Winter GMS week 4, digging for pupae
Trap out last night for winter Garden Moth Scheme week 4. T min 4˚C, 2 December moths (1m, 1f).
Digging for pupae
Like Paul I haven't done this for many years - well over 50 in fact! - I used to look at Lime, weeping Willow and Poplar trees in my and my brother's secondary school playing fields. I found Lime, Eyed and Poplar Hawk-moths, Buff-tip, Pebble Prominent and Brindled Beauty, and a moth which (then) I had never seen before - a Clouded Drab! There must have been other species but they have faded from memory.
Digging for pupae
Now that the moth activity has almost ceased I have turned my attention to searching for overwintering pupae. This is the first time I have done this for almost forty years and it was just as exciting as I remembered (doesn't take much to excite me) I went with a friend to to search around the base of some isolated trees at Claverton Down just on the outskirts of Bath.
From past experience I have found that searching around the base of mature isolated trees in a field or parkland tends to give the best results and that by digging very carefully with a small hand-fork or trowel immediately around the trunk and buttress roots of the tree quite a number of different pupae can be found. As one would expect Oak can often yield the best results but on this occasion were surprised to find that More were found around an old Ash tree than around the couple of Oaks we tried.
Although we only found a total of just eight pupae and a couple of hibernating larvae in a little over an hour it was a most enjoyable pastime on an autumn morning.
Now comes identification which unless the pupae are very distinctive like the Hawk-moth pupae this can be quite difficult to determine. Starting with the likely species associated with the particular tree and then looking at which species overwinter as pupae and the normal pupation site and by considering their size you can start to narrow down what the possibilities are. One of the identifying features of particular pupae are the shape and form of the cremaster (tip of abdomen) However identifying the exact species can be very difficult and there is surprisingly little on the web although I have found the UK Lepidoptera to be one of the best albeit not all pupae are described or shown. (If anyone knows of a better source then please let me know)
One useful thing about collecting pupae is that the pupae can be sexed and this can help to find females of many species that would not readily come to light in the same way as the males do. This is particularly useful for finding species with wingless females such as Dotted Border or Pale Brindled Beauty which you would not normally see.
If you haven't already tried winter searching for pupae then give it a try it's like searching for buried treasure!
Pupa found at base of Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) note the distinctive cremaster, possibly a Coronet.
East Lydford 28/11/13
Well, I did have another go, but not a lot to report. Only 6 moths in total, 2 FFY Winter Moths, 2 December Moths and 1 each Feathered Thorn & Sprawler. Here endeth today's missive.
Feathered Thorn sitting on kitchen window and December Moth by back door light for the last 2 days,both alive and kicking but obviously very comfortable!
Hodders Combe Lodge garden,Holford
14moths last night. 9December Moth,2Feathered Thorn,2Red Green Carpet and 1Satellite
Not having seen any December Moths last year I was suprised to get 11 last night! Also 2 Light Brown Apple Moths, 2 Acleris sparsiana, 1 Beaded Chestnut, 1 Yellow line Quaker and 2 Mottled Umbers - not spotted till the daylight was stronger as they were both camaflauged on a piece of rusty iron (very few moths were actually 'in' the trap). One of the Mottled Umbers was less distinctly marked and puzzled me for a while.
Also seen yesterday daytime was a ? Buff Tailed Bumble Bee queen carrying quite a bit of pollen which seemed a bit early or late to be pollen gathering.
Nigel - thanks! I still have not got round to subscribing to Atropos. Also I forgot to say that A logiana seems to have been expected in Somerset for a while as it has spread from the S.E and been seen in Devon already.
Leigh Woods 27.11.2013
Trapped in Leigh Woods last night for 3 hrs with Martin Evans. 2 actinics. Temperature at 5pm was 11c dropping to 10c at 8pm.
70 moths of 9 species
December Moths 50 ish
Feathered Thorns 8-9
Acleris sp 2 (very worn)
Caloptilia semifascia 1
Common Marbled Carpet 2
Red-green Carpet 1
Spruce Carpet 2
Winter Moth 1
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe - Min Temp 8 degrees
The warmer night brought out the best catch for a fortnight. In the trap we had 36 December Moths and at the actinic light in a window our first Winter Moth of the autumn.
East Lydford 27/11/13
A much more productive night, mild & damp with a small amount of moonlight, giving a total of 9 moths altogether - one each Feathered Thorn & Sprawler, and 7 December Moths, including 2 of the larger females.
This the second largest nightly total of December Moths that I have recorded here, the best being 16 in December 2011. I recall that the majority of those were not actually in the traps, but sitting around on the wall nearby - funny creatures, moths.
We are promised an even milder night tonight, so I'll probably have another go, to see what's out there. There are several seasonal species which haven't appeared here yet, so I live in hope (as always).
Bishop's Hull 27/11/13
Put the trap out for the first time in a fortnight (T Min 8°C) and a single December Moth was my reward.
Just doubled my tally - another December Moth found on the side of the house:
Despite a warmer evening I haven't put the trap out but there is a Common Marbled Carpet on the kitchen window.
Easy Lydford 26/11/13
As it was forecast to be less cold last night, I had a go with the traps. Result ? One solitary Sprawler on the wall !!
Annual Subscription Reminder
For those members (especially those who joined this year before Oct.1st) who do not already have a Bank standing order in force, may I ask that you please make arrangements with your bank to pay the annual subscription (still £6.00 for those over 16 years of age or £10.00 for joint membership) on the due date of January 1st. each year. This arrangement avoids the effort & expense of sending out reminders. Of course, if you prefer to pay by cheque each year, that is perfectly acceptable.
The Group's bank account details are as follows :-
Account in the name of Somerset Moth Group,
Lloyds Bank - 31, Fore St., Taunton
Sort Code 30-98-45
Account No. 02572399
Delighted to find a new species to me this afternoon - Ectoedemia septembrella
- lots of mines on the Hypericum
shrub outside my study window, although I have never seen the least sign of the tiny adults around the house before.
Greylake RSPB 20/11/13
Found an adult Agonopterix alstromeriana
in the hide at Greylake this morning; presumably looking for somewhere to hibernate.
Re: Acleris logiana
You'll have to write it up and get it published. I wrote a short piece on the Summer Fruit Tortrix which appeared in Atropos No. 49. I'm sure Mark Tunmore would be delighted if you did the same.
Contact details can be found at:
This moth came to my actinic trap at the end of October. It looked so much like the illustration of A.logiana in the micro Moth book - rather than the very similar A.kochiella which I haven't seen - that I contacted Bill Urwin who advised it was worth sending off for confirmation.
Phil Sterling kindly agreed to do it (and thought from the photo it 99% likely) and has now confirmed it and it is new for Somerset.
He mentioned that until recent years A.logiana was confined to Scotland, and suspects that the ones increasingly being seen in Southern England (where they are double brooded) may have colonised from the continent, maybe Eastern Europe.
Its larval foodplant is Silver Birch and the trap was close to S.Birch. I'm finding the world of micro moths quite gripping!
Moth trapping at Priddy Mineries in 2014
Bob Corns has asked if any SMG members living in the Priddy Mineries area would be willing to trap there next year, to provide data to inform the management of the SSSI. Please contact me if interested.
Just 3 Macros, a Barred Sallow, but first Sprawler and Mottled Umber of the autumn and 3 Agon.heracliana.no doubt from the wood-store.
East Lydford 16/11/13
Just one solitary Red-line Quaker this morning. Looking back, I see that these are nearly three times as common (in terms of records) as their cousins the Yellow-line, which I haven't seen here for two years. Seeing the larval food plants of both species are equally common around here, this is a bit odd, I think.
Leaf miners 'Fill the void'
Thank you James I didn't notice these, well spotted!
Hi John, I have also found good numbers of P. platani on London Plane leaves here in Bath.
At this quiet time of year for moths I'm finding that searching for leaf miners helps fill the void.
28 Ectoedemia angulifasciella on Rose, Combe Down, Bath
The cut-outs on this Hazel leaf are the work of 129 Incurvaria pectinea
larvae; I think that this species is also more common than the amount of dots on the map suggests. Found in ST2919 during a 13 mile walk around the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath Trail on 4th Nov.
Phyllonorycter platani in Street, Winter GMS week 2
I found good numbers of Phyllonorycter platani
mines on the Plane trees in the car park behind Tesco in Street yesterday. Probably more widespread thatn the dots on the map suggest - now is a good time to look on fallen Plane leaves for the blister mines this species makes.
Winter Garden Moth Scheme week 2 - T min -1˚C, 1 Light Brown Apple Moth.
Hello Paul, great to see interest in early stages and feeding signs. Note also the circular holes in the seeds around the central cavity made by larvae of Cochylis roseana.
Elm Farm, Burnett
Had a great morning at Elm Farm, Burnett this morning with eight members of the Bath Natural History Society Moth Skills Improvement Group searching for leaf miners.
Recorded and collected about a dozen or so species including a new record for the site 331 Phyllonorycter lantanella on Wayfaring Tree (Viburnam lantana), also found a number of larvae of 1097 Endothenia gentianaeana in the seed heads of Teasel.
331 Phyllonorycter lantanella mine on Wayfaring Tree
1097 Endothenia gentianaeana larva in Teasel head
East Lydford (again)
Agonopterix alstromeriana in the log store, and Angle Shades in the house - all is not doom and gloom !!
East Lydford 13/11/13
Not a good night - flat battery on the actinic trap, and no moths in the MV trap, merely 1 Ichneumon Wasp & 1 Dung Fly. Never mind, eh ?
Red-green Carpet is correct. Autumn Green Carpet is a duller green colour, with whiter areas, has a more triangular shape and a different hindwing colour. I think this is a frequently misidentified species as there are Red-green Carpet, like yours, with no red. As a newcomer to moths I've never seen it in Somerset, only in Scotland (there's a nice photo on Keith Tailby's website of one we found at Newtonmore services www.mothshots.com/Pages/ImagePages/MacroMoths/Macro-A/AutumnGreenCarpet.htm). In the absence of any evidence I think it was lost from Somerset quite a long time ago.
RE: Red-green Carpet
I'm not familiar with Autumn Green Carpet but I'll stick my head above the parapet and say that I think you are correct with Red-green Carpet.
Warm still damp night brought some moths out, very tatty Lge Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Heb. Ch. 3 Red-green carpets, one very fresh green specimen (not I think an Autumnal Green, but would appreciate confirmation),1 Winter Moth, 1 December Moth,1 Common Marbled carpet, 1 Brimstone, 1 Grey Shoulder-knot, 1 Angle Shades and a Silver Y. Also Rusty Dot Pearl, Acleris ferrugana/notana and Agon Alstromeriana.
Thank You Nigel. This is what I was looking for. John posted a photo in Feb'11. I also see it would be new for my square, ST41.
Re: Unid micro
1061 Acleris literana perhaps.
Last nights catch just 10 Angle Shades 4 Blairs Shoulder-knot 1 Brimstone 1 Commom Marbled Carpet 1 Merveille du Jour 1 Red-line Quaker and 1 Silver Y.
Norton Sub Hamdon
Promising weather last night produced a healthy November catch of 36 Macros from 15 species. They included some late individuals like Sallow, Snout and Setacious Hebrew Character as well as 3 very fresh Common Marbled Carpets alongside 4 much more worn individuals. Migrants were represented by 4 Dark Sword Grass as well as at least 2 Udea Ferrugalis ( one of the few micros I recognise ).
I was hoping to record Sprawler or Figure of Eight but was unsuccessful. I have only had 2 Sprawlers and 1 Figure of Eight in the 12 years I have been recording in my garden despite what would appear to be perfect conditions for them nearby.
I also had a very pretty micro that looked like a tiny Merveille de Jour. I have a recollection of someone, probably John, putting a picture of this species on the blog some time ago but I cannot find it. I know I should have a copy of the macro book but I haven't and wonder if anyone can Id it from my description.
Combe Down, Bath
Didn't manage to put the trap out last night but was still rewarded with a Tawny Pinion resting on the shed this morning. This is a first for my garden here at Combe Down, Bath, so very nice to see!
Bishop's Hull 11/11/13
T Min 9.8°C with drizzle and some heavier rain.
Just single Angle Shades and Rusty-dot Pearl in the trap this morning. The first R-dP here since 20/10/2011.
Thanks to everyone who turned out for the AGM yesterday - 33% of the membership!
The Butterfly Conservation branch AGM in the afternoon was worth staying for - Jeremy Thopmas gave a fascinating and illuminating talk on the reintroduction and progress of the Large Blue.
AGM 2014 - Saturday morning, 8th November at Ruishton. We will try to find a good speaker. Please let me know if you have any ideas!
East Lydford 9/11/13
Well, it didn't take long to sort out last night's catch - 1 each Sprawler & Beaded Chestnut, in the actinic and MV traps respectively. Mind you, it was quite chilly, and there was some rain in the night, so not too surprising.
Bishop's Hull 7/11/13
T Min down to 4.2C. A single Yellow-line Quaker found on the lawn; nothing at all in the trap.
East Lydford 6/11/13
A much milder night, with a new moon, should have produced a goodly number of moths, but in the event only 9 found this morning, of 5 species - 3 each Feathered Thorn & Sprawler (FFY), and 1 each Blair's Shoulder-knot, December Moth and Eudonia angustea.
There was also what I think is a Wood Wasp, (but I'm not very well up on these beasties) which is black, about half an inch in length,with a white spot on both the thorax and tip of the abdomen - also the antennae have a pale section in the centre. Has anybody got any ideas ? I don't recall ever seeing one like this before, so I'm curious as to its identity if anyone out there knows. Sorry, I don't do photos !!
Peter - don't be shy !! Your comments are just as valuable as anyone's, and we do need to hear from the far-fliung outer reaches of the County. I like the new "FFMH" designation - maybe we should start a list of possibles.
I have not contributed to this page for a while as I am overwhelmed by the number of moths recorded by those of you further south in the county, not to say jealous, but as I don't see anyone reporting a Sprawler, I thought I would do so. I haven't run the trap for a few weeks, but get moths attracted to an outside light, which lately have been Feathered Thorns (2), November Moths (2) and last night this Sprawler which is a first for me here (should that be FFMH ?)
East Lydford 4/11/13
Almost a complete flop last night, redeemed by a solitary December Moth. There were however a few gnats, 2 dung flies and a caddis to relieve the monotony !!
Bishop's Hull 1/11/13
T Min 10.2°C, light winds & some light rain. Five moths of three species:
Dark Chestnut (3), Angle Shades (1) and LBAM (1).
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe - Min Temp 13 degrees and windy.
43 moths of 16 species including FFY December Moth and A.yeatiana.
Better than expected, 18 moths of 8 sps. last night, 1 Feathered Thorn, 3 Com.Mbled.Caropets, 3 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Set.Hb.Ch., 1 Red-line Q.,1 Blair's Sh-knot, 2 LBAMs and a FFG Pale Pinion.