Friday 31 May 2013


Had an Orange Footman in the trap last night, one of 5 species recorded. New for the garden and 10 years since Mike & I had the first at Wern Ddu, near Caerphilly. They seem fairly well spread now, although of low density.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Small Waved Umber

I was both surprised and delighted to see this Small Waved Umber on a car showroom window in Llandaff North this morning. I think this is only the third Cardiff record, though there is some Wild Clematis (the foodplant) along the River Taff corridor.

"Disappointed of Cwmbach"

As I have a late-ish start today, I ran my garden trap last night, but despite the reasonable overnight minimum temperature of 9.00C, the catch was once again disappointing, consisting of just seven moths of seven species and an odd mix they were too:

Red-green Carpet
Brown Silver-line
Peppered Moth
Pale-shouldered Brocade
Clouded Drab
Hebrew Character

Plus this nondescript pug, which was photographed on the trap, when I was switching it off, but flew off before I could pot it. I can't make anything much of it, but has anyone else got any ideas?

Mystery Pug

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Nantyffyllon, yesterday and today.

                                     Cydia ulicetana, finally in good numbers today.
                                     Also netted were Phyllonorycters hilarella and acerifoliella,
                                     Caloptilia syringella and Digitivalva pulicariae.

Monday 27 May 2013

Sunday morning out in the sunshine

As the nights have been so frosty recently I haven't run the traps but went out to some bog with cottongrass on Fairwood Common in the sun. I found two Glyphipterix haworthana which was what I was hoping for plus what seems to be Clepsis senecionana.
0395 Glyphipterix haworthana

0991 Clepsis senecionana

Cwmbach/Abernant, Last Night

Filled with enthusiasm from helping out with trapping at Coed-y-Bedw, the night before, but realising I was unlikely to reach the giddy heights of 26 species, I went and trapped at my current favourite local site, Werfa.
The temperature at 21:45, when I started the trap, was 10 C, but it quickly dropped and was 5 C by the time I was knocking down, at 00:35 and 3 C, 30 minutes later.
Predictably, given the cold conditions, moths were few and far between, with just seven individuals of seven species, including probably the only Streamer I'm going to see this year and this worn tort, which I think is Acleris hastiana, but if anyone has a better suggestion I'd like to know, please.

Acleris hastiana?
Nematopogon swammerdamella
Agonopterix arenella
The Streamer
Pale Tussock
Lunar Marbled Brown
Nut-tree Tussock

At least the clear skies allowed me to see a wonderfully dazzling Iridium flare, at just before eleven.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Coed y Bedw last night

Vaughn Matthews (WTSWW), Mark Evans and I had an enjoyable night trapping at Coed y Bedw on Saturday night, recording around 26 species (3 x MV and 1 x Actinic). While this isn't a great return for late May, by typical 2013 standards we were quite pleased! The temperature fell quite quickly from 11 C at dusk to around 7 C when we packed up at 1am, which no doubt reduced moth activity later in the session.

Highlights included Marbled Brown (4), Grey Birch (4), Barred Umber (2), Poplar Hawk, Nematopogon swamerdamella (5) and Carpatolechia proximella. Also of note were good catches of Square Spot (around 20 individuals, including the melanic one in the photo below) and Nut-tree Tussock (c. 40).

Thanks to Mark for the first two photos below...
Marbled Brown (Mark Evans)

Nematopogon swammerdamella (Mark Evans)
Square Spot (melanic)

Saturday 25 May 2013

Merthyr mawr.

         Grizzled skipper
         Brown argus
        Small argent and sable. I have an old version of mapmate, so this
        could be new for the square? I have only seen these on upland
        moors before.
        Also on the wing  Common blue,  Small heath,  Dingy skipper,
        Pyrausta purpuralis and Pyrausta cingulata.

Scarlet Tiger in Swansea

Neil Price sent me this photo of a Scarlet Tiger larva found recently in Swansea (SS6796), feeding on Common Sorrel. I think this is new for SS69 - well spotted Neil.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Coed y Bedw trapping - Saturday

I'll be doing some trapping with the WTSWW at Coed y Bedw, near Taffs Well, on Saturday night (25th May). All welcome, with or without traps and generators.

The forecast currently looks a lot better than today and tomorrow!

Meet at the end of the track which leads to the quarry (ST109825) at 9pm. From there we'll head over the road to the reserve.

You can post a comment here if you plan to come, or just turn up on the night.


Putative Rusty Wave (Idaea inquinata)

One of a several images circulated by Mike & Emma Cram show what appears to be a good candidate for this species, although I'm uncertain if there are other lookalikes on the continent? The moth appeared on their TV screen and it is presumed it was imported with recently purchased plants or Guinea-pig bedding. Well done Mike for provisionally naming this potential county first.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Senghenydd last night

 This Broom-tip was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing catch of just 4 species. This is the 6th year in succession that the species has been recorded in my garden. A Brindled Pug was also new for the year.

Llangynwyd last night.

                                Poplar hawkmoth
                                 Nut tree tussock on Oak flower.
                                 21 species, all macros, including 2 Hebrew character,
                                 2 Least black arches, 1 White pinion spotted and a
                                 Red green carpet. Top moth was 13 Small phoenix.

Still slow in Gorseinon

Despite what seemed reasonable conditions, although it was pretty breezy, the trap produced just singles of five species; Elachista canapennella, Brimstone Moth, Flame Shoulder, Cabbage Moth and Common Quaker, with non-leps represented by the caddisfly Limnephilus auricula, a Black Sexton Beetle Nicrophorus humator and a Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris. Glad to hear some of you are faring better!
male Elachista canapennella

Rhoose Point

Not such a quick job going through the trap this morning!  33 species including at least three new for the garden: Bactra lacteana/lanceolana, Campion and an Oak Hook-tip.  A lot of Chinese Characters and Brimstones on the wing too.  Like George, no Orthosias with the exception of a single Hebrew Character.

The mystery of the night was the moth below.  While it is quite battered, I thought there would be enough features to allow at least a tentative id, but I haven't got anywhere with it.  Any ideas on that one?

It fairly pronounced labial palps which are not immediately obvious from the photo, and wingspan is just over an inch. 

Llandaff North last night

The moth season seems to have suddenly sparked into life, with the transition from early spring to late spring species happening over just a few days. Last night I had 10 species new for the garden this year: Least Black Arches, Common Carpet, Brown Silver-line, Knot Grass, Spectacle, Waved Umber, Brindled Pug, Mompha epilobiella, Cochylis atricapitana and Esperia sulpurella

And no Orthosias! As much as I welcome the first Hebrew Character of the year, I'm always pleased to see the back of them as it means we're getting into the main moth season.

Esperia sulphurella

Monday 20 May 2013

Leaf Spot

For those who wish to keep and eye out for the leaf spot disease on Bilberry, here are a couple of photos taken in July 2010, of the patch that tested positive for Phytophthora. These were some of the photos I sent to Kevin Izzard, leading him to  request a site visit, to collect material for testing.
What these photos don't really show is the spotting on the stems, but just imagine spots similar to those on the leaf.
The spots don't really show themselves until the leaves have matured a little, so it is probably too soon to look for leaf spots, but the spots on the stems will be there, of course.
Sometimes, infected plants produce new growth which turns completely red, but Bilberry sometimes does this for other, unknown reasons.
Looking again at these photos, it strikes me that this seems to be a relatively mild dose of spotting.

Rhoose Point

13 species last night, including the Least Black Arches below, which according to Mapmate is the first garden record, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing one before!  Also Setaceous Hebrew Character, Peppered Moth and a White Ermine.

Least Black Arches

Coleophora albicosta?

This looks most like Coleophora albicosta to me, but something about it (not sure what) is making me a little unsure of the id.  Any thoughts?

Nantyffyllon today

                     Cydia ulicetana. The first of the year for me, i usually get
                     these in the last week of April.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Worrying Times

While doing a breeding bird survey on an upland square, between Mountain Ash and Aberfan, today, I was shocked at the condition of the Bilberry up there. The top of Mynydd Merthyr is dominated by Bilberry and acid grassland, with wetter, rushy areas. In July 2010, I found suspicious die-back in some Bilberry within the adjacent conifer forest and this was subsequently confirmed as being infected with Phytophthora ramorum, though this, it seems, was coincidental, as the plants were not showing the classic signs of Phytophthora infection and the symptoms I had noted were attributed to some sort of virulent leaf and stem spot fungus, unknown.

Those plants were sprayed with herbicide, together with a 10 metre buffer, but the leaf spot disease was already widespread and causing die-back on areas across the hill top. In 2011 and 2012, I noticed that the damage caused by the leaf spot, or Phytophthora was increasing gradually, but nothing prepared me for the devastation I saw today.

Infected Bilberry, with newly dead stems showing up red

More die-back

And more

The grey patches are Bilberry that was affected last year and the orange patches are this year's infected areas

More infected areas

On my way back down, every patch of Bilberry I saw was similarly affected and I've seen the leaf spot disease just about everywhere in Cynon and Merthyr. Whether it is the leaf spot or Phytophthora is affecting the Bilberry so severely, is slightly irrelevant. The point is, Bilberry in this area is in serious trouble and that will inevitably have a detrimental effect on Bilberry feeding or nectaring insects, as well as those species of bird that rely on their larvae for food.

All in all, the whole morning's walk  was a sobering and depressing affair, with the Bilberry, the dying Larch and also dying Birch, the latter being a particular worry.

Day fliers

Silver Y, 3 Dingy Skippers and 4 Green Hairstreaks seen at Mynydd Lliw, Grovesend yesterday. Today there was Mother Shipton at Fairwood & a Hairy Dragonfly at Oxwich.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Parc Slip

This Chocolate-tip was the highlight of an event I ran for WTSWW at Parc Slip today. One of my favourite moths, and the first I've seen for a few years.

Chocolate tip

Other highlights were Dark Sword-grass, Pale, Pebble and Lesser Swallow Prominents, Brindled Beauty (several), Muslin Moth, Digitivalva pulicariae and Ancylis badiana.

Kenfig rivermouth area today.

                                     Six spot burnet
                                     Aethes tesserana.
                                     A few things on the wing in the sunshine with several
                                     Common heath, a Common carpet and 6 Glyphipterix
                                     fuscoviridella. Butterflies seen were Speckled wood
                                     Green veined white, Peacock, Orange tip, Dingy skipper
                                     and Small blue.

Mystery micro. Saturday morning

This was in a jar this morning containing hair grass from my garden for caterpillar food.
Around 5mm long. I thought it might be a Phyllonorycter. Any ideas?

Cwmbach GMS

Another dismal catch in the garden, with just singles each of three species: Shoulder Stripe, Water Carpet and Hebrew Character.

Shoulder Stripe

Water Carpet
It seems that as far as the moths are concerned, it is still March.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Llandaff North 15th May

 In the garden yesterday....

Lesser Yellow Underwing larva
Snout larva on nettle
The hoverfly Epistrophe eligans

Llangynwyd today

                                      Micropterix calthella, four of these were on a Buttercup.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Hatterall Ridge

Searching for Silurian larvae last night with George, Russel and Clare Barclay on Hatterrall Ridge. Still cold at 4 degrees but there were just a few. Also others including both colour forms of Anomalous and this mystery larva. Presumably immature noctuid, about 20 mm long, eating bilberry. Any caterpillar experts out there?


Mystery id

Anomalous grey/brown form
Anomalous green form

Tuesday 7 May 2013


Just 11 species in the garden trap last night, Pale Prominent, V-Pug, Lunar Marbled Brown being new for year. Caddisflies included Stenophylax vibex (a new species for me) and this well-marked Limnephilus sparsus.

Monday 6 May 2013


                                    One of three Green hairstreaks on Mynydd bach today.

Sunday 5 May 2013

More variety, low numbers

Managed 20 species last night but only 53 moths in all. Best for me, as I've not seen it before, was the outrageously named Schreckensteinia festaliella, and almost as long-winded Semioscopis steinkellneriana. Also a single Eriocrania unimaculella (I think, but sangii does look very similar; any comments on that?)
Schreckensteinia festaliella

Semioscopis steinkellneriana

Eriocrania unimaculella


Still only 12 species on what seemed a fairly promising night.
Eriocrania sangii
Agonopterix ocellana
Golden-rod Pug