73.280 Small Ranunculus, Hecatera dysodea – New to Ireland

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Oct 082020
 

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!

Jill Warwick.

Cypress Carpet (Thera cupressata) – New to Ireland

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Aug 272020
 

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.

Ferdia Marnell

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.

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.

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

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.

49.275 Eucosma conterminana – New to Ireland. Tony Bryant

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Feb 112020
 

On 23 August 2017 I took an unidentified micro-moth at a moth trap at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013). It was tentatively identified as Eucosma tripoliana but, as it occurred away from the saltmarsh habitat of that species, it was retained and passed to Ken Bond who later dissected it and determined it to be a male Eucosma conterminana and new to Ireland. The specimen will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.
In Britain this species is reported to fly from mid-June to September and early October. It inhabits chalk grassland, quarries, gardens, waste ground and roadside verges where it feeds on Great Lettuce Lactuca virosa and Prickly Lettuce Lactuca serriola. Although the latter foodplant is a recent addition to the Irish flora and found not too distant from the site of capture it seems unlikely E. conterminana is resident here, but rather an immigrant, as the days immediately before and after its capture coincided with increased migrant activity, e.g. Etiella zinckenella taken at Tramore on 25 August 2017 was also new to Ireland. E. conterminana is recorded from southern Britain and the Channel Islands and is found from Europe to China.

Tony Bryant and Ken Bond.
Bryant, T. & Bond, K.G.M., 2018. Eucosma conterminana (Guenée, 1845) (Lep.: Tortricidae) new to Ireland. Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 130: 15.

Lempke’s Gold Spot – New to Ireland

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Feb 032020
 

Lempke’s Gold Spot from Rathlin

Lempke’s Gold Spot – First confirmed Irish records

Hazel Watson

I have been lucky enough to live on Rathlin Island for nearly three years now and, with my husband Ric Else. We have been recording moths whenever the weather allows. In this time we have managed to record 337 species, and 143 of these were new for the island’s all-time moth list, which now stands at 376 species.

Before we arrived, moth recording on Rathlin had only been very sporadic and many of those moths we’ve recorded here for the first time are relatively common and widespread species that have presumably been here all along. While it is always rewarding to add new species to the list, we had yet to discover anything of real national significance. But the morning of 23rd July 2019 was to bring us a real find, and it was one we could so easily have missed!

Lempke’s Gold Spot (left images) & and Gold Spot (right images)

That morning I had struggled to drag myself out of bed and was lagging behind the others. Still half asleep and with a mug of much-needed coffee in hand, I stumbled over to the mothing station where Ric was already getting on with the business of looking through the moth trap, assisted by a few of the keen RSPB volunteers from the cottage next door. Overnight the trap had been out in a nearby garden, where the McFauls very kindly provide excellent habitat for moths and moth-ers alike.

My eyes had barely begun to focus properly when I glanced down at a moth on an eggbox that had already been examined. In my drowsy state I could have been still dreaming, but something about the Gold Spot caught my eye. Could it possibly be….? “Isn’t that a Lempke’s Gold Spot?” I said to Ric, who surely thought I was delirious, but humoured me by having another look. We all peered closely at the moth in question. The two Gold Spot species are almost identical, but the apical streak of this one was undeniably blunt-ended – a feature of Lempke’s Gold Spot. “Surely THAT IS A LEMPKE’S!” I proclaimed triumphantly, suddenly wide awake as the penny was starting to drop that this was potentially a very exciting find. Ric had to admit it did look promising. We potted the individual for closer scrutiny later, as there were still plenty of other moths to look at in the trap. Each egg box was examined in turn, revealing a total catch of 98 individual moths of 37 species, and despite a few other goodies including our first Cloaked Minor, nobody cared much because Gold Spots were all we were interested in by this stage. In our catch we had turned up another two Gold Spots – one with typical markings and, quite unbelievably, a second that also looked a good candidate for Lempke’s. How thrilling, if this is what they really were!

Lempke’s Gold Spot (Rathlin 2019)

By this time we were running late for work, so it wasn’t until later that we could have a closer look at the two possible Lempke’s Gold Spots. Having spent the day chilling out in the fridge, both cooperated obligingly for forewing measurements, and with both at 15mm they fitted exactly within the published range for Lempke’s and at the smallest end of the range for Gold Spot (all the Gold Spots we have measured have been 16–18mm). After poring over many online images of wing markings, we felt confident that our two were consistent with Lempke’s and others who viewed our photos agreed. However, for positive identification, and as a potential national first, the specimens would have to be kept and sent away for confirmation under the microscope. As moth lovers, it is bittersweet to make an exciting find like this and have to preserve them as specimens, but it is necessary for the scientific record. We laid these two beautiful creatures to rest in the freezer, and we were delighted when Dr Ken Bond requested the specimens to be sent over from Rathlin.

Mothing at Kinramer Cottage, Rathlin, Co.Antrim

We were even more delighted a few weeks later when Ken performed the dissection and confirmed that both specimens were certainly Lempke’s Gold Spots, one male and one female. He also confirmed that these would be considered the first and second verified records of the species anywhere in Ireland.

We are thrilled to have found an Irish first on Rathlin, but  we’re sure there are plenty more discoveries to be made on this exciting island.