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

Alan

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!

Douglas

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 www.leafmines.co.uk and www.ukflymines.co.uk (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.

Douglas

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.)




Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Michelin Moth

Found yesterday on the front tyre of our car!

I look upon it as a sign it will be a "Goodyear" for mothing.[Sorry]

Stay safe and healthy everyone

Alan

Sunday, 23 February 2020

4th in the series 'One to look out for' - the Small Brindled Beauty


I think there's something quite amusing about the Small Brindled Beauty, its a 'cheeky little chap' and one I look forwards to seeing each year. It's a fairly local and uncommon species in Montgomeryshire and usually found is very small numbers throughout its flight season which can be in February or March, but its actual flight time is usually only for a couple of weeks or so, so this can be earlier or later depending on the weather condition at the time. Its short flight time, early in the year probably accounts for the small numbers of records we have in our database and I doubt if it would ever be recorded in larger numbers, no matter how much recording was done. The dot map (shown on the species page) shows that it has only been recorded at seven different sites in the county during the past ten years, but I feel that this number could be improved upon slightly with a bit more recording.

As I've said, the moth is on the wing late winter-early spring, but the female (as with several species in the group) is wingless. The male (as can be seen below) has a quite furry appearance, especially around the thorax and is easily recognisable. It is easily attracted to light. After mating the female climbs up its foodplant (deciduous tree species), probably not far from where she emerged from her chrysalis; these include pedunculate oak, hawthorn, silver birch, hazel, elm, hornbeam and chestnut to lay its eggs. The larvae feed until fully grown, then they pupate underground until they emerge the following spring.





If you would like a bit more information on the the Small Brindled Beauty please go to its species page on our website - click here.

Peter.



Saturday, 15 February 2020

January Moth Challenge 2020

The January challenge has now finished, the data is all in and has been collated in the two charts below.

This year, as last year, only nine mothers took part (and two of those were from out of county recorders), which considering the mild January we had is a little disappointing, but between us we did manage to record 28 species, which is only two species down on last years record number of species. There were 17 macro and 11 micro species recorded which resulted in 377 moths (347 macro and 30 micro), which is an excellent effort on everyone's part. Despite the fairly mild weather throughout the month,  moth numbers were well down on last years record total of 643. 



Only two of us achieved the macro part of the challenge, with 10 plus species that was myself with 12 species and 10 species from Alec Undrill, an Essex recorder. Sue Southam was once again (like last year) very unlucky, just missing the target with 9 species, as was Alan Sibley from Essex, also with 9 species. I also managed to scrape home with the micro part of the challenge with 5 species, with Alec just missing out with 4 species.


The recorders who have shared this year's coveted ‘wooden MV bulb’ award (formally the ‘wooden spoon’ award), are; Tim Ward, Deborah Griffiths, Phil McGregor and Jeny Heard with no moths, but well done as always for having a go.




Recorder
AS
TW
SOS
DG
AU
PMG
CSB
PRW
JeH
Count of species
Count of moths

Species: Macro moths
Count
Count
Count
Count
Count
Count
Count
Count
Count
Log No.
Days Trapped/recorded
31
3
20
4
13
4
5
31
2


1663
March Moth
3
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
3
1760
Red-green Carpet
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
2
2
1769
Spruce Carpet
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
1
1
1775
Mottled Grey
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
64
-
1
64
1799
Winter Moth
2
-
3
-
1
-
-
39
-
4
45
1926
Pale Brindled Beauty
8
-
14
-
5
-
1
14
-
5
42
1927
Brindled Beauty
-
-
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
1
2
1930
Oak Beauty
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
2
1932
Spring Usher
10
-
10
-
16
-
-
7
-
4
43
1934
Dotted Border
1
-
2
-
1
-
-
2
-
4
6
1935
Mottled Umber
3
-
2
-
17
-
-
26
-
4
48
1947
Engrailed
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
1
1
1960
Early Moth
-
-
5
-
1
-
-
-
-
2
6
2241
Red Sword-grass
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
1
-
2
2
2256
Satellite
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
5
-
2
6
2258
Chestnut
1
-
1
-
11
-
-
45
-
4
58
2259
Dark Chestnut
12
-
-
-
2
-
2
-
-
3
16













Macro species recorded
9
0
9
0
10
0
2
12
0
17

Macro moths recorded
41
0
40
0
57
0
3
206
0
42
347













Log No.
Species: Micro moths











435
Zelleria hepariella
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
1
1
461
Ypsolopha ustella
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
6
-
2
7
688
Agonopterix heracliana
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
1
697
Agonopterix arenella
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
2
893
Mompha epilobiella
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
1
1
998
Epiphyas postviteana
1
-
-
-
3
-
-
-
-
2
4
1044
Acleris ferrugana
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
3
-
2
4
1045
Acleris notana
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
3
-
2
5
1057
Acleris hastiana
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
1
1
1498
Amblyptilia acanthadactyla
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
1
1
1524
Emmelina monodactyla
3
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
3













Micro species/moths recorded
3
0
3
0
4
0
0
5
0
11

Micro moths recorded
5
0
5
0
6
0
0
14
0

30













Total species macro + micro
12
0
12
0
14
0
2
17
0
28

Total count macro + micro
46
0
45
0
63
0
3
220
0

377






Now for a more in depth breakdown of what was recorded.
Macros - As can be seen in the chart above four of us managed to record 4+ species. Across all recorders the most numerous species (like last year) was the Mottled Grey with 64 moths, followed by the Chestnut with 58 moths and in third place  was the Mottled Umber with 48 moths
The most moths recorded by individual recorders were 206 by myself, Alec 57 and Alan Sibley on 41.



Of the 17 species recorded, those worthy of a special mention are, Brindled Beauty, which are normally not seen before late March; Red Sword-grass - an overwintering species brought out by the mild weather. 


Micros - Once again there were 11 micro species recorded, which matched last year's record number, so that was a particularly good effort on the part of the four recorders who recorded all the micro species. There weren't really any unexpected micro species recorded this year. 



The chart below shows the top five macro species recorded (along with the total of moths)from 2012 to 2020.






January moth challenge - Top five recorded macro species 2012 to 2020
Year
2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020


Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
Species
Total
1
Winter Moth
131
Winter Moth
229
Winter Moth
169
Winter Moth
64
Chestnut
64
Spring Usher
244
Winter Moth
47
Mottled Grey
180
Mottled Grey
64
2
Mottled Grey
59
Mottled Umber
157
Mottled Grey
69
Mottled Umber
19
Winter Moth
30
Mottled Umber
109
Mottled Umber
31
Winter Moth
108
Chestnut
58
3
Mottled Umber
24
Mottled Grey
147
Mottled Umber
54
Early Moth
14
Mottled Umber
29
Winter Moth
76
Mottled Grey
26
Mottled Umber
93
Mottled Umber
48
4
Chestnut
20
Pale Brindled Beauty
61
Early Moth
22
Spring Usher
13
Pale Brindled Beauty
28
Pale Brindled Beauty
45
Early Moth
22
Pale Brindled Beauty
87
Winter Moth
45
5
Spring Usher
13
Early Moth
16
Herald
15
Chestnut
13
Mottled Grey
21
Mottled Grey
23
Chestnut
18
Chestnut
61
Spring Usher
43



















Tot

247

610

329

123

172

497

144

529

258

Key the recorders who took part in this year's challenge is: -

AS       Alan Sibley - Sible Hedingham         
TW      Tim Ward - Pentre Llifior      
SOS     Sue Southam - Guilsfield      
DG      Deborah Griffith - Welshpool
AU      Alec Undrill - Colchester       
PMG   Phil McGregor - Llanfihangel
CSB    Clare Backshall - Llanymynech         
PRW   Peter Williams - Commins Coch       
JeH      Jeny Heard - Montgomery

Once again many thanks for all those who took part in this years challange.

Happy mothing in 2020

Peter.