Sunday, 29 December 2013

End-of-year roundup

I'm now fairly confident that unless a Winter Moth appears on my kitchen window in the next couple of days our total for the year will stay at 399. Obviously that's frustratingly close to 400, but we can't really complain: it's been a brilliant year (at least from about mid-June onwards: I hope to get to grips with a few more spring species in 2014), with a couple of really good species for the area in the form of Telechrysis tripuncta and Dog's Tooth, and numbers which, I suspect, we'll have to wait a long time to see again.

Looking over our records, I see we have a total of 10,775 individuals for the year (OK, many of them will have been retrapped, but it still feels like quite a level of abundance); with the highest number of species on any one night 82, on 13th July, and the highest number of individuals in the trap on one night 317, on 23rd August. Although I haven't many previous records to go off, it looks to have been a good year for Agriphila geniculea, Blood-vein, Bright-line Brown-eye, Burnished Brass, Common Marbled Carpet, Flame Shoulder, Mother-of-pearl, Old Lady, Poplar Hawkmoth (52 individuals caught this year, with one of the catches shown below), Setaceous Hebrew Character, Silver Y, Spectacle, Square-spot Rustic and Straw Dot.

Anyway, we're pretty thoroughly addicted, and hoping for some mellow spring weather soon so as to get going again: many thanks to all for such an interesting blog to follow, and especially to Tristan for his hard work setting it up and running it.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The year in moths

Yes, it's the year in moths! Here we go, straight in, no long-winded preamble.

My January moth is this little squitter, Agonopteryx heracliana. And what a moth!
My February is this, the Brindled Beauty, a right handsome beast, first recorded 12th Feb.

March - well, it has to be, the March Moth, scarce in my garden but a nice one. First record 5th March!

My April is this Early Grey, very common at a time when other moths were quite scarce in a cold spring.

My May is the impressive Swallow Prominent, actually seen in small numbers all through the summer.

My June is the incomparable Elephant Hawk, now for me the moth of early summer evenings.

My July is the White Satin Moth. Can ya see it?

In August the moths often get a bit more drab, typified here by The Suspected. I was very excited by this one!

September's moths are mostly brown, but this sweetie is A Frosted Orange, good enough to eat.
October - most would choose the good old Merveille-du-Jour, but I went for this smashing Large Ranunculus, a real corker.
November - the nights draw in, and the geometers get drawn to the soft light of windows rather than the moth trap. This is my fave, a Scarce Umber.
December - a hibernating Herald Moth all ready for next spring. So am I!
So, all in all it ended up at 436 moths in the garden - amazed to see I crept in at sixth place on the Garden Moth Challenge scoreboard. What a year, cannae wait for 2014!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Final Update from Bucks

It has been virtually moth-free in my garden since my last post which was at the end of September!

I have been doing a little trapping in a local wood, so have at least seen some late autumn and winter species, but they have been conspicuously absent from my home trap (I do run weekly for the GMS; last year I had 9 moths in the whole winter period, I think I may well get even fewer this time around :( with no moths since 1st Nov...)

Anyway the last smattering of species for my challenge list are:

325. November Moth agg.
326. Dark Sword-grass (1st ever for the garden!)
327. Black Rustic
328. Yellow-line Quaker

Now, I'm looking forward to next year!

Happy Christmas to all.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

All Over? Whetstone Leics. Update

Thought I ought to post what may well be the final update of the year, and just as well I did as I realised I'd forgotten to put my Ectoedemia occultella record into MapMate (see my last post) so my total was one out. Current total is 438, with the last addition being the first December Moths taken in the garden since 2001.

The five additions since my last proper update are:

Taxon Vernacular Date Added
434 Acleris rhombana Rhomboid Tortrix 07/10/2013
435 Colotois pennaria Feathered Thorn 08/10/2013
436 Agrochola circellaris Brick 08/10/2013
437 Ectoedemia occultella
438 Poecilocampa populi December Moth 16/11/2013

Feathered Thorn


The 438 total includes 13 butterfly species and 425 moth species (of which 5 were larval only), and is a great upturn following the completely rubbish 2012 season. I usually track the adults for year-year comparisons as this reflects the overwhelming majority of my records, and the average for 2008 - 2011 was 367 species. My previous best year for garden moths was 2011 with 394 species (including 1 larval only). Beating my previous best total by 31 species is way over what I would have expected, and is more due to the great summer than anything else I reckon. I've picked up 22 new species for the garden over the year as well (4 macros and 18 micros), plus I added a retrospective tick taking the garden total up to 648 species.

It's not all been good though, the early season was a bit poor and I've not done as well as I usually do in September/October. I've checked my MapMate to see what the top 25 species are (in terms of total number of records) that I've missed this year. Of these there are perhaps one or two that could still turn up if we get an unseasonally mild spell (Chestnut or an early Pale Brindled Beauty). Certainly missing Large Nutmeg, Sallow and Oak-tree Pug is most unusual.

Code Taxon Vernacular Recs Last
2333 Apamea anceps Large Nutmeg 95 2012
2274 Xanthia icteritia Sallow 62 2012
1839 Eupithecia succenturiata Bordered Pug 43 2010
2273 Xanthia togata Pink-barred Sallow 41 2011
2064 Phragmatobia fuliginosa Ruby Tiger 34 2011
2364 Gortyna flavago Frosted Orange 34 2011
1395 Udea ferrugalis Rusty-dot Pearl 32 2011
1853 Eupithecia dodoneata Oak-tree Pug 30 2012
792 Mirificarma mulinella
26 2011
450 Scythropia crataegella Hawthorn Moth 26 2011
1747 Anticlea derivata Streamer 25 2012
1183 Epiblema foenella
23 2010
1169 Gypsonoma dealbana
18 2012
2164 Hecatera bicolorata Broad-barred White 16 2010
1333 Scoparia pyralella
16 2012
2258 Conistra vaccinii Chestnut 16 2012
706 Agonopterix nervosa
16 2011
1236 Pammene fasciana
15 2012
1037 Acleris holmiana
15 2008
1926 Phigalia pilosaria Pale Brindled Beauty 14 2012
2342 Mesoligia literosa Rosy Minor 14 2008
2003 Notodonta ziczac Pebble Prominent 13 2011
1113 Eudemis profundana
13 2011
2271 Xanthia citrago Orange Sallow 13 2011
229 Monopis obviella
11 2006

The only other species on my garden list that I could realistically hope for now are Scarce Umber and maybe Mottled Umber - the latter having only appeared once before. A garden first Northern Winter Moth is an outside possibility I guess.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Occult (ella)

Back from another week working on France, and yet again it looks like I missed the best mothing conditions (like the week I missed in September). Pleased to add another today though, with loads of Ectoedemia occultella mines on my garden silver birch, both tenanted and vacated and some leaves having multiple mines.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A wee smattering...

Really slowed this end - but still a couple new ones to report. Plus I forgot about a Large Ranunculus in my last post:

Large Ranunculus 

Green-brindled Crescent 

Red-line Quaker 

November Moth agg. 

November Moth agg. 

Acleris sparsana (Ashy Button)

So, the numerical advancement is as follows:

212. Large Ranunculus
213. Green-brindled Cresent
214. Red-line Quaker
215. November Moth agg.
216. Acleris sparsana (Ashy Button)

Keep on moth'ing good moth'ers!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Slowly does it

It's getting to the time of year where I can't really justify putting the trap out every night - sometimes I'm either afraid the rainshield won't cope with the weather, or it just seems too cold. Still, it is sometimes worth it - we had 52 individuals of 24 species on 7th October, and we continue to pick up a few new-for-years and even the odd new-for-garden (which pretty invariably means lifers for Xander and me). In the latter column in the last week or so, a Satellite, which feels like one of those which turn up once in the trap and never appear again; and in the former, several Red-line Quakers. There have also been a few migrants making their way to Oxford - we had our second Vestal on the 7th, and have had a smattering of Silver Ys and Dark Sword-grasses.

Satellite, 7th October
Red-line Quaker, 8th October
Dark Sword-grass, 6th October
All of which brings our total for the year to 388: 374 moths and fourteen butterflies. I've more or less given up on 400 moths for the year, but the total does feel frustratingly close to 400 all told - I have a suspicion we'll just fall short, but there are a number of species we had last year that have yet to show up, such as Green-brindled Crescent, so we might yet squeak home...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Missing the action

I haven’t been around much in the summer to run my trap, so I’ve missed out on a couple of month’s action. The blue glow of my actinic has been seen recently though in a bid to catch up and trap some autumn flyers. I haven’t had many species, with Large Yellow Underwings being the most numerous beasts lurking in the egg boxes, but I’m slowly adding to my garden list. My total currently stands at 134 (124 moths + 10 butterflies).

Swallow-tailed Moth was one of my favourites this year and I have had quite a few Privet Hawk-moths, which are always fun to scare/amaze people with (especially when left in the fridge!):

Swallow-tailed Moth

Privet Hawk-moth

Looking back...

We’ve been a bit slack with the trapping in the last couple of months – only managing one trap a week, if that, so we’ve probably missed out on some good ‘uns and we’re certainly lagging a bit with our total! Since the last blog, we’ve added a couple of hundred to our garden list (this may sound like a lot, but it was back in June when our last totals were sent in!), taking our total to 312 (291 moths + 21 butterflies).

We had a moth evening back in July, with 72 species recorded from the gardens alone. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth started off the night for us, which was the first of a few of these to be seen here this summer. The traps on the moth evening were dominated by micros, which have since quietened down here; we might get one or two micro species per trap at the moment if we’re lucky (or unlucky as some might say!).

We’ve had good numbers of butterflies this year, with Clouded Yellow and Purple Hairstreak being the highlights. The most numerous species fluttering around the borders were Green-veined White, but this year has also seen good numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma.

We’ve had some interesting moth records as well. Traps earlier in the summer were dominated by Dark Arches, leaving us wondering if they were planning a world takeover.  The Grey Pine Carpet has been an ever present moth, with the second generation in full steam at the moment. Some star species were:

The Blackneck (not particularly common here)

Anania perlucidalis (new species for The Lodge)

Sharp-angled Carpet (last record in Beds. was in 1987)

Oak Nycteoline (uncommon in Beds.)

Buff Arches and Buff-tip continue to amaze, also provoking debate as to which is the cooler moth

Red-necked Footman (5th & 6th records for Beds.)

Red Underwing (impressively big, even when lurking high up on a wall)

Merveille du Jour (we were wondering when this would turn up and it did last week)

and a few photos:
Burnished Brass

Scalloped Hook-tip

Pebble Prominent

Brindled Green

Large Ranunculus

Monday, 7 October 2013


Hi all,

Just two new to report since my last post:

210: Barred Sallow
211: Beaded Chestnut

Only two but they are beauts!

Barred Sallow

Beaded Chestnut 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Hallelujah! Whetstone Vestal at last


I've been waiting many years for one of these to turn up in the garden, and with the current nation-wide influx I'd have been especially gutted to miss out again this year. One with pink markings or an overall pink flush would have been especially nice, but I really can't complain. I have seen a fair few Vestals over the years, including one I found at work in Leics. back in 2001 when there was another influx - that one was quite smart ....

Vestal, South Wigston, Leics. October 2001

Also a Waved Umber last night. I have had a few odd things in autumn before, usually something that has a second-brood in the south but not here, but as far as I can tell there is no usual second-brood of Waved Umber even in south UK?

Waved Umber - not a typical autumnal moth

Another highlight was Pale Pinion, making this the first year that I've recorded both Pale and Tawny Pinions and Blair's and Grey Shoulder-knots in the garden - one of the other three British Lithophane spp. would be most welcome!

Pale Pinion

Otherwise more expected autumnal species continue to appear, though there are not too many expected species left to go. I'm now on 433sp. and can't see me pushing too far beyond 440.

Taxon Vernacular Date Added
426 Aporophyla nigra Black Rustic 29/09/2013
427 Nomophila noctuella Rush Veneer 04/10/2013
428 Acleris sparsana
429 Lithophane hepatica Pale Pinion 04/10/2013
430 Epirrita dilutata agg. November Moth agg. 04/10/2013
431 Rhodometra sacraria Vestal 04/10/2013
432 Conistra ligula Dark Chestnut 04/10/2013
433 Agrochola macilenta Yellow-line Quaker 04/10/2013

Black Rustic

Juniper Carpet

Barred Sallow

Green-brindled Crescent ab. capucina

Dark Chestnut

Rush Veneer

Acleris sparsana

Yellow-line Quaker

November Moth (probably)