Thursday, 28 November 2013

The weatherman said ....

That it was going to be warm last night, and he was right!

One of the best nights mothing for weeks!

There were more than 100 moths, of 10 species. OK, 77 of them were Mottled Umbers and 15 were Winter Moths, but so what.

The two above named species have something in common (along with a few others) and that is that the female moths are wingless, or virtually so. These female moths hatch out and sit around waiting for a male, mate, lay eggs on the same tree and, well you can guess the rest.

This means of course that these females never arrive in your trap and up to this week I had never seen one.

But, in the summer I had collected several larvae from trees and bushes around here and kept them fed and watered.  Several hatched out this week.

Winter Moth (f)

Winter Moth (m)

Mottled Umber (f)


                                                                                                             Mottle Umber (m)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Out and about

Put the trap on last night as the temperature was supposed to stay reasonable, but the catch was a bit disappointing to compared to the week before. There were however 22 moths of 4 species.

Undaunted we went for a walk up the path opposite the house and found some leaf miners on wild raspberry. Was able to get reasonable photos from my Iphone - a first for me.
Stigmella aurella on Raspberry

We took a trip to Earls Hill a couple of days later and I found a leaf miner on a Rowan leaf. This turns out to be Phyllonorycter sorbi, another first for me.

Phyllonorycter sorbi on Rowan

By chance I also found a pupa in a silken sheath covered in bits of dry old dead wood on an Oak stump. I wonder when it will hatch out and what it will be. Watch this space!

Unknown pupal case

Unknown pupa

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mines, mines and mines!

There are literally thousands of leaf mines around at the moment giving a great chance to add a few more species to the growing list of moths found in and around the Strettons.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of accompanying the County Micro-moth Recorder on a tour round Rectory Wood, (in spite of the fact that it rained all the time) where we collected dozens of leaves from a range of trees.

First analysis reveals a list of 26 different moths, quite a number of which were new to me and some of them were certainly firsts for the Strettons and the 4th only records for Shropshire. Thanks Godfrey! The one shown is quite common, but was new for me. The larva first made a blotch mine (where it fed and then moved to the leaf edge, folded it over, stuck it down and munched in there until it  pupated.

Phyllonorycter devoniella

On Friday I returned to Rectory Field to inspect the Evergreen oak and the Turkey oak near the entrance and to collect mines. If truth were told, that was our objective on Wednesday but we "did" the woods and missed the oaks. This was also a successful visit.

And so, on Saturday, profiting from the sunshine, I went up the hill behind Stokesay Castle and did more collecting. One interesting find was the larva of a Brimstone moth. Quite a common moth, but its larva can be of two structurally different forms and it is said to have a life cycle which produces 3 broods in 2 years. This means they either pupate in the autumn and over-winter like  that, or (like this one) will live over winter as a larva. It is feeding on hawthorn, which will lose most of its leaves over winter!

Brimstone Moth (l)

And so to last night where the temperature stayed up above 10°C and the trap was switched on. There were 42 Mottled Umber Moths in and around the trap and another 41 moths of 12 different species. Well worth the effort.

It is unlikely that there will be more nights like that for some time, but....

In the meantime there are lots of leafmines around, so hope you are out there looking!