Saturday 23 July 2022

To be (included), or not, to be (included)?

 A friend recently showed me a photograph of a Box Tree Moth larvae, one of an "adventive" population that decimated a Box Tree hedge at a garden he works just over the border in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Box Tree Moth, Cydalima perspectalis.
Seb Stewart.

Purely out of curiosity, I looked on the MMG species list to see if it had been recorded in Montgomeryshire. It is not listed (yet). I noted that the Gypsy Moth (regarded as another adventive species) has one record in Montgomeryshire, so we do record adventive species.

North Wales Lepidoptera's site has three records since 2018, all near the north-east coast of Wales.

So it occurred to me that in all the time I have been with MMG I, for one, have not been present at a talk, formal or otherwise, where adventive moth species have been discussed.

Ethics of controlling populations before and after cataloguing, "semi-naturalisation" acceptance thresholds and at what point official cataloguing and inclusion of these species to UK listing is conducted, are some of the ponderings in my head.

If anybody out there can contribute to this query/conversation, I would be most grateful.


n.b. Before rushing out in panic to check beloved Box Trees (if you live in the Oswestry area), my friend informed me that all the caterpillar's "appeared" to have died........but DID they all die????😟

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Gerddi Bro Ddyfi Gardens Bioblitz, Machynlleth 24/06/2022.


Bro Ddyfi Gardens is a brilliant, social therapeutic wildlife garden on the edge of Machynlleth, run entirely by volunteers since its founding in 2008.

MMG were invited to take part in a weekend bioblitz this year, as part of a condensed, broad survey of the flora and fauna present in and around the gardens. With a mixture of wildlife gardens, mature trees, pasture and nearby deciduous woodlands this promised to be a very good site for moths as well as the other surveys concerned.

General view of gardens. (Phil McGregor.)

This site has only been surveyed for moths once before, back in July 2016, when 54 species were recorded so we were needing some good weather for a decent chance to beat that number! Dutifully, the weather was absolutely splendid in the week running up to the event and then clouds loomed on the horizon with the threat of a slow moving, low pressure system edging east across Wales, due on our trapping night! 

As members of the group gradually arrived to set up, we received a very warm welcome from staffing volunteers and members of the public alike, who were gearing up for a bat walk and talk before hopefully staying on for our moth event. 

Traps were set up for a 10pm switch on, with Peter Williams, the county recorder, giving an introductory talk about all things moths. 

Peter Williams explaining the finer points
of species identification.  (Ben Porter)

First moth to the table was a Snout, caught with a net. A steady trickle of moths then came in from the 5 outlying traps and the white sheet at the "base camp", brought in by team members and a very enthusiastic group of attendees totalling 15 people in all.

Elephant Hawk Moth.  (Ben Porter.)
Pammene fasciana. (Ben Porter.)

The weather noticeably cooled with occasional rain showers after midnight. Between those of us still present, 2am was the agreed switch off time for all but one of the traps (a Skinner's) which was relocated to the "stone circle" to continue running until daybreak to try for some different species.

Something lurking near the white sheet. Answers
on a post card please!  (Ben Porter.)

In total, 16 Micro species and 45 Macro species were recorded, so a total of 61 species which, despite the unhelpful weather, was 7 more species than in 2016 (a full list of species is available HERE). 54 species were caught before the main switch off at 2am, the remaining 7 extra species were potted up by Phil before the final Skinner's trap was switched off at 5.30am.

Highlights of the event were (in Peter's opinion)  "...the Mullein larvae which were seen during the day and the best moth of the night was the Striped Wainscot, which is one of our least recorded Wainscot species".

A number of moths were kept at the table on the Saturday for members of the public to view as Phil had volunteered to stay on and help out with the remainder of the event. The Mullein larvae was spotted on a predictably well stripped Great Mullein in the afternoon. The remaining moths were released after lunch.

At the close of the bioblitz event, the crowd pleasing Buff Tip was voted moth of the night with much comment on its marvellous camouflage.

Buff Tip.   (Ben Porter.)

The whole event was a fantastic success, not only in terms of species recorded by MMG and other recorders (335 species in total at time of writing) but also awareness networking between different organisations, individuals and members of the public. It was great also, seeing so many children of all ages present, fascinated by the natural world too.

First and foremost, our thanks go to Fern Towers for her massive effort in organising the event and inviting us to take part. A big thank you also to Julie Pearce for organising MMG's contribution to the event and recording species, to Peter William's, County Moth Recorder, for identification and Ben Porter and Phil McGregor for photographs. Thank you also to those of the event who provided a table of refreshments.

Our next planned event is on Saturday 23rd July at Llanymynech Golf Course, Llanymynech from 9pm onwards, where we will be targeting limestone grassland species.