Apotomis sauciana – New to Ireland

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Mar 172021
 

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.

Andrew Crory

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.

Anania lancealis – back in the Argideen valley after 81 years – 2nd Irish record

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Sep 192020
 

This is my first year moth trapping. In 2019, following a recommendation by a friend, I gave moth recording a go using a white sheet and MV bulb to observe the species in the garden over a few evenings during the summer. I was hooked and with the limitations on travel during the Spring and early Summer of 2020, a step up to light trapping seemed like a good way to pass the evenings in lockdown. It has been very enjoyable adding to the garden list since April with a Delicate (Mythimna vitellina) on the first run out – talk about beginners luck!

The weather was humid and warm on the 25th June 2020 with a status yellow thunderstorm warning issued for the country. The evening was overcast, warm and dry in west Cork (W44) when I set up my trap. The next morning I went through the moths, recording the species I knew, identifying others at the time using my field guide and taking photographs of the others that I would check later when I had more time. I photographed one individual which I thought to be Mother of Pearl (Patania ruralis) as I had seen the species in 2019 and incorrectly assumed it to be the same. I released all the moths when I was finished and didn’t get a chance to go through my identifications until 30th June 2020.

I spent most of my time on the 30th June deciding whether I had correctly identified an individual as Gem (Nycterosea obstipata) which I was very happy to record in the garden. I uploaded my ‘mother of pearl’ with the rest of my identifications for confirmation or correction to the Moths Ireland group. Christian Osthoff initially flagged the possibility of the individual being Anania lancealis. Michael O’Donnell also showed interest in the markings on this individual and shared it with others for their opinion. It was later confirmed as Anania lancealis. It is a species that typically inhabits woodland and marshy fenland and flies at night in June and July. The larvae feed mainly on hemp agrimony but also other plants. In Britain, it occurs in the southern half of England and in Wales. It is found across most of Europe (UKMoths, FaunaEuropaea).

Michael described how there had only been one previous Irish record on the 21st June 1939 at Ummera near Timoleague by Mrs. G.E. Lucas, one of the Donovan family, notable early lepidopterists and naturalists in Cork and Ireland. Ummera, by coincidence, is only a short distance as the Argideen River flows from our place.

So a second Irish record of Anania lancealis primarily due to the depth of knowledge and generosity of time from the Moths Ireland group, in particular Christian and Michael in this instance, combined with a bit of luck on my part.

John Deasy

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

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.

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae proved resident in Ireland

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Sep 092015
 

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Phibsborough Dublin Sept 2015 © Gavin Hoey 

Two eagle eyed girls spotted a large caterpillar which had fallen out of a Lime tree in Dublin.

This was identified as Lime Hawk-moth and photos were forwarded to MothsIreland for confirmation. The blue horn, the warts on the anal flap and the green head with white stripes are diagnostic. This is the 3rd Irish record. The 2 previous records were both adults and both also north Dublin City.

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae, Baldoyle Dublin, June 2015 ©Cian Merne

The first Irish record was in 2010 in Drumcondra. It was not known if it was of local origin or perhaps flew in from Britain where it is well established in southern England.

The case that it is resident became much stronger with the 2nd Irish re

cord of an adult that came to light earlier this year in Baldoyle. There’s no question about its residency now!

The species has been spreading northwards in England and so perhaps it will be seen away from north Dublin soon. It isn’t restricted to Lime. Birch and Alder regularly host the species and other tree species may be used as well.

Maybe you’ve seen either the caterpillar or adult, but didn’t know what it was or know of the significance? We’d like to hear about it.

 Posted by at 22:21