Not a huge amount to report over the last month except a few more leaf mines which I will summarise at the end of the year but the opportunity to attend a days training on moth genitalia dissection proved most worthwhile. I had taken four specimens of November Moth agg. from my last trapping attempt on the night of 20th October at Sunbeck Wood, Brafferton Spring. I used the training opportunity not only to brush up on technique but to also dissect the four specimens I had. The first three appeared to be males of each of the three species, so instead of November Moth aggregate x 3, I can now record singles each of November Moth, Pale November Moth and Autumnal Moth. The fourth turned out to be a female sp. which cannot be done. Although this proves that each of the three species do occur at this site there is no way of knowing the proportion of each population without a much larger sample. I am not interested in taking any more specimens at this site, just knowing and proving each occur is good enough for me.
Both of these photos were taken by iPhone down a microscope eyepiece so despite not being of the best quality they are enough to show the salient features. The photo above shows the complete male genitalia and the easiest feature is the two upper dark points on the anal plate that are well spread apart (not the pair of lower points on the valvae). Compare that with two inward pointing and much closer dark points on the plate (minus the rest of the genitalia) of what is clearly a Pale November Moth. I neglected to get a photo of the Autumnal Moth...however it is obvious in that there are no spurs at all on the valvae.
|Pale November Moth|
There is often uncomfortable questions asked about the validity of taking specimens. I am very conscious of all such concerns but console myself with the fact that very selective specimen taking is essential to identify some species and that conformation of presence is valuable in conservation terms. The very tiny number taken is probably far fewer than the numbers killed by driving a car at night.
I did attempt a couple of micros but it was soon very evident that my ability did not stretch to such small genitalia, so for any important micros I may still have to defer to the vastly superior expertise of Harry....