Author name: Lindsey

63.014 Sitochroa Palealis – First Irish record.

It was 17th July, and I was on my holidays at a place called Ballyconnery, approximately 7 kilometres north of Dungarvan, Waterford. My uncle Philip arrived down with a car full of moth traps and we set out to put several 125w Robinson’s MV traps in various locations around the house and farmland where we were staying. The habitat looked really good for trapping with a mixture of scrub, native meadow and mixed woodland nearby. Three traps were set up in the fields and scrub and were powered using a string of 50m mains extension cables thereby allowing us decent coverage. One was comfortably nestled at the front of the house among a mixed wildflower and Verbascum garden (no sign of any mullein moth activities unfortunately).

The week had been a hot one and the next was to be even hotter. Temperatures for the night reached a low of around 16-19 degrees Celsius and as day became night, the traps began to light up. Things were already looking good, and it was about to get even better. During the night, we checked the traps to see if any interesting species had entered. An obvious and striking record to be noted was the Orange Moth Angerona prunaria.

The sun rose early that morning, as it does in July, and we set off to inspect the traps just as it was rising. When going through the contents of the third trap, we came across what seemed to be a relatively large and pale micro-moth. I could only think of it as being an unusually large Timothy Tortrix Aphelia paleana. It was sitting in a part of the trap that made it difficult to pot and during its attempted capture it flew up and away before circling around and eventually landing on my T shirt! Luck was with us, and Philip made sure to seal the jar firmly, preventing any further calamity. 

The fourth trap was done thoroughly and with a sense of great anticipation at this mysterious moth’s identification. The process began immediately after any necessary clean-up. We made certain of the confirmation that it was indeed not a large Timothy Tortrix but after a brief additional surfing through multiple picture and photograph books, both of us were in agreement. The moth could only to be Sitochroa palealis, a moth previously unrecorded in Ireland. 

The moth was pale with dark vein-like patterns, living up to its description as “pale sulphur yellow to whitish…veins variably darker.” (Sterling and Parsons, 2012) It had an obscure dark spot as also mentioned in the book. The specimen was retained to ensure any further analysis could be done if needed. 

Sitochroa palealis is found throughout mainland Europe and also in the south of England. Its vernacular name is the Carrot Seed Moth as the larvae feed on wild carrot and similar plants. It is a species of the family Crambidae with a wingspan of 26–34 mm.

A combination of great habitat, perfect trapping conditions and the right time of year resulted in a very productive night’s trapping with approximately 150 species recorded. Other notable records included Cloaked Pug Euphyia biangulata, Pammenne regiana and Hedya ochroleucana.

Conor Strickland

Phyllonorycter tristrigella – New to Ireland!

15.078 Phyllonorycter tristrigella (Haworth, 1828)

16th August 2022, Minnowburn, Belfast. Off on my regular morning jaunt with our dog, Milou we ended up by the Minnowburn stream where there is good tree cover including a couple of Wych Elms Ulmus glabra in the under-storey. I initially noticed a gallery mine (turned out to be Stigmella lemniscella – yellow larva present) but then to my astonishment a tentiform mine of a Phyllonorycter, something I had never previously seen on Wych Elm, caught my eye. There are only two options in GB noted on the leaf mining websites, P. tristrigella and P. schreberella. There are no cross-over species listed i.e. species on the “wrong” host. A quick run through the keys and checking images quickly confirmed the mine to be P tristrigella. P. schreberella forms an oval tent/blotch, often crossing veins, it is uncommon on Wych Elm and has a very southern distribution in GB. Tristrigella mines lie between veins forming a strongly contracted tube running from mid-rib to leaf edge, obvious in the attached images. There are a few strong folds on this mine which hard to capture in the image as the mine is so puckered causing them to merge. Frass was tightly packed in bottom corner of the mine. The mine was vacated. Amazingly following this discovery Eamonn O’Donnell found a long vacated mine, also on Wych Elm, in Dublin the following day!  Thanks again to CEDaR and the Environmental Recorders Group small grant. To date I have found it nowhere else despite searching.

Dave Allen 22/08/22

4.074 Etainia sericopeza (Zeller, 1839) – New to Ireland

Thanks to a small grant from CEDaR Environmental Recorders Group I was to spend a bit more time than usual looking at leaf mines in Northern Ireland. One of my search areas, which I have rarely visited, was Ormeau Park, Belfast (Co Down) not very distant, but an area with many mature trees and a good under-storey.

A gentle stroll into the park on 22nd July 2022 quickly revealed a number of common species on beech and hazel. A mature Norway maple (Acer platanoides) then drew my attention. In Ireland I have been looking in vain for “samara miners” for over six years. I have seen two species with ease in France so my eye is “in”.  A number of samaras were on the ground, I was totally flabbergasted to immediately find two mined samaras. The mines were of Etainia sericopeza (field maple and sycamore have different miners).

The egg is laid on the wing of the samara, the larva then mines a thin gallery towards and into the seed. Depending on the age of the samara the mines can be obvious or more cryptic.

On 23rd July I could not believe my luck in finding another mined samara, this time at Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast (Co Antrim).

Dave Allen July 2022

4.057 Stigmella suberivora (Stainton, 1869) New to Ireland

Thanks to a small grant from National Parks and Wildlife Service I was able to survey leaf mining Lepidoptera in the Republic of Ireland. Although my focus was on the border counties where leaf miners are seriously under recorded I kept the brief broad. This allowed me to travel to Meath and Dublin where I teamed up with my old friend Eamonn O’Donnell and his partner Kerri Gorentz. One of our search areas was to be the Botanic Gardens and Cemetery at Glasnevin, Co Dublin. These places are usually good for leaf miners with an array of exotic, non-native trees and shrubs. I was also well aware of the recent discovery of Ectoedemia heringella on evergreen oaks Quercus ilex at the Botanic Gardens.

E. heringella was easily found in both the Gardens and cemetery. Typically, it is already abundant with multiple mines on many leaves. I knew from looking at leaf mines in France and London that another species could also occur on these trees, S. suberivora, but that finding it has become much harder because of the density of heringella mines which can obscure it.

After about fifteen minutes of searching I found what I believed to be two mines of suberivora. Both were on leaves lacking heringella mines. The heringella mines are small ad compact taking up on average less than a square cm whereas the two suberivora mines were long (just over 4cm) and along the leaf margin. Mines of both were packed with black frass and egg upper in both cases. Without backlighting the mines are buffish in colour. As heringella increases in numbers, which it will, then suberivora is likely to become increasingly difficult to locate. A number of UK experts concurred with the identification.

Mines of E. heringella

 

Mine of S. suberivora (backlit)

 

The same mine without backlighting

Dave Allen July 2022

Triple-spotted Clay, Xestia ditrapezium. Rosbeg, Co. Donegal – Last recorded in 1956! July 2021

July 2021 was mostly warm and sunny, a good month for moth trapping in south-west Donegal and a hot, dry, tropical weather system was being drawn up from the south-east between 15 –25 July. This was my 2nd summer of trapping and I set my Skinner 20W trap on the night of 23 July at the back of my house in Rosbeg, Co. Donegal where there is heathland and some willow trees.

My sister Amanda was due to visit the following day and I thought I would have any trapped moths more or less sorted by then. I duly unpacked it early the next morning with 21 species and 71 moths.

I had had several Double-square Spot Xestia triangulum already that month however, the specimen I was checking that morning was decidedly purple, shimmering and just had a different “jizz” about it.

As a relative novice with just Waring, Townsend & Lewington’s field guide the picture was a very good match for Triple-spotted Clay Xestia ditrapezium. Though it couldn’t be as it had not been recorded in Ireland since 1956 and that was in Dublin. Or could it be?

It went into the fridge for further inspection, and the photo and query went up onto MothsIreland Facebook page.

Amanda arrived and we both waited in anticipation for the expert’s view. Possibly, and probably not were the responses, but to freeze it anyhow for Ken Bond’s expert analysis.

Two nights later we took Amanda’s battery-operated Skinner 20W trap to Sheskinmore Nature Reserve for the first time with kind permission from NPWS. It is about 4km from the house. We found a suitable location at the edge of the machair, bordering a small wooded area.

On the twenty min walk back to the car we met a fellow moth enthusiast with his traps. It was Timothy McKillen who said he had been trapping in Sheskinmore for around ten years. We mentioned the possible Triple-Spotted Clay and he remarked that he had found a number of moths over the years which he thought matched the identification though they were not confirmed as they had not been not dissected. Encouraging and interesting news.

The following morning at 06.15am we opened the trap in Sheskinmore and found a very similar moth to the Rosbeg specimen, which also went in the freezer.

The 2 specimens were posted to Ken Bond.

Big excitement at 07.15am on 11 November. Ken Bond had confirmed that both specimens were indeed Triple-spotted Clay, Xestia ditrapezium. A possible small population of this native species.

Hidden in plain sight in Rosbeg Co. Donegal.

Triple-spotted Clay is local but widespread across England, Wales and western Scotland in open and damp broadleaved woodland.

Valerie Pedlow.

© Valerie Pedlow

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