Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

Images from Colonsay – Insects

July 10, 2019
Belted Beauty larva Colonsay

Belted Beauty Larva

Celypha cespitana

Micro-moth Celypha cespitana

Omocestus viridulus

Common Green Grasshopper

Clouded Buff

Clouded Buff

Northen Eggar Larva

Northen Eggar Larva

Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasp

Yellow Shell

Yellow Shell

To Ollach Lochs

June 6, 2019

South of Healabhal Beag (MacLeod’s Table South) there is a group of three lochs that had not been visited by a recording botanist for over fifty years. The tetrad they lie in had a few post-1999 records from when I dropped into the northern edge from Healabhal Beag in 2015, plus a few more from Nick and others. It now has 147 post-1999 species recorded.

Beinn Bhac-ghlais had the sort of things one might expect: Diphasiastrum alpinum, (Alpine Clubmoss), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry), etc.

One of the lochs had several of this large Caddis-fly which I fear will have to go unidentified:

Caddis

Unidentified Caddis

and I spotted this micro-moth, the Yellow-Faced Bell (Notocelia cynosbatella) (thanks Keith for ID):

Notocelia cynosbatella

Notocelia cynosbatella

There were Clouded Borders and Chimney Sweepers too.

The area around Orbost turned out to be rather more poorly recorded than I had realised and I added lots of records to adjacent tetrads. Bromus hordeaceus (Soft-brome) is pretty infrequent on Skye and Schedonorus arundinaceus (Tall Fescue) even more so, but both were present along the main track:

When Skye Nature Group was at Uig last week we noted some Alopecurus pratensis (Meadow Foxtail) where the lower part of the inflorescence seemed to be eaten away. There was more like that at Orbost and a similar effect on Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal-grass). I tried to take some photos but they didn’t turn out well enough to share. I am interested to know what causes this, though.

There was also a planted shrub that I haven’t yet managed to identify:

Later: It is a Spiraea, perhaps Spiraea hypericifolia. There is the same thing in Dunvegan Castle grounds and Ingrid has promised to check their records for an ID.

I spotted a fly mine on Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache) which Seth tells me is probably Pegomya sp. but one has to rear the fly for a firm ID.

There was also this on Populus tremula (Aspen), which I am hoping will turn out to be caused by an interesting moth:

 

Those Red Squares

May 18, 2019

Neil has now paddled to the east side of Longay to record in NG63Q and in passing had a look at the northern tip of Pabay where NG62U features on the list of VC104 tetrads. The latter, as shown on the OS map, has no land above the high water mark and unsurprisingly, Neil found it to contain no plants. There are several like this in the vice-county and in future editions of my tetrad numbers map I shall turn these another colour meaning there really are zero vascular plants.

Yesterday Neil kindly shared his double kayak with me and we went to Griana-sgeir off Fladday (itself off Raasay) as this is the only land in NG55Q and never recorded before. We found 23 plants in this small outpost, normally the domain of seals and seabirds.

Griana-sgeir

Griana-sgeir

There is an area of shell sand but it lies entirely below the high water mark, so does not influence the vegetation. The major environmental factor apart from the exposed coastal location appears to be the seabirds, adding nitrogenous material to the area.

Gull nest

Gull nest

I spotted this fly on a dandelion and await Murdo’s verdict, though it may not be possible to determine from an image. I had no net or containers with me, but I did capture some ants….

Fly on Griana-sgeir

Fly on Griana-sgeir

We did not land on Glas Eilean as there is a large tern colony – we estimated about 200 birds, but we did go to Fraoch Eilean which was very different from Griana-sgeir, having rowan trees and bracken – but still only 28 plant species recorded.  Both these islands are in a tetrad that has been well recorded on Raasay but I had never been to them before.

Neil spotted a fabulous little moth Pammene rhediella (Fruitlet Mining Tortrix) on the rowan (there were quite a number of them):

Pammene rhediella

Pammene rhediella on rowan

 

Catch-up: Non-botany at Home

April 23, 2019

Our first cuckoo of the year woke me up at 0450.  April 23rd is a popular date for the first cuckoo at West Suisnish.

For those living further south, a black-headed gull will be a common sight, but not here:

Black-headed Gull190409

Black-headed Gull at West Suisnish

This little spider is Textrix dendiculata, the toothed weaver (thanks for i.d. Gemma) and was basking on the outside of the house:

Textrix dendiculata

Textrix dendiculata (Toothed Weaver)

The moth trap has been out a few times with Hebrew Character moths being by far the most frequent but this Early Thorn was nice:

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

and Seth has kindly determined this carabid beetle from the bathroom basin as Pterostichus nigrita:

Pterostichus nigrita

Pterostichus nigrita

 

Catch-up: Botany

April 21, 2019

As well as filling the gaps i.e. visiting tetrads with no or few records, this year’s theme will be to look for missing hectad records i.e. those known in a 10km square before 2000 but not re-found.

Last Wednesday Neil, Seth and I walked the Osdale Burn and went two-thirds of the way up Macleod’s Table North looking for four such old records. We re-found Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone), though on a different burn from that of the original record, and Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) sort of where it was known from previously. One version of the 1991 record said “above the gorge” whilst another said “west of gorge”. Taking these two together  I had taken above to mean upstream, which is also west.  However, it turned out to be above the gorge (in altitudinal terms) but north of the gorge. Ah well, modern technology means there is now an 8-figure grid reference for future searchers.

We failed to find Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) or Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) at the 1990 grid ref for both. Indeed there was no suitable looking habitat. Neither could we find them on the more likely looking cliffs nearby.

We had a couple of day-flying moths – our first Common Heath of the year and Philedonides lunana (Heath Twist) which is a good record for Skye.

On Friday I went to Sgùrr na h-Iolaire and Loch Dhùghaill in Sleat as reported a couple of  days ago. Here I was hoping for missing hectad records for Galium boreale (Northern Bedstraw), Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw) and Hymenophyllum tunbrigense (Tunbridge Filmy-fern) but failed on all three. I also failed to find an old site for Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern).

However, it was a good day with a new tetrad record for Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) which is not all that common in Sleat and a re-find of Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble).   Sean on Rum had beaten me to the first flowering Early-purple Orchid by three days, finding one at Kilmory on the 16th.

There were Common Heath on the wing again. Some plants in flower:

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Steve has sent pictures of a poplar which we think is Populus x jackii (Balm-of Gilead) (Thanks, Mike) planted at Skinadin:

Poplar hybrids always need a bit of care, so a little more checking is in order.

At Borve, Neil tells me that Daphne mezereum (Mezereon) has escaped along the road.

D. mezereum is new to Skye, there being an old record from Kinloch Castle on Rum, and P. x jackii is the first VC104 record since 1987.

After a Bit of a Gap….

March 2, 2019

Quite a long gap really, since I last wrote on this site.  However, a review of plant recording in VC104 for July-December 2018 is on my BSBI page. With Jim McIntosh I have recently completed a country round-up for Scotland for the next BSBI News due out in April.

I have started on plans for this year’s recording and will publish some thoughts here soon. Members of Skye Botany Group can expect an e-mail some time this month.

The mild weather has brought out the insects with a white-tailed bumblebee in the garden in February and many moths being recorded on Skye. I put out the trap a couple of nights ago and had 5 Dotted Border, 1 Early Grey, 1 Common Quaker and 1 Chestnut.

 

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:                            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20356892

“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.

Micromoths

November 6, 2018

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

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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:

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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

Loch na Feithe Seilich, Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla & Allt Choire nan Clach

August 24, 2018

Tetrad NG72A was visited by a party from the 2005 BSBI Field Meeting on Skye. They visited the eastern side – Allt nan Con and Loch an Ime. This was clearly not a rich area as they recorded only 75 taxa. Memory suggests it was a pretty wet day, too. (I was leading another party at the time.) These were the only records for this tetrad.

Yesterday I went to see if I could improve matters. I intended to visit the western side but starting over at the eastern edge as that is the nearest road.  However, the Allt Mòr was in full spate and despite being in wellies, the depth and flow persuaded me not to cross it. So I collected a Hieracium specimen and drove round to the Sleat road so as to approach from other side. This, it turned out, meant navigating an enormous sea of Molinia.

Once I reached Loch na Feithe Seilich and Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla I added a few aquatics including Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) (confirmed once home by examining the quadrifid hairs on the bladders).

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Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

However, the Allt Choire nan Clach turned out to be one of those pleasing Skye burns with rocky gullies and a diverse flora such as Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper), Populus tremula (Aspen), Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and so on, such that the taxon count now stands at a much more respectable 144.

There was a fine group of polypore fungi on a dead tree (probably Birch Polypore)

bracket fungus 180823

Polypore

and a fine Black Slug (Arion ater) enjoying a piece that had dropped off:

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Arion ater

I also spotted several different hairy caterpillars including these two, which I do not see frequently (thanks to Nigel for idents):

I really love your tiger feet.

Ullinish

August 14, 2018

A few days ago I discovered that a batch of records from the 1987 NCC Freshwater Loch Survey had an incorrect grid reference, putting them in tetrad NG33J rather than NG33Z. NG33J had looked moderately well recorded in terms of numbers of species and had not got onto my To Do list. However, once these incorrect records were reassigned it looked pretty poor, so yesterday I went to do something about it and recorded 213 taxa – with a couple of Atriplex specimens still to check.

Dun Beag lies within the tetrad and is the best preserved of the 50 or so brochs on Skye but I had never made the short walk from the road to inspect it.

It wasn’t much fun botanically, however. But the rest of the tetrad was: Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Equisetum x litorale (Shore Horsetail) and Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) were all new to the 10km square NG33, as were the planted Prunus avium (Wild Cherry), Saxifraga x urbium (London Pride) and Sorbus intermedia (Swedish Whitebeam).

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Cakile maritima

The Cakile is rare on Skye.

Asplenium ruta-muraria (Wall-rue), Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) and Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) were the first NG33 records since before 2000, in the case of the Bolboschoenus, the first since 1915.

Additionally there were new sites for the locally uncommon Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) and Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed), though the latter has arguably lost that status owing to recent discoveries:

On the moth front there was a fine Knot Grass caterpillar on Salix repens (Creeping Willow) and I got a distant shot of a Shaded Broad-bar (Thanks, Nigel for i.d.), something I do not recall seeing before.