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Sunday, 26 November 2017

They keep coming....

Apologies to anyone who prefers them with wings on but this leaf-mining is rather addictive.  The first new one of this batch is a retrospective identification and acceptance as probably new to VC62: this is Acrolepia autumnitella on Bittersweet or Nightshade at Pilmoor back in 2015 on 9 October.  It shows the value of keeping photos on file and later attempts at identification.
Acrolepia autmnitella
Another retrospective identification but of not so long ago was the highly distinctive mine of Coptotriche marginea on Bramble at Aldwark Wood a week ago, the mine resembling a wet white discarded feather.

Coptotriche marginea
Back to the present and another visit to Pilmoor on Saturday 25 November with focus on fallen leaves from the Aspen trees looking for signs of 4.085 Ectoedemia argyropeza which unfortunately was not forthcoming.  I did however manage several other new ones including Ectoedemia rubivora as new for site and away from the Ripon stronghold and rare in VC62.
Ectoedemia rubivora on Bramble
Other new ones for me were what I believe to be Stigmella luteela on Birch, Stigmella salicis on Sallow and Ectoedemia minimella on Birch.  Of course I stand to be corrected!
Stigmella luteela

Stigmella salicis

Ectoedemia minimella


Monday, 20 November 2017

Ticking leaves again....

Having attended a Dragonfly meeting locally hosted by Steve Cham in the Spring I was struck by a comment he made after someone mentioned the dragonfly 'season' was just starting.  He said that there was no such thing as 'season' and that what the commenter was referring to was part of the life-cycle when the dragonflies were on the wing; of course they were present 365 days of the year but in a different part of their life-cycle.  This is true for all resident species including moths and recently I have tried to put this into practice with the help of the excellent publication 'Micro-moth Field Tips: A Guide to Finding the Early Stages in Lancashire and Cheshire' published by Ben Smart.

Checking the beech trees at Allerton Park was a good starting point with two similar Stigmella species were soon found.  The first is the very common Stigmella tityrella where the egg is laid on the mid-rib and the larva develops tunneling between two veins with abrupt changes of direction.  This is shown again in an older photo (no 2) and of the other similar species Stigmella hemargyrella (no 3) where the egg is laid elsewhere on the leaf (in this case near the outer edge) before tunneling between veins.
Stigmella tityrella on Beech

Stigmella tityrella on Beech

Stigmella hemargyrella on Beech
I have found those larval signs on Oak to be rather difficult and many remain unidentified but this one is fairly straightforward: Ectoedemia subbimaculella a blotch so positioned with a slit on the underside and often a 'green' island.
Ectoedemia subbimaculella on Oak, Hood Hill Kilburn, 4 Nov 2017
The next are Phyllonorycter messaniella found on an isolated Holm Oak, near the Upper Dunsforth reserve on 12 Nov 2017.
Phyllonorycter messaniella on Holm Oak
Checking some of the hawthorn hedges at Allerton Park produced a Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae on 12 Nov 2017.
Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae on Hawthorn
While waiting for a truck to be fixed in Billingham on Teesside I checked out the Pyracantha hedgeline bushes nearby and soon found many mines of Phyllonorycter leucographella also known as the Firethorn Leaf Miner.  The next Pyracantha bushes I checked successfully were in a railway station carpark in Coventry, so in order to get a Yorkshire record I checked the bushes in the Health Centre carpark in Boroughbridge and sure enough found some on 11 November.

Phyllonorycter leucographella on Pyracantha
A speculative search of brambles at Weather Hills Pond near Westwick between Boroughbridge and Ripon produced mines of the target moth species Ectoedemia rubivora which is a Nb scarcity, rare in Yorkshire except around Ripon.  The mines start off as a very contorted mine which widens out into a blotch.
Ectoedemia rubivora on Bramble

Ectoedemia rubivora on Bramble
Perhaps one of the best finds was a diptera mine on Snowberry at Upper Dunsforth which I have just had confirmed as Aulagromyza luteoscutellata by the Recorder of the National Agromyzidae Recording Scheme who just happens to live locally.  He still has to check his records but this could be the first record for VC64, having only being first recorded in the UK in 2007.  I was perusing a Leaf-miners newsletter and chanced upon an article detailing Aulagromyza luteoscutellata as new to Yorkshire and was struck by the similarity of the mines to those in my file of those as yet to be identified.
Aulagromyza luteoscutellata on Snowberry

Aulagromyza luteoscutellata on Snowberry
Still so much to learn but at least I have made a start and look forward to finding a few more species over the next few months.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

National Moth Night, Saturday 14 Oct 2017, Pilmoor VC62

For the first time in a couple of months reasonable weather coincided with a rare day off and it just happened to be night three of National Moth Night....  With ivy being the theme this year I chose to set up traps by the old house at the end of the track at Pilmoor, although with renovation taking place a lot of the ivy has just been cut down.  I set up the traps in the area and made periodic checks on the ivy but I think that moths were more interested in the lamps.  The mild conditions were welcome and the wind was calm while the cloud cover lasted but picked up a little around midnight when the cloud cleared.  Certainly calmer than the wind expected from storm Ophelia in the next day or two.  A few new for the year and the Dark Sword-grass was my first in VC62, indeed only my second Yorkshire one.  The Epiritta moths came in a bewildering array of sizes and markings and I lacked the zeal to collect any on this occasion to gen.det..

  Epirrita species (Epirrita sp.) 73
49.071  a moth (Acleris emargana) 2
49.080  a moth (Acleris hastiana 1
70.095  Red-Green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata 3
70.244  Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria) 2
70.256  Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria) 2
73.134  Large Wainscot (Rhizedra lutosa) 1
73.182  Sallow (Cirrhia icteritia) 2
73.186  Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis) 1
73.189  Red-line Quaker (Agrochola lota) 3
73.192  Brick (Agrochola circellaris) 1
73.194  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii 41
73.195  Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula) 1
73.202  Grey Shoulder-knot (Lithophane ornitopus) 1
73.210  Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 12
73.224  Merveille du Jour (Griposia aprilina 2
73.225  Brindled Green (Dryobotodes eremita) 5
73.291  Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens 1
73.327  Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon 1
73.359  Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1
 
Feathered Thorn

Beaded Chestnut

Brick

Chestnut

Grey Shoulder-knot

Merveille du Jour

Dark Sword-grass

Setaceous Hebrew Character

Thursday, 20 July 2017

One Goes Mad in Dorset....

Although supposedly on leave this week the prospect of a meeting on the future of moth recording at DERC Dorchester scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and an opportunity to deliver a Range Rover just 25 miles away on a two day trip I jumped at the chance.  With the car delivered and actually finding a parking space for the Ranger and trailer fairly close to the venue in Dorchester it all started well.  A productive meeting ensued, an evening meal at a local hostelry with 'lashings of ginger beer' and then up to one of my favourite trapping sites of old, near Hardy's Monument, Blackdown.  The nod to the Comic Strip production of Five Go Mad in Dorset refers to me questioning what on earth was I doing exposing myself to the inclement weather forecast, humid, very breezy and with heavy thundery showers and dozing in the Ranger when I could have been tucked up in the dry in a proper bed.  
Hardy's Monument, Blackdown
What a fantastic night!  Despite the heavy rain showers and spectacular light show from the thunder clouds, by using a strategically placed umbrella it offered at least some protection.  I did get wet several times rescuing the brolly which was whisked away by squally winds but luckily the bulb did not get damaged by the rain.  The monument can just be seen on the horizon in the photo above.  The highlight for me was fantastic views of singing, calling and wing-slapping Nightjars so close I could see the orange reflection of their eyes; they may well of course have been attracted to the moths above the trap!  I was able to attract over 300 moths to the trap and it was great to reacquaint myself with some southern species again such as Four-spotted Footman, Black Arches and White-point.  Due to limited time in the morning and not many pots I was unable to take any photos, but did hang on to this tiny 5-6mm micro for identification.
Elachista atricomella
The full list for the night is as follows:
  
  Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  3
  Uncertain/Rustic agg. (Hoplodrina alsines/blanda)  8
  Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.)  12
  Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  14
17.003  Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha dentella)  1
28.009  White-shouldered House-moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  1
32.018  a moth (Agonopterix heracliana)  1
35.031  a moth (Helcystogramma rufescens)  1
35.056  a moth (Metzneria lappella)  1
38.025  a moth (Elachista atricomella)  1
41.002  a moth (Blastobasis adustella)  1
49.092  a moth (Phtheochroa inopiana)  1
49.109  a moth (Agapeta hamana)  1
49.341  a moth (Cydia splendana)  2
63.037  a moth (Udea olivalis)  2
63.038  Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)  2
63.093  a moth (Agriphila straminella)  4
65.009  Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides)  3
66.003  Lackey (Malacosoma neustria)  7
66.010  Drinker (Euthrix potatoria)  1
69.006  Privet Hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri)  1
69.016  Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)  6
70.013  Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)  2
70.016  Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)  1
70.016  Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata)  1
70.037  Clay Triple-lines (Cyclophora linearia)  4
70.087  Purple Bar (Cosmorhoe ocellata)  1
70.093  Barred Straw (Gandaritis pyraliata)  1
70.094  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  2
70.207  Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)  3
70.214  Tawny-barred Angle (Macaria liturata)  1
70.226  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  3
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1
70.241  Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)  11
70.252  Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  5
70.258  Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria)  3
70.284  Barred Red (Hylaea fasciaria)  2
70.297  Grass Emerald (Pseudoterpna pruinata)  2
70.305  Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria)  2
71.021  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  2
71.025  Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)  8
72.002  Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)  1
72.003  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  5
72.010  Black Arches (Lymantria monacha)  7
72.013  Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis)  1
72.019  Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea)  2
72.024  Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)  1
72.026  Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)  2
72.035  Rosy Footman (Miltochrista miniata)  6
72.041  Four-spotted Footman (Lithosia quadra)  9
72.042  Red-necked Footman (Atolmis rubricollis)  2
72.043  Buff Footman (Eilema depressa)  48
72.044  Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)  5
72.045  Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)  3
72.053  Fan-foot (Herminia tarsipennalis)  1
73.001  Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)  3
73.032  Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli)  37
73.162  Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)  12
73.216  Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina)  5
73.293  Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura)  2
73.297  White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)  1
73.317  Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  2
73.325  Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  1
73.338  True Lover's Knot (Lycophotia porphyrea)  2
73.343  Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata)  2
73.345  Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)  2
73.346  Least Yellow Underwing (Noctua interjecta caliginosa)  2

Monday, 17 July 2017

Valerian Pug

Trapped at Hag Wood, Kilburn on 7th July 2017 and as with many pugs the photos have languished in my TBC file....  When I first potted it I was immediately struck on its lack of features not through wear but its plainness generally.  It was roughly 20mm across and once photographed I was able to study it in detail.  I cannot deny I really struggled with it.  Only for the reason it was 'plain' did I consider Plain Pug and posted an image on the Pugs Flying Tonight website where Valerian Pug was suggested.  Looking into other images of Valerian Pug I feel that this is a good call.  For what has such indistinctive features it is actually quite distinctive and there were a number of features noted on each of the web images from trusted sites; I plotted the features good for this species on one of my photos.
Valerian Pug
This is a scarce moth in the UK although reported in small numbers from most counties, it is rare in Yorkshire with last accepted VC62 record in 1913.  The foodplant is Common Valerian which according to BSBI maps does occur in the Kilburn area and I will be looking out for the plant on my next visit.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mixed success at Pilmoor, VC62 night of 15 July 2017

With the temperature dropping no lower than +17.8 it seemed like a good opportunity to leave the traps out overnight at Pilmoor.  Having snatched a few hours sleep at home I returned to Pilmoor at 04:45 and rather worryingly could not see the lights shining in the woodland.  On stopping the car I could still hear the generator so despite being chained to a tree at least it hadn't been stolen, but presumably the vibration had shaken the plug loose.  There were still a few moths in the traps so had presumably been working for at least half the night before failing.  The highlight was an Apotomis semifasciana which evaded capture in a pot but was seen very well; despite being a great Yorkshire rarity I have captured at least 15 in the Pilmoor area.  
Cydia splendana

Acrobasis advenella

Phycita roborella

A 'brown-tailed' Yellow-tail

Minor Shoulder-knot

Friday, 14 July 2017

England's rarest resident moth, Strensall Common, VC62

Having lived in Yorkshire for nearly 11 years now and resisted the temptation to 'twitch' the local real rarity Dark Bordered Beauty, I finally cracked and joined a walk amiably hosted by Dr Terry Crawford and Penny Relf. Strensall is the only site in England for this very rare moth and there are a handful of sites in the Cairngorms. With such a restricted distribution it is probably the rarest macro moth in England.  Having been recorded at Strensall for many years and monitored in recent times, there has been a decline in numbers since 2010 following two cold winters and uncontrolled sheep grazing which has decimated its food plant Creeping Willow.  Following local initiatives to construct small fenced protected areas and the control of grazing has allowed the moth to recover somewhat.  

Today proved challenging weather-wise; occasional sun, a stiff breeze and the odd spit of rain, but in the shaded parts felt actually quite warm.  By all accounts not as many butterflies as one would expect but still not a bad haul in total.  Resisting the urge to get too excited about seeing the first Dark Bordered Beauty in a pot I was pleased to find a male of my own a minute later.  I probably saw eight or so in the end and managed several passable shots.
Dark Bordered Beauty, female

Dark Bordered Beauty, female
Having seen the target species a long amble over rough ground followed looking for this and other species.  Straw Dots were everywhere as were grass moths, of those seen well all were Agriphila straminella; singles of Bilberry Tortrix, Common White Wave, Common Carpet and a Silver Y. Butterflies included a few Marbled Whites, good numbers of Ringlets and Large Skippers.
Ringlet

Large Skipper, male

Marbled White
Strensall is a magical place and thank goodness for the MOD whose presence goes a long way to preserving the site.  Also with the hard work of the Environment Agency, and various other conservation bodies and for the dedication of Dr Terry Crawford hopefully Dark Bordered Beauty may continue to survive.
Marsh Orchid