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Friday, 19 April 2019

Mini Micro at Maenol

Two traps out last night, Skinner MV and large Heath-type actinic, but together they attracted nothing like the numbers that Steve's did, I could muster only 74 individuals, 20 species.  The only FFYs were Brindled Pug and a very small micro which I almost overlooked on the base of the trap:

I suspect that it's one of the Elachistidae.  Distinctive markings can be seen with a strong hand lens but my photography is not up to providing a good enough image to show them.  It'll have to go down as Elachista sp.

A good night.

The alder grove at Cwmllwyd was on form last night (Thursday 18th July), with 216 moths at the MV trap this morning. Not so diverse a collection as I had hoped, for well over two thirds of them were of just two species - 106 Brindled Beauty and 51 Hebrew Character. Even so, Frosted Green (2), Water Carpet (3), Purple Thorn (2), Pebble Prominent (1), Nut-tree Tussock (1) and Semioscopis steinkellneriana (4) were FFYs. Pick of the bunch however was a Twenty-plume Moth, which I've not seen before*; well pleased with that. {*Except, of course, for the one I photographed last June!!!}

 Many-plumed Moth

Frosted Green

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Bancyffordd 17/4

20 species in my catch of 113 moths last night. Several FFY which included a couple of Frosted Green and an early Brown Silver-line. An interesting micro which I believe to be either Eriocrania semipurpurella/sangii.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Improving scores...

As the nights are now warming up, the numbers of moths are improving. Last night (17/4) was much better than the previous one which was - frankly - a flop. My apologies to those who received my email suggestion to trap - as always, check your local forecast and use common sense judgement!
Whatever, there were 17 species in my garden actinic last night, with a micro and a pug still to look at; as always at this season there were a few personal FFYs.

                                                                  Above: streamer.
                                                               Above: a bee moth.
                                                                    Above: mullein.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Pembrey Country Park 11th April

Having read that others were catching a decent array of moths, I set the Skinner trap yesterday evening, having been misled by the forecasted overnight temperatures. Retrieving the trap this morning I found just three moths all Brindled Beauty; at least it was a beautiful morning.

Micro on juniper

I grow in my garden (or gardens, as the potted plant has followed my house moves) a juniper of impeccable provenance. It the semi-prostrate form of Juniperus communis and it is of known wild Welsh stock. To give its background briefly, juniper was known by Victorian botanists from Cadair Idris in Meirionydd, but its exact location was lost. In the early 1950s a small party of botanists re-found the plant and in that party was the late Mrs Paish, who lived at `Brynhyfryd` in Corris Uchaf, a slate-mining village north of Machynlleth. I lived at Corris exactly forty years and knew Mrs Paish and her husband well, often visiting their plant-rich garden.
In that garden they grew a small bush of the Cadair juniper and I, in turn, was given some cuttings which duly rooted, and about 20 or so years ago I myself was able to give a plant to the NBGW at Llanarthne where, hopefully, it still thrives.

Anyway - back to moths - I was `swotting up for the season` yesterday evening by reading the recommended `Micro-moth Field Tips` by Ben Smart, and noted that now is the time to check junipers for feeding damage. In my `new` garden, I have deliberately planted a couple of junipers, for moth rather than purely decorative purposes, and of course, I still have my Cadair juniper in a pot (in fact it has been recently potted up into a larger pot after some years of relative neglect).
I noted that the latter has some - only a few - brown tips suggesting feeding damage and, upon opening the second one (the first was empty), a larva quickly made itself known. This individual has been potted up with some barely-damp compost in the hope that it will pupate and an adult will then emerge, as since there are several (up to seven) species of Argyresthia that feed on juniper, it is not a straightforward i/d; another micro also feeds on it. The other moth is Dichromeris marginella but its caterpillar does n`t look like mine and there at least two other gelechiids that feed on juniper. It may not even be an Argyresthia - I just don`t know at this stage. A polyphagous species may be another option.
I`m new to rearing adults from larvae, so don`t hold your breath - but `fingers crossed`!

 Above: a `browned` juniper shoot (suggesting larval  occupation). Below, a photo of the caterpillar.

More from Maenol

Being foolhardy enough to trap on the clear, frosty nights we've been having this week can have its rewards.  The moth whose name takes several seconds to pronounce arrived at the actinic trap last night:

                                                         Semioscopis steinkellneriana

This moth has been recorded here between the end of March and early May on most years since 2010, this is the 10th record.

The only other arrival worthy of note was FFY Purple Thorn, on Tuesday night:

I've been in the habit of allowing captured moths to release themselves in the polytunnel.  Most of them manage to escape, but for those that don't there's plenty of food available for them just now.

Self-seeded Brussels Sprout Plant