Maurice Hughes

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Jan 182017
 

It is with great sadness to inform of the passing of Maurice Hughes.

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Maurice closely acquainted with a White Prominent

Maurice was an all-round naturalist with over 30 years’ experience studying Lepidoptera. He was the first Regional Officer for Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2010. In this role one of Maurice’s primary aims was to gain a better understanding of knowledge gaps in the distribution, range and ecology of Lepidoptera in Northern Ireland.

In conjunction with Brian Nelson, Maurice was intrinsically involved in the discovery of Cryptic Wood White in Ireland, painstakingly undertaking dissections of male wood whites and measuring the relevant bits! He also worked tirelessly on behalf of the Marsh Fritillary, championing the species with government, public and anyone who would listen! Maurice became quickly aware of the huge knowledge gap regarding micro-lepidoptera in Northern Ireland and procured funding for the first NI checklist compiled by Ken Bond and published in 2009.

Many moth’ers will be aware that he was an integral part of the team which rediscovered the White Prominent in Ireland in 2008, 70 years after it was last recorded. This was an event which Maurice always recalled with great pride, his joy radiates from the image.

 Posted by at 23:01

Chris Wilson

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Sep 292015
 

It is with sadness to note the recent passing of Chris Wilson. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends and while he will be greatly missed, he will forever be fondly remembered. Below are tributes from Ken Bond and Michael O’Donnell.

I first got to know Chris Wilson when he was based in Co. Tipperary, and recording the Lepidoptera of Cappamurra Bog. Over the following years we exchanged many emails about moth identification, and I soon realised how wide his knowledge of wildlife ranged. When he later moved to live close to The Raven, Co. Wexford, he set up a weather station there, and we were then able to share our interest in meteorology too; this included the phenomenal rainfall in August 1997 that happened to peak around The Raven. I was able to visit Chris and Anne at their home in Ballinamorragh the previous month, providing an opportunity to trap moths there and to have a guided tour from Chris of The Raven. I still well remember this occasion, both because of his knowledge of the area, and the impression made on me by the diverse fauna of the area. I regret that I was unable to make an intended return visit. How perceptive of significant details he was is shown be the fact that Chris was probably the first person to mention to me that he noticed a decline in the Wall Brown butterfly and to comment on unusual features he noticed locally in what was then simply known as the “Wood White”. His reports on the fascinating journey to Antarctica showed another facet of his wide interests. He achieved a remarkable amount in the field of Irish natural history, and he will be sorely missed.

Ken Bond.


Chris moved to Co. Wexford in 1991 when he got the position of Warden at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve where he remained for 16 years before taking early retirement to focus on his travels and set up his own environmental consultancy. His travels brought him to every continent but particularly to Antarctica where he lectured on cruise ships about the exploration and wildlife of that continent. Always active, he was involved in numerous projects including butterfly, bumblebee, bird, hedgerow and cetacean surveys. He was an active bird-ringer and was warden of the tern colony at Lady’s Island Lake for a number of years. He was instrumental in setting up the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club in 2004 and enthusiastically promoted the wildlife of Wexford at every opportunity. Always approachable and always happy to share his knowledge, he led numerous field-trips and regularly gave lectures for WNFC. In recent years his enthusiasm for moths was rekindled. Knowing the importance of getting the identification correct so that the record could stand up to scrutiny, Chris was never afraid to ask for help if he was unsure of something. He was always delighted to see a new species, even if it was a common species that he had never seen before. In 2009 he co-authored the WNFC publication The Lepidoptera of County Wexford and also co-authored The Odonata of County Wexford in 2015. He was actively working on the next WNFC publication on the Shieldbugs and Ladybirds of County Wexford. Knowing that he did not have much time left, he wanted to make sure that all his records were up to date and had been submitted to the relevant recorders. MothsIreland received his final batch of records only two weeks before his death. A thorough professional in everything he did and an absolute gentleman, Chris will be deeply missed throughout the recording community.

Michael O’Donnell.


Other tributes

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
South East Radio
Nature Glenelg Trust South Australia
Edward Wilson of the Antarctic

 Posted by at 20:43

Goat Moth, large pink/reddish purple caterpillar

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Aug 242015
 

Goat Moth Caterpillar with €2 coin, © Andrew Kelly

 

We are in the season for Goat Moth caterpillar sightings. The caterpillars are unmistakable, pink or dark pink on sides and reddish purple on top, about 100mm or 4 inches long and as thick as a finger. Have you seen one? If so, we’d like to know.

The caterpillars spend many years munching away inside trees. Many species of trees can be host. During late summer many mature caterpillars leave the tree and wander looking for a place to pupate. They may remain in pupa state for years before the adult emerges. June is the usual flight season. It’s the wandering caterpillars that are being seen now. Caterpillars of varying sizes can be encountered at other times of year from trees being cut for firewood. Goat Moth is more common than previously thought. While adults are not often seen, there are caterpillar sightings annually from the SW and mid east region.About 20 sightings have been reported during 2015. Can you add other sightings?

 Posted by at 09:17