Thursday 25 September 2014

Posting on our blog

This blog is completely open for anyone to share anything moth or wildlife related. We are always looking for users who would like to contribute by posting here. If this is of interest to you, please get in touch and I will happily set it up (my email on the sidebar). The only thing needed is a Google account - a shared account between all of Google's services: Blogger, Gmail, Youtube, Picasa, etc. (the chances are you already have one.)

PS - anyone is welcome comment on any of our posts without being an author (though Google account still required).

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Mothing event at Coed Pendugwm Nature Reserve Saturday 27th September

Hello All,

This Saturday the MMG (Montgomeryshire Moth Group) is holding a mothing event at Coed Pendugwm Nature Reserve in the centre/north of the county. This is a joint event with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust who are doing bat recording. This site is very under-recorded so there is a chance that we might record something new or scarce for the site or indeed the county, so please come along and join us for what promises to be an excellent evening’s mothing and bat recording.

Full event details are:-

Venue: Coed Pendugwm Nature Reserve.
Target Species: Early autumn migrants.
Event Date: Saturday 27 September 2014.
Event time: 7:00 onwards, at the trapping site.
Directions: from the A458 at Heniarth take the B4389 for approximately half a mile, then on the left take the B4382 for about a mile and a half, where you will turn right towards Pont Robert. Coed Pendugwm is on a minor road a mile north of Pontrobert towards Llanfihangel; follow the brown signs from Pontrobert. Park in the reserve car park down the short but steep track opposite Pendugwm Farm. Please note that the reserve only has a small car park, so please ‘car share’ wherever you can.                                                                                          Grid Reference: SJ103143

Montgomeryshire Moth Group (MMG) is an independent voluntary group of people interested in moths. All ages are welcome to attend events whether experts or beginners.

This year all the events are light trapping events. We set up the light traps at dusk to attract moths and then release them after identification.

As with all our evening events, please bring a torch and wear suitable outdoor clothing.

You are welcome to join us for as much of the evening that suits you, we are likely to stay for several hours. However, in case of cancellation, due to poor weather or unforeseen circumstances, always ring or e-mail to check the event is on before joining us.

Please note that some sites are not easy to find, so please make sure you know where the venue is before you set off.


Thursday 18 September 2014

Surveying for moths in a lost world (14th September 2014)

The idea of conducting a moth survey in a "lost world" at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) was something that Peter had been working on since May.  The site is part of the disused Llwyngwern slate quarry just north of the main CAT site, now only accessible through a small wet tunnel.  Ideally the survey would have taken place in mid-summer, but the availability of group members and then inclement weather precluded running the event until now.
Logistics - getting 9 traps on site
Four of us arrived on site just before 7pm, giving us about an hour to set things up.  Peter's excellent organisational skills ensured that the necessary transport was on hand to convey the trapping gear from our vehicles, namely a trolley and two rusty wheel-barrows!  

En-route to trap site

However, a fallen tree across the path meant we had to carry everything through the dark wet tunnel in order to set up the traps in the quarry beyond.  Come 8 o'clock and everything was ready for the moths: two 125w MV Skinner traps on the path short of the tunnel, then within the quarry itself two more Skinners and a Robinson trap all with 125w MV lamps, plus four Heath traps (three 6w actinic and one 15w Actinic).

Tunnel entrance
Survey site

It wasn't long before Douglas came back with the first moth of the evening - a dead Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas), a species native to South-East Asia!  We wondered whether some enterprising member of the CAT staff had left it specially for us to find? 
Atlas Moth

British moth species gradually appeared, starting with Flame Carpet, then the first of the two most prolific species of the night - Common Marbled Carpet and July Highflyer.  A single Brimstone Moth was followed by a Tissue; subsequently many of these were found over-wintering on the tunnel walls, as well as three Herald.
Over-wintering Herald
Over-wintering Tissues

The air temperature at the table was holding up quite well, between 13°C and 14°C for most of the evening, but when it rose to nearly 16 degrees surprise was expressed, until we found that Peter's mug of tea was rather close to the sensor!
Micro-moths were being outnumbered 2-1 by their macro cousins, but notable finds were Argyresthia goedartella, Epinotia ramella, Ypsolopha parenthesella and Pandemis cinnamomeana.
Epinotia ramella
Argyresthia goedartella

Ypsolopha parenthesella

Pandemis cinnamomeana

Back with macros, a very fresh Red-line Quaker was nice to see, along with a rather worn Anomalous.  Some late arrivals included a Straw Dot and Fan-foot and at about 1am, as the last trap was being emptied, we found a Purple Bar and a Hedge Rustic.  That took the species tally for the night to 36 (11 micro and 25 macro).

We mused that notable by their absence were many of the usual autumn species such as Autumnal Rustic and the Sallows, but we felt that the site holds enough promise for a re-visit, hopefully in mid-summer next time.
Survey species list
0411  Argyresthia goedartella
0460  Ypsolopha parenthesella
0858  Hypatima rhomboidella
0971  Pandemis cinnamomeana
1038  Acleris laterana
1062  Acleris emargana
1134  Epinotia ramella
1334  Scoparia ambigualis
1338  Dipleurina lacustrata
1340  Eudonia truncicolella
1344  Eudonia mercurella 

1722  Flame Carpet
1752  Purple Bar
1760  Red-green Carpet
1764  Common Marbled Carpet
1769  Spruce Carpet
1777  July Highflyer
1790  Tissue
1862  Double-striped Pug
1906  Brimstone Moth
1913  Canary-shouldered Thorn
2102  Flame Shoulder
2109  Lesser Yellow Underwing
2111  Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
2176  Antler Moth
2177  Hedge Rustic
2178  Feathered Gothic
2263  Red-line Quaker
2361  Rosy Rustic
2364  Frosted Orange
2394  Anomalous
2469  Herald
2474  Straw Dot
2477  Snout
2484  Pinion-streaked Snout
2489  Fan-foot

Sunday 7 September 2014

The Tissue - foodplants

One of the Tissues that came to light at Llyn Mawr
This summer I have caught the Tissue, Triphosa dubitata, at three separate sites: Llyn Mawr (upland bog), Glaslyn (heather moorland) and Vyrnwy (upland scrub). The foodplants given for the species in the books are buckthorns (Frangula & Rhamnus). I couldn't help but notice that these foodplants don't seem to be present at any of these of sites. The fact that three were recorded on a single night at Llyn Mawr would suggest that these are probably not wanderers.

There are several other records from around the county from upland areas where the foodplant is perhaps somewhat unlikely. It's possible the moth is able to thrive on isolated patches of buckthorn, existing in high enough density to wander from these areas.

But is it perhaps more likely this moth is utilising a different foodplant in the county? I notice Andrew Graham has made the same observation on his north Wales site, saying "Occurs on moorland, miles from the stated foodplants. Could it be breeding here on some other plant?". Text on the Yorkshire Moths website hints at their suspicion it might be feeding on something else in their county.

In addition to the two buckthorns, the Natural History Museum database gives ash, apple and bird cherry as plants it's been recorded on in continental Europe. I also find reference to it feeding on hawthorn abroad. Clearly elsewhere it's adapted to other foodplants - so why not here?

The only tree species growing nearby to where the moths were caught at all three sites is rowan. Could this be an alternative foodplant? It's just possible, I suppose. If Glaslyn is excluded, birch and willow are common to the two other sites. There are of course going to be plenty of low-growing plants common to all three sites.

Obviously this is just speculation but certainly an area that merits some attention. Next summer I'll try searching/beating rowan at these sites for larvae - probably worth a try! Hopefully I'll also obtain a gravid female and, if so, I will see if the larvae are less choosy in captivity and what other plants they will accept.

Vyrnwy trapping

Returned to Vyrnwy on Friday. There was a good night forecast, though clear skies at the start meant a slightly cooler temperature than I'd hoped for.

Recorded 47 species in total, many being new to the 10km square. The most notable records were:
  • Small Autumnal Moth - first county record since 1991. Meant to be a common moorland species and probably somewhat overlooked in the county - however, there have been several visits in recent years to suitable sites so it's surprising this species has not showed up earlier. 
  • Epinotia solandriana - first county record since 1975.
  • Neglected Rustic
  • Large Ear
  • Barred Chestnut
  • Pyla fusca

Species list and a few photos on this link:
Vyrnwy (06/08/14)

Friday 5 September 2014

MMG event at Pont Llogel

The event report and species list from our latest trip is now available here.

Coed Pendugwm (and Glaslyn)

Took another visit to Pendugwm woods the other day. Arrived to find the reserve track completely blocked by a large lorry. Luckily was able to find the farmer to move it. By the time I got into the reserve, it was already very dark - it was about 9:30pm before all the traps were on.

Don't think this affected the catch too much though. A very warm night with 76 species in total, 40 of which were new for the site. The best macros were Barred Chestnut (several seen), Devon Carpet, Red Underwing, Pale Eggar, Clay Triple-lines and Grey Pine Carpet. Best micros were Anacampsis blattariella (new county record), Caloptilia robustella and Argyresthia semitestacella (5 seen). Nice to see quite a few Ypsolopha sequella too.

One added challenge for the night was hornets. At least seven came to the traps. Tried to pot them all up (easier said than done!) and keep them in custody until I was ready to leave the site - to save myself from being stung and all my moths being dismantled!

Images and species list:
Coed Pendugwm (03/09/14)

The next night (4/9) I went up to Glaslyn. Unfortunately a rather cool night and largely uneventful - except for a visit from a very friendly policeman who had seen the lights from the main road. Between my 6 traps, I only caught 18 species (7 were new to reserve though). A couple of good records including Heath Rustic, Neglected Rustic and Tissue. Migrants were represented by a single Dark Sword-grass.

Thursday 4 September 2014


Little bit of migrant activity in the garden trap last night. Singletons of Dark Sword Grass, Silver Y, Udea ferrugalis and Plutella xylostella.