49.288 Epiblema foenella – First Irish record.

 General interest, New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 49.288 Epiblema foenella – First Irish record.
Mar 302022
 

I’ve been moth trapping in my suburban garden in Baldoyle, Co Dublin since 2010, usually with a 40W actinic Skinner trap.  The weather forecast for the night of the 21st/22nd July 2021 looked OK for moths so I set up the trap in its usual spot against the wall of my garden shed.  The next morning the minimum recorded temperature overnight had been 14.8 deg. C and a quick peek into the trap showed a lot of moths in among the egg trays (after processing the catch, I had 44 species, quite a good haul for my area).

I noticed a somewhat striking micro moth on the shed wall and took a couple of shots with it before going through the contents of the trap.  For some reason I thought it looked familiar and didn’t pay it too much attention.  How wrong I was!

I was more interested in a Yellowtail and a Chevron, both fairly infrequent records for me.  It was only later when I started going through the photos of all the species that I wasn’t able to identify on sight, that I realized I had caught something special.  Of course, when I rushed back down to the shed it was gone (hopefully not down the gullet of my opportunistic resident Robin).

Despite it being a quite unique looking micro moth, it didn’t leap off the page when I was going through the Sterling field guide but posting a photo on the MI Facebook page quickly had me pointed in the right direction (thanks everyone), Epiblema foenella.  As usual, when I went back to the field guide I was left wondering how I missed it first time around.  There isn’t really anything else it could have been.

The map in Sterling confirms its presence in north Wales including Anglesey and also the Isle of Man, so it really was only a matter of time before it turned up on our shores.  The larval food plant is listed as Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris which is certainly common along the east coast.

2021 has been a somewhat unusual year for mothing in my garden.  As well as the Epiblema foenella record, I had shared a joint first Irish record of Euzophera pinguis with Gareth O’Donnell just a fortnight earlier.  I had also recorded quite a few ‘firsts’ for my garden, both macro and micro moths.  After running a trap on the same site for so many years it was very unusual and very exciting to add so many new species to the site list in a single season.  Adding two to the national species list is an added bonus.  All this excitement is tempered somewhat when I look at the number of species that have completely disappeared from my garden since I started recording or others whose numbers continue to decline with each passing year.

Cian Merne

 

Sloe Pug Pasiphila chloerata – New to Ireland

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings, Rare sightings  Comments Off on Sloe Pug Pasiphila chloerata – New to Ireland
Mar 182022
 

On the 22nd of June 2021 I was targeting a small stand of Elm (which I had found earlier in the year) for Clouded Magpie Abraxas sylvata, a species I have only seen once many years ago and was keen to find again. The trees are on both sides of the road at the southern end of Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow (just south of the roadside carpark). My plan was to do a short session of approximately two hours using a 125MV trap west of the road (which I would stay with during the session) and a 20W Actinic CFL trap to the east of the road (T302816). As it turned out, it was a relatively quiet session for moths with the MV getting 72 moths of 38 species and none of my target so I decided to finish at 1.5 hours duration. I then went over to the actinic and went through that trap. Again, nothing major regarding moth numbers or apparently anything of great interest. The last moth at the bottom of the last egg tray, which I nearly missed, was an almost black pug, from what I could see in the torch light. With a hint of green, my initial thought was an extremely dark Green Pug Pasiphila rectangulata at which point I nearly chucked it into the undergrowth but thought better and potted it for later examination.

As it was after 1am and a “school” night, I forgot all about it when I got home. After work the following day, I remembered that I had a moth potted up still in my bag. On looking more closely, I again narrowed it down to a dark Green Pug but the outer edge of the dark bar didn’t have the kink it should have. The abdomen didn’t look right either. Bilberry Pug Pasiphila debiliata was also quickly eliminated owing to the complete lack of its foodplant in the region and being familiar with it, the lack of the classic black dots demarcating the cross bar. Even though the illustration of Sloe Pug in Waring and Townsend didn’t particularly look right, two features did match….that of the un-kinked outer edge of the crossbar and the pink bars on the abdomen. But of course, I knew that couldn’t be possible as we don’t have it in Ireland! Next port of call was Lepiforum (German moth website) which to my amazement had near perfect matches of my moth under Sloe Pug. With confidence levels rising and excitement levels off the scale…..dare I hope! I then posted it on the MothsIreland (FaceBook page) where the general consensus was that I was probably correct but would need to have it examined critically by Ken Bond owing to its significance. Needing people with direct experience of the species, I posted it on “Pugs in Flight tonight” (UK FaceBook group dedicated to pugs), where it was given the thumbs up too. A few months later it was confirmed by Ken Bond as Ireland’s first Sloe Pug.

Having looked again at the trapping site, there is plenty of its foodplant, Blackthorn, quite close by. I did trap again a little south at Buckroney where there is a big patch of the foodplant but no luck. As it is apparently only an occasional visitor to light traps, I won’t give up hope of finding more in future. I plan to target it again this year in an effort to try and find out if it was a once off wanderer or part of an embryonic colonization or perhaps even a long-overlooked resident. According to the Atlas of Britain and Ireland’s Larger Moths, it was not recorded in the UK until 1971 but has been found widely since but again it’s not known if it was overlooked or colonized rapidly.

Thanks to all on the various groups and websites for help and comments and Ken Bond for dissection of this first Irish record. I urge people to target Blackthorn during May- early July to see if this may in fact be an overlooked species.

Christian Osthoff