Thursday 19 May 2011

Quite a story...

Shortly after taking my seat on the Cardiff-Swansea train this morning I noticed a small colourful micro fluttering around me. Fortunately I had a pot in my rucksack and the lady sat opposite was too engrossed in her book to notice me searching for the moth beneath the table. Luckily it had alighted on my rucksack and was easy to pot.

The moth seems to be Denisia albimaculea, which, according to my version of the county database, hasn't been recorded in VC41 (or Wales?) since a 1934 record by Hallett from central Cardiff which is regarded as questionable.

The question is - what was the origin of the moth? The train had come from Crewe, and the moth could potentially have hopped aboard on the way, but I think it's more likely it landed on me as I cycled through Bute Park to the station, as it was flying around me as I took off my ruscksack on the train. What do you think Dave - can I count it as a Glamorgan record?? I'm going to have a look on lime trunks (the larval foodplant) in Bute Park tomorrow if the weather's ok.

I don't think it's the similar (but rarer) D augustella, but have kept the specimen just in case.


  1. Well, I don't have access to my library until I get back on Saturday, but it certainly looks good. The problem with Hallett's record is simply that there is no way to know which of the two he recorded - they were split after his time. Although the origin of your moth is tenuous, I don't think there is a problem recording it for Glamorgan with appropriate comments attached to the record. No go an find some more!

  2. Great account George, more gripping than 'Murder on the Orient Express'!
    I agree with Dave 100% it's a vc41 record, but where you plot it is not easy; personally I see it as a West Glam record as that's where it got of the train. Clearly that's where it wanted to be!!!

  3. Well done George. Agree it is a VC41 record and if you potted it up in Swansea, then that should be the dot on your map. The Hallett record may be erroneous, however as Dave said a split was done after Hallett's day. The other fact is that Lime trees were planted after all the Elms around the city centre died of DED in the late 1960s & early 1970s, so species associated with Lime became more common: Lime Hawk for one, quite rare in VC41 before the extensive planting of Lime trees. May be this moth did follow you from Cardiff, and maybe it is present now in VC41, so well worth having a look. Well done, good find.

  4. Thanks for the feedback guys. Actually I potted it just after leaving Cardiff Central, bound for Swansea, so I'll put the grid ref down as Cardiff Central Station (sorry Barry, it's an East not West record!).

    I had a quick look on various mature trees (limes, sycamores and planes) near the river in Llandaff North this lunchtime, but without success. However, I did find a couple of Luffia ferchaultella cases on a lime on Gabalfa Avenue, so it wasn't a totally fruitless search.

    Jake - interesting comment about the Lime hawks, as they also feed on elms I'd have thought they'd have been common before the elms died (but perhaps they prefer lime?).