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Friday, 24 May 2019

Foxy Lady.....

.....was a song by Jimi Hendrix from his 1967 album "Are You Experienced" - but it was also a moth trapped at Cwmllwyd last night (23rd May); a first for the site and for me:

Female Fox Moth.

This was one of 14 FFYs among 42 species that graced the trap; the total catch was 122 moths.

Pale-shouldered Brocade - another FFY

East of Burry Port

I revisited the shingle beach and sandy grassland at Cefn Padrig beach just east of Burry Port this afternoon, in order to get some better photos of what are considered to be narrow-bordered 5-spot burnet caterpillars.

             Above: Cefn Padrig with the shingle beach in the background and, beyond, Gower.

   Above: NB5SB caterpillars have much longer setae (hairs) than the other common burnets.
Above: one of many pupae present.
Above: I also flushed this grass rivulet, which was placid enough to be photographed.

Slim pickings at my garden trap

I put out one actinic last night (23/5) in my garden at Stradey (west Llanelli) but moth numbers and variety were sparse; I`m beginning to fear that this trap site will not be as profitable as my former Pwll garden, but it`s early days yet. A privet hawk-moth and a rustic shoulder-knot were among the few moths greeting me this morning, and photos of these two individuals are shown below.

I also went out daytime mothing yesterday afternoon and will post a blog when I get a chance.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Recent Marsh Fritillary (and moth) sightings in SE Carmarthenshire

Some nice day flying moth finds so far this week, whilst out searching for Marsh Frits in known but previously unoccupied habitat. Turned up a freshly emerged Forester at a private site between Llannon & Pontyberem on Tuesday. Apologies for poor photo - hopefully a camera fault, not my eyesight! Yesterday, Mother Shipton in another private Meadow between Drefach and Cefneithin. Several Burnet Companions, as one might expect. So far in three days of targeted Marsh Frit searches, we've added 10 new occupied fields, to what should be a better looking picture for species in Carms and hopefully an enhanced future SPG area for the Mynydd Mawr grant project.

Any Marsh Frit sightings around Meinciau, Crwbin or Bancffosfelen area gratefully received. Let me know if you want to join us one day, somewhere in Carms. We get around the county.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Recent daytime mothing

As the night-time weather has not been ideal for trapping, I`ve been doing some daytime mothing instead - leaf mining or just keeping my eyes open to see what is around. One site that I visited yesterday (21/5) is an area of dry open ground and scrub habitat next to the Loughor Estuary at Bynea. Diurnal moths seen include small yellow underwings and treble bars; my attempt to photograph the latter made difficult due their nervousness and sensitivity to the smallest movement. I nearly managed to photo one individual, but a scuttling cantharid beetle scared it off!

            Above: a view of part of the wildlife-rich brownfield site at Bynea, Llanelli.
                                 Above: small yellow underwing - one I managed to photo!

The scrub birches on part of the site held the leaf miner Eriocrania sangii, easily identified by its grey caterpillars.
                                             Above:  Eriocrania sangii from Bynea.

A nice surprise were two individuals of Adela cuprella, one flying near some dogwood blossom and the other resting on scurvy-grass on the upper saltmarsh! A good butterfly find was a single brown argus; its larval food-plant stork`s-bill grows at the site.

                                                             Above: Adela cuprella.

This Coleophora on hazel at Bynea may prove to be of interest (photo immediately below):

An earlier visit to Troserch Woods yielded - among other common species - Micropterix aureatella on bilberry.
                     Above: `stop pointing your camera at me - I`m off!` (Micropterix aureatella)

There have been quite a few sightings of brimstone butterflies around recently at several Llanelli/Burry Port localities. Yesterday evening at North Dock, Llanelli, I also had diamond-back moths in double figures, so obviously there been an influx. The weather is getting cloudier from tomorrow, so light trapping could well be productive.

Pachyrhabda steropodes.

I caught a few more of these today ( 22 May 2019 ) at Cwmllwyd and although my photos are quite pathetic compared to CM's excellent shot in his renowned book, I have no doubt remaining about the identity of these moths. Many thanks to Paul Parsons for pointing me in the right direction.

The two shots are of the same individual.

23 May 2019

Saturday, 18 May 2019

South-east of Llanelli

I spent part of this afternoon (18/5) on the coastal levels SE of Llanelli, visiting two sites but with a third intended locality abandoned due to the threat of rain (which materialised very shortly afterwards).
The first site involved a repeat visit to the Morfa de-tinning works, a brownfield site with a diverse flora and where I knew that marjoram grew in quantity. I was after a particular Coleophora sp. that depends on that plant, but none were seen. However, clumps of carline thistle that had retained their seed `fluff` caught my eye, and I recalled Barry Stewart telling me - many years ago! -  to check such plants as moth larvae eating the interior of the seed heads cause the retention of the wind-dispersive parts above.
Upon opening these heads, I could see that all (of those opened) held the `target` larvae - that of Metzneria aestivella, a species that has been frequently found by such searching techniques in neighbouring Glamorgan (look at the very useful maps on their new website and also the book The Moths of Glamorgan). It is not included on Sam`s 2016 listing of Carmarthenshire moths (unless I have overlooked it).

          Above: Metzneria aestivella caterpillar in an open flower head of carline thistle.

I then headed eastwards for a short distance to the Morfa Berwig LNR, just inland from the WWT Penclacwydd wetland centre.

Above: a view of part of Morfa Berwig LNR, Bynea, Llanelli. Out of sight are some broad drainage `pills` (ditches).

Alongside the main access track near to the above photo, I located Epinotia sordidana caterpillars (another of my targets) in folds of alder leaves. Such fieldwork has apparently yielded records of this moth elsewhere and the distinctive combination of the caterpillar and its leaf-fold `nest` is much easier than the required dissection for i/d of the adult moths. See Ben Sale`s Micro-moth Field Tips p.89.
      Above: the blue-grey Epinotia sordidana caterpillar in opened-up fold of an alder leaf.

A lucky find - another that came to me rather than me searching for it, was a hairy dragonfly Brachytron pratense (a fenland species long known from the coastal flats of Llanelli) that landed on my leg!
Above: a female Brachytron pratense - note the hairy edge to the thorax and abdomen (left click on pic).

Inspection of hedgerow elms hereabouts yielded some unusual leaf-mines that were new to me and which  raised my hopes - but they proved to be non-lepidopteran:

                                     Above: mines and larvae of the weevil Orchestes alni.
                        Above: an opened mine showing the yellowish larva of the sawfly Fenusa ulmi.

What was present though, were more larval cases of Coleophora follicularis on some plants of hemp agrimony, growing in the lane on the S. side of the LNR.

Typha (`bulrush`) heads held frequent larvae of Limnaecia phragmitella, their presence suggested by retained `fluff` (seed heads) on the bulrush spikes. You may have to `left-click` on this photo below to get a better viewing. I`ve found this species by the same technique elsewhere locally this spring. Open up the seed heads to locate the caterpillars.

Readers will remember the longhorn beetle that was found settled on the wall by my front door only a couple of days ago. Today a different species of longhorn, the `wasp beetle` Clytus arietus did the same but, this time, by my back door! Photo below: