John: A fair few members are on MapMate and we have a group database on same. We have yet to make any records available via the website. There is aggregated data on as distributions maps (as used on the What's on the wing tonight
page) - but that's all at the moment.
Can someone please explain (if it is possible) how we can access Mapmate records of species via the website? Or do various people have the Somerset database on their hard drives and are thus consulting those?
James as for the Dutch word for Bagworms being better it translates as Bag-wearer, maybe you're right.
I had another late arrival in my garden trap this week-end - Acleris variegana - which according to Mapmate is the latest Somerset record. Also Yellow lined Quaker, Epirrita sp. and more Feathered Thorns.
This is Taleporia tubulosa, one of the Psychidae. The English vernacular for this family is the rather charmless 'bagworm'. Perhaps the Dutch 'zakdrager' is better. Tubulosa is one of the easier species to find as the case is large, 15-20mm long. It's triangular in cross-section and coated with fine particles except at the fore end where these are coarser. Tree trunks are a good place to look - cases can be found in any month of the year. Typical habitats in Somerset are wooded areas with little undergrowth. I've seen it in holm oak woodland above Bossington; on beech trees at Holford; and on planted field maples at Merryfield Airfield.
I have just received the draft of proposed
Moth Trapping Events 2008 from Mike Ridge.
- 09 May at Worley Hill (Poldens)
- 16 May at Draycott Sleights (Mendips)
- 30 May on Exmoor
- 07 June at Cotherstone (Quantocks) National Moth Night
- 13 June on Exmoor
- 27 June at Staple Common (Blackdowns)
- 04 July on Exmoor
- 11 July at Thurlbear Quarrylands (Blackdowns)
- 25 July as Shervage Wood (Quantocks)
- 01 Aug at Staple Park Wood (Blackdowns)
- 08 Aug at Hurlston Point and/or Bossington (N. Somerset coast)
- 22 Aug at Buckland Wood (Blackdowns)
- 29 Aug on Exmoor
- 05 Sep at Which Lodge (Blackdowns)
- 12 Sep at Bickenhall Wood (Blackdowns)
The Exmoor meets are to be arranged in detail.
Firm details and meeting points etc will be posted when the list is finalised.
All meetings are on a Friday except National Moth Night (7th June) which in on a Saturday.
If anyone has any comments please get in touch with me, Bill or with Mike. Similarly if anyone has ideas for other meetings or for particular locations or target species please let us know (see Contacts).
I had a Blair's Shoulder-knot in my garden trap last night. Mapmate regards this as a late record - and so do I. I also had three Feathered Thorns and one very small Grey Pine Carpet.
Goodbye to the Somerset Moth Group
Little did I think when I came to Chard after getting rid of all my traps before I came down to the West Country that I would be so involved in Moths again. But after being befriended by James McGill who re-invigorated my enthusiasm for moths I have not looked back. Making ten traps to loan out to folk but thanks to Mike Ridge selling them all instead. I have done over 35 shows for the Group in the last four years plus open days and how many moth nights well it has been real fun for me. All the people I have met have been interested and so helpful with so few exceptions. Then came the near ending of the SMG but even that has now bounded back better than before and going from strength to strength. My thanks to Mark and Paul without which this would never have happened.
Me at Fyne Court
Somerset is a very special area with so many rare moths and butterflies and there are so many more out there to find
Showing the kids of Chard some moths.
I am sorry to leave but the rarities in Bournemouth are calling not least my partner who is a rare commodity indeed. So my thanks to you all for putting up with me. In particular of course James but also Jack Astley who is one of the most canny fellows I know in sticking a trap together and then back packing them into inaccessible sites. As is my great chum Mike Ridge who is totally indefatigable. He always goes that extra mile to get on site. We owe him a great debt as does Butterfly Conservation and he really cannot be replaced.
Scarce Merveille du Jour
I also must mention Vickie at the RSPCA place at Wood Hatch, Andy Harris the Quantaocks Ranger and Simon Larkins at Lytes Cary. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I was glad to be of assistance to them.
So my best wishes to you all including Jo & Roy, Colin, Dave & Ginny, Dave Lester and Robin and oh so many more. Thank you for your friendship and all your help.
The larva of Metzneria aestivella feeds on the seeds of carline thistle. Occupied seed heads are not immediately obvious but often have a rather untidy appearance. Gently splitting them open will reveal feeding damage and the presence of a larva below the seeds.
The moth has been recorded on limestone grasslands in VC6. Carline thistle does occur in VC5 as well - I examined several plants at Hurlstone Point recently. I couldn't find the moth but these were very isolated. Perhaps it might occur elsewhere along the coast if it's more plentiful?
Had a Shuttle-shaped Dart in the garden trap last night. I don't usually see this species after the last week of October.
Langport 16 November
Although there has been nothing flying over the last few nights I did find a very nice Herald Moth on the curtain in my study. I put it on a more sympathetic background!
Following on from James' comments about numbers of species and individuals: I started trapping in Langport on 27 May last year and on an equivalent basis have had 47% less individuals and 17% less species of macro moths this year.
I did wonder about Asham Wood. It has been trapped in the past and I believe it was pretty good. I don't think it has been trapped late in the year.
I have had a quick look at the online SSSI citations for NE Somerset woods to see which might be possibles for Plumed Prominent. Possible candidates are Asham Woods (ST7045), Cleaves Wood (ST7557), Vallis Vale (ST7549) and Cogley Wood (ST7035).
I will have a look for others over the course of the winter.
I've been looking back at my garden macro-moth records for this year and last. There has been a 23% decline in species and a 62% decline in numbers. I hope this was just a poor year for recording moths at light.
A trip to Withington Wood in Gloucestershire last night with the Gloucestershire Branch of Butterfly Conservation was interesting despite the evening looking quite unpromisingly cold and windy at the outset. A good selection of people turned up for this event from all parts of the area, including Devon and Wolverhampton. The main quarry was the Plumed Prominent and we were not disappointed, seeing around a dozen of these super-antennaed beasts. The supporting cast was limited but nice, with Sprawler, Spruce Carpet, Red Green Carpet, Feathered Thorn and several December Moth. Our thanks to Peter Hugo who tried manfully to organise the unruly bunch of immigrants who descended on his patch :-)
It strikes me that if Plumed Prominent is to occur in Somerset it may well occur in the north east. This part of the county is under-recorded and it might be worth scouting out some woodland with a good lot of Field Maple and Ash to try for next year.
Plumed Prominent - a wonder it can fly at all with that lot bashing into its eyes
Just to let everyone know that the minutes from the 2007 AGM (held on Nov. 1st) were distributed to members on email tonight. They will be posted
to all others over the weekend.
Emmetia marginea is a widespread leaf miner that can be found throughout the winter on bramble. It makes a distinctive elongated white blotch which is enlarged as the months go by. Most people should be able to find it within walking distance of home, in hedges and patches of scrub. Despite this I think there are at least twenty 10k squares without a record, including most of east and west Somerset.
A slightly better night last night - 2 Sprawlers,4 Feathered Thorns and a fairly early Mottled Umber - all in or beside the MV trap - nothing at all in the actinic - still a bit disappointing given the mildness & no moon to speak of.
Here's another of the 'green island' species. It's Ectoedemia argyropeza and the foodplant is aspen. The larva mines up the stalk then into the leaf itself. As there are no previous VC5 records I was quite surprised to find it beneath a lone tree by the Tone, west of Taunton. I think it's probably overlooked and planted trees are also worth checking. Just look on the ground, the green patches stand out amongst all the yellow leaves.
I had a Smoky Wainscot in my garden trap this week-end, the latest one I have ever recorded, also my first Winter Moth for 2007/8
This is another leaf miner on oak, Phyllonorycter lautella. It is quite particular, choosing young seedlings less than a foot tall. There can be many mines on these, perhaps because there aren't many leaves to choose from. They are large (over 20mm long) and strongly contort the leaf, with much of the upper surface consumed.
This is a good time of year to look for leaf mines on fallen oak leaves. An interesting feature is the way green 'islands' remain around the mines when the leaves are otherwise turning brown. This makes finding them much easier! The two mines on the right have been made by one of the commonest species, Ectoedemia subbimaculella. It feeds in a blotch with a slit in lower epidermis. The mine of Ectoedemia heringi is similar but without the slit. I also find it less frequently than subbimaculella.
The flight period of Eudonia angustea is interesting Paul. A lot more records are available now than when the book was written and I've seen it in every month except February. I don't think this flight plot is quite up to date but it seems to be double-brooded in Somerset? Both emergences are rather protracted and there are many outlying dates.
I was at an RPS Nature Group meeting in Smethwick today and showed several people my scale pictures. One ex-aircraft engineer was fairly certain that the toothed edges help airflow over the wings - they are very regular in most species.
One thing I noticed a few years ago was that most butterflies and moths have antennal scales which are facing away from the head - but the Hummingbird Hawk has them the other way round, presumably again for aerodynamic reasons. I'll look out the slide and scan it for the website.
Any more ideas? A fascinating topic.
John showed some very good slides at the end of the AGM on Thursday. For those who didn't see these, I've shamelessly copied his close up of a Lesser Yellow Underwing hindwing. My results are nowhere near as good but still show how the order Lepidoptera got its name. Moths and butterflies are scale-winged insects - these are arranged like overlapping roof tiles. Can someone tell me what purpose the jagged edges serve?
James - thank you for my micros' idents you gave me on Thursday - I was quite intrigued by the E.angustea which were all out of season like my Peppered & B-l Brown eye. They all appeared from 15th.March to 27th.April, which according to Goater is a couple of months early. Things have become more seasonal recently!! Last night produced only three moths, one Red-line Quaker in the MV, my first Sprawler of the year in the Actinic, and a Figure of 8 on the wall beside the MV. I find it a little disappointing that with the mild nights and waning moon thhere are so few moths about. Probably the local pipistrelles are fattening up for the Winter!(at my expense)
Here's something to look for on the seed heads of yarrow. It's a case made by the larva of Coleophora argentula. Records suggest that the moth is very widely distributed. However compared to how common the plant is, it must be very under-recorded.
I too had a Gem last night, in Langport. A nice surprise among an otherwise poor catch.
Here are two images of Phyllonorycter platani from the Cocklemoor car park in Langport.
John's Phyllocnistis saligna means we now have records from five 10km squares (ST22, ST32, ST42, ST33, ST43). I wonder if it occurs north of the Poldens as well.
There are still a few common migrants trickling in, I caught a Gem at Thurlbear last night. There were also two Figure of Eight. This is one of a few species that are frequent just south of Taunton but missing on the north side where I live. Others include Frosted Green, Great Prominent and Orange Moth. Blomer's Rivulet and Large Nutmeg used to be in this category too but have now turned up in my garden once. Even in a suburban situation it seems that most of the local species will be recorded eventually.
Here are a few pictures from the garden trap recently.