Tuesday, 4 May 2021

What a shockingly cold April for our 'target species challenge'

 Hello Moth-ers,



The data for April in our ‘lockdown Target species challenge’ is now in  and can be viewed on our blog as well as our Facebook page. 

I think we can all agree that this April was about as bad for moth recording as it could be and one which should be consigned to history. I recorded 19 nights in the month where the temperature fell below 0c. Hopefully, May will give us some milder nights where we will once again see moths in our traps!

Please note the following 'Challenge' points: 

1) That all target species will remain active in the challenge (although some may have finished their flight time), so please let me know if you record one of these at any time and I’ll update your points on the table. 

2) Also, it may well be you’ve already recorded a species before I add it to the target list, that’s fine, just let me know and I’ll add the record to the main table.

3) This challenge is open to everyone without any restrictions and you can join in whenever you like, just let me know and I'll add your name to the chart.

The target species added for May are directly below and this time I have added a special third category (please let me know if you’ve already have recorded one); -

9) Yellow-barred Brindle (1 point)

8) Tawny Pinion (2 Points)

7) Any migrant hawk moth – this might seem rather unlikely, but it does of course include the Humming-bird Hawk-moth, so everyone will have a chance to record one of these (3 points)

The target species to look out for which were added in previous months are; -

6) White-marked (1 point)

5) Pine Beauty (2 points)

4) Oak Nycteoline (1 point)

3) Blossom Underwing (2 points)

2) Shoulder Stripe (1 point)

1) Small Brindled Beauty (2 points)



Good luck to all.


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Mid-month assessment of the 'Lockdown species chalenge

Here in the west of Wales the first half of April has more than our fair share of frosty nights - 16 out of 19 nights have been below zero with the coldest night on the 11th. falling to a very cold -4.7c. So our 'lockdown target species' challenge has stalled somewhat, but hopefully things will pick up again soon.

Updated chart attached below.

Just a reminder of the target species to look out for (below) and please remember you can join in with this challenge when ever you like, just let me know here, what you've recorded.
The target species added in April (or let me know if you’ve already have recorded one) are; -
6) White-marked (1 point)
5) Pine Beauty (2 points)
The target species to look out for which were added in previous months are; -
4) Oak Nycteoline (1 point)
3) Blossom Underwing (2 points)
2) Shoulder Stripe (1 point)
1) Small Brindled Beauty (2 points)



Peter.


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A few early micro-moth stages to be on the look out for in April

Not much in the way of leaf-mines yet; however, there are a few interesting species that can be found at this time of the year

On Quercus ilex (evergreen/holm oak).

This is not a common tree in north Wales but there are isolated individuals (see BSBI map). These are worth checking for leaf mines made by Stigmella suberivora or Ectoedemia heringella. Both species tend to be very conspicuous. Either would be new for north Wales.

Ectoedemia heringella. Image: leafmines.co.uk

On Erica/Calluna (heather & heath)

Two species of Coleophora can be found on heather at this time of year. Coleophora pyrrhulipennella constructs large, dark cases that stand out, whilst C. juncicolella cases are exceptionally well camouflaged. These are best obtained by sweeping or beating heather to dislodge the cases. Then place the resulting material in a container and wait for bits of heather to appear to start crawling up the walls!

Images of the cases can be found here: http://www.ukflymines.co.uk/Keys/CALLUNA.php

There is a 'Mine of Month' challenge currently going on the MMG Facebook group, which I'd enourage people to join if they haven't already.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Lockdown species Challenge 03-04-21

 Hello Moth-ers,

 

The data for March in our ‘lockdown Target species challenge’ is now in and can be viewed on our Facebook group page as well as here on our blog.

It was a variable month as regards weather conditions, but the last few days of the month were in general, very good for mothing and there were a lot of recorders adding species to the main table.

Please note the following points: 

1) That all target species will remain active in the challenge (although some may have finished their flight time), so please let me know if you record one of these at any time and I’ll update your points on the table.

2) Also, it may well be you’ve already recorded a species before I add it to the target list, that’s fine, just let me know and I’ll add the record to the main table.

3) This challenge is open to everyone without any restrictions and you can join in whenever you like, just let me know and I'll add your name to the chart.

The target species added in April (or let me know if you’ve already have recorded one) are; -

6) White-marked (1 point)

5) Pine Beauty (2 points)

The target species to look out for which were added in previous months are; -

4) Oak Nycteoline (1 point)

3) Blossom Underwing (2 points)

2) Shoulder Stripe (1 point)

1) Small Brindled Beauty (2 points)

Good luck to all.


 

 


Sunday, 7 March 2021

 An agg.ravating issue? 

I have been meaning to get around to throwing this potential "spanner in the works" for a while now.

Below is the link to an article in The Guardian dated Friday 25th December2020 by Patrick Greenfield. Some of you may have read it already:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/25/discovery-of-cryptic-species-shows-earth-is-even-more-biologically-diverse-aoe

It discusses the increasing use of DNA barcoding technique for identifying flora and fauna species and presents surprising results with potential far reaching consequences.

Put briefly, this currently laboratory based technique, is discovering many actual genetic divergences in species where it was formerly assumed to be natural variation. Included as an example, is the caterpillar of the Two-barred Flasher butterfly and the wide variation in body stripes this species displays.

It may sound a rather dry and remote science but having read it I can not help but now wonder about the moth species we record and what this discovery may imply for our field recording in the future? 

Will a time come where DNA barcoding is the only acceptable true identification of a species? How will this shape the confidence in current field species identification records/techniques? How important, in terms of identification ethics, is this new technique? Would agg. be the new normal for general field species monitoring without DNA analysis? Could bar coding be a possible field technique for the future (Don't even begin to think about the fund raising for that)?

As usual with scientific discovery, more questions than answers!

It does cause me to wonder if even common moths we identify with "certainty" and do not attach agg. to, may no longer be the case and that they could all be agg. without establishing their individual genetic codes? I hope I am wrong!

No two moths even within current sub-species groups are identical. This could now be due to new sub-species groups, only determinable by DNA bar coding until we have a fully illustrated 5000 page field guide!?

This may all seem a bit sci-fi at the moment but I imagine there must be at least a beginning in discussion about potential effects this new arm of species identification will have on current field recording techniques and results classification?

Mercifully all theoretical for us field recorders at the moment!

Phil McGregor.





Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Lockdown Target Species Challenge

Hello Moth-ers - It's been a very chilly start to this challenge therefore things have been very slow in getting going, but well done to Mel Jones, as he was the only moth-er who's informed me they were taking part, who actually manage to record one of the target species.



Peter.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

January Challenge - final table


Hello Moth-ers,

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

This year 13 moth-ers took part (five of those were from 'out of county' recorders), which considering the wet and cool January is not a bad turnout. However, despite the adverse conditions, between us we did manage to record 25 species, which is only three species down on last years number. There were 17 macro and 8 micro species recorded which resulted in 336 moths (320 macro and 16 micro), which is an excellent effort on everyone's part.

Only two of us achieved the macro part of the challenge, with 10 plus species they were, Alec Undril (an Essex recorder) with 12 species and Peter Williams just scraping home with 10 specie. Alan Sibley (an Essex recorder) and Sue Southam managed joint third place with 7 species. This year nobody managed to achieve the micro part of the challenge. The best return was 4 species from Alec Undril, so bad luck to him for Judy missing out. This was followed by Sue Southam and Peter Williams, each with 3 species. 




Now for a more in depth breakdown of what was recorded.
                                                                                                                                                                      Macros - As can be seen in the chart above, five of us managed to record 4+ species. Across all recorders the most numerous species was the Chestnut with 75 moths, followed by the Winter Moth with 67 moths and in third place was the Spring Usher with 42 moths
The most moths recorded by individual recorders were 110 by Peter Williams, 91 by Alec Undril and 67 by Sue Southam.

There weren't any unexpected or unusual species recorded this year, but it was good to get 2 records of overwintering species of 10 Herald and a single Tissue from Rob Goodsell from his site which contains a cave.

Micros - were very thin on the ground this year, with only 8 species recorded. There weren't really any unexpected micro species recorded. 

The chart below shows the top five macro species recorded (along with the total of moths) from 2012 to 2021


 


Which just leaves me to say a big thank you to all those who took part and please don’t forget, that apart from the fun and the individual challenge, it also generates much needed winter records for your county, which are always very thin on the ground - hopefully more of you will want to join in next year to see if you can grapple with the ‘January challenge’.

Peter.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

January Challenge 3 weeks in

Hello Moth-ers - the chart below shows the state of play at the three week point of the challenge and I have to congratulate Alec Undrill from Essex who is the first moth-er taking part to achieve the 10 macro species part of the challenge. Other moth-ers doing well are Alan Sibley (also from Essex) and Sue Southam and Peter Williams from Montgomeryshire, so we may well have some more joining Alec by the end of the month.

So far January has been pretty changeable, but with a definite bias to being wet and cold, so trapping has been quite challenging, but well done to all those having a go, hopefully the last week of the month will see a few milder nights boosting all our totals.


 


    Peter.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

January Challenge - 2 week update


Hello All,

The attached chart shows the data at the two week point I've received so far in this year's 'January challenge'. The best personal list of macros so far is eight species, while the best micro list is for only one species, but with over two weeks still to go I would imagine the lists to get bigger. 13 species in total have been recorded during the month.




Peter

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Hello Moth-ers,

We're coming up to the two week point in the 'January Challenge' and the latter part of the week has certainly become milder for many of us, so hopefully we'll see a few more species turning up.

For all those taking part in the challenge please let me know the following details since the beginning of the month (please reply with your details on this post): -

       

      1) Total list of species recorded.

      2) Total count of each species recorded

      3) Total number of nights you trapped.

 

Please remember, you can join in on this challenge whenever you like and for anyone taking part for the first time, the following simple rules apply: -

 

1) Adults only to be recorded.

2) Records from a single site only.

3) Using one trap only. Don’t have a trap – no problem, records other than from a trap e.g. daytime observations, moths to lit windows etc. can also count as long as they're from the same site.

4) Anyone can take part, but if you're not a recorder in Montgomeryshire you will have to let me know you're taking part so that I can contact you for your results.

I will ask you for your results at the end of January when I will ask you for a simple list of:-

 

This year I plan to make the challenge a bit more interactive by posting weekly updates on our Facebook page, where you can all comment and keep an eye on how the challenge is panning out.

I will publish the final results on our Facebook page and on our blog in early February, once all the results are in.

Have fun – see if you can beat your total of last year.

 

Peter.