During the lockdown in April/May 2020, I spent a lot of time across the fields in Knocksink Wood O213182 in north Co. Wicklow. With the fine weather, two or three days a week were spent in the wood netting anything that flew – wasps, bees, moths, the lot. The normal method was to net, bottle, identify and release.
Anything that was not readily identified in the field was taken home to the fridge. Each jar was then taken out, the insect identified if possible and photographed if in good condition.
Eventually there was one or two jars left with problematic creatures. These were again checked, photographed and the photos filed for further study. The next day everything was taken to the woods for releasing.
It was into this last category that a small micro moth fell. It wasn’t until 2 Feb 2021 that I contacted MothsIreland to see if they could help with the identification. A few days later I was informed that Eamonn O’Donnell had identified the moth as Pachyrhabda steropodes. It was new to Ireland and was native to Australia! It is classified as an adventive species that probably arrived here with imported plants.
Pachyrhabda steropodes was first found in England in Dorset in 2010, and has since spread to Devon and Wales.
My task for 2021 is to find another Pachyrhabda steropodes for the Natural History Museum!
In early July 2019 I mentioned to my wife that we should have a family day out at Kilbroney Forest Park near Rostrevor, Co. Down. Subsequently, I forgot all about it (to venture so far from my favourite haunt of Murlough NNR was an odd thing for me to suggest). So, on the morning of the 11th of July I was dragged (kicking and screaming) to the famous Cloughmore Stone (a glacial erratic), which sits on the slopes of Slieve Martin (with a little bit of help from Finn MacCool).
On arrival a further round of protestations fell on deaf ears and I begrudgingly decided to tag along with my family rather than sit alone in the car park. On the way up the hill the kids were having a great time (perhaps the only drawback was having to listen to me complain). Throughout the Kilimanjaro-like ascent of around 100m from the car I was keen to point out the agony of my feet, my creaky knees and how changes in altitude might be exacerbating my tinnitus… but to no avail.
Thankfully moths came to my rescue and gave me the perfect excuse to pause – that’s not strictly true, to be honest what I actually saw were heavily-laden blaeberry (bilberry) bushes and I started to stuff my face. With my head inside a bush at the side of the track I looked down to my right and saw what I was sure was a type of Cosmopterix moth. I was able to catch and confirm that it was Cosmopterix orichalcea, the 2nd record of this species for NI (the 1st confirmed only a week before). What were the chances of that? Pure luck! It turned out that operating outside my comfort zone had paid dividends (at that moment I would have been quite happy to head back home). I told my wife about it and got a hefty dose of “I told you not to be so lazy” etc.
The berry crop was too hard to resist though, they were at peak ripeness and really tasty, so I hung around in the same area grazing contently. As I munched my way around the area, I kept disturbing and catching moths of an Apotomis species that looked quite interesting. They wouldn’t venture far out from the bushes, hastily retreating for cover – I took a couple to look at later.
On arriving home, it didn’t take long to find the unknown species in the field guides – Apotomis sauciana! But that presented a conundrum as it had not been recorded in Ireland before. That’s the bit that always stops you in your tracks, the self-doubt, am I going mad? It looked good to me and seemed a perfect fit, but with something of that potential, it’s best to be cautious. Thanks to the help of Ken Bond this species was subsequently confirmed as A. sauciana and a first for Ireland – brilliant! It turns out that this species was recorded around the same time at other locations in Ireland, including at light. To get a second record for NI and a new species for Ireland on the same day equates to an extremely successful outing for a lazy man. All that remained was finding the courage to admit to my wife that she was right, again.
The story begins with finding a small Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata type on the 17/5/2019 with a wing length of 13mm at Ballinclare, Glenealy, Co. Wicklow. 13mm was smack bang in the middle of Devon Carpet Lampropteryx otregiata size and apparently outside the normal Water Carpet range of 14-17mm. Although the jury was out as to its identity from the external appearance, Ken Bond dissected it and found it to be just a female Water Carpet.
On the 28/5/2020 I trapped with a 50w MV at a spot 170m away from the above spot at the edge of a small natural Aspen Populus tremula copse (Grid Ref. T258893). I caught another small Water Carpet type with a wing length of 13mm. It was missing the apex of one of its wings but it still immediately stood out as not normal for Water Carpet. I posted a photo on the MothsIreland Facebook page and there followed much discussion as to its identity but as there was little actual experience of Devon Carpet in Ireland, I also posted on UK Moths where it was thought to be this species. As my first experience had thought me, I decided to again send it to Ken Bond for dissection. Eventually the news came through that this was indeed a Devon Carpet, Ireland’s first.
Unbeknownst to me, Dave Allen had previously predicted this as a potential new species to find in Ireland as they were spreading west in the UK. On the 30/7/2020, I trapped another fresh one at the same spot. This was probably a 2nd generation, something that does not occur in Water Carpets. It was also small and showed all the features of a Devon Carpet so it was released after some good photos were obtained. The habitat beside the trapping area is very wet under the aspen wood and probably contains the food plant of Devon Carpet, Marsh Bedstraw Galium palustre. As it is a tiny plant and I am not familiar with it, I have not actually seen it here. With the two specimens found at the same site of first and second generations in one season, I would conclude that they are probably breeding here.
In GB, Devon Carpet has historically been restricted to the south-west but has been spreading rapidly north up the west coast in recent years, reaching the Midlands in 2009 and Scotland in 2013.
I would like to thank Ken Bond for confirming the identification.
With the impending arrival of a granddaughter in Dublin, and air travel not an option, the opportunity to bring my 125w Robinson MV moth trap in the car to Ireland was seized. Having served the requisite two week quarantine period in a cottage in Co. Kildare, enjoying some good moth trapping, we relocated to Terenure to join our daughter and family.
Their house was only constructed in 2018 and the garden is, as yet, unplanted although there are older properties and gardens in the surrounding area. The moth trap could only be positioned down the side of the house, between two properties – placing it on the lawn at the back was not an option, being overlooked by adjoining properties, so I was a little pessimistic as to how many species I would catch in the ensuing three weeks!
The night of 11th July 2020 was relatively mild and still and we woke to find that our daughter was in hospital and we were in charge of our eldest granddaughter! She was most intrigued during the moth trap inspection, sitting on my husband’s knee whilst he scribed and I had almost finished sorting when I noticed a moth I did not immediately recognize.
A noctuid, of the same size and shape as Broad-barred White Hecatera bicolorata but clearly not that species. Nutmeg Anarta trifolii also crossed my mind, but the wings were held at a greater angle and the patterning was different. It was potted immediately and later in the day I had time to search the literature I’d brought and peruse the MothsIreland website to help with positive identification. The scales were slightly rubbed but with the subtle patterning, like grey lichen highlighted with orange flecks, I was becoming convinced I had caught a Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea. Not listed and no map in MothsIreland, so potentially a new species, but in a Dublin suburb?
I emailed a photo to Michael O’Donnell, with my tentative identification and awaited his response. Several hours elapsed, which made the whole situation more intriguing, then came the answer – I had just added a new species to the Irish list, no doubt about it!
The story does not finish there! I continued moth trapping at every opportunity for the next two weeks until our return to Yorkshire and on the night of 24th July, which resulted in a small catch of just ten species, there was another Small Ranunculus – this time a pristine specimen which posed beautifully for some photos. This one was also released (sadly the request to retain the specimen was received too late – my apologies) but there is clearly a small population of this attractive noctuid in Terenure at least.
Feeding on Prickly Lettuce Lactuca serriola, a plant of disturbed ground and orchards, which has become established around Dublin from the late 1990s, Small Ranunculus has recently recolonized England, is rapidly moving north through the UK and in the next five years, it should hopefully become resident in North Yorkshire!
17th June 2020 was the fourth night in a row that I’d put the trap out (20W actinic, mains operated, heath trap). There had been a spell of relatively mild nights with temperatures staying above 12/13 degrees and I’d had a good run for my small suburban garden, near the coast in south Dublin. Several new species for my list had turned up including Pale Tussock, Iron Prominent, Lychnis and Lime-speck Pug. It was dull and cloudy when I checked the trap on the morning of the 18th and it looked quiet. There was a Peppered Moth beside the trap (as there had been each of the previous mornings) and some sort of carpet sitting on the outside of the trap. An initial glance suggested the carpet might be one of those indistinguishable Spruce/Grey Pine carpets but closer inspection ruled that out. I potted it, took a couple of photos, and popped it into the fridge. A scan through Waring and Townsend ruled out any of the likely species, so I posted the images on the Moths Ireland Facebook page for help. Before long, a cryptic message posted by Ken Bond (“Retain this!”) was followed by confirmation from Dave Allen that the species was in fact Cypress Carpet, a new record for Ireland. The species was first recorded in England in 1984 and has been spreading since, reaching south Wales in 2006. The specimen has been retained for mounting by Ken Bond and will be submitted to the Natural History Museum.
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.
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.
New to IrelandComments Off on 62.020 Etiella zinckenella – New to Ireland
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.
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.
New to IrelandComments Off on 73.180 Barred Sallow, Tiliacea aurago – New to Ireland
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.
New to IrelandComments Off on 63.054 Cydalima perspectalis – New to Ireland
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.
Bryant, T., 2017. Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859) (Lep.: Crambidae), new to Ireland. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 129: 230-231.