Saturday, 19 August 2017

Caterpillar identification help please.

Yesterday I went for a very windy walk along the coastal path from Burry Port in the direction of Llanelli and saw a white ermine caterpillar and 5 of these caterpillars all crossing the track in the space of about 200 yards. I only have a very basic guide to caterpillars so would appreciate any identification help please. Apologies for the poor mobile phone image.


FFY at Cwmllwyd on 17 August: Psychoides filicivora.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Hummingbird Hawk-moth at Pwll

Two interesting sightings were made by Veronica Haines at Pwll, Llanelli yesterday (Fri 18/8) - a hummingbird hawk-moth resting on gorse and the impressive `hornet mimic` hoverfly Volucella zonaria, on Buddleja by the `fishing lakes`.

                      Above: Veronica`s first-class photos of the `hummer` and the Volucella.

Thanks to Veronica for getting in touch. On the moth front, the weather is set to (hopefully) improve mid-week, so perhaps we can resume profitable moth trapping!

Ffos Las footpaths

Following a request from Rosemary for details how to access the Ffos Las Circuit of footpaths and bridleways here is a copy of the definitive CCC map of the circuit.

I hope that the details are clear enough as the original is a pdf document which I had to print then scan to get a jpeg image to upload.  The best place to start the walk is along path 57/15A/1 which starts by bollards at the end of a parking area adjacent to the village pharmacy which is almost on the only roundabout in the village of Trimsaran.  There is much more parking at Plas y Sarn, the community centre, which has its own exit from the roundabout. (It also has toilets and a cafe.)  That footpath passes the rugby field (and can be muddy after rain) and continues to join path 57/15B/2 at a low metal horse gate and a wide gap in the fence. More out of habit than anything else, I usually walk the path circuit in an anticlockwise direction. (It means the ponds are near the end of the walk so the dog can have a splash and get some of the mud off!) The section of the walk alongside the Morlais to the north can be particularly muddy and especially so with all the rain we have had this summer so wellies are a "must" at the moment.
There is another pedestrian access point at the entrance for horses and jockeys from Culla Road which can be seen on the map. There are bridleway signs at this point and another low horse gate, but no parking. There is a gate across the entrance which is only open on race days.  The race track is visible from some of the paths but is totally separate so they can be walked whether or not racing is on.

I don't want to post my email address on an open blogsite but am happy for Ian or Sam to pass it to any regular member of the blog if they wish to contact me direct to arrange to do the walk together at any time.

Apologies for a long post with no pictures of moths or butterflies but it is moth related.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Some other (limited) moth news...

The other evening (Sunday 13/8) I paid a short visit to a nice brownfield site at Machynys, Llanelli primarily to search some thickets of broom for particular micro-moths though nothing of interest was found on that plant. Obviously, I also took the opportunity to see what else was about, but the moths were indeed very `thin on the ground`, with the blustery, rather cool weather probably being responsible.
I did spot a plume though, which I think is Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (`beautiful plume`, see below).

Above: part of the Machynys brownfield site, looking c ESE towards the golf course (out of sight) and with tansy, wild parsnip, melilots and knapweeds in the foreground sward, backed by a clump of broom.

                                                 Above: believed to be a beautiful plume?
Above: please forgive this non-moth photo, but there are n`t many moths around! Look at the opulence of fruiting on this sea buckthorn at the Machynys brownfield site.

Returning home yesterday evening from my Llangennech jaunt, the skies were cloudier than forecast so I decided to put out one trap in my Pwll garden. The result this morning was n`t too bad (a fair c.35 species) which included another plume moth, this time the tiny Adaina microdactyla (`hemp agrimony plume`).
                                   Above: named after its food-plant, hemp agrimony plume.

Other moths included a four-spotted footman (a male) and Ypsolopha parenthesella.

                                            Above: last night`s Ypsolopha parenthesella.

It seems ages since I`ve `trapped out`, but this inclement weather is n`t exactly motivational! My `trapping levels` are certainly down for this current period compared to last year and the fantasy that I earlier entertained that 2017 may be a good migrant summer seems to have flopped - with `west is worst` perhaps summing it up. There have been some interesting migrants in SE England, but with just thin scatterings to the west of Britain. But there`s still autumn...

Grub for a grub...

I`m attempting to rear to adulthood some caterpillars of Pexicopa malvella that I collected recently on the saltmarsh at Llangennech (see `Saltmarsh Searching`, Thurs 10th Aug), but for the last couple of days about three of them have been wandering. I was advised by Steve Palmer (who runs the gelechiid recording scheme) that this may be a sign of hunger and that the colloquial `grub` may want some grub (if I may use a `slang` term for food).
So, yesterday evening (Tues 15/8), I returned to Llangennech to collects some fresh seed heads of marsh-mallow. As we all know, the recent weather has not been exactly great for mothing activities, at whatever time of day (or night) and the trip to the saltmarsh yielded little (though I collected the required seed heads) except for some more Eucosma tripoliana in a stand of sea aster.

          Above: the Eucosma tripoliana were netted in the vegetation just to the right of the creek.

                                       Above: an Eucosma tripoliana caught at Llangennech.

I also netted a Phycitodes, which may be either binaevella or maritima (see below):

Above: (top) the `Pexicopa accomodation` with seed-head sustenance and (below) a supply of marsh mallows.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Fluttering and crawling round Ffos Las

The dreadful weather of this summer so far has limited my walks and sightings of butterflies as they, like me, don't much enjoy getting wet. However, here are a couple of sightings from earlier this month on Ffos Las and at home in Trimsaran starting with a truly dreadful mobile phone picture of a large yellow underwing which I disturbed sheltering under my carport on 4th August.

A dingy footman nectaring on ragwort on 5th August. Incidentally, I have seen very few cinnabar larvae on the plentiful ragwort this year and not a single adult moth either.

A painted lady basking on the footpath, 5th August.

My commiseration to Jacqueline for losing her Old Lady in her post of 9th August as I had a similar frustration in not managing to get a photo of the clouded yellow butterfly that I saw on the 5th. It flitted from flower to flower tantalisingly close to me but never settling long enough for me to focus the camera and then it headed off across the scrub land where I couldn't follow.  I didn't see any clouded yellows at all last year but saw several in 2015 so am hoping to see another one this year.

Is this a white ermine larva? It was "running" across the path on 10th August.

All corrections and help gratefully received, as always.