Wednesday, 26 July 2017

`Bits `n` Bobs`...moth updates

An update on recent moth recording activity, which has mostly comprised brief afternoon forays or evening dusking:
On Sunday 23/7, I visited the North Dock dunes (for only c. 20 mins) and, among the few moths recorded, was a single diamond-back seen on the crucifer Diplotaxes tenuifolia; the grass-moth Agriphila latistria was also noted.

               Above: back again at the mouth of the Tywi estuary - looking across to Llansteffan.
                                           Above: 6-spot burnets on greater knapweed.
Monday (24/7) evening saw me at Ferryside, primarily looking at the narrow dune area and scrub between the railway station and the foreshore to where I had gone to see if I could find any mined goosefoots, but none were seen. As with the previous locality, 6-spot burnets were out in force with some on flowers of  Centaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed) a plant that has its strongest Carmarthenshire population at this locality. Agapeta zoegana was also seen around this plant at dusk with Eucosma cana flitting around Centaurea nigra (common knapweed). A. latistria was also seen at this sandy grassland site.
Tuesday afternoon (25/7) saw a stroll to Cefn Padrig shingle beach which is only about a 10 minute walk from my home. Again Agriphila latistria was noted at the saltmarsh/dune interface (I was actually looking for one of the scarcer upper saltmarsh grass-moths), but the best find was a Pammene gallicana spotted resting on a grass stem, the first time that I`ve had this moth away from the Machynys-Morfa brownfield sites a few miles along the coast. Unfortunately, I tried to be `clever` and whilst I was able to get the camera reasonably close to it, the gusting wind was moving the vegetation so much that, when I tried to hold the stem with one hand, it flew off. I should have just netted it and done a `glass tube shot`!
                                              Above: the shingle beach at Cefn Padrig.
Above: ...and looking back landwards from the shingle. My house is obscured by trees just above the rusty jetty (in the approximate middle of the photo, left-click on pic to enlarge). Note the abundance of wild carrot which has been suggested as the food-plant of Pammene gallicana.
Above: also going for a stroll in Tuesday afternoon`s warm sunshine was this emperor caterpillar, note on the tarmacadam of the coastal cycle track. I helped it to the other side.

Tuesday evening offered a short pre-shopping visit to a brownfield site at Morfa (Llanelli) where, along with a few other species, a single Pyrausta purpuralis was caught. There are stands of the food-plant, marjoram, nearby.
                                                    Above: Pyrausta purpuralis.
I also noted some nice stands of marsh woundwort and thought of that capture reported on the Ceredigion moth blog of a tortricid (Endothenia quadrimaculana) associated with this plant.
Last night (25/7), in spite of the forecast overnight heavy rain - which was also predicted for the following morning at `trap inspection time`, I put out one trap in the garden at Pwll. It was indeed raining heavily this morning and I did n`t bother to record most of the moths (which I`ve had anyway in the last week or so). Indeed, I only wrote down four-spotted footman ( a female), the sycamore-associate Pammene aurita and, a bit of a surprise, Pyrausta ostrinalis.
                                   Above: Pyrausta ostrinalis. New to my garden trap site.
                                                         Above: Pammene aurita.
Finally, whilst doing some `moth catching up` this morning, I found an undetermined moth in the fridge that was caught in a trap set out in a suburban west Llanelli garden on 17/7 - Argyresthia pruniella. It is associated with cherry trees and, indeed, a flowering cherry is a few yards away from where the trap was placed. I also found a Batrachedra praeangusta from this site (as well as another moth to be looked at).
                    Above: I believe that this is Argyresthia pruniella. Please correct if not so.

A `Pyrausta Puzzle`. The convenient rain of this morning saw me checking the two Pyrausta specimens caught at separate sites yesterday:

Above: P. purpuralis (Morfa) on the left and P. ostrinalis (Tyrwaun, Pwll) on the right. Photos from above and below.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fewer moths last night than my 18 July post from Cwmllwyd, but worthwhile, nevertheless. 136 moths, in fact, with 49 species represented. The mix of moths is changing as the year progresses, however, so there were some very nice FFYs to be found. Just a few pictures below:

 Twin-spot Carpet - never more than one per year, here:

 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (with a badly pecked right wing); I've not seen the species anywhere before:

Pyrausta sp.; if it's P. aurata it would be another first for Cwmllwyd. Alternative would be P. purpuralis and I believe that the underside could determine this - your thoughts would be appreciated:

Monday, 24 July 2017

On a wild goose(foot) chase...

Twenty years ago, various chenopods - oraches and goosefoots - were frequent on brownfield sites in and around Llanelli and even just a decade ago, I was able to catch decent numbers of nutmegs at a site just east of Burry Port.
It was to Burry Port that I went late this afternoon to search for the above plants and, in turn, for any leaf-mines of Chrysoethia sexguttella larvae feeding on the leaves. I found a few strandline Atriplex but none on terrestrial habitat.
Whilst searching the `West Dock` (old scouring basin) adjacent to Burry Port harbour, I noticed some musk mallows and went to inspect them for any sign of the eponymous mallow moth, but I found none. Checking at home later, it seems that I was a bit late for that task, the caterpillars having pupated by now.
I did, however, note that some flower heads looked discoloured and, upon carefully opening up a couple of them, found a small caterpillar in each. They appear morphologically very close in appearance to the Chrysoethia larvae that I was unsuccessfully searching for on goosefoots, ie they may be gelechiids. A potential contender is the `hollyhock seed moth` Pexicopia malvella, which is known a very short distance away, across the Burry Inlet on the upper saltmarshes, where it utilises marsh mallows.

Above: close-up of the larval case in which the caterpillar was residing (also note the nearby frass). The case was made of seed cases and offered good camouflage.

                                                             Above: the caterpillar.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tywi dusking

Yesterday evening (22/7), I paid an hour`s visit to Morfa-uchaf, a small area of sandy grassland and saltmarsh on the Tywi estuary, just north of Ferryside. It is a site known to Sam and, a few years back, I recall him finding a scarce moss here - Bryum warneum (I think).
I had been hoping to check stands of sea purslane for Coleophora (but that plant was almost absent) and also to `keep an eye out` for any late rosy waves (none were seen). There is a different saltmarsh plant assemblage here - basically a more rushy one, with an absence (or almost so) of many species found previously at North Dock and Pembrey.
There are stands of alder, admixed with occasional Salix fragilis and S. viminalis, the latter two willows having established themselves from stem fragments washed downstream by the Tywi - `natural cuttings`, as it were.

       Above: looking seawards, with Llansteffan on the right-hand side. Click on pic to enlarge.

About ten or so moth species were noted, with the quite distinctive `grass-moth` Agriphia latistria perhaps being the most interesting, though some saltmarsh Bactra may prove to be robustana. A rush veneer was flushed from dry grassland and Eucosma campoliliana was netted at ragwort (its host plant). A single Argyresthia goedartella was spotted on an alder leaf. Indeed, checking of leaves proved quite profitable (see below) and Oxycera trilineata (a soldier-fly) was also discovered by that activity.

                                                              Above: rush veneer.
Above: also on alder was this Coleophora case. Several species occur on this tree, but I don`t know if this case is identifiable.
Above: more spectacular and easier to identify is this gall, caused by a fungal plant pathogen - Taphria alni.
                           Above: I`m not sure if this mine is that of Chrysoethia sexguttella.
Above: returning home, I could n`t resist taking this photo looking out across Carmarthen Bay to west Gower. Note the sinister sea-serpent form of Worm`s Head at its western termination and also the broad expanse of the Lower Gwendraeth in the middle of the photo, with Pembrey Forest seawards of it. These coastal grazing levels are perhaps one of the best surviving areas of that particular habitat in Wales. Again, click on pic to enlarge.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

In the old ewe's paddock

At Cwmllwyd this evening, beaten from sallow: Gelechia sororculella.

A poor night...

I left out an MV trap in the garden last night (21/7), as I was hoping for something brought in on the southerly winds, but the catch was very poor both in terms of variety and numbers.
The `best` moth (of an undistinguished lot) was - as with Steve - attracted to my window, mine being a bordered beauty:

Late, or early?

On the Kitchen window last night: I'm guessing late season as it's in fine condition - Devon Carpet.

Flight periods said to be mid May to June and then early August until mid September. Two seen at Cwmllwyd in the last couple of days.