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!

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