I had a look on over 20 Salix fragilis
(Crack Willow) trees on the edge of the area marked as Poolmead on OS Explorer map 129. GR is ST421277. I found Phyllocnistis saligna
mines on leaves and adjacent stems of a single tree which had been flail mown in spring and had lots of young secondary growth.
There were no visible mines on the older growth. Perhaps S. fragilis pollarded the previous year would be a rewarding search.
I couldn't find Scrobipalpa acuminatella on any of the thistles in that area.
A number of species are associated with thistles, including Scrobipalpa acuminatella. The larva feeds on a lower leaf, in a mine along the midrib which appears brownish from above. Where this extends sideways it leaves pale branches, some of which are filled with blackish frass. Creeping thistle and spear thistle are very common plants in grassland, waysides and wasteground. There should be no shortage of places to look though the larval signs are by no means everywhere.
Well done Bill.
Here's another often overlooked micro, Phyllocnistis saligna. I've recorded it between Taunton and Butleigh Moor, fifteen miles north-east. I don't think there are any records outside this area (it was first found here in 1906). It's well established on willows (for example crack willow and white willow). The mines are silvery trails which can be found on the upper and undersides of leaves. Larvae also feed in the adjoining twigs which can be quite noticeable if they are a darker colour and extends the recording season after leaf fall. The Levels contain an abundance of suitable habitat - I've only tried at random places off the A361.
Well done yet again to James. I went out today for an inaugural ride on my newly acquired bike round the lanes near Merryfield airfield. I was able to find several new sites for the Hogweed feeding Epermenia chaerophyllella. It is so much easier from a bicycle, apart from the aching legs bit.
Trapping last night at home gave Green Brindled Crescent x3, Blair's Shoulder Knot, Straw Dot, Barred Sallow, November Moth agg. x2, Lunar Underwing and Common Marbled Carpet. There have been two Flame Brocades caught on the south coast so there is still some migration happening.
Paul - your missing pyralid wasn't a Rusty Dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis) by any chance?
Epermenia chaerophyllella larvae feed gregariously beneath the leaves of hogweed. The upper surface turns brown which provides a good indication that the species is present. Turn the leaves over - there will often be a few larvae, silk spinnings and frass. I've seen over 70 caterpillars on a single leaf. There are three or more generations from May until late autumn, they are still feeding at the moment.
A nice trip to the Quantock Great Wood last night. I noticed a good stand of broom growing along a bridleway at the weekend. As the early evening was cloudy and quite mild, I went back to look for Streak. There were 5 flying over the bushes at 18:45. They have an unusual wing shape which makes them look very flappy in torchlight.
This is quite a good record for the county. Keith Brown found a few in the area during the 1990s (though one colony at Hawkridge has been destroyed by hedgerow flailing). More recently Peter has caught some at Wiveliscombe. Apart from that it's not frequently encountered.
I think it's more common than the records suggest. I would be surprised if the moths disperse far from the foodplant, certainly not enough to reach most of our garden traps. Broom is widespread on the Quantocks and Exmoor. Given the effort required to find adults and the uncertain late season weather, I think searching for larvae will be more productive.
Well done John.
I found a veteran plane tree in the parkland at Pepperhill on the SE side of the Quantocks at the weekend. There weren't any mines - this is rather isolated though. I suppose it also depends on how species spread - active dispersal or passively (transported on vehicles, or introduced with nursery stock)?
There are only two (quite small) Plane trees that I can find in Langport - both in the main car park - and both have mines on quite a lot of the leaves.
London plane is a large tree with sycamore-type (palmate) leaves, spiky fruits on stalks and usually bark peeling from the trunk. Phyllonorycter platani makes large mines, often several to a leaf as shown here. It's well established around Taunton. The tree is quite widely planted - is the moth also elsewhere?
Just added a new page with a Lunar Calendar 2008
so you can plan those mothing nights next year.
This is the mine of Phyllonorycter nigrescentella, on bush vetch. It's quite easy to overlook as the plant trails though the bottom of hedges and woodland rides. We have few records but they span the entire county. I'm sure the moth is waiting to be found in many locations.
Just a quick reminder that the AGM is on Thursday 1st November
- coming up fast - so make sure you have this marked in your diary. It would be great to see everyone and apart from the usual formalities planned events include: refreshments, a slide presentation by John Babbington and prizes for "Moth of the Year". We had a great turnout last year - hope to see you all there.
The meeting is to be held at Ruishton Village Hall (ST268250) starting at 7:30 pm. This is just off the M5 Junction 25 and easy to find. If anyone needs further directions or details just contact Mark or David (see Contacts).
Bill - thank you for the reply- my missing moth is definitely not Orthopygia. The cross-lines were slightly darker than the main wing colour, and the kidney marks were very obvious, like a Straw Dot's.t did have a slight pearly sheen to the wings which might point to a pyralid, but there are no illustrations in Goater which bear any resemblance to this beast. Any other suggestions? Still no sign of it appearing - I suspect it got spidered!!
James - your caterpillar is definitely an Oak Eggar.
The nights are getting colder and trap catches are nearing single figures. There are still some late autumn species to cheer things up though, like this Yellow-line Quaker.
Was your moth the pyralid Orthopygia glaucinalis? I had one recently and it does have two cross-lines.
James, I was delighted to see your excellent photo of Acleris sparsana because I have seen this moth frequently in the autumn but it looks quite unlike the three illustrations in Bradley, Tremewan and Smith.
Nothing special recently here apart from an Oak Nycteoline and another glut of Spruce Carpets - 45 in one night.
I often find identifying macro caterpillars difficult. Their appearance can change dramatically as they grow. It's difficult to judge scale from some photos. I also have little idea of what to expect off a given foodplant at different times of year. I found this in my garden, I think it's a prehibernation Oak Eggar. I've only caught 8 adults here in twelve years, though 3 of them were this August.
One or two interesting (to me anyway) arrivals in the last few nights. A Cypress Pug on 9/10,which I sadly bumped off when catching it (pity,as this was my first one at this site). On 12/10 I had both Red- & Yellow-line Quakers and a pair of very fresh Green-brindled Crescents. Also on 12/10 there were single Orange Sallow & Lychnis (a bit late in the year). On 14/10 another late flyer, a Straw Dot and a very nice Acleris variegana f.asperana - sharply defined black and white areas - and a pair of Epirrita agg. I managed to lose a moth which I was unable to identify which was slightly larger than a Straw Dot, but grey rather than buff, but still with the obvious kidney marks, and also with two crosslines similar to a Muslin Footman. Any ideas? I have been hoping it will turn up again, but with no success - maybe another one will come to the traps!!!
Here's a fairly common micro that should turn up at many of the fixed light trap sites in Somerset. It's Acleris sparsana. The larval foodplants are sycamore and beech. I see about 10 a year here in Taunton, from late September to November. There were 2 last night. Most look like this one - greyish ground colour, some ferruginous markings and a few scattered raised scales.
Langport, 16 October 2007
One Delicate among a much improved catch last night which included the first Large Wainscot and Green-brindled Crescent of the autumn. Also my wife found a delightful plume moth Amblyptilia acanthodactyla in the house yesterday.
Below is the work of a leaf miner, Phyllocnistis unipunctella. The larva feeds on black poplar and related hybrid poplars, which are very widely planted. It leaves a long and meandering shiny trail, like a snail has wandered around on the leaf. Pupation takes place under a strong silk spinning at the leaf edge, which curls conspicuously.
We have about 20 records of this species, which is quite a lot for a leaf miner in Somerset. It's one of many where the dot maps are a bare picture of recorder coverage, not moth distribution. Look for it and help change this!
Oops how did that "Clay" pic get up there AGAIN so soon.
James - don't forget to send a few of those Clancy's in my direction.
Last night's trapping produced my first Feathered Thorn of the year as well as the four Merveille du Jour, Large Wainscot and a selection of usual stuff including Brimstone x2 and Burnished Brass.
A couple of recent visitors to the light traps. The Red Sword-grass is from Thurlbear. This species was becoming more common a few years ago but this is the first I've seen since spring 2005. The Clancy's Rustic is the second from my garden in Taunton. The first was in July. I'm amazed at the rate species can colonise new ground - apart from Cypress Carpet obviously.
MOGBI says it's because of the mining activity. Here's another picture of the same.
Also in that area, there is a lot of holm oak woodland above Bossington. This is good for Caloptilia leucapennella. In September and October adults can be easily disturbed from leafy branches by day. There are both pale white and reddish forms. A tuft on the labial palpus gives it that snouty appearance. I've also recorded it at Minehead but am not sure how widely it occurs in the county.
James - Are the Sorrel leaves that colour because of the mining activity or are they just autumnal?
Merveille du Jour x4 and Feathered Thorn already tonight :-)
A couple of images from Hurlstone on the Exmoor coast. Enteucha acetosae mines on sorrel and a case of Coleophora discordella on bird's-foot-trefoil.
Cockles Fields, Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve (ST646487). 12 October 2007.
0648 White-shouldered House-moth 1
1682 Blood-vein 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet 2
1769 Spruce Carpet 2
**** Epirrita sp. 4
1914 Dusky Thorn 1
2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot 1
2267 Beaded Chestnut 1
2270 Lunar Underwing 1
2364 Frosted Orange 1
The distribution maps on the site suggest the Blair's Shoulder-knot and Beaded Chestnut are first records for ST64!
Found a very large, dark Epirrita on the wall this morning.
A nice selection of moths last night. 25 species in total, including Pearly Underwing, Merveille du Jour x2, Delicate, Red-Line Quaker, Mottled Umber, Wax Moth (I was just telling Robin Clatworthy a few weeks ago that I NEVER get this species), Orthopygia glaucinalis, Eudonia angustea, November Moth agg. and a very late Common Rustic agg.
Last night, a quick dash into Dorset meant I finally photographed Pale Lemon Sallow, caught by Paul Harris in Weymouth. The weather this weekend is pretty good for mothing with an approaching low pressure system and lots of cloud. Last night it rained as a sort of thick mist for most of the night which always seems to bring in more micro species.
Paul Chapman in VC 6 has had Feathered Thorn recently and has also had Common Rustic this week.
Common Rustic agg.
Pale Lemon Sallow
Red Line Quaker
Last night I had both Red-line and Yellow-line Quakers in my garden trap, also yet another Delicate.
Paul - Almost certainly the wet weather will have had an adverse effect on many larvae and pupae that were developing over this summer. Most Lunar Underwing larvae will have been pupated by late May. Perhaps the really warm dry weather in April also had an adverse effect. Next year we may well see a drop off in numbers of species that had small larvae in May-July this year. Interestingly I am having better numbers of Black Rustic this year and they have similar habitat preferences to Lunar Underwing.
Re: Lunar Underwings - thanks Bill & Peter for your comments. I recorded at my former home in Pylle using a small actinic trap, and in 2004 started L.U. on 16/9 with 9,but never had more than 22 in one night until last one on 8/10.
I moved to my present home in East Lydford in Aug.2005, and still only had the actinic for the L.U. season. They started on 9/9 and continued to 15/10,with several nights with 25 or more, maximum 76 on 2/10. Last year I
acquired a 160w m.v.trap as well as the actinic, and the first L.U. arrived on 9/9 and after a string of wet nights they started in earnest on 19/9 with 47(A) +30(MV);20/9 51+35;21/9 65+72;22/9 59+44;23/9 85+75; 24/9 127+148;
25/9 102+99;26/9 100+171;28/9 38+63; 30/9 26+28; thereafter petering out until last record on 18/10. This year the first arrival was not until 25/9 (1+2) and records have been disappointingly poor with only a few double-fiigure nights,maximum 18+11 on 8/10. I managed 17 on 9/10. As far as habitat is concerned, we are on the edge of the floodplain of the R.Brue with cattle-grazing pasture all around. We have our own 5-acre field which is roughly 1/3 as an orchard/pond/rough grass area, and 2/3 hayfield cut usually in July,but this year not until August due to the wet weather. As L.U. are grass-eaters, there shoud be no difficulties for the larvae around here!!David Evans has suggested that the wet weather has almost certainly affected this year's larvae, and I am sure he is right. It will be interesting to see if things improve next year. Generally this year has been quite poor for both species & individual counts, particularly geometers and immigrants like Silver Y. Hope this info is of interest.
My first Merveille du Jour for 2007 last night. I first saw this moth in the seventies when I found one on a wall and a birding friend I was with at the time knew what it was. I wish it had inspired me to take up mothing then, as I would have seen some of the moths that were common then and are now no more or extremely scarce. Stout Dart springs to mind as one such species but there are many others. It really made me sad yesterday to see the news item on the High Court judge who had found in favour of a school governor who had complained about Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" being shown in schools. The finding has probably done a lot to hurt the basic message that must get through - we are damaging the planet and reducing biodiversity at a great rate. I have seen and photographed what was probably the last Brighton Wainscot to be caught in the UK. This may be a source of rejoicing for some farmers as it is an agricultural pest but it is another indicator that our island is losing species as well as gaining new ones that move north as they find warmer conditions prevailing. People who record moths are in a great position to monitor and bear witness to these changes. Hopefully, the "Moths Count" project will bring more people to this interest so that the body of data can be even larger and the message can be seen clearly.
Also in the trap: Black Rustic x9 Barred Sallow x10, Rosy Rustic, Blair's Shoulder Knot x2, Brindled Green x2 and Lunar Underwing x11 - 17 species in total.
Merveille du Jour
I agree that Lunar Underwing numbers are well down this year. My highest total for one night in 2007 has been 23 while in previous years I have taken up to more than 80.
Last night I had my first Brick for the year.
Paul, 2-300 Lunar Underwings is about 250 more than I have ever had in a trap in one night. What sort of habitat are you in? It does, however, seem a large drop off in one year. Do you have data from previous years to look at? How are others' totals of Lunar Underwings doing? Mine are fairly consistent with previous years, though I am running a duo light system with a 400 and 125 Watt combo this year for the first time and that has had a positive effect on numbers generally.
nothing spectacular last night, but my first Blair's shoulder knot of the season, and Light Emerald and Angle Shades
among the usual culprits. A Mallow & Figure of 8 came in a couple of nights ago. I am only getting 10 to 15 Lunar
Underwings per night (2 traps) compared with 2-300 this time last year - any ideas?
Superb catch last night with lots of variety. Red Underwing provided the gigantic variety, while at the other end of the scale, Pinion-streaked Snout made an appearance. Sorry Peter but I recognised it at once on the egg box. The supporting cast included Barred Sallow x5, Sallow x3, Delicate, Pale Mottled Willow x2 and Ypsolopha sequella. Over 20 species and a couple of Autumn Green types that await a good looking at.
One of the many Lunar Underwing variations
Last night 's catch was nice with a good variety of species if not huge numbers. Mallow, Figure of Eight and Green Brindled Crescent made their first appearance of the autumn for my trap and had a good supporting cast of Blair's Shoulder Knot x3, Brindled Green, Black Rustic x2, Large Ranunculus and the usual common moths for this period.
Green Brindled Crescent
Figure of Eight
Another Delicate, this one from Thurlbear last night.
A more interesting range of moths in the trap last night including Delicate, Tawny Pinion, Brindled Green,
Engrailed, Merveille du Jour and Pinion-streaked Snout. Also a surprising number of Spruce Carpet - 28 in all.
Notable last night were five Silver Y. Otherwise, the usual suspects such as Lunar Underwing (building in numbers now with 16), Beaded Chestnut and Rosy Rustic. Interestingly only one Black Rustic last night after the glut the night before. No drizzle last night though and moon showing for part of the night.
Is anyone else going up to the "Moths Count" event in Birmingham on Saturday? I have a couple of spare places in my car.
Trap still poor - only decent specimen was a superb Autumn Green Carpet last night.
However a Hummingbird Hawk nectaring on Lonicera telemanniana in Kennel lane, Langport at 1015 this morning.
Good catch last night, including Blair's Shoulder Knot, nine Black Rustic, Pale Mottled Willow and Delicate.
Pale Mottled Willow
Blair's Shoulder Knot
September 30 Whitefield, Wiveliscombe
A White-point - only my second in the ten years that I have been trapping here. Also my first Blairs Shoulder-knot for 2007.