Monday, 3 August 2015

More Brown (and Grey) House Moths

On 27 May I posted an account of finding a small brown moth fluttering around our living quarters, and the concensus of views was that it was Tinea (clothes moth) group.  Since then I have apprehended more of these moths - in fact they are cropping up on a daily basis, most days I'm seeing at least two of them.  Here are images of a couple of recent ones:




It's a bit worrying that, according to the description in S&P, infestations can occur of the most likely candidate, Tinea pellionella.  I shall certainly be trying to locate the source of them, it could well be a tapestry that we brought back from Lesotho 24 years ago, which is hanging in the bedroom where most of the moths occur.  A search for the larval cases is definitely called for!
All of this raises the question of how I should record these moths.  As things stand, the record sheet requires the species to be identified, and (as I understand it) that's not possible without microscopic examination.  Yet it seems a shame that these observations aren't put on record.  Is there not a need for a category 'Tinea pellionella group'?  The same probably applies to other closely-related micromoth species which cannot be separated without dissection.

Another, even smaller, brown moth turned up in my woodshed on two occasions last week (I always seem to get these drab micros when others get the pretty, brightly-coloured ones!)


I have tentatively identified these moths as Borkhausenia fuscescens.

I put the MV trap in a supposedly sheltered spot last night because conditions were fairly benign in the evening.   The wind and rain picked up overnight, but the trap was not harmed and there were plenty of moths about.  25 spp. were recorded, nothing particularly unusual, although I did get a FFY Common Footman, a species which is anything but common here.  A new record for me was the Willow Tortrix Epinotia cruciana:


One query relates to the Crambid below, the longitudinal streak on the forewing does not seem to conform to any of the species illustrated, but it must be one of them!  Suggestions would be welcome.


UPDATE
The Lesotho tapestry is the source of the clothes moths, at least it's one of them, there may be others but I hope not!  I removed 10 larval cases from it, and a moth flew off when I removed the tapestry from the wall (not yet apprehended).  At least two of the cases have live larvae in them.

      Mohair Tapestry - 1m x1m                     Larval cases removed

11 comments:

  1. A few thoughts:
    Mapmate probably has a category for indet Tinea pellionella agg. - if someone tells me the code/wording used then I'll add it in. Alternatively I can gen det one of your Tinea for you, if you pop one in the freezer.
    The new Micromoths book has led to lots of claims of Borkhausenia and Bryotropha which are just runt Hoffmannophila, but yours look to be the real deal. There are three Rhandirmwyn records and one of Ian's to MV last year (did we check it carefully Ian?), so a very good record.
    That Crambid looks odd and interesting but may just be Catoptria margaritella rather than a funny Agriphila.

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  2. Thanks Sam. I've put all the moths in the freezer and will shortly do the same with the cases, once my wife's seen them so that she knows what to look for! Presumably the cases themselves aren't likely to be diagnostic.

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  3. Only a few British Tineids make cases, so those rule several spp out. It seems unlikely your moths will have come in to Britain from Lesotho, otherwise your rug would be threadbare by now. Pity, as they could have been really interesting!!

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  4. I can`t recall whether you had a specimen from me Sam, so we`d better put it down as `agg.`. I`ve seen them recently, so will re-collect.

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  5. I have an excellent book 'The Moths of Southern Africa', a legacy of the 2 years I spent in Lesotho. It gives brief accounts of some of the micro families, including the Tineidae, of which there are 'well over 100 species' in the region, it doesn't mention T. pellionella although the Common Clothes Moth Tineola bisselliella is described. As Sam infers, it's unlikely that anything from Lesotho would have remained dormant for so long!

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  6. Your record was of Borkhausenia, Ian, not a Tineid. Have you seen any of the former this year?
    Chris - Tineola has no cases and is pale and orangey; I know it all too well from an infestation at my parents' house! MBGBI Vol 2 includes various other Tineids of African origin, including one "imported occasionally on Bongo drums", but I agree it's likely that you would have noticed an ongoing infestation of African Tineids some time over the last few years, so T. pelionella is much the most likely candidate. It also occurs in the wild eg in birds' nests.

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    1. I never had Tineola as a possibility for my moths Sam, because it's quite plain whereas all of mine have had three dark spots on the forewing, including the one I caught this afternoon (another is fluttering around as we speak!) I might have to consider another source! Incidentally, Dave Grundy told us on the course that Tineola pellionella is becoming quite uncommon because of the predominance of synthetic fibres these days.

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  7. I read they were declining so didn't kill the first few at Dingestow; two years later they had bred into a massive damaging infestation. T pellionella seems less severe. I also read somewhere that Tineola is on the rise again, big-time!

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  8. This posting rang a very familiar bell with me - in 1992 I had a real problem with a case-bearing type of clothes moth in a wall hanging from Tanzania - it was a lovely lion pattern, made by the Maasai and had a definite animal smell - it was possibly made from goat hair. The moths absolutely loved it and despite many sprays in a locked room with nasty chemicals they succeeded in completely shredding it.

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    1. Rosemary, I've just seen your post, it makes me very glad that I spotted the problem before my tapestry was shredded! If the problem recurs I won't bother with the chemicals, I'll package it up as small as possible and put it in the freezer for a day or two. That certainly did for the moths and live cases pictured in the blog, although I'm uncertain whether the egg stage would be affected.

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