally a British species, instead it was accidentally introduced. The larvae feed on a wide range of foodstuffs, including stored products, leaf-litter and vegetation. It does not appear to have been commonly recorded in Shropshire, so I am pleased to record it.

Blastobasis lacticolella

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Back to Purple

There were several nice surprises in the moth trap this morning, with several new moths for the year and one new species for the garden. Probably the best moth was this Purple Thorn, resting in the grass outside the trap.

Purple Thorn

This species rests with its wings held open, an easy was to distinguish it from the similar Early Thorn. This was my second record for the garden, following one seen last summer.

Purple Thorn

The new species for the garden was the Waved Umber. In fact I had three of this species in the trap, including this one that was resting on the outside of the trap itself. This is a moth I have been on the look out for, as it was a glaring omission from the garden list. Its curious shape and habit of resting flat with wings fully spread makes this an intriguing moth.

Waved Umber

There was also my second record of Water Carpet, though quite a faded individual. Despite the name this moth is not particularly associated with wetland habitats, and can be found in woodland, grassland and scrubby areas.

Water Carpet

And finally my first Bright-line Brown-eye of the year. Also in the trap were the years first Small Phoenix and Brown Silver-line, along with a yet to be identified leaf miner.

Bright-line Brown-eye

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Here we are again

It has been some time since I last posted anything here, but that does not mean that there has not been any moths about, only that there was nothing worth writing about really.

In fact there have been lots of moths on the few nights that I have thought it worth putting the trap on, with significant numbers of orthosias (Quakers, etc.), often in the hundreds, but until this week, nothing new or interesting.

So, taking a step backwards to a post I made in November last year, which showed a cocoon and pupa found at Earls Hill, well, you guessed, it hatched out and was a Scalloped Hazel. This was about 2 weeks early for this species.

Scalloped Hazel, pupa and cocoon

So, moving to last night, which was both warm and wet, in the trap there were about 100 moths, of which two were new to me here and have not been recorded for a few years in Shrops. as far as I know.

The first was a Great Prominent, one of the larger moths with a wing-span of more than 2 inches. The normal resting position, as seen in the photo is with its wings held tight to its body. The larval food-plant, like many other moths is Oak.

Great Prominent

Another Oak feeding moth larva is that of the Blossom Underwing, which is localised and not common. I was very pleased to catch this one. Some years there is an influx from the continent along the southern coastline.

Blossom Underwing

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Earning my stripes

We are back to warmer nights and back to more moths. There were 51 in the trap last night, the highest count of the year, with 13 species represented. Pick of the bunch were two Shoulder-stripe, a good looking moth and a welcome addition to the garden list. This is quite a common and widespread species, and it was nice to finally record this here in Batch Valley.


Otherwise, there were some welcome reappearances - moths coming to the trap for the first time this year. Best of these was only the second Engrailed for the garden. I nearly missed it as it was not in the trap, but settled nearby on the wall of the house, showing that it pays to search carefully around the trap each morning!

The Engrailed

In the trap itself was an Early Thorn, a regularly occurring species but also a real favourite. This is one species that is always popular when we carry out our moth surveys. This species always rests with its wings closed, the underside of the wing also looking brighter than the upperside.

Early Thorn

One of the major headaches that moth recorders get is identifying pugs. There are quite a number of pug species, which look very similar and wear very quickly, meaning that many a disparaging word is said against them. When they are freshly emerged, however, they are very attractive little moths. This Brindled Pug was my first pug species this year.

Brindled Pug

I will finish off with a Red Chestnut, a speciality for this garden and one of my favourite of the spring moths. I caught this very bright specimen which I thought was deserving of having its photograph taken.

Red Chestnut

Other moths were very much the usual suspects, with 13 Mottled Greys and 15 Hebrew Characters the most common. I also recorded 6 March Moths, meaning I have now recorded more than ten individuals this year of this moth, which had not appeared in the garden before this year.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Every Cloud...

There was certainly a silver lining last night, with the best catch of the year - there were 47 moths of 13 species. Like Graham the other night, there was a Clouded Drab in the trap. A much more attractive moth than the name suggests. This is apparently very variable in appearance, though all those I have caught have been similar looking individuals.

Clouded Drab

Most of the moths were species I have already recorded this year, with Mottled Grey the commonest with 16 individuals. There was one new appearance though, this Diurnea fagella. This is a male, as the female have quite short and stunted wings.

Diurnea fagella