Archive for November, 2018

Raasay: Old & New

November 22, 2018

The weather has been so good recently that I have been tempted out to wander on Raasay. Two days ago I spotted two plants of Glebionis segetum (Corn Marigold) in flower on a road verge near Inverarish.


Glebionis segetum (Corn Marigold)

To quote my own words (lightly edited) “Reported in oat fields on Raasay and Fladday in 1930s and near Balachuirn in 1969. Lost with the cessation of arable farming. One plant emerged from soil brought in from Alness in Easter Ross for road repair purposes in 2006.”

These could have arisen from long-dormant seed following forestry operations, but seem more likely to be the result of scattered wildflower seed.

Yesterday I discovered about a dozen plants of Leycesteria formosa, (Himalayan Honeysuckle, Flowering Nutmeg, Himalaya Nutmeg or Pheasant Berry) near the dog kennels. This is a first in the wild for Raasay though it has been spreading rapidly on Skye and the adjacent mainland. Apart from Kinloch Castle on Rum, all vice-county records are in the 2005 to 2018 range and it is now known in 13 tetrads in Skye and Raasay. This is likely to be an underestimate given that Seth and I added a tetrad in Uig ten days ago and I added the one on Raasay this week.


Leycetseria in November

Micromoths (2)

November 8, 2018

Following my last post I went looking for Knopper galls on the oaks near the Old Manse here on Raasay but as usual there were no acorns – so no galls (and yes, I know these are caused by a gall wasp not a moth)  However, in the beech hedge there was a green-island leaf mine:

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Beech

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Fagus sylvatica

I was interested to see that the green-island effect induced by leaf-miners is mediated by bacterial symbionts, at least in the closely related Phyllonorycter blancardella:                  

“Curing leaf-miners of their symbiotic partner resulted in the absence of green-island formation on leaves, increased compensatory larval feeding and higher insect mortality. Our results suggest that bacteria impact green-island induction through manipulation of cytokinin levels.”

On another note, the 1952 paper referred to in the last post does not appear to have any micromoths in it.


November 6, 2018

Recently, this Nettle-tap was on the outside of the house:


Common Nettle-tap

A few days later I went toward Oskaig to look for Ectoedemia argyropeza (Virgin Pigmy) on fallen aspen leaves which Seth had found on Skye. It makes a green island on the leaf:

Ectoedemia argyropeza

Ectoedemia argyropeza                          Photo S. Gibson

I failed to find that one but did find leaf mines caused by moth larvae on hazel and rusty sallow leaves:


Stigmella floslactella and Parornix devoniella mines on Hazel

Caloptilia stigmatella

Caloptilia stigmatella on Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia

Thanks to Seth and Tony for help with identification.

Meanwhile, I dug out the following paper which lists 329 species of butterflies and moths including 98 micromoths, details of which I extracted to a spreadsheet and sent to Keith the County Moth Recorder:

HARRISON J W HESLOP (1937) The Lepidoptera of the Isle of Raasay and of the adjacent Islands of Scalpay, South Rona, Fladday and Longay. Proceedings of the University of Durham Philosophical Society 9  305-328

Nine of these have been accepted as new to the vice-county:

Acleris logiana Grey Birch Button
Apotomis sauciana Bilberry Marble
Argyroploce arbutella Bearberry Marble
Cnephasia incertana Light Grey Tortrix
Dichrorampha plumbagana Silver-Lined Drill
Dichrorampha plumbana Lead-Coloured Drill
Philedone gerningana Cinquefoil Twist
Phyllonorycter scopariella Broom Midget
Teleiopsis diffinis Large Groundling

Now I am looking out this paper to see if there are more I can add:

HARRISON J W HESLOP & J K MORTON (1952) Lepidoptera in the Isles of Raasay, Rhum (vc104), Lewis and Harris (vc110) in 1951. The Entomologist 85 6-13