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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Daytime mothing at Pwll

After ticking off various unavoidable chores (shopping, cutting lawns and all that hassle of life), I went for a walk in part of the Millennium Coastal Park below the eastern end of Pwll, Llanelli. The blustery wind once again made sweeping difficult, but a few common moths were caught and others spotted, such as the mother shipton shown below.

                                                      Above: general habitat shot.
                                      Above: mother shipton - note the `face` on the wings.

Of possible more significance is the caterpillar (swept off dry wasteground) pictured below. The abundance of long setae suggests narrow-bordered five-spot burnet, a moth known from adjacent parts of Glamorgan, such as Gower, just across the narrow estuary from Pwll. This is a species that I would have expected to occur on the dry, urban grasslands around Llanelli but difficulties in identifying the adult have created problems for me in the past. The caterpillar is said to be much easier to identify.
(For comparison of the setae length, see MBGBI Vol 2 Plate 5).

Above: can someone who is familiar with Zygaena lonicerae caterpillars confirm or correct the comments above please?
Above: another shot, to aid i/d, of the caterpillar (on a leaf of bristly oxtongue, which is common at this site - I was actually on the `look-out` for Cochylis molliculana, after that unconfirmed specimen I caught at Tyrwaun recently).


  1. That looks highly plausible to me, Ian. The black dorsal spots slightly coalescing would also appear to favour Narrow-bordered. Well done!! Trimsaran next ?...

  2. Thanks Sam. There are a lot of dry brownfield sites where it may be possible, but Ffos-las is certainly a `runner`. Glad to have had this species at last and new to Carms too, which is pleasing. It makes up for last night`s trapping disappointments. I`m having more moth fun at day than night at present!

  3. I have seen plenty of 5-spot burnets on Ffos Las in previous years and a single 6-spot burnet last year, but never knowingly seen a narrow-bordered 5 spot. However, the more I learn, the less I seem to know and I've just read that the 5-spot is less common than the narrow bordered, but my photos from previous years do show the middle pair of wing spots to be slightly merged which is apparently indicative of the 5-spot rather than narrow bordered. Ffos Las has larval food plants to suit both moths.

  4. Most Carms 5-spot are in wetter habitats and will be 5-spot rather than Narrow-bordered. 5-spot is the common one here and in Pembs. In contrast, Narrow-bordered is the common one in SE Wales and much of England.

  5. The best option Maggie, is for you to search for caterpillars on bird`s-foot trefoil or other low-growing members of the pea family and take a photo if they look particularly hairy. The adults are difficult to i/d. Indeed, Waring & Townsend say,`...probably the only safe way, in some cases, to ascertain which species is present is to search for larvae....`
    Try `sweeping`, if you`ve got a net, of bird`s-foot trefoil etc.

  6. I don't possess a net for sweeping, but have no problems going on hands and knees poking about in birds foot trefoil, which is fairly abundant on Ffos Las, to see what I can find and photograph. I've just looked through some of my photos from past years and I could have 2 different types of burnet moth caterpillar and as I don't know how to include a photo in a comment, I'll have to make a separate post to show them.