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

 Leaf Mine, New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 4.074 Etainia sericopeza (Zeller, 1839) – New to Ireland
Oct 122022
 

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

73.330 Radford’s Flame Shoulder, Ochropleura leucogaster – New to Ireland

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings, Rare sightings  Comments Off on 73.330 Radford’s Flame Shoulder, Ochropleura leucogaster – New to Ireland
May 072022
 

On arrival at Cape Clear Island, West Cork in October 2021 for my usual sojourn, it quickly became obvious that there were quite a few migrant moths and Red Admirals about. There were a few Rush Veneers Nomophila noctuella and uncountable numbers of Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis seen throughout the island each day. The weather was generally drifting South/South-east all week and with mild nights my trap was put out most nights mostly because of the unending enthusiasm of James McNally.

During the week in a discussion with Michael O’Donnell he happened to mention that there was a large number of Radford’s Flame Shoulders Ochropleura leucogaster in Britain and that I should keep an eye out for it as it is a migrant species. We, James, Dr. Geoff Oliver and I, were a bit disappointed by the quantity and quality of what was in our trap most night with lots of Rusty-dot Pearl and on one night five Gem Orthonama obstipata being the only moths of note. Later that week we trapped a Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta, which is the only possible confusion species with Radford’s but as I am very familiar with this common species there was no sense of excitement.

However, on emptying the trap on the morning of the 16th, Chick (JMcN) took out an eggbox with just one moth on it and I quickly noticed it was similar to but different from Flame Shoulder. Could it be? I quickly potted it for closer examination and was pretty sure that what I was looking at was a Radford’s Flame Shoulder. The moth was longer and narrower than Flame Shoulder and the white edge to the wing reached the ‘shoulders’ and continued across the thorax to complete a white-lined loop. This feature is not mentioned in the literature but is very obviously different to Flame Shoulder. I was able to see that the moth had pure white hindwings which differ to the yellowish hindwing of Flame Shoulder. I was sure that we were looking at a first Irish record and this was quickly confirmed on a UK moths Facebook page.

This was the first but will not be the last. Of that I am certain.

Eamonn O’Donnell

Radford’s Flame Shoulder Ochropleura leucogaster Cape Clear Island, West Cork.

(©Eamonn O’Donnell)

49.288 Epiblema foenella – First Irish record.

 General interest, New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 49.288 Epiblema foenella – First Irish record.
Mar 302022
 

I’ve been moth trapping in my suburban garden in Baldoyle, Co Dublin since 2010, usually with a 40W actinic Skinner trap.  The weather forecast for the night of the 21st/22nd July 2021 looked OK for moths so I set up the trap in its usual spot against the wall of my garden shed.  The next morning the minimum recorded temperature overnight had been 14.8 deg. C and a quick peek into the trap showed a lot of moths in among the egg trays (after processing the catch, I had 44 species, quite a good haul for my area).

I noticed a somewhat striking micro moth on the shed wall and took a couple of shots with it before going through the contents of the trap.  For some reason I thought it looked familiar and didn’t pay it too much attention.  How wrong I was!

I was more interested in a Yellowtail and a Chevron, both fairly infrequent records for me.  It was only later when I started going through the photos of all the species that I wasn’t able to identify on sight, that I realized I had caught something special.  Of course, when I rushed back down to the shed it was gone (hopefully not down the gullet of my opportunistic resident Robin).

Despite it being a quite unique looking micro moth, it didn’t leap off the page when I was going through the Sterling field guide but posting a photo on the MI Facebook page quickly had me pointed in the right direction (thanks everyone), Epiblema foenella.  As usual, when I went back to the field guide I was left wondering how I missed it first time around.  There isn’t really anything else it could have been.

The map in Sterling confirms its presence in north Wales including Anglesey and also the Isle of Man, so it really was only a matter of time before it turned up on our shores.  The larval food plant is listed as Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris which is certainly common along the east coast.

2021 has been a somewhat unusual year for mothing in my garden.  As well as the Epiblema foenella record, I had shared a joint first Irish record of Euzophera pinguis with Gareth O’Donnell just a fortnight earlier.  I had also recorded quite a few ‘firsts’ for my garden, both macro and micro moths.  After running a trap on the same site for so many years it was very unusual and very exciting to add so many new species to the site list in a single season.  Adding two to the national species list is an added bonus.  All this excitement is tempered somewhat when I look at the number of species that have completely disappeared from my garden since I started recording or others whose numbers continue to decline with each passing year.

Cian Merne

 

Sloe Pug Pasiphila chloerata – New to Ireland

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings, Rare sightings  Comments Off on Sloe Pug Pasiphila chloerata – New to Ireland
Mar 182022
 

On the 22nd of June 2021 I was targeting a small stand of Elm (which I had found earlier in the year) for Clouded Magpie Abraxas sylvata, a species I have only seen once many years ago and was keen to find again. The trees are on both sides of the road at the southern end of Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow (just south of the roadside carpark). My plan was to do a short session of approximately two hours using a 125MV trap west of the road (which I would stay with during the session) and a 20W Actinic CFL trap to the east of the road (T302816). As it turned out, it was a relatively quiet session for moths with the MV getting 72 moths of 38 species and none of my target so I decided to finish at 1.5 hours duration. I then went over to the actinic and went through that trap. Again, nothing major regarding moth numbers or apparently anything of great interest. The last moth at the bottom of the last egg tray, which I nearly missed, was an almost black pug, from what I could see in the torch light. With a hint of green, my initial thought was an extremely dark Green Pug Pasiphila rectangulata at which point I nearly chucked it into the undergrowth but thought better and potted it for later examination.

As it was after 1am and a “school” night, I forgot all about it when I got home. After work the following day, I remembered that I had a moth potted up still in my bag. On looking more closely, I again narrowed it down to a dark Green Pug but the outer edge of the dark bar didn’t have the kink it should have. The abdomen didn’t look right either. Bilberry Pug Pasiphila debiliata was also quickly eliminated owing to the complete lack of its foodplant in the region and being familiar with it, the lack of the classic black dots demarcating the cross bar. Even though the illustration of Sloe Pug in Waring and Townsend didn’t particularly look right, two features did match….that of the un-kinked outer edge of the crossbar and the pink bars on the abdomen. But of course, I knew that couldn’t be possible as we don’t have it in Ireland! Next port of call was Lepiforum (German moth website) which to my amazement had near perfect matches of my moth under Sloe Pug. With confidence levels rising and excitement levels off the scale…..dare I hope! I then posted it on the MothsIreland (FaceBook page) where the general consensus was that I was probably correct but would need to have it examined critically by Ken Bond owing to its significance. Needing people with direct experience of the species, I posted it on “Pugs in Flight tonight” (UK FaceBook group dedicated to pugs), where it was given the thumbs up too. A few months later it was confirmed by Ken Bond as Ireland’s first Sloe Pug.

Having looked again at the trapping site, there is plenty of its foodplant, Blackthorn, quite close by. I did trap again a little south at Buckroney where there is a big patch of the foodplant but no luck. As it is apparently only an occasional visitor to light traps, I won’t give up hope of finding more in future. I plan to target it again this year in an effort to try and find out if it was a once off wanderer or part of an embryonic colonization or perhaps even a long-overlooked resident. According to the Atlas of Britain and Ireland’s Larger Moths, it was not recorded in the UK until 1971 but has been found widely since but again it’s not known if it was overlooked or colonized rapidly.

Thanks to all on the various groups and websites for help and comments and Ken Bond for dissection of this first Irish record. I urge people to target Blackthorn during May- early July to see if this may in fact be an overlooked species.

Christian Osthoff

73.0041 Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei – a migrant new to Ireland

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 73.0041 Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei – a migrant new to Ireland
Dec 272021
 

73.0041 (BF 2433a) Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei (Boisduval, 1840) (Lep.: Noctuidae), a migrant new to Ireland

An example of the Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei (Boisduval, 1840) was taken by me at light at Tramore, Co. Waterford (Vice-county H6; Irish grid reference S577013), on the south-east coast of Ireland on 2 September 2020. Other migrants trapped at the time included a Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella (L.) and Palpita vitrealis (Rossi.), two Convolvulus Hawk-moths Agrius convolvuli (L.) and two Silver Y Autographa gamma (L.). Additionally, at dusk five Hawk-moths were seen nectaring simultaneously at the Tobacco plants Nicotiana spp., although I suspect three or four more were probably visiting them. A Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon (Hufn.) was also noted nectaring.

Colin Plant informs me (personal communication) that the night of 2 September 2020 was also a night of significant primary immigrant activity in Hertfordshire, south-east England. The moth was identified with reference to Tunmore (2015. The First British Record of Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei (Boisd., 1840), Atropos: 55: 3- 13), Waring, P. Townsend, M. & Lewington, R., (2017. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, 3rd edition, Bloomsbury Publishing) and http://www.lepiforum.de/lepiwiki.pl?Thysanoplusia_Daubei.

Native to Africa, and also resident along the European Mediterranean coastline https://fauna-eu.org/, T. daubei can be found on the wing from May to November frequenting garrigue scrub, coastal dunes and rough ground, where its larvae feed on members of the daisy family Asteraceae, sow-thistles Sonchus spp., chicory Cichorium spp., mint Mentha spp. and many other herbaceous plants (Waring et. al. op. cit.). It is most likely to have originated from the Iberian Peninsula or North Africa. The closely related T. indicator (Walker, 1858) is also a resident in Africa, where its range overlaps with that of T. daubei. The forewing of T. daubei is lighter and greyer than that of T. indicator and has the stigmata less defined and less “silvery” in colour. The genitalia of both sexes provide more finite differences (Behounek, Ronkay & Ronkay, 2010. The Witt Catalogue. A taxonomic atlas of the Eurasian and North African Noctuoidea. 4. Plusiinae 2. Heterocera Press).

Thysanoplusia daubei was added to the British list in 2014 from the Lizard, Cornwall (Tunmore op. cit.) and there was a second specimen reported from Littlehampton, West Sussex during late July 2020. The Irish example, thus represents the third occurrence in the British Isles as well as the first for Ireland. The specimen will be lodged with the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History, Dublin. I would like to thank Colin Plant for his help with this note.

Bryant, T., 2020. Boathouse Gem Thysanoplusia daubei (Boisduval, 1840) (Lep.: Noctuidae), a migrant new to Ireland. Entomologist’s Record & Journal of Variation 132: 218-219.

Tony Bryant

 

Apotomis sauciana – New to Ireland

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on Apotomis sauciana – New to Ireland
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

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 73.280 Small Ranunculus, Hecatera dysodea – New to Ireland
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

 Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on Anania lancealis – back in the Argideen valley after 81 years – 2nd Irish record
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

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on Cypress Carpet (Thera cupressata) – New to Ireland
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

 New to Ireland, Rare moth sightings  Comments Off on 49.275 Eucosma conterminana – New to Ireland. Tony Bryant
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.