Oct 112019

Ruddy Streak. Not the greatest image but sufficient for identification and the only image of the first Irish Tachystola acroxantha.

I work in The King’s Hospital, a co-educational secondary school with a parkland campus between Lucan and Palmerstown — the school grounds extend down through wooded hillsides to the banks of the Liffey.

Two initiatives within the school led me to undertake three years (2016-2018) of weekly moth trapping as part of the Garden Moth Scheme. The first was the introduction of a tree trail of 100 notable trees of numerous species in the school grounds. The next step was (and is) to undertake research for a broader trail of flora and fauna. These nature trails are intended for the use of classes in subjects such as Art and Science as well as by visitors. The other initiative was the school’s environment committee’s pursuit of the Green Flag for biodiversity.

The campus includes two houses which had gardens prior to the school’s relocation from the city centre in 1971. I chose one of them as the site for trapping. I placed the Robinson Trap (60W Actinic) at the back of the garden between the house (Avondale) and the woods. Although it did not yield large numbers of moths, it did occasionally indicate interesting aspects of biodiversity on the campus. Some of the more unusual species were Oak Nycteoline, Orange Sallow, Pine Shoot Moth and Thistle Ermine.

During the summer of 2017, I had become aware of tiny moths associated with birds’ nests and similar indoor habitats (for example, Tinea trinotella, which I saw in my mother’s garden near Mullingar that May). There was a swallow’s nest in the outhouse where I stored the trap and I wondered if that might be relevant.

When I went to the trap on the morning of 5 August 2017, I could easily have overlooked a small moth in the trap. Likewise, I could have written it down as a strange-looking Brown House Moth and nothing more. I had, however, as I said, recently had my eyes opened to moths associated with nests, so I was interested and took what turned out to be a poor photograph just in case.

When I started looking at the picture in the office and comparing it with online information (I didn’t have the Sterling and Parsons field guide to hand), I began to wonder whether it could be a Ruddy Streak. I contacted my Garden Moth Scheme mentor Don Hodgers.

Here’s the conversation:

AW: Tentatively, Don, I have a Ruddy Streak (Tachystola acroxantha) sighting in the trap in Dublin last night. I’ve a poor photograph but it is clearly a Brown House Moth size and style of moth with orange termen. Is it common in Ireland?

DH: I don’t think it’s on the Irish list as yet so a photo would be very important.  But it would have to be good enough to rule out other species.  It’s always possible — 4 new additions to the list in the last fortnight or so!

AW: Here are the images from that trapping, Don.

DH: Yes, a Ruddy Streak, congratulations!  I don’t know if any others have been found, as the latest records available are for the end of 2015 and someone might have it on their list — but I don’t think so.  They are spreading through Britain and it was only a matter of time.  They are originally from Australia… feeding on leaf litter with a number of generations a year, they could be the next Light Brown Apple Moth! 

Although the image was poor, he was completely satisfied that it could be nothing else.

The first-ever sighting of Ruddy Streak in Ireland might be explained in the same way as its introduction to Britain as an adventive. A possible connection to the Bloom event in the Phoenix Park cannot be ruled out.

Andrew Whiteside.

69.014 Bedstraw Hawk-moth Hyles galii – First confirmed breeding record for Ireland

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Sep 152019

Irish 69.014 Bedstraw Hawk-moth, Hyles galii Caterpillar

On Tuesday 20th August 2019, not having had a decent walk all week, I decided to go to Killenthomas Woods in the Bog of Allen, Co. Kildare (grid ref N668222) with my rescue dog George. I like going there in the evening as you are much more likely to spot wildlife when it is quiet. There are Foxes, Red Squirrels and Badgers as well as Cuckoos and Buzzards. On one occasion I rounded a corner and met a family of Badgers, two adults and half a dozen or so cubs. The woods are a wonderful place.

When I got there I set out on the Ballydermot loop past the wild gooseberry bush, which I checked in the hope I had missed one earlier in the year (I hadn’t). The walk was uneventful. It was too early in the evening for the mammals to be out. I noticed that there were a few early blackberries out and tasted a couple but they were a little bitter. I decided to go up onto the bog to see if there were any there.

I got to the place where there is a cut through the woods and climbed down onto the bog, stopping to pick and eat a few bilberries. Unfortunately the wild strawberries are finished or I would have picked some of those too. I walked to the bank where the blackberries grow – the ones that grow in that particular spot are sublime – large, juicy and as sweet as can be. To my dismay there were no blackberries ripe or otherwise. As I was looking I spotted a large, unfamiliar caterpillar on some willowherb. I took a number of pictures with various settings on the camera and went home.

The next day I posted a couple of pictures of the caterpillar to the Insects/Invertebrates of Ireland Facebook page for identification. It was identified very quickly by Owen Beckett as a Bedstraw Hawk-moth Hyles galii caterpillar and this was confirmed by others.

Bedstraw Hawk-moth H. galii is a very rare immigrant to Ireland with c.15 records scattered along the coast from Dublin to Kerry. It is resident in much of Europe, north to Scandinavia and east to Russia. All the records to date in Ireland have been of adults so this is the first confirmed breeding of the species in Ireland.

Julian Currie.

63.002 Loxostege sticticalis – New to Ireland

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Aug 112019

63.002 Loxostege sticticalis

On Thursday 8th August 2019 I was on my usual lunchtime walk which runs along a country lane and comes to a dead end at an old basalt quarry located north of Carrickfergus in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.  The lands are privately owned and I am extremely privileged to have permission from the landowner to walk there.

Within the quarry there is a naturally filled pond, which is a haven for various Damselflies & Dragonflies as well as other pond creatures including Frogs and Water Boatmen.

Because the quarry has not been worked for a number of years a wide variety of wildflowers are now in abundance including Colt’s-foot, Vetches, Plantains, Knapweed, Trefoils and Meadow Vetchling to name a few.  These wildflowers not only provide nectar and pollen sources for the invertebrates but many of the plants are also important for the caterpillars of the butterfly and moth species found there.

I am a keen amateur nature photographer and I love visiting the location to photograph all the flora and fauna to be found there.  Already this year I have discovered five species of moth, which I had never encountered before.  Four species, Pyrausta purpuralis, Cydia nigricana, Capua vulgana and Lime Speck Pug Eupithecia centaureata were found within the quarry and a Vestal Rhodometra sacraria was seen on the lane leading up to it.

While I was in the quarry photographing Painted Lady butterflies which had arrived in their hundreds, I noticed something small fly past and land a few feet from me.  Being of a curious nature, I went to investigate what it was.  Luckily I was able to find it straight away and took a few photos as a record.  I knew it was some type of moth but definitely not one I had ever seen before.  I was very excited to find out what it was and couldn’t wait to get home after work to find out.

I posted the photos up onto Twitter asking for an ID and very quickly got a response back from UK Moth Identification saying that it was Loxostege sticticalis, a rare migrant species.  As anything I see usually begins with the word ‘common’, I decided to seek further confirmation and posted the photos onto the MothsIreland Group on Facebook.

Eamonn O’Donnell replied saying that it certainly looked like one and my find was better than rare.

Turns out that this is the first ever confirmed sighting of a Loxostege sticticalis in Ireland. This is a scarce migrant to Britain from Europe but has become more frequent in recent years so perhaps we can expect more to start turning up here.

So glad I decided to follow it to where it landed and investigate what it was.  You just never know what is going to turn up.

Linda Thompson

70.008 Small Dusty Wave, Idaea seriata – New to Ireland

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Aug 052019

70.008 Small Dusty Wave Idaea seriata

This is a story of an unintentional moth sighting. The evening of Friday 5th July 2019 was warm & sunny and my husband and myself decided to take advantage and go to Howth for a walk. We live in Artane, a suburban area in north Dublin. Just as I was about to get into the car, I noticed a moth on the white surroundings of our garage, so I took out the phone to pop off a picture.

When I got home post walk, I attempted to identify the moth. Well, I am a novice with moths, but I love learning what creatures are out and about in the garden, be it ants, spiders or moths. I came upon the wave (Idaea) family and saw a picture of a Small Dusty Wave Idaea seriata and thought that it looked about right for my moth. As I wasn’t sure, I turned to the MothsIreland Facebook page for some help.

Eamonn O’Donnell replied, sounding excited, but I didn’t understand why. What I hadn’t realized was that Small Dusty Wave had never previously been recorded from Ireland. Small Dusty Wave is found throughout Europe and North Africa. It is widespread in England and eastern Wales and is also found in the east of Scotland. It has also been recorded on the Isle of Man. Initially I thought it couldn’t possibly be one. What would a moth, never recorded in Ireland before, be doing on the wall of my garage? Unfortunately, by this stage, the visitor had left for its night’s adventures so I couldn’t catch it for closer investigation but, thankfully, the identification was confirmed by Steve Nash, who is familiar with the species in Britain and Dave Allen who has seen the species in France.

I have to admit I was very impressed and a little proud. It goes to show what you can find if you just look around you. I’d like to thank Dave, Eamonn, Michael O’Donnell and Steve for all the help and encouragement. It has spurred me on to start light trapping and looking all that bit closer at what is flying about.

Rhona Quinn.

63.1145 Elophila rivulalis – New to Ireland

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Jul 232019

63.1145 Elophila rivulalis

63.1145 Elophila rivulalis


The Ponds, Leixlip Spa.

Leixlip Spa, Louisa Bridge in County Kildare is a site beside the Royal Canal about 1.5 km from the town of Leixlip. It is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is fairly well known for having a number of plant and invertebrate species which are rare or locally uncommon in Ireland. Seepage from the spa has created a marsh with a couple of small ponds and the area is often alive with insects on a mild summers evening.

It was on such an evening, on the 10th July 2017 that I decided to visit with my net in hand. I made my way down through the site towards the ponds, netting and recording several different species of moth on the way. At the ponds I noticed some weakly flying whitish micro-moths flitting through the vegetation around the side of the waterbody. Individuals were often landing on the vegetation and none were travelling far. I netted a few for closer examination, releasing all but one, which I potted and kept to photograph. My initial impression was that I had an odd form of Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata, be it a little small and less robust. The following morning, in good light, I photographed the potted specimen but was still none the wiser as to its identity.

With the mystery still unresolved I returned to the site three days later, recording approximately 12 of these moths on the wing. I again netted a couple for closer examination, retaining a single specimen for photographing. Again the images taken did not conclusively resolve the puzzle and so on 17 July I uploaded the photographs to a Facebook Irish Moth Group.

Very quickly Eamonn O’Donnell suggested that Elophila rivulalis, a Continental species unrecorded in Ireland or for that matter Britain, could not be ruled out. Dave Allen sent images to some international experts who concluded that E. rivulalis was a likely candidate but that a specimen would need to be dissected to be fully sure. A specimen was duly sent to the Natural History Museum in London via Dave and eventually it was confirmed as this species. E. rivulalis is one of the Crambidae family and is closely related to the Brown China-mark. As it currently has no common/vernacular name I have proposed that it be called the Irish China-mark.

Repeated visits to the site throughout the summers of 2017 to 2019 have shown that it appears to be doing well with up to 40 seen in mid July 2017, up to 30 in early June 2018 and 38 to date in 2019. The flight season is from about late May to the beginning of August.

Philip Strickland

Maurice Hughes

 Obituaries  Comments Off on Maurice Hughes
Jan 182017

It is with great sadness to inform of the passing of Maurice Hughes.


Maurice closely acquainted with a White Prominent

Maurice was an all-round naturalist with over 30 years’ experience studying Lepidoptera. He was the first Regional Officer for Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2010. In this role one of Maurice’s primary aims was to gain a better understanding of knowledge gaps in the distribution, range and ecology of Lepidoptera in Northern Ireland.

In conjunction with Brian Nelson, Maurice was intrinsically involved in the discovery of Cryptic Wood White in Ireland, painstakingly undertaking dissections of male wood whites and measuring the relevant bits! He also worked tirelessly on behalf of the Marsh Fritillary, championing the species with government, public and anyone who would listen! Maurice became quickly aware of the huge knowledge gap regarding micro-lepidoptera in Northern Ireland and procured funding for the first NI checklist compiled by Ken Bond and published in 2009.

Many moth’ers will be aware that he was an integral part of the team which rediscovered the White Prominent in Ireland in 2008, 70 years after it was last recorded. This was an event which Maurice always recalled with great pride, his joy radiates from the image.

 Posted by at 23:01

Micro-moth maps updated

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Dec 112015

About 830 micro-moth maps have been updated. For the first time these include Northern Ireland records to give an all Ireland view of distribution. Click this for the map page or click the map here. This map shows the distribution of Agriphila straminella from the records we have. This species leads the 10km square count, but in reality this moth should have complete coverage but the lack of recording in central Ireland and other areas are the reason for the holes in its distribution.

Please let us know of any errors ie. wrong map, missing species, missing records, erroneous records etc.

 Posted by at 10:08

Species missing from Vice-counties

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Nov 302015

Out of our 570+ species of macro-moth, only 34 have been recorded from all 40 Irish vice-counties.

These are
Emperor Moth
Flame Carpet
Silver-ground Carpet
Garden Carpet
Shaded Broad-bar
Common Carpet
Common Marbled Carpet
Green Carpet
Clouded Border
Brimstone Moth
Mottled Beauty
Common Heath
Common Wave
Poplar Hawk-moth
Garden Tiger
White Ermine
Buff Ermine
Heart and Dart
Large Yellow Underwing
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Small Square-spot
Smoky Wainscot
Angle Shades
Dark Arches
Small Wainscot
Burnished Brass
Silver Y
Plain Golden Y
Straw Dot
Common Rustic agg.

If you’re wondering what vice-counties and/or macro-moths are then, hopefully the following helps.
For biological recording Ireland is divided into 40 regions. See this page for more info. Macro-moth are generally the larger moths. There are exceptions as the division between macro and micro-moths was based on families and not wholly on size.

The last species in the list above is not a single species but an aggregate of 2 that cannot be separated on external features. The vast bulk are left undetermined as simple recorded as an agg. There are a few aggregates among the macro-moths.

What is notable about the above list is how short it is! The list of common and widespread species is many times bigger! Below are species that have been recorded in at least 37 VCs along with the VCs they are missing from. Perhaps you can fill some gaps. Maybe you have already noted this species but never submitted the sighting?

Ghost Moth – Cavan
Map-winged Swift – Cavan
Peach Blossom – Monaghan
Buff Arches – North Tipperary
Small Fan-footed Wave – Longford
Single-dotted Wave – Longford
Riband Wave – Longford
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet – Monaghan
Yellow Shell – Sligo
Small Phoenix – Longford
July Highflyer – Longford
Magpie Moth – Monaghan
Latticed Heath – West Cork
Early Thorn – Monaghan
Scalloped Oak – Longford
Swallow-tailed Moth – Longford
Peppered Moth – Monaghan
Elephant Hawk-moth – Monaghan
Pale Prominent – Dublin
Flame – Monaghan
Flame Shoulder – Monaghan
Lesser Yellow Underwing – Longford
Double Dart – North Tipperary
Ingrailed Clay – Laois
Double Square-spot – North Tipperary
Bright-line Brown-eye – Longford
Broom Moth – Longford
Clouded Drab – Carlow
Hebrew Character – Laois
Common Wainscot – Monaghan
Rosy Rustic – Longford
Beautiful Golden Y – Laois
Dark Spectacle – Longford, Leitrim
Fox Moth – Laois, Kilkenny
Grass Emerald – Monaghan, Longford
Common Emerald – Monaghan, Longford
Oblique Carpet – Laois, Longford
Grey Pine Carpet – Monaghan, Longford
Spruce Carpet – Cavan, Longford
Common Pug – Laois, Longford
V-Pug – Laois, Longford
Brown Silver-line – Monaghan, Westmeath
Canary-shouldered Thorn – Monaghan, NE Galway
Willow Beauty – Monaghan, Kilkenny
Common White Wave – Monaghan, Kilkenny
Light Emerald – South Tipperary, North Tipperary
Pebble Prominent – Monaghan, Longford
Coxcomb Prominent – Laois, Kilkenny
Ruby Tiger – South Tipperary, North-east Galway
True Lover’s Knot – Carlow, Longford
Purple Clay – Cavan, Laois
Dotted Clay – Carlow, Kilkenny
Square-spot Rustic – Laois, Longford
Early Grey – Laois, Monaghan
Light Arches – Longford, Carlow
Dusky Brocade – Laois, Monaghan
Gold Spot – Longford, Kilkenny
Herald – Laois, Longford
Large Emerald – Laois, Longford, Monaghan
Broken-barred Carpet – Longford, Cavan, North Tipperary
May Highflyer – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Ruddy Highflyer – Monaghan, Longford, Carlow
Sharp-angled Carpet – Longford, Kilkenny, North-east Galway
Narrow-winged Pug – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Double-striped Pug – Monaghan, Longford, Cavan
Scalloped Hazel – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Brussels Lace – Longford, Kilkenny, North Tipperary
Clouded Silver – Monaghan, Longford, Kilkenny
Humming-bird Hawk-moth – Laois, Offaly, Leitrim
Iron Prominent – Monaghan, Longford, North Tipperary
Lesser Swallow Prominent – Monaghan, Longford, North-east Galway
Pale Tussock – Monaghan, Longford, West Donegal
Common Footman – Monaghan, Leitrim, East Donegal
Six-striped Rustic – Laois, Kilkenny, North Tipperary
Grey Arches – Monaghan, Longford, North Tipperary
Common Quaker – Laois, Carlow, North-east Galway
Black Rustic – Laois, Monaghan, North-east Galway
Clouded-bordered Brindle – Monaghan, Longford, Carlow
Middle-barred Minor – Longford, Kilkenny, South Kerry
Marbled White Spot – Monaghan, Kilkenny, Cavan
Gold Spangle – Monaghan, Carlow, Roscommon
Small Fan-foot – Laois, Longford, Kilkenny

The same counties are repeated many times. In particular Longford and Monaghan have very small species lists and Laois isn’t much better. 3 or 4 trapping sessions spread through the year in reasonable habitat could double the Longford list.
I’ll do another post about numbers of species per vice-county.

 Posted by at 22:19

Macro-moth maps updated

 website update  Comments Off on Macro-moth maps updated
Nov 222015

2107 The macro-moth maps have been updated. These include an updated Northern Ireland dataset and the combined datasets make up in excess of 600,000 records. The maps can be access from here http://www.mothsireland.com/maps-overview/

There are also some special maps

Finally clicking the image here will open an explanation page which gives a brief outline of the numbering or code system and all the other data visible on the maps.


The micro-moth maps are even longer waiting for an update. This will happen before next season and will also have Northern Ireland data included.


 Posted by at 08:04

Chris Wilson

 Obituaries  Comments Off on Chris Wilson
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

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