42.001 Pachyrhabda steropodes – New to Ireland!

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Apr 252021
 

From Australia to Ireland!

During the lockdown in April/May 2020, I spent a lot of time across the fields in Knocksink Wood O213182 in north Co. Wicklow.  With the fine weather, two or three days a week were spent in the wood netting anything that flew – wasps, bees, moths, the lot. The normal method was to net, bottle, identify and release.

Anything that was not readily identified in the field was taken home to the fridge. Each jar was then taken out, the insect identified if possible and photographed if in good condition.

Eventually there was one or two jars left with problematic creatures. These were again checked, photographed and the photos filed for further study. The next day everything was taken to the woods for releasing.

It was into this last category that a small micro moth fell. It wasn’t until 2 Feb 2021 that I contacted MothsIreland to see if they could help with the identification. A few days later I was informed that Eamonn O’Donnell had identified the moth as Pachyrhabda steropodes. It was new to Ireland and was native to Australia! It is classified as an adventive species that probably arrived here with imported plants.

Pachyrhabda steropodes was first found in England in Dorset in 2010, and has since spread to Devon and Wales.

My task for 2021 is to find another Pachyrhabda steropodes for the Natural History Museum!

Kieran Finch.

Pale Oak Beauty, Hypomecis punctinalis – Where have you been for the last 106 years?

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Mar 302021
 

It has been 106 years since the first and only other record of Pale Oak Beauty, Hypomecis punctinalis and the second record found in a trap at home in West Cork. It was far more than unexpected! Strangely, I was aware of this species following a discussion with the ever helpful Ken Bond, in preparation for a year-long moth trapping survey I planned to start in late 2019 in Glengarriff Woods.  Ken mentioned that I should be aware of Large Nutmeg, Apamea anceps (recorded in Glengarriff in 1950 by H. C. Huggins), Cream-bordered Green Pea, Earias clorana (Recorded in Glengarriff area in 1914 by Huggins), Pale Oak Beauty, Hypomecis punctinalis (Recorded in Glengarriff in mid-May 1914 by Huggins) and Blossom Underwing, Orthosia miniosa (last recorded in Ireland in 1961, associated with mature Oak woodland).  Having noted the above, I did a little reading up on these four species, sure you never know…

Unfortunately the Glengarriff survey was interrupted in March 2020 due to government restrictions and I found myself unable to trap beyond the area close to my home.  Also, trapping became a luxury due to the very large increase in my job’s workload.  However, thankfully, I managed to get a few traps out when the weather was very suitable.  By the middle of May I was trapping regularly again and on May 28th I had managed to get a large body of my job’s workload complete so decided to treat myself to two powerful traps out for the night. One 125 W M.V. Robinson in the garden and the same type of trap at a ditch in a field close-by.  There was nothing exceptional about the weather and I had recorded all the regulars for the previous few nights that I had trapped.  So, not expecting any change in my fortunes and continuously longing to get back to Glengarriff to resume my survey in the hope of finding some of the above mentioned specials, off to the traps I went on the morning of the 29th visiting the garden trap first.  Garden trap:  31 of 18 species, highlights were Silver Y Autographa gamma, Diamond-back Moth P. xylostella and Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis, all singles.

Off to the trap by the ditch, which I could see was much busier. But all I could see at a glance, were the usual suspects for late May.  I settled in, taking my time, enjoying each moth that had been kind enough to join me.  With half the egg boxes emptied the back of my mind said in a school masterly manner “Have a proper look at that which is in the corner of your eye boy”. I obediently did so.  Unfortunately or possibly thankfully, I am not experienced enough to have recognised the Pale Oak Beauty at first sight but Huggins’ name came to mind (synapses are incredible). Also, I thought “POT THAT MOTH!”.  Again, obediently I did so, closed the trap and had a look in Waring & Townsend.  Lewington’s wonderful image gave me so many reasons to believe I had this very special moth and the text didn’t dampen my spirits with anything like “can often be confused with Engrailed” or any other heart-breaking statement.  So, let’s see what the good folk on the MothsIreland FB page say.  The first comment from Michael O’Donnell started with “Wow!”.  The fabulous comments from so many good, encouraging folk was the icing on an already well iced cake.

This species is recorded regularly in South-eastern areas of England, with a scattering of records elsewhere in Great Britain, a few reaching to West Wales.  Might we start to see appearances on our South-eastern and South coast?

I wish to thank Ken Bond for his encouragement, advice, his identification confirmation and for his specimen preparation for inclusion in the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History collection.  This record I dedicate to Mr. H. C. Huggins in thanks for all the records.  Now to find a Cream-bordered Green Pea, or two!  Sure you never know…

Gareth O’Donnell

Apotomis sauciana – New to Ireland

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Mar 172021
 

In early July 2019 I mentioned to my wife that we should have a family day out at Kilbroney Forest Park near Rostrevor, Co. Down. Subsequently, I forgot all about it (to venture so far from my favourite haunt of Murlough NNR was an odd thing for me to suggest). So, on the morning of the 11th of July I was dragged (kicking and screaming) to the famous Cloughmore Stone (a glacial erratic), which sits on the slopes of Slieve Martin (with a little bit of help from Finn MacCool).

On arrival a further round of protestations fell on deaf ears and I begrudgingly decided to tag along with my family rather than sit alone in the car park. On the way up the hill the kids were having a great time (perhaps the only drawback was having to listen to me complain). Throughout the Kilimanjaro-like ascent of around 100m from the car I was keen to point out the agony of my feet, my creaky knees and how changes in altitude might be exacerbating my tinnitus… but to no avail.

Thankfully moths came to my rescue and gave me the perfect excuse to pause – that’s not strictly true, to be honest what I actually saw were heavily-laden blaeberry (bilberry) bushes and I started to stuff my face. With my head inside a bush at the side of the track I looked down to my right and saw what I was sure was a type of Cosmopterix moth. I was able to catch and confirm that it was Cosmopterix orichalcea, the 2nd record of this species for NI (the 1st confirmed only a week before). What were the chances of that? Pure luck! It turned out that operating outside my comfort zone had paid dividends (at that moment I would have been quite happy to head back home). I told my wife about it and got a hefty dose of “I told you not to be so lazy” etc.

The berry crop was too hard to resist though, they were at peak ripeness and really tasty, so I hung around in the same area grazing contently. As I munched my way around the area, I kept disturbing and catching moths of an Apotomis species that looked quite interesting. They wouldn’t venture far out from the bushes, hastily retreating for cover – I took a couple to look at later.

On arriving home, it didn’t take long to find the unknown species in the field guides – Apotomis sauciana! But that presented a conundrum as it had not been recorded in Ireland before. That’s the bit that always stops you in your tracks, the self-doubt, am I going mad? It looked good to me and seemed a perfect fit, but with something of that potential, it’s best to be cautious. Thanks to the help of Ken Bond this species was subsequently confirmed as A. sauciana and a first for Ireland – brilliant! It turns out that this species was recorded around the same time at other locations in Ireland, including at light. To get a second record for NI and a new species for Ireland on the same day equates to an extremely successful outing for a lazy man. All that remained was finding the courage to admit to my wife that she was right, again.

Andrew Crory

70.104 Devon Carpet, Lampropteryx otregiata – New to Ireland

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Feb 252021
 

Devon Carpet, Lampropteryx otregiata – 2nd record

The story begins with finding a small Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata type on the 17/5/2019 with a wing length of 13mm at Ballinclare, Glenealy, Co. Wicklow.  13mm was smack bang in the middle of Devon Carpet Lampropteryx otregiata size and apparently outside the normal Water Carpet range of 14-17mm. Although the jury was out as to its identity from the external appearance, Ken Bond dissected it and found it to be just a female Water Carpet.

On the 28/5/2020 I trapped with a 50w MV at a spot 170m away from the above spot at the edge of a small natural Aspen Populus tremula copse (Grid Ref. T258893). I caught another small Water Carpet type with a wing length of 13mm. It was missing the apex of one of its wings but it still immediately stood out as not normal for Water Carpet. I posted a photo on the MothsIreland Facebook page and there followed much discussion as to its identity but as there was little actual experience of Devon Carpet in Ireland, I also posted on UK Moths where it was thought to be this species. As my first experience had thought me, I decided to again send it to Ken Bond for dissection. Eventually the news came through that this was indeed a Devon Carpet, Ireland’s first.

Unbeknownst to me, Dave Allen had previously predicted this as a potential new species to find in Ireland as they were spreading west in the UK. On the 30/7/2020, I trapped another fresh one at the same spot. This was probably a 2nd generation, something that does not occur in Water Carpets. It was also small and showed all the features of a Devon Carpet so it was released after some good photos were obtained. The habitat beside the trapping area is very wet under the aspen wood and probably contains the food plant of Devon Carpet, Marsh Bedstraw Galium palustre. As it is a tiny plant and I am not familiar with it, I have not actually seen it here. With the two specimens found at the same site of first and second generations in one season, I would conclude that they are probably breeding here.

In GB, Devon Carpet has historically been restricted to the south-west but has been spreading rapidly north up the west coast in recent years, reaching the Midlands in 2009 and Scotland in 2013.

I would like to thank Ken Bond for confirming the identification.

Christian Osthoff.

Devon Carpet, 1st individual recorded in Ireland.

 

Devon Carpet. 2nd individual recorded in Ireland.

Moth Recording Sites – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

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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

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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