Saturday, 21 July 2018

More clearwing hunting

Last Sunday I took a trip to Llanymynech Rocks on the hunt for Six-belted Clearwing.

Following on from a day of disappointment, I did not have high expectations - the previous morning I had failed to find Large Heath up on the Berwyns in perfect weather, and that same afternoon it was our event for Welsh Clearwing (spoiler alert: we didn't find any - see Sue's excellent write-up below). I didn't even bother to bring my proper camera....

However, I was to be pleasantly surprised. Within minutes of deploying the lure, a tiny wasp-like insect arrived. Moments later, a much larger one clumsily flew in. In total, I saw at least four individuals (within about ten minutes). Expecting to find a mate, these excited males must have been pretty disappointed to instead find a chunk of rubber in a teabag...


The feeling at the last event was that the daytime format worked well so an afternoon session targetting this species is pencilled in for the 2019 MMG programme.

Event report: Welsh Clearwing afternoon at Lake Vyrnwy

The Afon Nadroedd valley
Last Saturday we departed from our usual evening event format to hold a daytime event, in the picturesque Afon Nadroedd valley just north of Lake Vyrnwy. Hopes were high as the emphasis was on finding the Welsh Clearwing, a nationally important Red Data Book species. Most of those attending the event had never seen any species of Clearwing, and were optimistic that Douglas' pheremone lures would have the desired effect.

The weather was very warm and dry, as it has been for several weeks now, and fifteen optimistic moth-ers congregated beneath a large sycamore beside the Nadroedd stream, enjoying a shady picnic spot before the serious searching began.

The recently purchased MMG butterfly nets proved popular, and there was much sweeping along the roadside and over the extensive marshy area. Peter lost count of the number of Agriphila straminella he netted, but declared he'd be a wealthy man if he had three- halfpence a moth!

Old emergence holes
It was good to meet Andrew Graham, butterfly and moth recorder for Merionethshire and Anglesey, and also butterfly recorder for Caernarvonshire. He explained that the Welsh Clearwing is rare in North Wales, and reliant on old Downy or Silver Birch trees with exposed lower trunks, such as those to be found alongside the lane we were exploring. His online database, North Wales Lepidoptera, describes the life cycle fully, and explains that the larvae feed on the inner bark for several years. When fully grown they tunnel to just under the surface of the bark, construct a cocoon out of frass granules, and then pupate within it. When ready to emerge, the outer end of the cocoon is neatly severed and a wriggling motion enables the pupa to move outwards until partially exposed to the atmosphere. Interestingly, backward pointing spines on the pupa ensure that only forward movement is possible. The adult moth then emerges from the pupa, often leaving the pupal case (exuvia) remaining in the emergence hole.

A hopeful crowd formed around the pheromone lure
Because this is a scarce species, every occupied birch is important, and Douglas set up pheromone lures in trees where the species has been located in the past, as the adult male moth responds well to this technique. As the sun shone, and we were within the expected flight period, we remained hopeful, although the last positive record from this site was in 2012, when two exuviae and a fresh cocoon were recorded. We were able to see the tell-tale 5mm circular emergence holes though, which remain visible for many years, and also observed the larval tunnels in places where some of the surface bark was missing. But despite our perseverance, there was no evidence of either the moth or a fresh emergence.

Scalloped Hook-tip
However, there were a few other day-flying macro moths to be seen, including several Silver Y, a Barred Straw, and a Straw Dot. Two more micro moths, Celypha lacunanna and Scoparia ambigualis were recorded. It was also a chance to look for larvae, and the distinctive green and yellow striped caterpillar discovered on bracken was identified as Broom Moth. Shortly afterwards, a caterpillar closely resembling a birch catkin was found on a birch and identified as a Scalloped Hook-tip. A tiny 'looper' caterpillar was collected by Douglas when beating but has yet to be identified.

Butterfly species were predictably more numerous than moths, and a pristine Small Copper was much admired. Ringlets were common, as were Green-veined Whites and Small Heath. Also flying were Meadow Browns, Large Whites and a Large Skipper. A Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral put in an appearance as well.

Several minutes were spent trying to photograph dragonflies over and around the stream. Mark managed to capture on camera what he identified as a Gold-ringed Dragonfly, although it eluded the rest of us.

Other eye-catching invertebrates included a large and conspicuous orbweb spider with a distinctively patterned globular abdomen, and a Forest Bug.

Despite drawing a blank as far as seeing Welsh Clearwings went, it was an interesting afternoon enjoyed by all - and if another daytime event is planned, no doubt there will be plenty of attendees. As people prepared to head for home, a group of ponies grazing the hill came down to the stream to drink, as if to see us off!

Thanks to Douglas for organising the event, and for adding another moth to our rather short list - A Small Seraphim which found its way into his car and travelled home with him!

Sue S.

The species list can be found here. And all the photos from the afternoon at the link below:
MMG event: Welsh Clearwing(less) afternoon -14/07/18

Monday, 25 June 2018

Moths rock at Llanymynech

Bee Orchid (CB)
The June event was timed to take place on (national) Moth Night 2018 (which counterintuitively takes place over 3 days). The target group this year was pyralids. The moth group assembled before dark to put out an array of 13 traps along this botanical paradise.

As the wildflowers were putting on a good display, some of the group took the opportunity to botanise before the light faded. We were well rewarded with five species of orchid found: Common Spotted, Pyramidal, Bee, Greater Butterfly and a single Twayblade.

Although dry and still, (the wind having dropped after the recent storms), the temperature was a disappointing 12 C. However, activity at the moth table quickly heated things up. Fitting with the Moth Night theme, the first moth brought to the table was Homoesoma sinuella. This limestone grassland specialist proved a common pyralid at the site. Another 11 species of pyralid contributed to the total of 50 micro moths found. The more unusal species included Rhyacionia pinivorana, Metzneria lappella and a larval case of Coleophora limosipennella which protruded from a Wych Elm leaf.

Coleophora limosipennella (DBo)

Just as it got dark, Sue arrived with a tin of her delicious shortbread. Her bag would have been a lot lighter on the way down the hill as not a crumb remained.

A Lime Hawk-moth was a star attraction, obligingly perching on Lottie’s finger for photographs; and a fresh Lilac Beauty was much admired by all. A number of specialist moths of the site were brought to the table including Pretty Chalk Carpet, Heart & Club, and Haworth’s Pug. Other noteworthy moths included Satin Wave, Galium Carpet, and right at the end of the night, a surprising Bilberry Pug. The Montgomeryshire flora indicates that bilberry (a plant usually associated with acidic soils) has been recorded nearby, so perhaps it had just wandered a little from its main base. There were 72 macro moths recorded over the evening so the total list was 124 species – not bad for a cool night.

Lime Hawk-moth (GBC)
The event was well supported with 21 attendees, including a family of four who were out for a walk, but were quickly persuaded to join in with the fun. The children proved adept at catching moths – one even catching a moth in a pot as it flew by. It was great to see their enthusiasm and we all hoped that they may have caught the mothing bug!

As we were putting away the traps, long after midnight, a dog walker came to inform us that he had seen something glowing green on the top of the hill – the photographs were clearly of a Glow Worm – another great record from a site which always has a surprise in store!

Clare B.

The full species list is available here. Link to additional photos: (by GO, GBC, DBo & CB)
MMG event - Llanymynech Rocks - 16/06/18

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Cors Dyfi MMG event (02/06/2018) - report

Something to look at while the moths warmed up
Cors Dyfi is a site that rarely disappoints. The mild conditions during the day of the event, combined with the fact we had 13 traps distributed around the reserve, meant we were virtually guaranteed a good night...

The onomatopoeic call of the cuckoo provided a nice soundtrack as we set the traps. Meanwhile, many of the 33 attendees were enthralled by the newly-hatched osprey chicks, which were broadcast live on HD screens in the visitors centre. Once it was dark, a final ornithological highlight was hearing the eerie ‘drumming’ of snipe on the reserve.

As soon as the lights were switched on, the moths began to roll in. It was clear we were in for a busy night. At first, it was mostly the usual stuff. But much to the delight of members of the public, this included many ‘showy’ species. A large Drinker moth caterpillar was particularly effective at capturing the attention of the kids.

An hour or so in, an Obscure Wainscot was brought to the table. This species appears to have recently arrived in the county but is now doing rather well (several were seen throughout the night). We also recorded Orange Footman and Valerian Pug, two other species which seem to be recent arrivals (although the latter could have been partly overlooked in the past)

Silky Wainscot (GO)
The best moth of the night was also one that seems to be spreading nationally: Silky Wainscot, a reed bed species that is new to the county. Others worth a mention are Dog’s Tooth, Marsh Oblique-barred, Beautiful Snout, Light Knot Grass, Scallop Shell and a Marbled Brown that was so fresh it was almost unrecognisable.

On the micro front, the best record was Elachista subalbidella (new county record). Others of note locally included Rhyacionia pinivorana (second county record), Micropterix aureatella and Ancylis geminana. There still some specimens that I need to determine so there may well be some more interesting records left to come!

Around midnight, it clouded over and the temperature began to increase - from the low of 12c to a balmy 14c. New species were coming in thick and fast and it soon felt like we’d caught almost every common macro on the wing at the moment. Though no Silver-ground Carpet as Gavin astutely noted when we were packing away a trap. “Well, what about that one” I remarked, pointing to one which had obligingly just landed on the ground!

We finally finished packed up soon after 3am. We had amassed a species totals which I think is the second or third highest ever for an MMG event (about 150 species). This also included two new county records and at least ten species new to the reserve. An excellent night all round. So good in fact, we barely even noticed the lack of cake!

A big thanks to the Cors Dyfi team for hosting us; in particular, Karis Hodgson who was on hand throughout the evening.

The full species list is available here. For more photos from the evening, follow link below (images: DBo, GBC & GO):
MMG event - Cors Dyfi - 02/06/2018

Douglas.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

New micro book

Not strictly a new guide but a revision of Maitland Emmet’s 1988 guide, with text updated to reflect the new knowledge gained over the last three decades. N.b. there are no photos or illustrations inside! See sample page below (right). Most micro moths are best found by searching for early stages and this is what this book is designed to facilitate.

For example, you can look up a particular species and see where (and when) its larval stages can be found. There’s also a foodplant index at the back – so if you find a micro-moth caterpillar on a certain plant, you can typically narrow it down to a small selection of species. It's likely to be a worthy investment (£24, or £16 for members of BENHS) for anyone serious about finding micros.






Wednesday, 16 May 2018

'One to look out for' - the Orange Footman

There are some species in our database which are recorded very infrequently due to scarcity or distribution in the Montgomeryshire. So I thought it might be a good idea to highlight these species as and when their flight times arrive so that we could target them a little better. I shall call these particular series of posts 'One to look out for'. So today I'll get the ball rolling with the Orange Footman.

This species was first recorded at Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve in the west of the county in 2012 and in the subsequent six years there have been 9 further records from six different sites across the county. The species is predominantly found in the southern and eastern side of England, but in recent years it has slowly spread westwards and northwards. Its foodplant as in common with many other species of footman species is lichen, so we shouldn't have any problem with that, as lichen can be found in abundance throughout much of the county. It's on the wing from late May to June, so plenty of time coming up to record this species (I actually recorded one last night 15/05/18 at my home site in Commins Coch in the west of the county). It doesn't really have any confusion species as the only ones it can be confused with are the Dingy and Buff  Footman, but these species aren't on the wing until late June, so there shouldn't really be a problem here, but at always, if you're unsure, just send me a photo and I will confirm it for you one way or another. The species page can be viewed here.

Orange Footman
So there we are, we've kicked off with our first 'One to look out for', so let's see if we can add a few more records of this species to our database.

Peter.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

A Night out in the City - Saturday 28 April 2018

Saturday night saw 13 of us, including our hosts, at Lower View, City, near Sarn, on a private nature reserve that had not previously been trapped.  It was a chilly evening, with a full moon, so expectations weren’t high, but for those that arrived early there was an excellent chance to walk around the reserve and enjoy the sight of Early Purple Orchids emerging.  It was also a chance to enjoy being bitten by midges!  It was good to see some new faces, and Peter put in a celebrity appearance later on, in time for refreshments.

The traps went on at 8pm and a lot of the moth action came from the lighted sheet. The first moth of the evening from the sheet was a Water Carpet.  In all 19 species were trapped, which was higher than anticipated, including 2 micro species.  The highlight for those of us not at the last trapping was a Tissue, which comes out of hibernation in April/May.  There were many of the usual suspects coming to the end of their season, including Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Twin-spotted Quaker & Hebrew Character, and some of the emerging Spring species like Early Thorn and Early Grey.  The full species list can be read here.

Tissue

Early Grey



Early Thorn

Members of the group enjoying a warming cuppa in Steve's weaving shed

Some people brought their own moths in case there wasn’t enough action on the night.  Paul presented Peter with a bag of Owl pellets.  He had previously had Monopsis laevigella emerge from the pellets but on the night it was a White-shouldered House Moth that put in an appearance. 

Many thanks for the splendid hospitality from Steve & Lisette, who let us shelter in their very comfortable shed, including a wood burner, and fed us very welcome sandwiches & sausage rolls towards the end of the night.  Washed down with lashings of tea or Bullace gin, and followed by Sue's legendary shortbread. No wonder we didn’t venture out to the traps very often!  As the night got colder (minimum 4C) & clearer there were less moths around and the evening drew to a close at midnight.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Rhoslan Farm Event - 14th Apr 2018

The first moth event of the year took place at Rhoslan Farm near Llanfyllin on the 14th April and despite winter seemingly dragging on into April we were fortunate to have a nicely timed increase in temperature. With intermittent cloud cover all 6 traps and the white sheet were turned on by 20:30 with a light breeze blowing through the garden and fields. Four traps were set up in surrounding fields and 2 more immediately around the farm house.

The white sheet
Bulbs had barely warmed up when the first moth was potted and was the first sign that moths were perhaps emerging a little later than normal this year as it was a March Moth. One of the highlights of the night was surprisingly second to be found, a Dark Chestnut, which gave some of us a chance to scrutinise a species not often caught by most, if at all.

March Moth
There was then a trickle of the more typical early Spring species; Red Chestnut, Hebrew Character and a hat-trick of quakers; Twin-Spot, Common and Small. At about this time we were all invited in for light refreshments in the warm conservatory by our host, Simon Spencer, where we found quiche, sandwiches and a range of delicious cakes. It was therefore not surprising that the next moth took quite a while to be found!!

Tissue
Sometime later, with Early Grey and Early Tooth-striped potted, the star of the event showed up in the form of a Tissue, which was followed by a chorus of Bless You! It appeared to be in pristine condition with a great patterning and pink flush. Perhaps the smartest looking moth was the Red Sword-grass that Peter managed to predict before it appeared by the white sheet. A moth of great disguise that could have easily just been a broken twig among leaf litter, though not so useful on a white sheet.

Red Sword-grass
There were just a couple of micros found, Agonopterix heracliana and Diurnea fagella. The night was then finished with a smart quartet of a Herald, Yellow Horned, White Marked and an Oak Beauty making it a total of 23 macro species and the 2 micros. With a huge thanks to Simon for his hospitality and use of his farm we packed up and were off around 00:30.

The species list can be found here.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Keep an eye open for those tricky spring species

We all need to be very vigilant when checking the trap at this time of year as some of the more uncommon spring species can be easily overlooked or misidentified in among the more common species. The following list shows what we should be checking for in the trap.

·         The Small Quaker can be a very numerous species, but check them carefully as there might just be the similar looking, but very uncommon Blossom Underwing in amongst them.
·         Clouded Drab and the Twin-spotted Quaker both have very variable colour forms and one colour form of Clouded Drab in particular can look like a form of Twin-spotted Quaker, so we need also to be on our toes here.
·         The Powdered Quaker will be on the wing soon. This species has a dusting of speckles and is slightly bigger than the Common Quaker, but if the speckles aren’t very prominent it can easily be mistaken for the latter.
·         The Lead-coloured Drab has been recorded in a few sites in the east and south of the county. This species can easily be confused with the Common Quaker, so all individuals much be checked thoroughly. The Lead Drab has a more even lead colour and the apex of the forewing is more rounded. It would be great if we could get some more confirmed records of this species, so again, be vigilant.
·         Our first two specifies of Pugs are also on the wing now, i.e. Brindled Pug and Double-striped Pug and while they’re not that similar, care should be taken with id.
·         Several species of Agonopterix and Depressaria are also on the wing at this time of year, many of which can be confused with others.

If you’re in any doubt with identification, of any of the above species, as always, send me a photo and I’ll do my best to confirm it for you.  

Other good early species to look out for now are; Pine Beauty, Brindled Beauty, Glaucous Shears, Broom-tip and Grey Birch.

Happy mothing

Peter.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Costa Rica - Moths and other insects

Last November, we visited Costa Rica, primarily on a birding trip, but it offered good opportunities to see moths.  Simon said before we went 'I hope you are not going to spend all your time looking at insects....'

In some places, there were moths around the hotel lights after dark, but at Rancho Naturalista, in the Talamanca Mountains, there is an illuminated sheet, just inside the rainforest. This is switched on about 3 or 4 nights a week, and attracts hundreds of moths and many other insects including mantis, wasps, flies and katydids.

I found myself getting up at 4am to photograph the moths, (and rescuing some by taking them away from the light and into the rainforest), before the woodcreepers and flycatchers arrived to feast at first light.  Some moths could be easily assigned to families eg hawkmoths and tiger moths, but with no field guide available some were much trickier – made more difficult by the incredible mimicry which is an important survival strategy.

There are moths which resemble wasps, as well as wasps which resemble moths; moths which looked like butterflies, and moths which looked like scorpions; and others which mimicked their toxic relatives. There were many moths which resembled dead leaves complete with ragged edges, ‘disease’ blotches and sometimes even curled wings. There was even one moth which resembled a thorn.




  
































Early, one morning, I was surprised by a huge Saturniid moth, probably Rhescyntis hippodamia. It is the size of a dinner plate and fluttered about like a large bat, before landing on the sheet. You can see how huge it is compared to the hawkmoths on the sheet next to it. If you look closely, you can see that the tips of the forewings resemble a snake’s head.


You can see more photos from the trip here








We spotted  number of rather impressive caterpillars including this handsome creature:


There were plenty of beautiful butterflies - my favourites were the glasswings – we were lucky enough to find a lekking site in a dappled patch of sunlight in the rainforest where the males were displaying to attract mates.  






Lurking under the hummingbird feeders outside our room, we spotted a few hooded mantis. These amazing insects actually catch and eat hummingbirds - although thankfully we didn't see this happen.














And no, I didn't spend all my time looking at insects - we also saw many birds, amphibians and reptiles, and mammals. The only thing I was short of was sleep!

Clare Boyes

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

2018 January Moth Challenge

Hello Mothers,

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

This year 12 mothers took part (one more than last year) and between us we recorded 22 species, the same as last year (11 macro and 11 micro) and 204 moths (179 macro and 25 micro), which is again an excellent effort on everyone's part. However, in general, moth numbers were well down on last year.
Only one person achieved the macro part of the challenge, with 10 plus species that was myself with 10 species. Julie Pearce/Mark Thomas and Sue Southam were next with 6 species. I also managed to achieve the micro part of the challenge with 8 species.
The six recorders who managed to record nothing this year will have to share the coveted ‘wooden bulb’ award (formally the ‘wooden spoon’ award).

Click to enlarge

Now for a more in depth breakdown of what was recorded.

Macros - As can be seen in the chart below several people managed to record 3 species. Across all recorders the most numerous species was the Winter Moth with. Once again the Mottled Umber came second with 31 moths and the Mottled Grey was third with 26 moths.The most moths recorded by individual recorders was 125 by myself, Sue 32 and Julie/Mark 21.Of the 11 species recorded, none were totally unexpected, although the Pale Pinion and Spruce Carpet are always good January records.

Micros - Interestingly, for the first time, the micro species recorded of 11 matched the macro species recorded, so that was a particularly good effort on the part of the five recorders trapping something (one up on last year). The species recorded by the most recorders was once again Agonopterix heracliana (2 people). No unexpected micro species were recorded this year.

Click to enlarge

Many thanks to all those for taking part this year - key below.

DG             Deborah Griffith                         Welshpool
SS              Simon Spencer                            Llanfyllin
PRW          Peter Williams                            Commins Coch
JP&MTT   Julie Pearce & Mark Thomas     Aberbechan
PR              Paul Roughly                             Abermule
AT             Alan Tadman                               Derwenlas
GBC          Gavin Chambers                          Lake Vyrnwy
JH              Jeny Heard                                  Montgomery
SOS           Sue Southam                               Guilsfield
TS              Tammy Stretton                          Welshpool
IM             Ingrid Maugham                          Meifod
LW            Les Wilkins                                  Dernol

Happy mothing to all in 2018.

Peter

Monday, 19 February 2018

The evolution of butterflies and moths

Many of you probably saw the recent discovery of ancient moth scales in the news. Following on from this discovery, I wrote a blog on the early evolution of Lepidoptera - including what the first moths living over 200 million years ago looked like and some of the reasons why the group has since evolved to be so successful. Might be of interest in these winter months when the trap is (relatively) quiet?

Link: http://www.douglasboyes.co.uk/blog/2018/02/13/flying-with-dinosaurs/

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

My 2017 Mothing Highlight

In March 2014 I had a Small Eggar one evening fluttering around by the moth trap. I checked what food plant they used and was surprised to find that such an uncommon moth feeds mostly on hawthorn and blackthorn. From April through to July I checked the bushes nearby for signs of the larva or their tent and found nothing. In the autumn I lightly trimmed some of my blackthorn and hawthorn as that is what they are supposed to prefer. Checked again in 2015, found nothing. More trimming in autumn, checked the hedgerows in 2016, still nothing. By 2017 I had lost interest and didn't bother checking, with only a couple of sightings of larva for Montgomeryshire I thought it was unlikely that I would ever get to see them.

In early 2017 I had obtained some pheromones for luring Burnet moths as part of a project run by Ashen Oleander at Canterbury for his PhD. In July to test the lures I went to a site about a mile away from here were I had seen some Burnets in 2016. I was putting out the lures when I noticed something odd in a small hawthorn bush a few metres away. On closer inspection I realised it was a Small Eggar larval tent. The larvae were well grown, and most were clinging to the outside of the
tent, with a few wandering around the bush munching on hawthorn leaves. I watched them for a while, most didn't stray from their tent, but some were moving quite rapidly along the branches looking for leaves to eat, or returning to the tent after feeding. There is a short video clip of them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RpGgyrSahY



The area they were in was grassland that had been allowed to scrub up, there were a number of smallish hawthorn bushes and a few clumps of gorse dotted around. The hawthorns didn't look very trimmed, but I suppose the sheep might have been nibbling at them. It is hard to understand why some species are so unusual. The habitat didn't look different to anything else around, so why arent they everywhere?




Paul Roughley

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Essex Skipper confirmed in Montgomeryshire

2017 saw an extremely rare - though, in this case, not unexpected - event in Montgomeryshire: a new county butterfly record. Essex Skipper has been spreading rapidly in recent decades and has become common over much of southern England and Wales. It is rather similar to the Small Skipper so has possibly been overlooked to some extent.

It's definitely worth checking your Small Skippers in 2018, especially in the east of the county. There are some useful pictures for separating the two species under the 'similar species' section on UK Butterflies. If possible, please take photos to have any potential sightings confirmed.

Essex Skipper. Peter & Sue Young. July 2017, Welshpool.

Monday, 15 January 2018

2018 event programme

We will begin the year with two events held at private residences - this should give us the option of some shelter and warming beverages in the (unlikely!) event of poor weather. On the 14th April, we are visiting Simon Spencer's smallholding, hoping to catch Broom-tip (a nationally scarce species that has been found at the site in the past). On the 28th April, Steve Attwood-Wright is hosting us at his private nature reserve in the south-east of the county. This is a particularly under-recorded area and the site has had no moth trapping in the past, so who knows what will turn up...

We will hold an event at Cors Dyfi reserve in the far west of the county on the 2nd June. Later in the month, for Moth Night 2018, we will be trapping on limestone grassland at Llanymynech Rocks (16th June). The site has produced a number of exciting records over the years including:
This Netted Pug was caught at Llanymynech last year (GO).

On the 14th July, we will hope to entice amorous male Welsh Clearwings at Lake Vyrnwy (a joint event with the RSPB). This rare day-flying species has not been seen in the county for several years (though it is thought to experience population cycles lasting several years so this may not be a cause for concern). Fingers crossed! Even if we're unsuccessful in luring the clearwing, we will no doubt be able to find some other moths which may be on the wing (or feeding as larvae).
Welsh Clearwing at pheromone lures. Lake Vyrnwy, 2010 (MDH)

Wern Claypits nature reserve is another site that has not had any previous trapping - a fact we'll be rectifying on the 4th August. The site is designed to recreate the habitat of an abandoned canal. We'll be targetting specialist moths associated with wetland habitats. Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust (MWT) will be joining us and will be aiming to record some interesting bats foraging over the water.

We'll end the year by visiting two MWT reserves: Coed Y Dinas (1st September) and Deri Woods (22nd September). The latter is a joint event with the MWT and we will be targetting the autumn sallow moths.

Please consult the programme, which can be found in the events section of the website, for further information (including location details, directions and meet times).

Friday, 5 January 2018

A good steady mothing year at Commins Coch

During 2017 I maintained a good average for both macro and micro moths, although my butterfly count was slightly down on recent years.   

The highlight for me was a NCR of the micro species Cedestis gysseleniella – a species which hadn’t been recorded in North Wales before.

Cedestis gysseleniella
One of the more outstanding trapping periods was during December with massive numbers of Mottled Umber I recorded. A grand total of 835 were recorded during the month which peaked on 21st with 222 moths (counting was as manic as a good night's trapping in the summer). Although these massive numbers were during a milder spell of weather the curious thing was that I didn’t have overly large numbers of any other species (apart from slightly inflated Winter Moth numbers), I don’t really know what to put it down to.

My overall figures for the year were:-

Macro = 313 species recorded. This includes 3 new species for my site (details below); 18828 moths.

Small Argent & Sable; 1 recorded on 20th June. 
Orange Footman; four recorded between 27th May to 15th June. 
Beautiful Brocade; 1 recorded on 21st June.

Micro = 140 species recorded. This includes 8 new species for my site (details below); one of which is a NCR; 2324 moths. 

Phyllonorycter harrisella - 1 on 22nd May  
Cedestis gysseleniella - 1 on 2nd August  - New county record
Ypsolopha sequella – 1 on 28th August 
Teleiodes vulgella – I on 23rd July                                 
Cochylis nana – 1 on 26th May 
Eana osseana – 1 on 25th July                                   
Acleris caledoniana – 16 between 28th August and 2nd October  
Schreckensteinia festaliella – 1 on 30th March

Butterflies = 16 species recorded. 717 butterflies (no new species).

Hopefully, 2018 will be a good season for us all, which as usual I'm very much looking forwards to.

Peter.                                                      

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Mothing at Derwenlas 2017- a year best forgotten.

Mothing at Derwenlas 2017 - a year best forgotten..
2017 showed all the signs of being a good mothing year despite failing dismally in Peters’ January challenge. My overwintering Herald moths were found in the attic at the cottage again otherwise January was very lean.

As I have mentioned previously my moth recording is split between our home in Denbighshire and our cottage at Derwenlas and as the season progressed so the numbers increased with Derwenlas having a slightly greater number and variety of species. One highlight of this year was to be our 6 week trip to the Outer Hebrides again in May/June. With my Skinner trap duly packed we set off for the islands of North and South Uist. The first overnight stop was at Onich on the shores of Loch Linnhe and that evening our walk down to the shoreline took us through a wildflower meadow absolutely full of Grass Rivulets and at the hotel was a honeysuckle hedge covered in “Twenty-plume” moths- at least twenty! Once settled on South Uist I set up my trap near the machair behind the cottage but on the third day of the holiday I managed to completely rupture my Achilles tendon whilst playing with the dog at the edge of the sea.

Moth trap on South Uist machair
The end of mothing
The result was my right leg non-weight bearing in plaster for 3 months followed by more months in an orthopaedic boot. Whilst crutches were undoubtedly essential I soon discovered you have no hands to carry anything. Needless to say this changed our plans considerably not least my ability to empty a moth trap. My wife Mary discovered new talents putting moths in plastic pots not to mention chauffeuring our Land-Rover home to North Wales. Among the more interesting moths we caught were Shears, Sharks and Knot Grass. We then moved to North Uist where the terrain was very different- moorland with rocky outcrops- quite unsuitable for a one-legged moth-er.

Once home at our bungalow I finally tried running my trap again in the Autumn but we spent very little time at Derwenlas as the bedroom and bathroom are up 2 flights of very steep stairs. As I write this I am feeling very optimistic for 2018 and have already planned trips with the moth trap to Dumfries, Cornwall and Somerset. I am driving and walking but have yet to venture far “off-piste” and smooth tarmac is not a great habitat for moth traps. I hope to spend far more time at Derwenlas cottage this coming year and even attend a few MMG meets. One final challenge for the coming Autumn- has anyone tried a portable Heath trap onboard a narrow boat?? Watch this space.

And to my fellow Montgomery moth-ers

All the best for a great 2018

Alan

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