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 – First confirmed Irish records
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!
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.
UncategorizedComments Off on Marigold Shark, Cucullia calendulae – New to Ireland
Ireland’s first Marigold Shark Cucullia calendulae,
A species of Cucullia was taken by Tony Bryant at Tramore, Co. Waterford (grid reference S577013), on 25 December 2018 at the beginning of a period of unseasonable immigrant activity on the Waterford coast emanating from the Iberian Peninsula and Western France. Migrants trapped at the time included a Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella (L.), Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua (Hb.) and Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon (Hufn.) on 27 and 28 December, while on 30 December another Small Mottled Willow was recorded, with further migrant activity reported along the Waterford and Cork coasts. The moth was identified as a Marigold Shark Cucullia calendulae with reference to Barron, S. Zilli, A. & Tunmore, M. (2018. The First British Record of Marigold Shark Cucullia calendulae Treitschke, 1835. Atropos62: 51-62) and www.lepiforum.de, but to rule out a similar resident species, the Chamomile Shark Cucullia chamomillae ([D. & S.]), it was passed to KGMB who later set, dissected and confirmed the moth as a male Cucullia calendulae Treitschke, 1835 Marigold Shark and new to Ireland.
Known from the Canary Islands, Iberian Peninsula, France, the Mediterranean and further afield C. calendulae is on the wing from October to April, with the moth overwintering and its larvae feeding from February through to June on members of the Asteraceae family, including Marigold (Calendula spp.).
The specimen will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin.
Tony Bryant and Ken Bond
Bryant, T. & Bond, K.G.M., 2019. Marigold Shark Cucullia calendulae Treitschke, 1835 (Lep.: Noctuidae), a migrant new to Ireland. Entomologist’s Record & Journal of Variation 131: 64-65.
UncategorizedComments Off on Ruddy Streak , Tachystola acroxantha – New to Ireland
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.
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.
New to IrelandComments Off on 63.002 Loxostege sticticalis – New to Ireland
63.002 Loxostege sticticalis
On Thursday 8th August 2019 I was on my usual lunchtime walk which runs along a country lane and comes to a dead end at an old basalt quarry located north of Carrickfergus in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. The lands are privately owned and I am extremely privileged to have permission from the landowner to walk there.
Within the quarry there is a naturally filled pond, which is a haven for various Damselflies & Dragonflies as well as other pond creatures including Frogs and Water Boatmen.
Because the quarry has not been worked for a number of years a wide variety of wildflowers are now in abundance including Colt’s-foot, Vetches, Plantains, Knapweed, Trefoils and Meadow Vetchling to name a few. These wildflowers not only provide nectar and pollen sources for the invertebrates but many of the plants are also important for the caterpillars of the butterfly and moth species found there.
I am a keen amateur nature photographer and I love visiting the location to photograph all the flora and fauna to be found there. Already this year I have discovered five species of moth, which I had never encountered before. Four species, Pyrausta purpuralis, Cydia nigricana, Capua vulgana and Lime Speck Pug Eupithecia centaureata were found within the quarry and a Vestal Rhodometra sacraria was seen on the lane leading up to it.
While I was in the quarry photographing Painted Lady butterflies which had arrived in their hundreds, I noticed something small fly past and land a few feet from me. Being of a curious nature, I went to investigate what it was. Luckily I was able to find it straight away and took a few photos as a record. I knew it was some type of moth but definitely not one I had ever seen before. I was very excited to find out what it was and couldn’t wait to get home after work to find out.
I posted the photos up onto Twitter asking for an ID and very quickly got a response back from UK Moth Identification saying that it was Loxostege sticticalis, a rare migrant species. As anything I see usually begins with the word ‘common’, I decided to seek further confirmation and posted the photos onto the MothsIreland Group on Facebook.
Eamonn O’Donnell replied saying that it certainly looked like one and my find was better than rare.
Turns out that this is the first ever confirmed sighting of a Loxostege sticticalis in Ireland. This is a scarce migrant to Britain from Europe but has become more frequent in recent years so perhaps we can expect more to start turning up here.
So glad I decided to follow it to where it landed and investigate what it was. You just never know what is going to turn up.
New to IrelandComments Off on 70.008 Small Dusty Wave, Idaea seriata – New to Ireland
This is a story of an unintentional moth sighting. The evening of Friday 5th July 2019 was warm & sunny and my husband and myself decided to take advantage and go to Howth for a walk. We live in Artane, a suburban area in north Dublin. Just as I was about to get into the car, I noticed a moth on the white surroundings of our garage, so I took out the phone to pop off a picture.
When I got home post walk, I attempted to identify the moth. Well, I am a novice with moths, but I love learning what creatures are out and about in the garden, be it ants, spiders or moths. I came upon the wave (Idaea) family and saw a picture of a Small Dusty Wave Idaea seriata and thought that it looked about right for my moth. As I wasn’t sure, I turned to the MothsIreland Facebook page for some help.
Eamonn O’Donnell replied, sounding excited, but I didn’t understand why. What I hadn’t realized was that Small Dusty Wave had never previously been recorded from Ireland. Small Dusty Wave is found throughout Europe and North Africa. It is widespread in England and eastern Wales and is also found in the east of Scotland. It has also been recorded on the Isle of Man. Initially I thought it couldn’t possibly be one. What would a moth, never recorded in Ireland before, be doing on the wall of my garage? Unfortunately, by this stage, the visitor had left for its night’s adventures so I couldn’t catch it for closer investigation but, thankfully, the identification was confirmed by Steve Nash, who is familiar with the species in Britain and Dave Allen who has seen the species in France.
I have to admit I was very impressed and a little proud. It goes to show what you can find if you just look around you. I’d like to thank Dave, Eamonn, Michael O’Donnell and Steve for all the help and encouragement. It has spurred me on to start light trapping and looking all that bit closer at what is flying about.
New to IrelandComments Off on 63.1145 Elophila rivulalis – New to Ireland
63.1145 Elophila rivulalis
63.1145 Elophila rivulalis
The Ponds, Leixlip Spa.
Leixlip Spa, Louisa Bridge in County Kildare is a site beside the Royal Canal about 1.5 km from the town of Leixlip. It is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is fairly well known for having a number of plant and invertebrate species which are rare or locally uncommon in Ireland. Seepage from the spa has created a marsh with a couple of small ponds and the area is often alive with insects on a mild summers evening.
It was on such an evening, on the 10th July 2017 that I decided to visit with my net in hand. I made my way down through the site towards the ponds, netting and recording several different species of moth on the way. At the ponds I noticed some weakly flying whitish micro-moths flitting through the vegetation around the side of the waterbody. Individuals were often landing on the vegetation and none were travelling far. I netted a few for closer examination, releasing all but one, which I potted and kept to photograph. My initial impression was that I had an odd form of Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata, be it a little small and less robust. The following morning, in good light, I photographed the potted specimen but was still none the wiser as to its identity.
With the mystery still unresolved I returned to the site three days later, recording approximately 12 of these moths on the wing. I again netted a couple for closer examination, retaining a single specimen for photographing. Again the images taken did not conclusively resolve the puzzle and so on 17 July I uploaded the photographs to a Facebook Irish Moth Group.
Very quickly Eamonn O’Donnell suggested that Elophila rivulalis, a Continental species unrecorded in Ireland or for that matter Britain, could not be ruled out. Dave Allen sent images to some international experts who concluded that E. rivulalis was a likely candidate but that a specimen would need to be dissected to be fully sure. A specimen was duly sent to the Natural History Museum in London via Dave and eventually it was confirmed as this species. E. rivulalis is one of the Crambidae family and is closely related to the Brown China-mark. As it currently has no common/vernacular name I have proposed that it be called the Irish China-mark.
Repeated visits to the site throughout the summers of 2017 to 2019 have shown that it appears to be doing well with up to 40 seen in mid July 2017, up to 30 in early June 2018 and 38 to date in 2019. The flight season is from about late May to the beginning of August.
It is with great sadness to inform of the passing of Maurice Hughes.
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.
About 830 micro-moth maps have been updated. For the first time these include Northern Ireland records to give an all Ireland view of distribution. Click this for the map page or click the map here. This map shows the distribution of Agriphila straminella from the records we have. This species leads the 10km square count, but in reality this moth should have complete coverage but the lack of recording in central Ireland and other areas are the reason for the holes in its distribution.
Please let us know of any errors ie. wrong map, missing species, missing records, erroneous records etc.