Thursday, 25 May 2017

Web surprise

On the drive to Hendre Woods yesterday, to look for Drab Looper, I nearly crashed the car when I saw a huge web in a laneside hawthorn hedge. 'Surely Small Eggar' I thought, and sure enough it proved to be. Martin tells me this is the first county record north of Caerleon, except for an adult record from Neil Horton's garden many years ago.
 


A few yards further along the same hedge, a spindle had been thoroughly webbed by the Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella.

I saw 3 Drab Looper at Hendre, which was a relief after drawing a blank there in 2016.

Monday, 22 May 2017

IMPERIAL PARK

Mother Shipton & Small Yellow Underwing from rough ground next to work this morning. Both lifers so pleased to find them.




Filling the gaps - ST2289

I had a look yesterday at ST2289 Fwrwm near Machen.  This is a 1x1 km square that has no butterfly or macro moth species recorded.  The habitat was very good sitting alongside the limestone quarry with old grazed pasture and some small copses of mixed deciduous woodland.  There were no spectacular finds but a respectable 7 butterfly species and 2 day flying moths - the best being Mother Shipton.  It was good to have tried somewhere new and now plan on looking at some other "0" species squares - there are a surprising number across the VC .   Have a look at the page "Help fill the gaps initiative" for details of a square near you!

Species recorded: Speckled Wood; Orange Tip x2; Green-veined White x10; Large White; Common Blue x6; Small Copper; Small Tortoiseshell and, the macros Mother Shipton x4, Brown Silver Line.  There was also Crambus pratella.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

LIGHTHOUSE PARK

Ran the 125w MV at home on the 18th. 45 moths of 21 species topped by this Ash Pug Eupithecia innotata f. fraxinata

Martin tells me it is a 1st record for Gwent.


Friday, 12 May 2017

30th April

Chepstow Town (south)

Went out food shopping this morning. Nothing surprising about that, a normal weeks routine you say and quite right, but things are just not that simple as that.
I'm not sure about anybody else out there but I tend to take my camera with me the majority of the time in case you might see something.
It proved a good idea today for just as I was coming out of the store perched on the floor was a Lime Hawk-moth.
I immediately went back to car and got a moth pot and rescued it from potential trampling feet because it was near the exit door.
It had obviously got attracted to the overnight store lights. Maybe upon the store opening up it had been on the main door and got displaced onto the ground and remained there ever since.

Lime Hawk-moth

It is a nationally common moth supposedly but I'm finding it quite elusive even though I'm surrounded by suitable habitat for it, just two sightings in the last few years.
Would be interested in finding out if many of you moth'ers out there see them often?

Waiting for control tower to OK take off
27th April

Broad Meend, Cleddon
- always expect the unexpected

An early morning look for Birch leaf mines was productive producing three different Eriocrania micros at the site including E. Semipurpurella (Early Purple), E.sangii (Large Birch Purple) and E. cicatricella (Washed Purple). This was to aid and boost records for the Eriocrania micro species from Sam's earlier post.

After photographing the leaf mines my hands were tingling for it had been a chilly night on the heath with a possible touch of ground frost, however the early morning sunshine was very quickly warming up the bracken and bare ground and out popped a few Common Heath moths from there protective hideouts.

Encouraged by this sightings I began rummaging around for more leaf mines and disturbed a micro. A tricky customer this one for I had to chase this one down a couple of times to get a few photographs but it all was worth it in the end.
Sam Bosanquet confirmed it as Ancylis uncella (Bridge Roller), a seemingly rarely seen micro in Gwent Vice county. I believe he was the only person to have seen it up until now. His sightings occurred some 18 years ago in 1999, so a considerable gap indeed, but it's 'great to know it is still in the county' he said.

 Bridge Roller- Ancylis uncella on Birch leaf

Thursday, 11 May 2017

In Gwent this week...

I spent a couple of sunny days in VC35 carrying out surveys for Drab Looper, among other things, on Monday and Tuesday.

At Slade Wood on Monday I failed to find any Drab Loopers, but I did find 5 larvae of Barred Tooth-striped on privet in the quarry area. This is the same area where the larvae were found last year, and again I couldn't find any in the eastern part of the wood despite abundant privet.

In the afternoon I visited CADW's Llanmelin Hillfort and was impressed by the number of Drab Looper flying - I counted 18 in 23 minutes. This is more than were seen at any of the Welsh sites in 2016, and it is still early in the season. There were many micro-moths flying at the site including Micropterix tunbergella (also seen at Slade Wood), Cauchas rufimitrella and the tiny plume Adaina microdactyla.


There was also a vacated mine of the scarce Eriocrania chrysolepidella on hazel.

On Tuesday I joined Martin and Roger at MoD Caerwent for a few hours. We saw several Drab Looper and good numbers of Grizzled and Dingy Skipper, as well as Pyrausta nigrata at its only known site in the county.

George (Butterfly Conservation Wales)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

News: Macro-moth Atlas and Bee Friendly Newport

Macro-moth Atlas - Butterfly Conservation plans to publish a macro-moth atlas in 2018 and has launched a sponsorship scheme to raise money for the publication. Martin has reserved sponsorship of Silurian, Scarce Hook-tip, Small Ranunculus, Scarlet Tiger, Red Sword-grass and Grey Chi for MMBG to gain some publicity for the MMBG and dedicate species to Rod Morris and Bill Jones who sadly passed away in the past few months. If anyone wants to sponsor species, information is available at http://butterfly-conservation.org/15623/moth-auction.html.

Bee Friendly Newport - a new project is being launched to make Newport the first official ‘Bee Friendly’ city in Wales with a launch event on Tuesday 16th May at 7.30p.m at The Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport.

In September 2016 the Welsh Government launched a new nationwide scheme for towns, communities, schools, businesses, universities, public bodies and places of worship to encourage action around pollinators under the title Bee Friendly / Caru Gwenyn (http://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Wales-Action-Plan-for-Pollinators ). The scheme asks participating groups to complete “tasks” under the headings of habitat, forage, pesticides and community involvement.   We would like to make Newport the first city in Wales to achieve this accreditation as an official 'Bee Friendly' city, so we are starting this new project with a special launch event involving a talk and free film showing.


If you would like to get involved with Bee Friendly Newport please do join us on

Tuesday 16th May
The Riverfront
Kingsway
Newport
NP20 1HG

Doors open 7.00 p.m
Film starts 7.30 p.m

For more information contact:
Suzannah Evans
E-mail: suzannahevans@live.co.uk

Monday, 24 April 2017

Please look for Eriocrania mines

Now is the prime time to look for the mines of Eriocrania micros - a desperately under-recorded genus in Monmouthshire because they fly so early in the year.  As I said a couple of weeks ago, adult Eriocrania are on the wing in April/May and we have had three records of E. salopiella so far (by Nick Felstead and Richard Clarke as well as my ones from Trellech).  The early season means that some species' larvae are already well-grown, and the distinctive grey E. sangii will only be visible for a couple more weeks: please look for this species on your local birches ASAP!  Some other larvae aren't old enough to identify yet, although the E. salopiella have clearly been laying eggs aplenty. 

The following photos were taken at Redding's Inclosure at lunchtime today (24/4).

Eriocrania sangii has uniquely grey larvae.
 
Eriocrania salopiella starts its mine in the middle of the leaf, whereas most others start on the edge.

 
Eriocrania cf semipurpurella starts its mine on the edge, but so do a couple of other species;
I need to return when the larvae are older.

I intend to check birches in NE Monmouthshire several times in the next few weeks to bump up the paltry county records for the genus: chrysolepidella 1 record, unimaculella 2, salopiella 1, cicatricella 2, sangii 1 & semipurpurella 3 prior to this season!

Ian Rabjohns has just sent me this characteristically multi-larva mine of E. cicatricella from Penallt.
 

Whilst looking for Eriocrania on Birch, it's also worth looking for Coleophora cases, although all I ever seem to manage is the common C. serratella.

 
A quick stop at the Yew Tree Wood, Penyclawdd on my way home produced more E. sangii and E. cf semipurpurella.  The abundant Greater Stitchwort on the verge held an adult Metriotes lutarea, and some larval spinnings of Caryocolum tricolorella.  
 

 


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Prominents aplenty

There were good numbers of Prominents among the 85 moths of 21 species that came to the Dingestow Court MV on 21st April - perfect for showing our holiday guests how gorgeous moths are.  Lunar Marbled Brown always used to be uncommon here when I was trapping 15 years ago, but 8 came to the trap last night.  Lesser Swallow Prominent was less abundant than Swallow Prominent, as is usually the case here at Dingestow (but not at my birch-rich Carmarthenshire trapping site).  V-Pug and Oak-tree Pug accompanied 9 Brindled Pugs, and a Least Black Arches allowed me to explain 'bird poo mimicry' to our guests.




Another Bagworm

Whilst looking at lichens on the parkland oaks at Dingestow Court on 17th April I noticed a Psyche casta case.  This species is present in woodland on the Penyclawdd ridge, just south of Dingestow, usually attached to low herbage.  I hadn't found it in the parkland here before.  Luffia ferchaultella is present on about 50% of the parkland oaks here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Lower Ochrwyth - 12 April

60 moths of 17 species came to MV.  New for year were: Nut-tree Tussock; Lesser Swallow Prominent; Lunar Marbled Brown; Least Black Arches; V-pug; Spruce Carpet and Caloptilia (betulicola?) - photo of latter follows, I would welcome views on species.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Help fill the gaps initiative

In the latest Newsletter, Martin draws attention to those parts of the Vice County where little or no recording has been done of butterflies or macro-moths.  Further details about this, including recording to date at a 1km x 1km level can be found on a new page on this blog.  A link to the page is located on RHS entitled "Help fill the gaps initiative".

Monday, 10 April 2017

Grey Birch early and netting Birch early


14 species of moth to MV at Dingestow Court on 9th April included single Grey Birch and Scorched Carpet.  Both are quite early, and the former is doubly interesting because it's only my 3rd Dingestow record of the species.

Spurred on by the sunny weather I went looking during my lunch break for Eriocrania at Penyclawdd Wood - the birchiest woodland on my home patch.  This was a total failure; goodness knows why.  On my way back from work I stopped at Trellech Hill Quarry for another try, and this time caught at least 5 purple Eriocrania cf sangii (I've got one to gen det) and a couple of golden E. subpurpurella.  This genus flies very early in the year, and is extremely under-recorded in Gwent: if mine is E. sangii then it's the 2nd county record and if it's the other alternative E. semipurpurella then it's the 3rd.  A better option for recording them is to look for leaf mines in April and May, but I forget most years until it's too late - the mines can only be identified if larvae are still present.  This genus is a top target for me in 2017!


Thursday, 6 April 2017

LIGHTHOUSE PARK

After watching a bat take an Emperor Moth just inches of me being able to pot it from under the works security lights 2 years ago. I decided to have a go with a pheromone lure this year.

Lure arrived this morning and after just 80 mins of it being out on my patio this Emperor Moth was flying around the garden.

I am well chuffed to of had this beauty in my hand but i do also feel a little guilty that i used a pheromone lure.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

3rd April, Gordon Road, Blackwood - ST171966

I put the 20W actinic out and the best night of the year so far with a total of 40 moths of 10 different species - including the first migrants of 2017 - namely Dark Sword-grass and Rush Veneer, also included in the haul was one of the darkest Clouded Drabs I have had, and my second ever Red Chestnut.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Haisbro Avenue, Newport, 31st March

Sheila and I ran the MV and were rewarded with a bumper catch for the time of year -  15 species, including 40 Common Quakers, 3 Brindled Beauty's, 3 Pine Beauties, 1 Twin-spot Quaker, 1 Oak Nycteoline, 1 Early Thorn, 4 Clouded Drab, 5 Hebrew Character.



Epermenia


This very dark form of Epermenia chaerophyllella was fluttering at 19:00 on 1st April in the Dingestow Court garden.  It hibernates as an adult, but only one of the eight previous Gwent records was from spring.  Most of the individuals I've seen have been paler and better-marked, but the bumps on the back are distinctive even on such a dark individual.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Lower Ochrwyth - 30 March

Very mild night persuaded me to set the MV for a couple of hours in the garden for the first time this year.  A total of 77 moths of 14 species with the bulk being Common Quaker (54) and the highlight being a Dotted Chestnut (2nd for garden - the first being in 2014).  Other species included: Shoulder Stripe; Early Thorn (5); Oak Beauty; Twin-spotted Quaker; March Moth (3); Hebrew Character; Small Quaker (2); Double-striped Pug (4); Brindled Pug; Engrailed; Early Tooth-striped; and, Twenty-plume Moth.


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Can you "Go Wild?"


Caerphilly County Borough Council will host the "Go Wild!" biodiversity event on Sunday 11th June.  Butterfly Conservation (Wales) and MMBG has always been represented by Martin Anthony at past events, but unfortunately this year he will not be available.  He is therefore looking for volunteers who might help fly the flag for BC(W) and MMBG. This usually involves setting up a stall, which might include live specimens as well as information about moths and butterflies and then chatting with people about these fantastic insects.  If you think you can help and have a general knowledge of butterflies and/or moths and an enthusiasm to share it with the general public, then please get in touch with Martin. 

If you haven't been to a "Go Wild!" event previously, then you really have missed a treat as they provide a fantastic day out with all things "green" - bird box making, learn about wildlife and conservation and what you can do to help locally.  "Go Wild!" will start at 11am,  finish at 4pm and will be held at Parc Penallta, Ystrad Mynach.  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Monmouthshire Moth & Butterfly Group AGM

Wednesday 22nd March 

 Royal British Legion Club, 
Old Market Street, 
Usk, 
NP15 1AL

 7.30pm - 9.30pm 

Dr Rupert Perkins will give an illustrated talk on the butterflies and moths of “Blaenserchan and Beyond”
All welcome.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Haisbro Avenue 13th March 2017
Myself and Sheila ran the MV over-night. In the morning we recorded 9 species: 27 Common Quaker, 4 Clouded Drab , 3 Hebrew Character, 2 Early Grey, Twin-spot Quaker, Small Quaker, Early Moth, Double-striped Pug and a Yellow Horned.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ypsolopha mucronella


This Ypsolopha mucronella was star catch at Dingestow Court MV on 11th March 2017 - there are only 4 previous Monmouthshire records, two of them from the 1970s.  It was very jumpy and flew off as soon as I tipped it out of the pot in the hope of taking a better photo.  The MV attracted 42 moths of 15 species, which is pretty good for mid March.  A couple of Grey Shoulder-knot and another Plutella xylostella were notable.

Friday, 10 March 2017

March mothing


The Dingestow Court MV produced my earliest ever Water Carpet on 9th March, along with 10 other spring Macros such as Double-striped Pug, Small Quaker and Shoulder-stripe.  The Actinic on 10th March held Oak Nycteoline and the first ever March record of the migrant Diamond-backed Moth for Monmouthshire.

Bashing Yew

Once a week I do an hour's nature walk for our guests at Old Lands, during which I show them a range of intriguing insects, plants etc.  A couple of weeks ago I started by showing them the wealth of insects hibernating in Yew: out came a Caloptilia betulicola as well as loads of leafhoppers, spiders etc.  Last week I bashed the same Yew with my net and caught a C. elongella.  Today a different Yew tree held a C. falconipenella.  The shelter provided by Yew during the winter is ideal for hibernating Micros; I wonder what would be found by tapping Yews in places like the Wyndcliff?!

Caloptilia betulicola, with light brown wings, slight patterning, and white hindlegs

Caloptilia falconipenella, resembling C. semifascia but longer winged and with a dark-speckled white costal blotch (albeit most prominent on its leading edge) rather than a uniformly coloured wing with a white wedge.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Small Brindled Beauty (at last!)

I started mothing in 1994.  Every February I put out my MV trap at Dingestow Court (and in Carmarthenshire when we lived there) hoping for a Small Brindled Beauty, but they never came.  After 23 years of trying, I have finally been rewarded with one of these truly beautiful moths: to MV at Dingestow Court on 20th February 2017.  They are reassuringly distinctive - narrow and almost noctuid-like - and I now know that my past careful scrutiny of Pale Brindled Beauty just in case was pointless.  Martin's map indicates that this is a very rare moth in Gwent, so I'm doubly pleased to catch one.  I hope I won't have to wait another 23 years before my next!