Friday, 4 September 2020

Mine of the Month – September

This month the species to find is Parornix anglicella. This genus frequently turns up in moth traps; however, the adults are typically impossible to separate without dissection so finding the leaf-mines is by far the best way to record this group.
This particular species is abundant and makes distinctive mines on hawthorn, ultimately folding the lobes into small cones.

Last month's results and points tally

For August, the goal was to find Phyllonorycter coryli (with a bonus point for recording the most mines per leaf). Well done Tammy for this impressive find:

Points to date:

G Chambers- 3
C Boyes- 4
D Boyes- 5
T Ward - 1
J Pearce- 5
S Southam- 1
T Stretton- 2
B Kerry- 1

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Mine of the Month – August

For August, the target species is Phyllonorycter coryli (Nut Leaf Blister Moth). This moth makes highly conspicuous silvery blisters on the upper surface of hazel leaves and is perhaps the easiest leaf-miner species to identify.

Image: Rob Edmunds/

A bonus point will be award to whoever finds the most mines on a single leaf, a challenge started by Norman Lowe:


Last month's results and points tally
For July, the aim was to find either Caloptilia semifascia or C. rufipennella (with a bonus point for recording both species). If you found either of these in July but are yet to send me the details, please do so and I can update the tally.

Caloptilia semifascia: JP (Aberbechan), GBC (Llanfyllin), CBo (Middletown), DHB (Henley)
Caloptilia rufipennella: JP (Aberbechan), CBo (Middletown), DHB (Henley)

Points to date:

G Chambers - 2
C Boyes - 3
D Boyes - 4
T Ward - 1
J Pearce - 4

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Mine of the Month – July

For July, the challenge is to find either Caloptilia semifascia or C. rufipennella. A bonus point will be rewarded for recording both species!

Both species begin by creating a small, triangular mine in Acer leaves, often in the middle of the leaf, before later rolling the leaf tips. Caloptilia semifascia does so on field maple, while C. rufipennella is found on sycamore. The leaf-cones on field maple are typically highly conspicuous, as the fold often deforms the shape of the leaf.

Leaf cone made by Caloptilia semifascia on field maple. Image: North Wales Lepidoptera

The folds made by C. rufipennella are somewhat more subtle, with it making three progressively larger folds at different points along the leaf edge.

A leaf-fold made by C. rufipennella on sycamore.

Neither species have all that many records from VC47, and are probably rather over-looked. Most records to date are from the eastern half of the county, which is typically where more recording is done. Caloptilia semifascia may be limited by the amount of field maple available in some parts of the county, however.

Here's the key for moths mining maples (the leaf rollers are at the bottom). Also, do keep an eye out for other types of mine on these two trees as they are easy to identify. For both field maple and sycamore, there is a different species of Stigmella (making gallery mines) and a different species of Phyllonorycter (creating small blotch mines).

Last month's results and points tally
The June challenge was to find Lyonetia clerkella. I'd picked this species as I expected it to be very easy to find; however, it turned out not to be so easy with only two recorders being successful: JP (Aberbechan) & DHB (Henley). Perhaps it's having a poor year, but that's just the way it goes. If you did find it but have yet to tell me, let me know and I can amend the tally.

Points to date:

G Chambers - 1
C Boyes - 1
D Boyes - 2
T Ward - 1
J Pearce - 2

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Can You Identify This Moth?

Surely a Five-Spot Burnet?

Well in fact it is a Narrow-Bordered Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena lonicerae).  If you didn’t know you should not feel too bad, as many experts consider them to be almost indistinguishable from the regular Five-Spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii) using a photo like this

Generally in the UK the Narrow-Bordered is the more abundant species although not recorded widely in Montgomeryshire.  However with the help of Peter I have recently identified a colony in our field near Berriew so I expect we should be getting a lot of new records in the east of the county but the problem is how can you tell them apart?  Well in the process of checking my specimens it appears that the forewing wing shape is consistently narrower (‘more pointed’) in the Narrow-bordered but I need to examine a lot more examples of both species from different sites to see if this difference is consistent and does not overlap between the species.

This is where I need your help. 

If you find any five-spotted burnets while you are out and about in July (both species should be flying at this time), please could you take a photo like the one above where the camera is positioned as close as possible to perpendicular to the forewing. As always it may be easier to do if you catch them and give them some cooling off time in the fridge first.  I would be particularly interested if you find any with merged or confluent spots and from damp areas where there is lots of Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil as these are almost certainly Z. trifolii. Similarly specimens from areas of rough, dry grassland with well separated third and fourth spots in the Eastern side of the county would be especially useful as these are most likely to be Z. lonicerae.  

If you get any photos please send them to me at with a brief description of where you found them.  I’ll let you know my best guess at ID as soon as possible and if this is a consistent characteristic, I will share the data and give some tools to help you do your own ID.

Thanks for your Help


Friday, 5 June 2020

To LED or not to LED? That is the question.

I'm afraid this is a purely text only post with no pretty pictures.

For some time now I have been considering converting my Skinner's trap to LED.

I have always been shamefully aware, especially on winter nights, of 125Watts burning all night long to find nothing in the trap the following morning, not to mention the fossil fuel burning generator I use at group events, ironically where we are generally recording declines in moth numbers, attributed in part to fossil fuel burning induced climate change.

This has never really sat well with my conscience but then there appears not really to have been a particularly effective alternative to MV lamps ....... until now.

So, I am wondering about the pro's and con's of LED UV trap lighting.

It certainly improves mobility of equipment and efficiency of resources but does it actual work as well as an MV lamp? Are the results parallel to MV bulbs or do you get different results?

From a preliminary scan online, there appear now miriad ways of decorating your trap with UV LED's but it seems if you go down the DIY route you have to  calculate carefully the number of LED's, their output and quantity, layout in the trap etc to ensure an effective lure for moths without flattening the battery quicker than an iphone.

It is definitely a route I wish to go down so would be very grateful for any comments, experience or opinions anyone has on this subject before I take the plunge!

Cheers, Phil.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Mine of the Month – June

Thank you to everyone who took part in May's 'Mine of the Month' (details of how everyone got on are at the end of the post). After starting with a tough group, I've picked a fairly distinctive and very common target species for June: Lyonetia clerkella.

This species creates gallery (corridor) mines which are typically long and sweeping. For more photos and info, see the species pages on,, and And here's the MMG species page.

L. clerkella on apple

Unlike most miners, this species isn't too fussy about its host plant. It's perhaps most abundant on apple trees, but can also be found on pear, cherry, hawthorn, blackthorn, rowan, and birch.

The shape of the mine usually differentiates it from nepticulid mines; however, if in doubt, examine the shape of the larva, which has indentations between segments (unlike Stigmella species).

The clearly segmented larva of L. clerkella. Photo: Tim Ward.

See also this great video from Dave Shenton:

Last month's results and points tally
For May, the challenge was to find any of birch-mining Eriocrania. Five recorders were successful (if you did record one of these species in May but are yet to send me a photo, please do so soon and I can add your point to the tally). Between us, we recorded four species (including two new for VC47).

Eriocrania sangii: GBC (Lake Vyrnwy), DHB* (Warburg Reserve; Wytham Woods)
E. cicatricella: CBo (Middletown Hill), GBC (Lake Vyrnwy), TW (Berriew), JP (Aberbechan), DHB* (Warburg Reserve)
E. unimaculellaGBC (Lake Vyrnwy), DHB* (Warburg Reserve)
E. salopiella: GBC (Lake Vyrnwy), DHB* (Warburg Reserve; Wytham Woods)

Red text indiciates new for VC47.
* - out of county records

Points to date:

G Chambers - 1
C Boyes - 1
D Boyes - 1
T Ward - 1
J Pearce - 1

Monday, 18 May 2020

Lockdown Life

Hello All
I have found my moth trap here in N.Wales to be fairly quiet recently so in order to add some variety I thought I might create some moths of my own.
One of my hobbies is woodwork and in the past I have carved several bird species which can take a long long time depending on its complexity. So I thought I would try downsizing and spent a week creating some moths. I chose relatively large species obviously and started with a tracing on a block of limewood. 

 They were then cut out on the bandsaw and carved into shape. The garden tiger moth had too much wood removed accidentally and so resulted in a smaller muslin moth!!
 Legs and antennae were formed from wire. The moths were then sealed and given a coat of white gesso before painting. 

 An image of the underside of the eyed hawkmoth proved difficult to find and thank you Peter for trawling through your photographic library.

Finally a visit to the firewood pile provided a suitable branch on which to  mount them.
 Some more dust collectors in the living room!

So if you find yourself with too much time on your hands all  you need is a block of wood.

Take care and stay safe everyone


Friday, 1 May 2020

Mine of the Month – May

This is the first 'Mine of the Month'. For details of the challenge see the previous introductory post.

This month's challenge is to find Eriocrania sangii, a leaf miner on birch. Here's the MMG species page. We currently only have one county record for this species (an adult seen at an MMG event at Hafren Forest) but it's likely to be under-recorded.

An adult Eriocrania sangii. Like most of this group, these are hard to identify
as adults (even by dissection) so it's much easier to record them as leaf mines.

We have six species of Eriocrania in the UK and all of these are found on birch (a point will be rewarded for finding any of these). Four of these species have been recorded in Montgomeryshire (but all six have been recorded in North Wales so there's the possibility of finding a new county record!).

Eriocranias make large blotch mines, which often take up much of the leaf (so are relatively easy to spot!). The larvae typically produce untidy, spaghetti-like frass. Here's a key for the birch Eriocranias. The first important feature is whether the mine begins at the edge of the leaf, or away from the leaf edge. You can work out the start point of the mine as the early mine is a narrow corridor (or 'gallery'), which later widens to form the large blotch. The early mine is often absorbed by the blotch but usually remains visible. In the photo below, the early corridor is visible running down along the leaf edge from the tip.

Eriocrania sangii mine. Image: Janet Graham

Two species start away from the leaf edge: E. salopiella and E. sparrmannella (however, the latter does not appear until later in the year). The remaining species all start at the leaf edge. If multiple larvae are within a single mine it's E. cicatricella. The remaining three species all have a single larva per mine: E.sangii, E. semipurpurella and E. unimaculella.

Eriocrania sangii is easily distinguished by its slate grey larva (all other Eriocrania larvae are white).
The distinctive grey larva of E. sangii. Image: Janet Graham.

A tip: smaller, seedling birches can often be more productive for leaf-mines, and different species can show preferences for different sized trees.

This is a somewhat difficult one for the first 'Mine of the Month' (others will be easier, I promise!) and this is why a point will be given to finding any one of the six Eriocrania species. At this time of the year, there's a fairly limited selection of active miners to pick from. Most leaf miners are summer-flying (so the mines appear a bit later in the year); however, the Eriocranias are typically on the wing in March and April, which is why the mines can be found from now.

Do get in touch if you want any help with ID.

Happy hunting!


Update 07/05/20: With two new county records as a result of this challenge (E. unimaculella, Lake Vyrnwy, GBC and E. ciratricella, Middletown Hill, CBo), all six species have now been recorded in VC47!

Mine of the Month – an introduction

Hi all,

Julie had the excellent idea of starting a monthly challenge to find a specific species of leaf mine. At the start of each month, I'll post details of a leaf miner to look out for (here on the blog and also on the MMG Facebook group). A 'leaf mine treasure hunt', if you like. Every confirmed 'Mine of the Month' find equals a point and whoever gets the most points at the end of the year wins a 'virtual prize'! (don't get too excited!)

It should be good fun and, of course, will help to improve recording coverage of leaf-mines. I'm sure Peter will be thrilled to receive any resulting records. Leaf mines are a great way to find new species: I've recorded about 60 species of moth miners at my garden in Middletown. So keep an eye out and record any other mines you come across too! Some useful resources (including plant-specific keys) are and (which despite the name covers moth mines too).

It goes without saying that you should follow current government advice on Covid-19, i.e. only search for leaf mines in your garden, or at local sites as part of your daily exercise.

Get in touch with me via email, or on the Facebook group, to let me know how you get on with the challenge, or if you need any ID help. Please also remember to add any sightings to your records in the usual way to send to Peter at the end of the year. I will provide an update on how people have got on and a points tally with the following month's challenge.


Saturday, 25 April 2020

Emperor Moth(Saturnia pavonia) adults hatched today, from eggs left in my trap about this time last year.

I'd given up hope, assuming that the pupae had died, so was very pleasantly surprised. I've included some other photos of the stages they have been through.

(Apologies for the layout, Blogger is an appalling app.! I'll edit the HTML directly when I get time.)