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

 

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