Thursday, 4 August 2022

'home grown' drurella!

Early July and a typical afternoon at the allotment. Typical being Mrs K doing all the graft and me with best intentions but getting distracted at every turn by insects. Our allotment is in the village and basically part of Litcham Common, so there is ALWAYS plenty to look at...and distract me.

So packing up after an afternoons allotmenting (and invertebrate based procrastination), I notice a few leafmines on some small Fat Hen plants coming through. I'm not completely rubbish with leafmines but I do need to take a bit of time and work them out but we were leaving so I left them be and headed home. Curiosity got the better of me and it wasn't long before I was looking at the species possibilities on that particular foodplant. Didn't take long to realise I'd found the mines of Chrysoesthis drurella and a couple of vacated mines, of it's close relative, Chrysoesthia sexguttella. Thanks as always, to Rob Edmunds (@leafminerman on Twitter) for confirming.

Chrysoesthia drurella

Chrysoesthia sexguttella (vacated)
 

I'd never seen drurella before but it's an absolute stunner of a Moth and - at only c5-6mm in length - hiding almost in plain sight. I couldn't let this oportunity pass. I used to rear quite of species through from eggs or larvae to adult but I seem to find myself with less and less time and so only rarely do so now. This beauty warranted the effort so I dashed back to the allotment, soaked to the bone within 5mins as the heaven's had opened since we left but found a couple more plants with at least half a dozen mines between them, so they came home with me.

Plants safely potted into some leftover compost, in a small bucket and placed in a netted enclosure. Done. Sadly, and probably annoyingly to my good wife, that was the most gardening I'd done all day! :)

Then the waiting game... plants stayed fresh and actually took really well, now growing against the top of the enclosure. An occasional spray of water to keep the soil soft enough for any potential borrowing larvae. 

I think it was more like 10 mines on these in the end.

now sit and wait...

During random checks I was lucky enough to see a single larva of drurella, wandering around the enclosure. Even the larvae are pretty!





With a little persuading, I coaxed it back to the soil where it started to get digging. I'd now seen the mines and the larvae and really hoping to get the hat-trick with an adult. Fast forward to last week and it's time for another water spray. I always inspect first, incase any sparkling fresh drurella have emerged and it SEEMED safe to open this time but clearly, I hadn't seen the small Moth on the underside of a leaf! As I unzipped the top - woosh! Little Moth flew straight out and passed my head. I couldn't even tell what it was. Gutted!!

Over the next few days, determined not to make the same mistake again, I saw that my drurella larvae didn't have the place to themselves after all. A small, parasitic Wasp of some sort had also emerged (potentially not boading well for one of the drurella larvae), followed two days later by 4x tiny bugs. These were Piesma maculatum, another Fat Hen feeder. New for me and not a bad record, but not a drurella!

Parasitic Wasp sp.

Parasitic Wasp sp.

Parasitic Wasp sp.

 

Showing the indented pronotum margins diagnostic to Piesma maculatum. That and having come from the correct foodplant.

Piesma maculatum

Piesma maculatum

Yesterday. Almost one month exactly after finding the mines - bingo! Cast your eyes upon a freshly emerged, Chrysoesthia drurella:

Chrysoesthia drurella

Chrysoesthia drurella

Well worth the effort if you ask me! With up to possibly 8-9 more larvae still under the soil, I could get to relive this again in the coming weeks. I Hope so!


Friday, 3 December 2021

2021 Garden Moth review: Jul - Dec.

If you've come back for more, I thank you!

July 1st: Acleris comariana. After checking so many potentials and finding laterana every time, I finally came across my first comariana. It was unsurprisingly new for garden and 10ksq and would be the County record this year. In fact, it's the only County record since 2017 so a big deal catch for me. Well chuffed.

 

Acleris comariana

July 2nd: Hedya salicella. I know I go on about loving so many micros but a fresh out the box salicella takes some beating. Made of one half pearl and one half a swirling blue Nebula with an iron oxide air-brake on top for good measure, they're always one that warrants taking 5mins out to enjoy a closer look. 3rd garden record but was MIA in 2020.

Hedya salicella

July 3rd: Ocnerostoma piniariella. Not much to look at, a harsh but fair truth, but what this Nationally Scarce B species loses on the looks section of its Top Trumps card, it makes up for with the rarity element as only the 12th Norfolk record since the first three in 1874. 

Shaded Pug. 2nd for the garden but you need to go back 3yrs to 2018 for the first.

Spilonota ocellana. Widespread but new for garden and 10ksq, only this year.

Ocnerostoma piniariella

Shaded Pug

July 7th: a little windfall of decent records, with Coleophora mayrella, a long-awaited garden first and one I've been hoping for. The antennae (defining feature for mayrella) had seen better days but the thickened basal section and black/white ringed rest of it was obvious. A new garden species and the only other 10ksq record was back in 2009, by our very own County Moth recorder, Jim Wheeler.

Thiodia citrana. Another species I'd only recorded two other times and another that was absent from 2020. I'd gone on to log a total of 3 this year.

Blotched Emerald. ohhh yess! Another high roller on my want list that didn't disappoint. A species that will turn up in numbers, in the right location but this was one of only 14 County records this year. Very pleased to add it to the garden list.

Phyllocnistis saligna. One previous record here, in 2019 but given the size, I suspect it's under-recorded.


Coleophora mayrella

Coleophora mayrella diagnostic antennae details
Thiodia citrana

Blotched Emerald

Phyllocnistis saligna

July 7th: Lozotaeniodes formosana. This year I had the 5th & 6th records for this species but it follows what seems to be a bit of a pattern here, in that it was missing in 2020. Although almost impossible to proove, I can't help feeling that a lot of these patterns are down to the infamous 'Beast from the East' in 2018. Such harsh conditions for that length of time must have had some effect on all the overwintering larvae and pupae under ground? Just a theory..

Lozotaeniodes formosana

July 9th: Dotted Fan-foot. Although pretty much an East Anglian speciality, I don't see many here and this was on the 2nd record, after another singleton in 2020.

Ethmia dodecea. Love these too. Like a cartoon character of a Moth. Again, my first record of this species was only last year, in 2020 when I trapped 2 in the last week of June. This would be the only example I see this year, however.

Marbled Clover. I'm quite lucky to see a lot of this red data book species here and recorded 3 individuals this year but just take a look at these numbers:

2017 = 0

2018 = 1

2019 = 2

2020 = 23

2021 = 3

..that doesn't exactly fit in with my Beast from the East theory, does it?! Difference in species pupation tolerance maybe? Generally just hardier? Perhaps. But enough waffle Keith - as you were..

Teleiodes vulgella. New for garden and 10ksq. No bells & whistles on this little one but I do like me a good Gelechiid and this is just that. Perfect.

Dotted Fan-foot

Ethmia dodecea

Marbled Clover

Teleiodes vulgella

July 11th: Bordered Sallow. Mainly a coastal species here, although not strictly and there are a fair few inland records as well, mine adding to them this year. Another new for garden and 10ksq, a welcome addition!

Ditula angustiorana (Red-barred Tortrix). Recorded frequently over the entire County but never had one here until this year when I caught 2, a month apart, to the day.




Bordered Sallow

'Red-barred Tortrix'

July 12th: Plain Pug. Pugs are a bit like Marmite to most but I'm definitely on the 'love it' side. I've had 3 Plain Pugs over the last couple of years and 1 more this year taking the total to 4 for the garden, so not stupidly rare but I do like to stop and appreciate these once-a-year visitors when they turn up. 

Royal Mantle. Another nice Brecks special but I've been lucky enough to log a few over 2018/19 - zero in 2020 (again) - then the single this year. Lovely things, smart and tidy appearance to them, like they've donned their Sunday best just to go for a walk. Although this example looked like it'd snagged it's jacket on the Bramble on the way round..

Plain Pug

Royal Mantle

July 17th: Stathmopoda pedella. What a gnarly looking wee thing pedella is, with its signature weird looking resting postion. Bloody brilliant little things and consistant at that, with 2 a year every year so far. The only difference this year, being that they both turned up on the same night.

Stathmopoda pedella

Stathmopoda pedella

Stathmopoda pedella

Stathmopoda pedella

July 18th (daytime): Hornet Moth. A good time to cover the garden Clearwings, of which I've had 8 different species of to the garden. All attracted to pheromone lures, they are:

- Six-belted

- Currant

- Yellow-legged

- Orange-tailed

- Red-tipped

- Red-belted

- Lunar Hornet

- Hornet

I didn't try for every one of these this year and only recorded a few for 2021. Realistically, I only see the chance of adding maybe two more Clearwing species: Raspberry, most likely next in line if you go on odds alone. White-barred, although established over in VC27 (E.Norfolk), doesn't seem to be moving West towards VC28 (W.Norfolk) where I'm situated just over the boundary. Tantalisingly close though really and improbable is not impossible so I'll keep trying. 

Hornet Moth

July 18th: Sycamore. Yet another species that failed to show in 2020, after a few annual records in the years before that, so notable to me to thankfully see a solo Sycamore back in the garden this year. 

Shark. Only the 3rd garden record, after 1 each in 2019/20 and still eagerly awaiting to see it's close relative, the Chamomile Shark.

Acrobasis repandana. Just the 2nd record here, 2yrs after the first in 2019. The 'Knot-horns' often have only slight differences and can't be rushed when ID'ing but it's good to be made to slow down and work Stuff out - that's how we learn :)

Gypsonoma minutana. I remember this one being a WOW moment at first glance. Tiger stripes on steroids! With the exception of a few early records, minutana has only been consistantly recorded in Norfolk since 2014 and with this one new for the garden, a new dot on the map plots another stretch outwards of its relatively new territory. Beauty!

Sycamore

Shark

What a hair-do!

Acrobasis repandana

Gypsonoma minutana

Gypsonoma minutana

July 20th: Ancylis achatana. A 3rd garden record after 2 in 2019 and you guessed it - none in 2020.

Eucosma obumbratana. Only been appearing here in the last couple years but still less than 5 on the garden score sheet for the species.

Helcystogramma rufescens. 2nd ever for garden. The first one in 2019 so definitely not a regular visitor here. 'Orange Crest' is quite an apt common name for it though, I think.

Eucosma obumbratana

Helcystogramma rufescens

Helcystogramma rufescens

July 22nd: Anania crocealis. New member to the garden club and also new for 10ksq.

Anania crocealis

July 23rd: Phtheochroa inopiana. A species missing here until just recently, this one the 3rd for the garden with the first 2 records only the previous year.

Phtheochroa inopiana

July 25th: Oxypteryx atrella. A 'local' Gelechid that was new for garden and 10ksq but I suspect (and hope) just overlooked a lot of the time.

Dark Umber. Only 2nd for garden. The first ever only the year before.


Oxypteryx atrella

Dark umber. Excuse pot-shot, it didn't hang around!

July 29th: Anarsia innoxiella. I'm rather fond of these. This is the 5th garden record but only started appearing in 2019. I keep hoping it's rarer, lookalike cousin I.lineatella will also turn up but still waiting.

Anarsia innoxiella

Into August...

August 3rd: Yponomeuta rorrella. Garden & 10ksq first. The Yponomeuta genus, the stuff of nightmares! Not really, but you can't expect to be able to identify most of them as adults and even dissection can't nail their identity, apart from a few and this is one of them. I looked at this for a long time and was happy with my conclusion but looking at it again now, months later, the same doubt is creeping in so I'll throw this one out there now and welcome any opinions. Do you agree with my ID? Just note one thing - the flash has significantly dulled the grey suffusion. Let me know what you think, I can handle being wrong, it's not about that to me, it's about providing correct and accurate data to our Country recorders. No record is better than an erroneous one!

Dichrorampha acuminatana. Only the 2nd for the garden and 4yrs after the first, so a tad sporadic to say the least!

July Highflyer. Sorry for repitition but this another example of being regular, albeit in small numbers, and then disappeared in 2020, to return as just a single record

Yponomeuta rorrella

Dichrorampha acuminatana

July Highflyer

August 4th: Tinea dubiella. Netted indoors, at dusk, this was the 13th County record and new for garden but not 10ksq this time. The one other record within our square is one my Son & I netted on a walk last year!

 

Tinea dubiella

August 10th: Coleophora versurella. New for garden and 10ksq. I've come across this species elsewhere but a first here so worth a shout-out.  

Coleophora versurella

August 14th: Coleophora paripennella. Garden and 10ksq first.

Udea lutealis. Another garden first.

Coleophora paripennella

Udea lutealis

 

August 17th: Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla, the Twin-spot Plume. I've been looking for this one for ages and have scrutinised every contender for a good few years now, so to finally catch one was jackpot! Easily pleased, I know..

Twin-spot Plume

August 18th: Nomophila noctuella, the Rush Veneer. A common migrant but not too common here as I only saw the one all year. Missing in 2020 but average one a year.

'Rush Veneer'

August 20th: Ypsolopha dentella. Only the 3rd for the garden, the other two in 2018/19 so nice to see it's return, even if only the one and little worse for wear.

Ypsolopha dentella

Ypsolopha dentella

August 21st: CONVOLVULUS HAWK-MOTH!! 

This one best covered in my previous blog post you can find here: Convolvulus Hawk-moth...at last!

After the elation of finally catching my own Connie, I was chuckling to myself a month later when out in the garden - no trap on - just having a nose with headtorch, when another Convolvulus zipped over the fence, inspected a few over-ripe Honeysuckle berries and shot off into next doors garden! Like busses! 

Convolvulus Hawk-moth

 

August 22nd: Oblique Striped. An extraordinary year for this dainty little Moth. Run a trap in the Brecks, the heart of its stomping grounds and you'll see them in numbers but this year, particularly mid to late August, Oblique Striped was turning up almost everywhere in the County. East Norfolk in particular was just peppered with new dots on the map! Migrants maybe? Don't know. Where I am, if the wind is favourable, I pick up wanderers from the Brecks so really hard to tell if 'my' one was from across the channel or not. Either way - awesome garden record.

Bactra furfurana. 3rd for the garden. First two in 2018.


Oblique Striped

Bactra furfurana

Spetember is here!

September 1st: Small Waved Umber. Pinch and a punch, first decent Moth of the Month. Only the 2nd ever for garden. The first a year before.

Small Waved Umber

September 2nd: Twin-spotted Wainscot. Another I should probably thank the neighbours' pond for and another nowhere to seen in 2020. This individual was the 4th for the garden and the only one I'll see this year.

Twin-spotted Wainscot

September 5th: Hedge Rustic. Following the trend of the Twin-spotted Wainscot almost exactly, this is the 4th for garden, the only one I saw this year and absent in 2020.

Hedge Rustic

September 6th: Nephopterix angustella. 3rd I've had here but the first 2 only the year before so a recent visitor and hopefully a sign of the species doing well and expanding it's range.

Nephopterix angustella

 

September 8th: Ypsolopha sequella. Only 2nd ever garden record and 3yrs after the first. 

Etania decentella. Only had the first one for the garden last year but managed 2 more this year. One of them hidden wonders that are the Nepticulidae family. Going about their business, almost invisible, apart from a few curious folk that stop to take a closer look, they easily go unnoticed. 

Dewick's Plusia. One I seem to do well with here and this years total of 6 the new high after 2019 when I caught 5.

Ypsolopha sequella

Etania decentella


September 10th: Catocala fraxini, the Clifden Nonpareil! A night to put down in the book of magic Mothing nights. Records of fraxini in the South East/East Anglia exploded this year and I recall a day going by without someone on twitter celebrating their first Clifden from the night before. I remained hopeful and ever so slightly optimistic but you can't say that at the time incase it ruins it, right? Very little science to back that up and by very little, I mean none. It's hocus-pocus but I did it anyway 😂. The hocus pocus stars aligned that night and greeting me in the morning was my very own fraxini. It was quite as clean cut as that though: I ALWAYS go out before switching the trap off, to check the fence panels and surrounding vegitation to not miss anything that will soon bugger off once the light's off. This morning however, I didn't. Still disappointed from the last trap inspection a few hrs earlier, I flicked the trap straight off and shuffled my stroppy Kevin & Perry arse straight out to what I was expecting to be a waste of lye-in. 

Straight away, my eyes clocked a huge grey splodge on the fence. My mouth slowly followed my lethargic brain with a whimsical and charming remark: "What the f**k is that?!" Now I was in trouble - not armed with anything big enough to pot it with, I ran inside to grab the biggest pot I could, back out but it was still too small! Back indoors, grabbed an empty ice cream tub, knocking half the kitchen side over in the process and back outside. It was still there. Brilliant. Shit, next problem - it's right on the slat of the fence panel and I can't hold the tub flat over it - it's gonna go!..and it did. I got near and it took flight. Circled up as I didn't know whether to start laughing or crying and then dropped straight back down to settle on the table! Take 2 - shit again! I've fumbled again and it's flown into the Buddleia! Oh man, this must be tragic, yet hilarious to watch - thank god I'm the only nutter up at this time. Finally, I netted it and safely secured in this poxy ice cream tub that nearly got launched into the neighbours garden.

It hadn't finished playing houdini though. A friend came over that afternoon to see it and within seconds of lifting the lid it went up and out through the living room, into the kitchen and straight through the fly beads out the back door for freedom. I reckon it was doing at least mach 2 into the garden. Never seen again but what an experience!

Clifden 'Houdini' Nonpareil

September 11th: Heath Rustic. I've tried for this subtly attractive species amongst the Heather at the nearby Litcham Common but to no avail, so to find one in the trap was a great surprise. New for garden and 10ksq.

Heath Rustic

September 24th: Scrobipalpa ocellatella. As a proud 'Gele' fan, this one made my week. For starters, seeing one so distinctly marked, with more than one colour, was a real treat. To match the looks, this little gem was also scarce. Remarkably, the species was only first recorded in the County in 2019 and this individual being only the 8th for Norfolk. Superb.

Scrobipalpa ocellatella AKA Beet Moth

October 8th: Blair's Shoulder-knot. 4th for garden after 1 in 2020 but you have to jump back to 2017 for the first 2 records.

Blair's Shoulder-knot

 

That takes us up until now and as Winter takes hold, we get to slow down a notch and enjoy the December Moths, Scarce Umbers, Mottled Umbers and delicate little Winter Moths braving the icy air. Of all the notables I'm lucky to enjoy year in, year out, I can't help but have a little extra admiration for these hardy winter species. 

What the Winter Months mean to me:

- catch up with dissections.

- bit of maintenance and cleaning of traps, pots, dissecting tools.

- think up more Moth ideas and projects that I never have time to fulfil.

- make the most of not being up all night and/or getting up at silly o' clock for a few Months. 

- then before the year is even up, wish it was time to do it all again!


Happy Mothing folks, cheers.