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

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.