Oct 202020
 

As moth recorders we visit some beautiful and very interesting locations for those with an inquiring, naturalists mind. Many types of woods, beaches, dunes, Limestone Pavement, Machair grassland, bogs, mountains, hills, marshlands, grasslands, etc. The list is a very long one when considering all the various habitats. And while we are there, it’s not just the moths that may hold our interest. It’s also the rest of non-Lepidoptera fauna and flora that amaze and delight. It might be the Red Squirrel or the Badger, the Goshawk or the Merlin, the Dragon Flies and Damsel Flies, the wild flowers and other plants. Often for me it’s the never seen before beetles, amazing jewel like looking flies and other insects. I am no Coleopterist and it’s hard to see how my Entomology interest could ever extend as far as all the other insects I see. I only have one life. I will stick with the moths!

Some of our sites may be considered by the general public to be damp, shaded, dark, windswept, barren, humid, cold or just plain boring! If I was to take most general members of the public to some sites I know they might enquire why I have brought them to such a dreary location? Especially those sites inhabited by healthy midge and tick populations! Hard to answer that question to anyone not interested in nature!

Some of the recording locations pictured here would be pleasing to general public eyes but many would be considered as unappealing, boring locations. How wrong they are! To me they are beautiful too. Mature, ancient wet Birch Woodland, extensive Sand Dunes with ‘prickly’ Marram Grass and Creeping Willow, Blanket Bog etc. and all getting rarer these days.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! We are lucky. We know the secret beauty these places hold.

Guys, send in images of your own favourite trapping sites/locations and any other interesting info on these sites if you wish to and we can blog them. Countryside or gardens. It’s all interesting to me and no doubt many others.

Creevy Coast, Co. Donegal.

 

Mature Wet Birch Woodland, Co. Donegal.

 

Rough Grassland/Meadow, ‘other side of my fence’, Co. Leitrim.

Fabulous long established sand dunes, Co. Donegal.

 

Coastal Sea Campion. Prime Netted Pug habitat.  Tory Island, Co. Donegal.

 

My favourite Chimney Sweeper site. Superb habitat for them. Co. Donegal.

 

Stunning scenery but no moths recorded here!

 

73.280 Small Ranunculus, Hecatera dysodea – New to Ireland

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Oct 082020
 

With the impending arrival of a granddaughter in Dublin, and air travel not an option, the opportunity to bring my 125w Robinson MV moth trap in the car to Ireland was seized.  Having served the requisite two week quarantine period in a cottage in Co. Kildare, enjoying some good moth trapping, we relocated to Terenure to join our daughter and family.

Their house was only constructed in 2018 and the garden is, as yet, unplanted although there are older properties and gardens in the surrounding area.  The moth trap could only be positioned down the side of the house, between two properties – placing it on the lawn at the back was not an option, being overlooked by adjoining properties, so I was a little pessimistic as to how many species I would catch in the ensuing three weeks!

The night of 11th July 2020 was relatively mild and still and we woke to find that our daughter was in hospital and we were in charge of our eldest granddaughter!  She was most intrigued during the moth trap inspection, sitting on my husband’s knee whilst he scribed and I had almost finished sorting when I noticed a moth I did not immediately recognize.

A noctuid, of the same size and shape as Broad-barred White Hecatera bicolorata but clearly not that species.  Nutmeg Anarta trifolii also crossed my mind, but the wings were held at a greater angle and the patterning was different.  It was potted immediately and later in the day I had time to search the literature I’d brought and peruse the MothsIreland website to help with positive identification.  The scales were slightly rubbed but with the subtle patterning, like grey lichen highlighted with orange flecks, I was becoming convinced I had caught a Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea.  Not listed and no map in MothsIreland, so potentially a new species, but in a Dublin suburb?

I emailed a photo to Michael O’Donnell, with my tentative identification and awaited his response.  Several hours elapsed, which made the whole situation more intriguing, then came the answer – I had just added a new species to the Irish list, no doubt about it!

The story does not finish there!  I continued moth trapping at every opportunity for the next two weeks until our return to Yorkshire and on the night of 24th July, which resulted in a small catch of just ten species, there was another Small Ranunculus – this time a pristine specimen which posed beautifully for some photos.  This one was also released (sadly the request to retain the specimen was received too late – my apologies) but there is clearly a small population of this attractive noctuid in Terenure at least.

Feeding on Prickly Lettuce Lactuca serriola, a plant of disturbed ground and orchards, which has become established around Dublin from the late 1990s,  Small Ranunculus has recently recolonized England, is rapidly moving north through the UK and in the next five years, it should hopefully become resident in North Yorkshire!

Jill Warwick.

Anania lancealis – back in the Argideen valley after 81 years – 2nd Irish record

 Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on Anania lancealis – back in the Argideen valley after 81 years – 2nd Irish record
Sep 192020
 

This is my first year moth trapping. In 2019, following a recommendation by a friend, I gave moth recording a go using a white sheet and MV bulb to observe the species in the garden over a few evenings during the summer. I was hooked and with the limitations on travel during the Spring and early Summer of 2020, a step up to light trapping seemed like a good way to pass the evenings in lockdown. It has been very enjoyable adding to the garden list since April with a Delicate (Mythimna vitellina) on the first run out – talk about beginners luck!

The weather was humid and warm on the 25th June 2020 with a status yellow thunderstorm warning issued for the country. The evening was overcast, warm and dry in west Cork (W44) when I set up my trap. The next morning I went through the moths, recording the species I knew, identifying others at the time using my field guide and taking photographs of the others that I would check later when I had more time. I photographed one individual which I thought to be Mother of Pearl (Patania ruralis) as I had seen the species in 2019 and incorrectly assumed it to be the same. I released all the moths when I was finished and didn’t get a chance to go through my identifications until 30th June 2020.

I spent most of my time on the 30th June deciding whether I had correctly identified an individual as Gem (Nycterosea obstipata) which I was very happy to record in the garden. I uploaded my ‘mother of pearl’ with the rest of my identifications for confirmation or correction to the Moths Ireland group. Christian Osthoff initially flagged the possibility of the individual being Anania lancealis. Michael O’Donnell also showed interest in the markings on this individual and shared it with others for their opinion. It was later confirmed as Anania lancealis. It is a species that typically inhabits woodland and marshy fenland and flies at night in June and July. The larvae feed mainly on hemp agrimony but also other plants. In Britain, it occurs in the southern half of England and in Wales. It is found across most of Europe (UKMoths, FaunaEuropaea).

Michael described how there had only been one previous Irish record on the 21st June 1939 at Ummera near Timoleague by Mrs. G.E. Lucas, one of the Donovan family, notable early lepidopterists and naturalists in Cork and Ireland. Ummera, by coincidence, is only a short distance as the Argideen River flows from our place.

So a second Irish record of Anania lancealis primarily due to the depth of knowledge and generosity of time from the Moths Ireland group, in particular Christian and Michael in this instance, combined with a bit of luck on my part.

John Deasy

Cypress Carpet (Thera cupressata) – New to Ireland

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Aug 272020
 

17th June 2020 was the fourth night in a row that I’d put the trap out (20W actinic, mains operated, heath trap). There had been a spell of relatively mild nights with temperatures staying above 12/13 degrees and I’d had a good run for my small suburban garden, near the coast in south Dublin. Several new species for my list had turned up including Pale Tussock, Iron Prominent, Lychnis and Lime-speck Pug.  It was dull and cloudy when I checked the trap on the morning of the 18th and it looked quiet. There was a Peppered Moth beside the trap (as there had been each of the previous mornings) and some sort of carpet sitting on the outside of the trap. An initial glance suggested the carpet might be one of those indistinguishable Spruce/Grey Pine carpets but closer inspection ruled that out. I potted it, took a couple of photos, and popped it into the fridge. A scan through Waring and Townsend ruled out any of the likely species, so I posted the images on the Moths Ireland Facebook page for help. Before long, a cryptic message posted by Ken Bond (“Retain this!”) was followed by confirmation from Dave Allen that the species was in fact Cypress Carpet, a new record for Ireland. The species was first recorded in England in 1984 and has been spreading since, reaching south Wales in 2006. The specimen has been retained for mounting by Ken Bond and will be submitted to the Natural History Museum.

Ferdia Marnell

11.005 bf179 Lichen Case-bearer Dahlica lichenella -New to Ireland

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Jul 312020
 

Cliff Henry found a number of case-bearing moth larvae (bagworms) on the walls of the National Trust, Giant’s Causeway offices 25th October 2018. Cases of these Psychids are not always easy to speciate and after Cliff brought them to me I circulated images to Ben Smart and J.R. Langmaid. Based on the larva they initially thought they were likely to be 11.002 175 Narycia duplicella. This was proved incorrect when I bred through a female in early 2019 which was wingless (Narycia has fully winged adults) and led me to believe it was in fact a Dahlica species. Images were circulated and a specimen sent to Ken Bond for dissection. Unfortunately the various structures examined did not lead to a definitive answer as the results were ambiguous.

As a last resort a freshly collected specimen was sent to the editor of Atropos journal who arranged DNA analysis to finally get a definitive identification. This finally confirmed the specimens as Dahlica lichenella. This was the original putative identification by Cliff! This species is new to Ireland.

11.005 79 Lichen Case-bearer Dahlica lichenella. Photo by Roy Anderson

Dave Allen

15.0931 Phyllocnistis citrella – New to Ireland

 Leaf Mine, New to Ireland  Comments Off on 15.0931 Phyllocnistis citrella – New to Ireland
Jul 212020
 

On 24th January I was in Sainsbury’s at Forestside, Belfast, Co. Down doing the weekly shop. I was well aware that oranges and lemons with leaves in GB supermarkets had been producing mines of the “snail trail” leaf mining micromoth Phyllocnistis citrella. I had searched in previous years without success. On a recent trip to Lanzarote I had found fresh mines on a lemon tree in Manrique’s garden so I was well tuned-in! My eyes were drawn to boxes of “Taste the Difference” easy-peel oranges as I could see that the fruit had sprays of leaves attached. I opened the first box and was somewhat amazed to see mines on the first leaves. In fact most boxes had the leaf mines. The mines are only in the leaf epidermis and on close inspection a thin line of black frass is visible. Fresh mines are white in appearance but after being vacated they quickly turn brown.

The oranges had been imported from Spain where this species can occur in pest proportions. Surprisingly there are no previous records of this adventive but having been alerted Ted Rolston and Andy Crory found mined leaves (and fruit) on oranges in a number of other outlets. Christmas is apparently the best time to look so you might find a welcome Xmas present if you look hard enough.

Dave Allen

4.088 Ectoedemia heringella – New to Ireland

 Leaf Mine, New to Ireland  Comments Off on 4.088 Ectoedemia heringella – New to Ireland
Jul 022020
 

4.088 BF36a. Ectoedemia heringella (Mariani, 1939)

On 5th May 2020 Jamie O’Neill posted images on Insects & Invertebrates Ireland Facebook page of an abundant leaf miner that he found on Evergreen Oak in Phoenix Park, Dublin. He putatively identified them as E. heringella. This was quickly confirmed by Stuart Dunlop and Dave Allen (DA) who also confirmed it, after consultation with Ken Bond, as “New to Ireland”. A few weeks later Philip Strickland contacted DA with images of the same species from the same locality but taken on 13th February 2017! The mines are persistent so can be found in any month of the year. The species has obviously been established here for a number of years but remained undetected. If it follows the same pattern as in GB, where it was first found close to Kew Gardens in London, then it will certainly colonise other parts of Ireland.

15.065 Phyllonorycter esperella – New to Ireland

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Jun 302020
 

15.065 BF343 Phyllonorycter esperella. (Goeze, 1783). New to Ireland

Two things conspired, firstly I had to attend the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast on 9th October 2019 for a check-up. Secondly I had an increased interest in hornbeam after Eamonn O’Donnell had found what appeared to be the tentiform mines of Phyllonorycter tenerella in Dublin. It turned out that the avenue between the main car park and the main building at the Royal is lined with hornbeams. It did not take long to notice the gallery mines of Stigmella microtheriella and S. floslactella and then I saw the first distinctive upper surface tent mine of P. esperella.. and then another… none of the other similar mines (such as P. coryli on hazel) are found on hornbeam. I collected a couple of specimens and went for my appointment… slightly late. After the appointment I called into Musgrave Park (next to another hospital!) in the knowledge that there is a well-established hornbeam hedge around the small car park. On parking up I could actually see esperella mines from the car window…

The hornbeams around these two Belfast hospitals are obviously imported as established trees, the moths have arrived with them. Long established hornbeams in Botanic are so far devoid of esperella but it is likely that they will move out over the next few years. As for tenerella I have had no luck. Occupied mines which look like this species have turned out to be the polyphagous (and rather annoying) P. messaniella but I will keep looking.

Dave Allen.

 

62.020 Etiella zinckenella – New to Ireland

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Jun 222020
 

On 25 August 2017 I caught an unfamiliar species of micro-moth in my moth trap at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013). The specimen was identified as Etiella zinckenella using Moths of Europe Vol. 4. and is new to Ireland. John Langmaid of Hampshire confirmed the identification. The moth will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.
Resident in mainland Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa and flying from April to September, E. zinckenella occurs as a rare immigrant elsewhere, and as an adventive species, on imported legumes. The moth was first recorded from the British Isles at Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex on 23 October 1989. Although still an uncommon immigrant to these shores it has since occurred with more frequency. The origin of the Irish specimen would appear immigrant in nature as the days immediately before and after its capture coincided with the arrival of the scarce migrants Palpita vitrealis, Delicate Mythimna vitellina and White-speck Mythimna unipuncta.
Tony Bryant.
Bryant, T., 2017. Etiella zinckenella (Treitschke, 1832) (Lep.: Pyralidae) a migrant new to Ireland. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 129: 225-226.

62.065 Ephestia woodiella – New to Ireland

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Jun 172020
 

On 24 May 2017 I caught an unfamiliar species in a light trap at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013). I tentatively identified it using British Pyralid Moths and Moths of Europe Vol.4. as Ephestia woodiella. The moth was subsequently dissected and confirmed by Ken Bond as a male of the species and new to Ireland. The specimen will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.

In Britain it is reported to fly from May to September. Unlike other British members of the genus, it is not a pest of warehouses and is encountered outdoors, having been beaten from ivy, yew and alder and it also comes to light. The larva is suspected to feed on dried plant material, dried berries and the dead stems of ivy. Recorded from England, Wales and the Channel Islands, it is widely distributed across much of central Western Europe.

Tony Bryant and Ken Bond.

Bryant, T. & Bond K.G.M., 2017. Ephestia woodiella Richards & Thomson, 1932 (Lep.: Pyralidae) new to Ireland. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 129: 230.