Monday, 27 May 2013

Trapping? - More like Trappist!

Trappist monks, known for their silence and austerity, remind me of what moth trapping has been like here. It has either been forecast to be austere and make it not worth a light (sic) or on those nights where it has been "warm" their has been very little to say.

The contents of the traps over 5 sessions has been just 11 moths.

Yesterday however the sun was shining and at last there was something to look forward to - a day out, and where better than on the Mynd to look for Green Hairstreaks - of which we saw only 3, but there was a Small Copper too and lots of Whites.

More interesting was that there were several moths flying and I managed to catch a Red Twin-spot Carpet, a Common Carpet and a couple of micros which I could not identify. However they both turned out to be Neofaculta ericetella - Gelechiidae moths - duly reported to the National Gelechid Recording Scheme. The species name referring to the fact that the larvae feed on heather. There were longhorns about too (Adela reaumurella), which I had also noted in the garden a few days earlier.

Neofaculta ericetella

With the evening remaing pleasant, a climb over the back fence and a tour of Brockhurst resulted in another new moth, this being a very strongly marked Syndemis musculana - common, but very welcome.

Syndemis muscula

The Lime Hawkmoth and the Pale Tussock pupae both hatched out yesterday too (see older posts referring to them).

My collection of caterpillars for breeding out is growing (literally and in numbers!) All I have to do now it identify them.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Few but new!

It has continued to be chilly at night and there have only been a few moths, but at least some of them have been new to the site. Last night there were only 12 moths, 2 of which were not in the trap but on the wall next to it - both were new! One of these moths was frosted - no, not that cold - it was a Frosted Green (a Thyatiridae, not a Noctuidae) and the other was a Yellow-barred Brindle (a Geometridae).

Frosted Green
But in spite of the weather there has been a lot going on. Some of the larvae I collected from the heather in the garden last year have succesfully emerged and have caused some rethinking!

Yellow-barred Brindle

Yes, I have had a Ling Pug emerge, as I reported in a recent post and indeed a second one, BUT when the next moth emerged it was a Narrow-winged Pug - and so more research was needed.

Narrow-winged Pug
The best place for that was on the UK-leps site and lo-and-behold there are beautiful photos of  Pug larva there.

In spite of my previous efforts I now need to change some of my records because they are wrong!

It appears that lovely purple and white larva (5 October) is that of the Narrow-winged Pug (not Ling or Satyr) and a similar, but much duller larvae (not shown) is that of the Ling Pug.

Otherwise, there have been a number of larvae in the garden, most notably those eating the leaves of the Primroses and Cowslips. Identifying these is either by a one-by-one search of The UK Caterpillars book, (or the UKMoths site) or by searching the "food plants" literature - if you have got it!

There is quite a range of larvae to choose from, all very similar looking, one of which is called the Uncertain!
It may be a long time before I am sure.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Triumph (old)

You will of course remember the Triumph cars and perhaps the Triumph Herald? I shall not be putting a picture of one here, instead I will put one of my favourite moth - the Herald. This distinctively shaped moth with beautiful shades of orange, greyish brown and white with deeply scalloped and indented outer wing edges was one of the first I ever recorded, some 40 years or more ago. These moths over-winter in outbuildings, caves, etc. and in several years of living in France I never saw one.

Also new for us were a Nut-tree Tussock, a Garden Carpet and a Waved Umber. The latter two flew off before I could get a photo, but I feel sure there will be others.

Nut-tree Tussock

I could have caled this blog "Pug-awash" (or similar) as there were 13 Pug moths in the trap. These small geometrid moths are the most difficult group to identify as there are several which are similar and many of them are dark forms (melanic) which makes it even worse! I think there were at least 3 different species among them.

With 19 species, this was the best night of the year so far. 3 Twenty-plume moths added a new species to my list here. If you count the plumes you will see that there are only 12 - which is why its Latin name is Alucita hexadactyla.

Twenty-plume Moth

Monday, 6 May 2013

The travelling trap

As part of the SACWG survey, "Moths in YOUR garden", the trap has travelled twice in the last few days. On the 2nd, it was taken to Wall and the trap was placed in the back garden with a huge expanse of fairly bare fields beyond and very few trees in sight. So it was a pleasant surprise the following morning to find more than 50 moths in (and around) the trap, with 11 species and our first Brindled Beauty - 3 of them.

Brindled Beauty (from Wall)

On Sunday the trap travelled to Gulley Green to an environment which looked ideal for moths, set in 10 acres of woods, valleys and gardens, what could be better?
Yes, you guessed, the night was not as warm as promised and with a cool breeze and a clear sky we were somewhat disappointed to find around 30 moths of 7 species.

At home it was a similar story, except that the warm days led to a few micro-moths hatching out from some of the leaf-mines which I had collected last autumn.

You may recall (or look back) the mines on lilac (14 September blog) which all hatched out - Gracillardia syringella and on the blog of 17 December the leaf mines on Beech. These turned out to be Phyllonorycter maestingella.

Gracillaria syringella

Phyllonorycter maestingella

In addition, the lovely purple and white larva shown on the 6th October blog did indeed confirm the Ling pug, as predicted.

Ling Pug