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

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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

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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.

73.180 Barred Sallow, Tiliacea aurago – New to Ireland

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Jun 012020
 

73.180 Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago

On the morning of 11th October 2018 I (CM) inspected the moth trap as usual in my small suburban garden in Priory Park, Belfast. I deploy a Robinson trap with 125W MV bulb, which is set out on tarmac in front of the garden shed, where it is positioned to have least impact on neighbouring houses.
As I removed the lid I immediately noticed a sallow-type moth, which looked different to the pink-barred sallow Xanthia togata which is regular in the garden in small numbers. On consulting my copy of Waring and Townsend, I quickly confirmed that the moth was a barred sallow Tiliacea aurago. I subsequently found a second specimen within the trap, and having taken some photographs, I retained both specimens for further inspection.
I posted the photographs on the MothsIreland and Butterfly Conservation NI Facebook pages and it was confirmed that the species was new to Ireland.
The night of 10th/11th October was particularly warm for the time of year with a minimum temperature of 14.8C. My catch that night was otherwise typical of the time of year and included resident species such as Merveille du Jour (Moma alpium), Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria), Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra) and Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata).
Barred sallow larvae feed on Beech Fagus sp. or Field Maple Acer campestre. Although neither occur in the neighbouring gardens, both species are thought to occur within Balmoral Golf Club which is across a road from the garden trap.
Having seen the moths which CM had taken, Ted Rolston (TR) decided to set out a moth trap in his garden on the night of October 12th, a few miles away at Beechdene Gardens, Lisburn. In the trap were six fresh barred sallow along with several pink-barred sallow which were rather faded in comparison. Following this, TR took a single specimen of the moth on October 15th, seven on October 20th and two on November 5th. No further specimens were taken by CM in his Priory Park garden.
The Barred Sallow appears to be spreading northwards from its original stronghold in south-eastern England and was also recorded in Scotland for the first time recently (Argyllshire 2017). Since the food plants are widespread across much of Ireland, it will be of interest to see whether the species is recorded from a wider area in autumn 2019 and beyond.

Clive Mellon and Ted Rolston

Five species New to Ireland all within a few miles of Belfast City Centre!

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May 242020
 

This just proves that you do not have to always travel far to find things of interest, sometimes they are just on your doorstep…. It is worth noting that the four leaf-mining species addressed here are all found on non-native host species although lime (Tilia spp.) are long established. Increased movement of plant species around Europe and from further afield will continue to inadvertently introduce species to new areas where they may become permanently established.
The first three records have been published in the annual Microlepidoptera report in The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation as well as being included in an update paper on Irish Microlepidoptera by Ken Bond in the same journal . The latter two records are yet to be published.

14.009 Bucculatrix thoracella
18th August 2013: This is the one that really started me looking at leaf mines. After checking my actinic trap in the garden I was walking back along the garden path. As usual it was an appalling catch but then the sunlight illuminated what appeared to be a small leaf mine on a lime (Tilia sp.) leaf. Closer examination revealed a number of tiny gallery mines and small patches of feeding damage. A check on the usual websites strongly suggested they were mines of B. thoracella. I then checked the Moths Ireland on-line maps to find there were no records of this species. I emailed the scanned images to Dave Grundy, Ben Smart and John Langmaid who all confirmed my identification. In Britain the species appears to have more southerly distribution reaching as far north as Cumbria. In Ireland the species has subsequently been found in Dublin and Cork and must have been over-looked.

15.066 Phyllonorycter strigulatella
9th November 2016: This was a species I had been looking for without success but whilst walking down the Lisburn road in Belfast, heading for the bank, I noticed three or four grey alders in Drumglass Park. I immediately found a number of the typically long, tightly rolled tent mines positioned between leaf veins. There were multiple small creases on the “tent”. The occupied mines contained bright yellowish larvae with a distinctive pattern on dorsal surface of the head. This species doesn’t feed on other alder species in Britain. Identification was quickly confirmed by John Langmaid. It is known from various isolated sites from north-west England and south-east Scotland, south through Wales to East Anglia and southern England.

11.007 Bankesia conspurcatella
10th March 2018: Myself and my wife, Avril, were over my step-daughter’s house on the Belmont Road, Belfast. As we were leaving Avril noticed a small moth on the hallway wall. I duly caught it and brought it home. I don’t spend much time looking at adult micros but I expected this to be a cork moth Nemapogon cloacella. This quickly proved incorrect. I took images and posted on a closed site where after some head scratching Ben Smart suggested it was Bankesia. This proved correct, it was a totally unexpected discovery as this species is very uncommon with a very patchy distribution in Britain having only been rediscovered in Kent in 1984 after years of having “gone missing”. It is one of the Psychids or “bagworms”. The larvae of these species live in cases constructed of detritus, algae or lichens, the adults of some species are wingless and some are parthenogenetic. I decided that the larvae would not be far away and on 2nd April I discovered a colony of c. 45 cases on my step-daughter’s garden fence! This remains the only known site in Ireland! The adult specimen was set by Ken Bond and now resides in the National Museum in Dublin.

15.050 Phyllonorycter cerasicolella
9th October 2018: Two days previous Andy Banthorpe had posted images of the mines of this species from North Wales. This prompted me to think as to where I might find the host plant, Prunus cerasus, in Northern Ireland. The answer came quickly enough… B & Q at the Belfast Harbour Exchange. Three shrubs and two tent mines! The mines lie typically between leaf veins, long and contracting the leaf into a tube. These were confirmed by Andy and John Langmaid. In Britain it is largely restricted to the area south of a line from the Mersey to the Humber.

15.051 Phyllonorycter lantanella
17th April 2019: I had been searching unsuccessfully for this species for a while after posts by Patrick Clement and others on the excellent Micro-moth Field Tips Facebook site. It is found on various species of Viburnum, various species of which are frequently used for structural planting in parks, gardens and around shopping complexes! My luck changed whilst walking down the Lisburn Road when Andy Crory rang me on the mobile. Because of the traffic noise I diverted into Drumglass Park. Whilst continuing my conversation I wandered towards a patch of Viburnum tinus where to my surprise was a Phyllonorycter mine of what I presumed would be P. lantanella. Once home I examined and photographed the mines and quickly received confirmation. The following day I rechecked the garden Viburnum and found more mines which I had obviously overlooked. Attempts at breeding through proved fruitless but did produce a number of tiny parasitic wasps. In Britain it is largely confined to South Wales and Central and Southern England. .

Dave Allen
Belfast, August 2019

63.054 Cydalima perspectalis – New to Ireland

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Mar 182020
 

I trapped a specimen of the Box Tree Moth Cydalima perspectalis at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013), on 24 July 2017. The specimen was identified as a male of the brown form of the species with reference to Leraut, P., (2012. Moths of Europe 3. NAP Editions), and was new to Ireland.
A member of the Crambidae family and native to Asia it is an invasive species believed to have been introduced to Europe with imported box (Buxus spp.) of which the moth is a notorious pest with its larvae capable of defoliating the plants, Buxus sempervirens, B. microphylla and B. colchica. It is also recorded on Purple Holly (Ilex purpurea) and Japanese Spindle (Euonymus japonicus). First noted from Germany in 2007, it has since spread rapidly to many other European countries. A known strong flyer, the origin of the Tramore specimen may be immigrant in nature as its capture coincided with a spike in migrant activity. Two Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, one Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, three Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, three Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella and one Silver Y Autographa gamma were also trapped, additionally, a further 23 Silver Y’s were seen nectaring at dusk.
Thanks to Ken Bond, University College, Cork and J.R. Langmaid, Southsea, Hampshire who kindly confirmed the species. The specimen will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.

Tony Bryant.

Bryant, T., 2017. Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859) (Lep.: Crambidae), new to Ireland. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 129: 230-231.

35.060 Apodia bifractella – New to Ireland

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Feb 212020
 

On 13 August 2018, I took an unfamiliar micro-moth in a light-trap at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013). It was identified using the Field Guide to the Micromoths of Great Britain and Ireland as Apodia bifractella and is new to Ireland. The specimen was sent to Ken Bond who confirmed the identification. It will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.
The larva of A. bifractella feeds from mid-August to April in the seeds of Common Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Ploughman’s-spikenard (Inula conyzae) or Sea Aster (Aster tripolium), pupating from April to June, with the adults emerging during July and August. Due to the distribution of its foodplants, A. bifractella frequents a wide range of habitats including damp meadows, ditches, fens, marshes, saltmarshes, woodland rides and coastal landslips. It is found across Europe and North Africa, is widespread is southern England and is also found in N.W. England and N. Wales.
Tony Bryant
Bryant, T., 2018. Apodia bifractella (Duponchel, [1843]) (Lep.: Gelechiidae) new to Ireland. Entomologist’s Record & of Journal of Variation 130: 268.