Ruddy Streak , Tachystola acroxantha – New to Ireland

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Oct 112019
 

Ruddy Streak. Not the greatest image but sufficient for identification and the only image of the first Irish Tachystola acroxantha.

I work in The King’s Hospital, a co-educational secondary school with a parkland campus between Lucan and Palmerstown — the school grounds extend down through wooded hillsides to the banks of the Liffey.

Two initiatives within the school led me to undertake three years (2016-2018) of weekly moth trapping as part of the Garden Moth Scheme. The first was the introduction of a tree trail of 100 notable trees of numerous species in the school grounds. The next step was (and is) to undertake research for a broader trail of flora and fauna. These nature trails are intended for the use of classes in subjects such as Art and Science as well as by visitors. The other initiative was the school’s environment committee’s pursuit of the Green Flag for biodiversity.

The campus includes two houses which had gardens prior to the school’s relocation from the city centre in 1971. I chose one of them as the site for trapping. I placed the Robinson Trap (60W Actinic) at the back of the garden between the house (Avondale) and the woods. Although it did not yield large numbers of moths, it did occasionally indicate interesting aspects of biodiversity on the campus. Some of the more unusual species were Oak Nycteoline, Orange Sallow, Pine Shoot Moth and Thistle Ermine.

During the summer of 2017, I had become aware of tiny moths associated with birds’ nests and similar indoor habitats (for example, Tinea trinotella, which I saw in my mother’s garden near Mullingar that May). There was a swallow’s nest in the outhouse where I stored the trap and I wondered if that might be relevant.

When I went to the trap on the morning of 5 August 2017, I could easily have overlooked a small moth in the trap. Likewise, I could have written it down as a strange-looking Brown House Moth and nothing more. I had, however, as I said, recently had my eyes opened to moths associated with nests, so I was interested and took what turned out to be a poor photograph just in case.

When I started looking at the picture in the office and comparing it with online information (I didn’t have the Sterling and Parsons field guide to hand), I began to wonder whether it could be a Ruddy Streak. I contacted my Garden Moth Scheme mentor Don Hodgers.

Here’s the conversation:

AW: Tentatively, Don, I have a Ruddy Streak (Tachystola acroxantha) sighting in the trap in Dublin last night. I’ve a poor photograph but it is clearly a Brown House Moth size and style of moth with orange termen. Is it common in Ireland?

DH: I don’t think it’s on the Irish list as yet so a photo would be very important.  But it would have to be good enough to rule out other species.  It’s always possible — 4 new additions to the list in the last fortnight or so!

AW: Here are the images from that trapping, Don.

DH: Yes, a Ruddy Streak, congratulations!  I don’t know if any others have been found, as the latest records available are for the end of 2015 and someone might have it on their list — but I don’t think so.  They are spreading through Britain and it was only a matter of time.  They are originally from Australia… feeding on leaf litter with a number of generations a year, they could be the next Light Brown Apple Moth! 

Although the image was poor, he was completely satisfied that it could be nothing else.

The first-ever sighting of Ruddy Streak in Ireland might be explained in the same way as its introduction to Britain as an adventive. A possible connection to the Bloom event in the Phoenix Park cannot be ruled out.

Andrew Whiteside.

69.014 Bedstraw Hawk-moth Hyles galii – First confirmed breeding record for Ireland

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Sep 152019
 

Irish 69.014 Bedstraw Hawk-moth, Hyles galii Caterpillar

On Tuesday 20th August 2019, not having had a decent walk all week, I decided to go to Killenthomas Woods in the Bog of Allen, Co. Kildare (grid ref N668222) with my rescue dog George. I like going there in the evening as you are much more likely to spot wildlife when it is quiet. There are Foxes, Red Squirrels and Badgers as well as Cuckoos and Buzzards. On one occasion I rounded a corner and met a family of Badgers, two adults and half a dozen or so cubs. The woods are a wonderful place.

When I got there I set out on the Ballydermot loop past the wild gooseberry bush, which I checked in the hope I had missed one earlier in the year (I hadn’t). The walk was uneventful. It was too early in the evening for the mammals to be out. I noticed that there were a few early blackberries out and tasted a couple but they were a little bitter. I decided to go up onto the bog to see if there were any there.

I got to the place where there is a cut through the woods and climbed down onto the bog, stopping to pick and eat a few bilberries. Unfortunately the wild strawberries are finished or I would have picked some of those too. I walked to the bank where the blackberries grow – the ones that grow in that particular spot are sublime – large, juicy and as sweet as can be. To my dismay there were no blackberries ripe or otherwise. As I was looking I spotted a large, unfamiliar caterpillar on some willowherb. I took a number of pictures with various settings on the camera and went home.

The next day I posted a couple of pictures of the caterpillar to the Insects/Invertebrates of Ireland Facebook page for identification. It was identified very quickly by Owen Beckett as a Bedstraw Hawk-moth Hyles galii caterpillar and this was confirmed by others.

Bedstraw Hawk-moth H. galii is a very rare immigrant to Ireland with c.15 records scattered along the coast from Dublin to Kerry. It is resident in much of Europe, north to Scandinavia and east to Russia. All the records to date in Ireland have been of adults so this is the first confirmed breeding of the species in Ireland.

Julian Currie.

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