Sep 292015

It is with sadness to note the recent passing of Chris Wilson. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends and while he will be greatly missed, he will forever be fondly remembered. Below are tributes from Ken Bond and Michael O’Donnell.

I first got to know Chris Wilson when he was based in Co. Tipperary, and recording the Lepidoptera of Cappamurra Bog. Over the following years we exchanged many emails about moth identification, and I soon realised how wide his knowledge of wildlife ranged. When he later moved to live close to The Raven, Co. Wexford, he set up a weather station there, and we were then able to share our interest in meteorology too; this included the phenomenal rainfall in August 1997 that happened to peak around The Raven. I was able to visit Chris and Anne at their home in Ballinamorragh the previous month, providing an opportunity to trap moths there and to have a guided tour from Chris of The Raven. I still well remember this occasion, both because of his knowledge of the area, and the impression made on me by the diverse fauna of the area. I regret that I was unable to make an intended return visit. How perceptive of significant details he was is shown be the fact that Chris was probably the first person to mention to me that he noticed a decline in the Wall Brown butterfly and to comment on unusual features he noticed locally in what was then simply known as the “Wood White”. His reports on the fascinating journey to Antarctica showed another facet of his wide interests. He achieved a remarkable amount in the field of Irish natural history, and he will be sorely missed.

Ken Bond.

Chris moved to Co. Wexford in 1991 when he got the position of Warden at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve where he remained for 16 years before taking early retirement to focus on his travels and set up his own environmental consultancy. His travels brought him to every continent but particularly to Antarctica where he lectured on cruise ships about the exploration and wildlife of that continent. Always active, he was involved in numerous projects including butterfly, bumblebee, bird, hedgerow and cetacean surveys. He was an active bird-ringer and was warden of the tern colony at Lady’s Island Lake for a number of years. He was instrumental in setting up the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club in 2004 and enthusiastically promoted the wildlife of Wexford at every opportunity. Always approachable and always happy to share his knowledge, he led numerous field-trips and regularly gave lectures for WNFC. In recent years his enthusiasm for moths was rekindled. Knowing the importance of getting the identification correct so that the record could stand up to scrutiny, Chris was never afraid to ask for help if he was unsure of something. He was always delighted to see a new species, even if it was a common species that he had never seen before. In 2009 he co-authored the WNFC publication The Lepidoptera of County Wexford and also co-authored The Odonata of County Wexford in 2015. He was actively working on the next WNFC publication on the Shieldbugs and Ladybirds of County Wexford. Knowing that he did not have much time left, he wanted to make sure that all his records were up to date and had been submitted to the relevant recorders. MothsIreland received his final batch of records only two weeks before his death. A thorough professional in everything he did and an absolute gentleman, Chris will be deeply missed throughout the recording community.

Michael O’Donnell.

Other tributes

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
South East Radio
Nature Glenelg Trust South Australia
Edward Wilson of the Antarctic

 Posted by at 20:43
Sep 132015

There is a new form for submitting records which is hopefully touch screen friendly for most of you. It’ll only take one or two records, so trap lists can continue to be entered in form that has been available.

What will hopefully work on touch screen is the auto complete for the species. Enter any part of name, English or scientific, or number old or new and the matching options will decrease as you type.

This has only been tested on my new android phone, so hopefully it’ll work on iphone or older android devices. On my phone the auto complete only works after selecting Desktop which is available by swiping to bottom of page. (see 1st picture)

While I was messing with this, I’ve changed the mobile theme and made the menu more concise by omitting parts of website which are not small friendly.


 Posted by at 20:16
Sep 092015

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Phibsborough Dublin Sept 2015 © Gavin Hoey 

Two eagle eyed girls spotted a large caterpillar which had fallen out of a Lime tree in Dublin.

This was identified as Lime Hawk-moth and photos were forwarded to MothsIreland for confirmation. The blue horn, the warts on the anal flap and the green head with white stripes are diagnostic. This is the 3rd Irish record. The 2 previous records were both adults and both also north Dublin City.

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Baldoyle Dublin, June 2015 ©Cian Merne

The first Irish record was in 2010 in Drumcondra. It was not known if it was of local origin or perhaps flew in from Britain where it is well established in southern England.

The case that it is resident became much stronger with the 2nd Irish re

cord of an adult that came to light earlier this year in Baldoyle. There’s no question about its residency now!

The species has been spreading northwards in England and so perhaps it will be seen away from north Dublin soon. It isn’t restricted to Lime. Birch and Alder regularly host the species and other tree species may be used as well.

Maybe you’ve seen either the caterpillar or adult, but didn’t know what it was or know of the significance? We’d like to hear about it.

 Posted by at 22:21
Aug 242015

Goat Moth Caterpillar with €2 coin, © Andrew Kelly


We are in the season for Goat Moth caterpillar sightings. The caterpillars are unmistakable, pink or dark pink on sides and reddish purple on top, about 100mm or 4 inches long and as thick as a finger. Have you seen one? If so, we’d like to know.

The caterpillars spend many years munching away inside trees. Many species of trees can be host. During late summer many mature caterpillars leave the tree and wander looking for a place to pupate. They may remain in pupa state for years before the adult emerges. June is the usual flight season. It’s the wandering caterpillars that are being seen now. Caterpillars of varying sizes can be encountered at other times of year from trees being cut for firewood. Goat Moth is more common than previously thought. While adults are not often seen, there are caterpillar sightings annually from the SW and mid east region.About 20 sightings have been reported during 2015. Can you add other sightings?

 Posted by at 09:17
Aug 032014

Cameraria ohridella was first confirmed in Ireland in south Dublin during 2013. In recent weeks, (June & July 2014) as well as throughout Dublin, mines and adults have been noticed in Belfast, Cavan, Louth and Wicklow and while many searches of trees have been negative it is likely to be more widespread than the current distribution map indicates.

As I write this the 2 maps above are the same. The map on left will stay fixed as a snapshot of what is known on 1st Aug 2014, the right map will update when further sightings are confirmed.

We would like you to look for mines of this species in your area on Horse Chestnut trees (Conker Tree) While fresh mines are distinctive, the old mines are brown as is leaf blotch, a fungal disease which can be found, sometimes very extensively on practically all Horse Chestnut trees. For the inexperienced this blotch can be easily interpreted as mines. If in doubt it is probably blotch

If you feel you have a definite sighting of a mine, forward a photo via Ask an Expert
If we can confirm we will add your sighting to the map.

The following 3 photos, courtesy of Dave Allen indicate of what to look out for. the fresh mines are pale and obvious. Part of the mine is usually a darker blotch and frass and a caterpillar may be visible. The mines may join together and many caterpillars may be visible together. The most likely location on tree is low, usually within reach and often near the trunk. The caterpillar pupates inside the mine. The 2nd photo shows an exit case. These are often seen sticking out of the leaf. If it has fallen out then a hole is left. The 3rd photo shows many mines in a leaf.

Further information

British Leafminers

Cameraria ohridella has a very recent history having been first observed in Macedonia in 1984. It was first observed in Britain in 2002
See wikipedia for more info

 Posted by at 17:28
Jul 162014

We get a lot of identification requests, so to assist you we have a Find your Moth page.

It gives links to Common Moths gallery, day-flying species gallery and caterpillar gallery. Also we’ve launched a keyword filter

It’s not comprehensive but it does cover the moths that make up the bulk of identification requests.

See how you get on and tell us if any of these resources helped you to identify a moth.

And to perhaps help you on your way, here are a couple that are being asked a lot at moment.

Small Magpie

Poplar Hawk-moth

 Posted by at 16:11
Jun 252014

This evening, the number of moth records submitted via the on-line form since its launch in late March is more than 900! That’s a fantastic response. Thanks you all. It all helps towards understanding the distribution and abundance of our moths.

The form can be found at this link

 Posted by at 22:48
Jun 252014

Have you seen a moth you want identified. You can now use this form to forward photos to us and we will try to name it for you. There is a link to the form in the right sidebar. We will continue to try naming the moths on Facebook, but we are aware that many of you don’t use Facebook. We won’t promise to identify everything, but we’ll do our best. Once you know what the moth(s) is/are then the record(s) can be submitted to the national database via our online form here

 Posted by at 11:55
Mar 202014

No point in reinventing the wheel. Here are  links to some guides in sorting out some species that we often encounter during Spring, March, April and on into May. It’s not a comprehensive list. Feel free to add further resources in comments and I may add it to article. All thumbnails link to the species album in the image archive.

Orthosia species (Quakers etc)

Moths of the season Spring Quakers and Drabs, Part I on Birdguides

This guide features  Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi, Clouded Drab Orthosia incerta, Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica, Twin-spotted Quaker Orthosia munda and Small Quaker Orthosia cruda, all widespread in Ireland.
Lead-coloured Drab Orthosia populeti is also mentioned, but it is rarely recorded in Ireland, but useful to know what features to look out for.
Common Quaker Orthosia cerasiClouded Drab Orthosia incertaHebrew Character Orthosia gothicaTwin-spotted Quaker Orthosia mundaSmall Quaker Orthosia cruda

Further into April other species appear and Birdguides have

Moths of the season Spring Quakers and Drabs, Part II

This includes Powdered Quaker Orthosia gracilis and Red Chestnut Cerastis rubricosa Other species mentioned are Northern Drab Orthosia opima which is rare in Ireland and Blossom Underwing Orthosia miniosa which is presumed extinct.
Powdered Quaker Orthosia gracilisRed Chestnut Cerastis rubricosa

Early Tooth-striped/Mottled Grey

Separating Early Tooth-striped Trichopteryx carpinata and Mottled Grey Colostygia multistrigaria can be problematic, but help is at hand.

Lancashire Moths have a guide on separating these 2.

Early Tooth-striped Trichopteryx carpinataMottled Grey Colostygia multistrigaria


We all need help with Pugs! and Lancashire Moths have come up trumps again!

Pugs of Lancashire and Cumbria

This guide covers our species quite comprehensibly. In early Spring, the 2 most likely species are Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata and Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata but as we head through April may others species turn up.

Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviataDouble-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata

Micro-moth families

Not specifically Spring, but worthy of inclusion, particularly if you starting to look into the world of micro-moths.

Identification of micro-moth families GMS moth tips 3


 Posted by at 12:34
Mar 152014

It may be a new look, but the atlases remain. :)

The new look will include a blog hopefully involving a number of authors. This will showcase the Moths of Ireland and also give a better insight into the activities of moth recording.

Also you’ll see a link above for the image archive. A very exciting venture for us as well.

So as is said watch this space!

 Posted by at 19:30