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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Beautiful Brownfield and a Moth Mystery

On Monday (8/6) I visited a remnant area of high quality flower-rich brownfield at Burry Port, located next to a boat-repair yard on the SE edge of town. Generally, it was a profitable morning natural-history wise but it did generate a bit of a moth mystery or, rather, one involving a caterpillar.

Among other things, the site is probably the last locality in the Llanelli area where one can find bladder campion growing in quantity and, since that plant is a major food-plant of the tawny shears, I`ve always considered that moth when visiting. Unfortunately, given its proximity to a housing estate and main road it is not a place to leave an unattended moth trap.


Above: a general view of part of the site with bladder campion (with white calices) to the left and a pinkish version in the photo below.



Above: it`s probably best to `left-click` on the photos. Photo 1 shows the hole in the seed capsule that first caught my eye, note also the nearby browsing marks made presumably by the feasting caterpillar. The 2nd pic shows those marks more clearly and also some frass (droppings) left by the caterpillar. By now - Pic 3 - the caterpillar has been located (head to left, dropping to right!), but it`s not the light brownish colour that tawny shears ought to be - so, bit of a mystery!
Others will recall that Adam Dare caught an adult tawny shears in his nearby garden recently and there is also a 1970s record of the same species from Burry Port. Barry Stewart also collected what he thought was a tawny shears caterpillar from the adjacent part of the very same brownfield site last year, but I`m still awaiting news from him whether he reared it to adulthood.

Above: fortunately, I was able to i/d this leaf-mine: it`s Mompha raschkiella on rosebay willowherb.

3 comments:

  1. Unfortunately I have a feeling my 4 pupae are all now dead (I'll taste test them later to check), so although I'm 99% sure they're TS I won't be able to provide a definitive answer this year. Immature larvae are very tough to id, but I'm suspecting yours might be a Campion at this stage. Suggest you collect some more and rear them through, at least to final instar. Mine looked exactly like those for TS on the ukleps.org website

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  2. Thanks Barry. Mine did n`t look quite right....

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  3. Because the mowing of Burry Port field has stopped there are a lot of wildlfowers growing all over it, including a fir bit of white Campion in front of Seaview Terrace at the western end.

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