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 timwardhome@outlook.com 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 leafmines.co.uk, ukflymines.co.uk, and bladmineerders.nl. 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