Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A nice surprise

I spotted this Hawkmoth resting by day on a granite boulder in a mountain valley last week (14/5/17) and thought it looked familiar but not quite right.  The extra lines on the thorax indicate Hyles lineata (White-lined Hawkmoth).  Unfortunately for Carmarthenshire moth'ers, I was in the southern Sierra Nevada, California at the time ;-)

Spindle ermine webs

Plenty of `nest`s (larval webs) of spindle ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella on a large stand of spindle at `Ashpits Pond` between Burry Port and Pwll this afternoon.

 Above: spindle ermine caterpillars in their web and, if you turned around, Ashpits Pond (until the 1980s a settling lagoon for a now-demolished power station). Ringed china-marks were commonly flushed from the marginal vegetation.

Good Night at Maenol

The best night of the year so far, the MV trap and the 15W Skinner actinic trap together yielded a total of 76 moths, 38 spp., which is a very good result for this location.  The most abundant species were Buff-tip, Peppered Moth, Nut-tree Tussock, and Small Square-spot.  Notable visitors were the first Elephant Hawk, Lobster Moth, Cabbage Moth, Alder Moth, and Dark Sword-grass of the year - the latter being the only migrant species caught.  Two micros appeared, Pseudargyrotozoa conganwana and Bactra lancealana (I think).

                 Lobster Moth                              Elephant HM

                Cabbage Moth                                    Alder Moth

             Dark Sword-grass                         Muslin Moth (female)

Two Muslin Moths entered the traps, one male, one female (no eggs so far!)  I caught another female Muslin Moth in the garden this morning, some distance from the trap sites.  Muslin Moths seem to be having a good year.  I also saw the first Silver-ground Carpet of the year in the garden.

               P. conwagana                                Bactra lancealana

I catch more micros in my woodshed than in my traps!  Sadly the shed is in a sad state of repair, I'm thinking of applying for a Council grant to refurbish it on the grounds that it's a haven for wildlife.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

On a whim: dusking disappointment...

After doing a mid-week food shop yesterday evening (Tues 23/5), I visited the North Dock dunes (Llanelli) as the grey, sullen conditions seemed good for `dusking`. A couple of weeks` ago, I`d had a really good early evening dusking session (at Pwll) in warm, quiet conditions and I was hoping for the same last night. However, in retrospect, yesterday evening there was a slight breeze and it was n`t as warm as on the previous occasion.
Few moths were seen - just some `usuals` such as Elachista argentella that I`d had there before. There was one little surprise though - a plume. Out of the corner of my eye, I seen a plume and for a second or so assumed that it was Marasmarcha lunaedactyla (crescent plume), a restharrow feeder that is frequent at this locality. But then I noticed that (amongst other things) it was small and was fluttering around a clump of hemp agrimony - it was Adaina microdactyla (hemp agrimony plume), a local species normally associated with wetter places rather than dry dunes.
It may be worth checking your local stands of hemp agrimony...

I also saw this leaf mine on kidney vetch (see below: not collected) - I considered Aproaerema anthyillidea but I`m not at all sure.

My home traps were also a bit of a disappointment last night too, though there were several additional species (including more FFYs) that were not recorded on Monday night.

Small Clouded Brindle... or not?

In my trap this morning I found two unfamiliar noctuids.

After much study I decided they were both Small Clouded Brindle - they exactly covered the picture in Townsend and Waring, so the size was about right, and they had a short basal streak - what do you think?

Yellow-tail caterpillar

Spotted this yellow-tail caterpillar on an alder just east of Burry Port this afternoon. There were quite a few micros on the wing in the warm, muggy conditions and this evening looks really good for `dusking` (though I`m too tired for it myself!). Tonight will be a good trapping night too...

More goodies at Pembrey Forest

Yesterday I was joined by Judy Burroughs and Paul Gadsby for BC's second monitoring visit of the year at Pembrey Forest. Although it was warm the cloud was frustratingly stubborn, which made butterfly counts tricky but had the benefit of giving us some time to explore for caterpillars and day-flying moths.

Being a warm day there was plenty of moth activity, with hundreds of Anania fuscalis (always common at this site, but even more so than usual this year), Cauchas fibuella on Germander Speedwell flowers, a few Grass Rivulet, an unexpected female Muslin moth (flying of its own accord), a Beautiful Carpet and a single Anania funebris in an area of the site where I've not seen them before (the latter two were too flightly to photograph outside the pot).
Searching sallow leaves for Puss Moth eggs didn't reveal any, but we did find a single, newly-hatched larva.
Also on sallow were several larval cases of Coleophora albidella. This is unusual among Coleophora species in that it eats right through the leaf rather than making the typical Coleophora mines - which makes them harder to find as you have to search for the cases themselves. The first I saw was completely by chance - I thought it was a pair of mating weevils, then a bird dropping, and it was only when I looked closer that I realised what it was. After I'd got my eye in, I found another three elsewhere on the site. It's an amazing-looking case made of silk, bits of leaf and adorned with hairs from the willow leaves.
According to Sam's 2016 list, this is a new species for Carms.

Among the butterflies was a Dark Green Fritillary larva (photo), an early Large Skipper, and singles of Marsh Fritillary (near the entrance to the bombing range) and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Dingy Skipper numbers were pretty good, Grizzled Skipper seems to be past its peak now, and Small Blue numbers are still building.