Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

Caterpillar & Fern

March 26, 2017

Nick reports Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) from Allt Daraich where I failed to re-find it based on an old record, just over a year ago.

I found this moth larva whilst doing a bit of spring tidying in the garden:

larva 170324

Nigel tells me it is the larva of the Large Yellow Underwing – a moth I often get in the moth trap later in the season. It apparently comes in brown and green forms.

The Last Skye Botany Group Meeting of 2016

October 1, 2016

Yesterday we took a gentle stroll up Glen Sligachan from Sligachan itself. We managed to record 104 vascular plant taxa in a generally species-poor area very late in the season – the number being boosted by plants around the Sligachan Hotel. Nick also recorded bryophytes and we spotted a few invertebrates, fungi and a frog to add to the store of data collated by the Highland Biological Recording Group.

We found a single plant of Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in the River Sligachan.  Whilst there is plenty about in nearby lochans, this is the first time I have seen it actually in a river.

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The last tetrad with 100% land and no records

August 26, 2016

Yesterday I went to NG34E in which part of the Edinbane wind-farm is located. It was the last tetrad in VC 104 with no records ever. It now has 122.

There are still four tetrads with 20 -80% land and no records, mostly a bit of a pain to get to, plus more with <7% land, and then there are tetrads with earlier records but none since before 2000 (nine with 100% land and five with >20% land).

The wind-farm roads added quite a few species such as Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and Urtica dioica (Common Nettle). There was also a nice wet area with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

However, the tetrad to the west, NG24Z was less fun: lots of Molinia tussocks and not many plant species. In 2012 I recorded 74 taxa. After several hours in it yesterday that total has risen to 97.

It was a good day for insects, however. Heather Flies everywhere – this is their time of year – and several species each of butterflies, dragonflies and moths including this one which I have yet to sort out:

Moth NG2848

Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.


Bay Continued

August 22, 2016

John went back the next day and explored one of the burns that runs into the next tetrad to look for Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) where I had found it in 2003/4.

Orthilia secunda Waternish LR

Orthilia secunda            Photo: J Hawell

He also spotted Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) which we hadn’t found the previous day:

Pinguicula lusitanica Waternish LR

Pingicula lustanica                             Photo: J Hawell

and this rose which seems to me to be classic Rosa mollis (Soft Downy-rose) with prickly hips and straight thorns on the stems.

Rosa mollis Watrenish LR

Rosa mollis     Photo: J Hawell

I went back to the area the following day, mostly to pass through to the next tetrad to the west. This was the penultimate tetrad in the vice-county with 100% land and no records ever.  I intend to knock off the last of these shortly.  The next sets to aim for are those with no records since before 2000, and tetrads with very few records. There are still 82 tetrads with <50 records ever – but a few of these really do not have many species as they contain only  small areas of land  e.g. I have been to tetrad NM19M and there are no plants as it is all below mean high water springs and no Zostera. Again, I have been to NG63E and there really are only 10 types of plant in it. And so on.

Anyway, I went back to the Honey Fungus to look for fruiting bodies but failed to find any. Growing on a dead standing conifer, it is most likely Armillaria ostoyae which is common in the Highlands. (It is a specimen of this fungus that is thought to be the largest organism on the planet.)

I visited the estuary area that John and I didn’t get to, where I re-found most of the relevant old records and added Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush).  I also re-visited the Sagina apetala (Annual Pearlwort) we found by the road, just to double-check my identification.

I found a patch of Montia fontana (Blinks) that I thought might be subsp. chondrosperma but when I looked at the specimen I took home, there were no seeds. All dispersed already. Here is a seed from Montia fontana subsp. fontana that I took at Bay: very shiny and without tubercles:

Montia fontana

Montia fontana subsp. fontana seed


Raasay SSSI Part 3

July 16, 2016

I returned to one of the two known Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) sites on Raasay where I had failed to find any plants last week. This time, armed with images from earlier years I succeeded, though the natural cycle of erosion and colonisation is putting this colony in danger. There again, another erosion event might provide bare rock with crevices that would be very suitable for Arabidopsis.


I returned to the proliferative deergrass and found much more. A specimen sent to Jeremy Roberts confirmed it as the hybrid Trichophorum x foersteri.

I also checked up on some Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) in a site I hadn’t visited for over twenty years and nearby found a new site for Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern).

There were several very fine specimens of Northern Eggar larvae around:

Northern Eggar Larva

Northern Eggar feeding on Calluna vulgaris

On Wednesday, members of the Skye Botany Group joined me to complete the southern part of the Raasay SSSI Site Condition Monitoring. We looked at two sites, one for Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) and one for Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens).

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Scottish Moth Caterpillars by Habitat

June 28, 2016

The East Scotland branch of Butterfly Conservation has been busy again. They now have pages of Scottish Moth Caterpillars by Habitat split into

Grassland & Marsh
Road verges & Woodland edges
Hedge, Scrub & Carr

Raasay, East of Arnish

June 13, 2016

It was ten years since I had last checked up on the Allium vineale (Wild Onion) on Sìthean Mòr. It looks much as it did in 1991 when I first found it and it remains the only known location in the vice-county.

Allium vineale Raasay

Allium vineale

Yesterday was a very pleasing day with lots of locally unusual but not rare plants such as Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue).

The butterflies are really out and about now with lots of Common Blues and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

There were quite a few moths too

plus other insects that I could identify like Common Green Grasshopper, Common Ground-hopper and Common Earwig. I don’t remember seeing a Ground-hopper on Raasay before but they are well camouflaged and leap quickly if disturbed.

There was a leaf mine on Sonchus asper (Prickly Sow-thistle) that I thought might lead to a useful record

Sonchus asper leaf mine In situ

but it turns out that there are two species of the dipteran genus Chromatomyia that might be responsible and the difference is visible only in interior details of the male genitalia so the only way to distinguish them is to rear the adult, hope for a male, and then have the skill and patience to check out the anatomy. Thanks for that, Murdo.

Some Recent Moths

June 10, 2016

A wet day (the first for a long time) so I am catching up on things. The moth trap has been out several times. Here are a few of my catches:

Loch Mòr & Feur-lochan

June 10, 2016

Loch Mòr & Feur-lochan are two very different bodies of water to the east of Earlish. They both lie in a tetrad (NG46A) that had very few records before yesterday. As the Gaelic suggests, Loch Mòr is large:

Loch Mor

and Feur-lochan is grassy (well, sedgy – with much Carex rostrata (Bottle Sedge), and in the foreground, Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean)).


Feur-lochan has Potamogeton gramineus (Various-leaved Pondweed)

Potamogeton gramineus Feur-lochan

Potamogeton gramineus

and lots of this large Diving Beetle:

Water Boatman 3

Based on this image and images of its underside, Stephen Moran tells me it is probably Dytiscus lapponicus, the Highland Great Diving Beetle rather than D. marginalis, the Great Diving Beetle. There is a 1980 record on NBN for D. lapponicus in NG46.

Many dragonflies and damselflies are now about and by way of butterflies, as well as Green-veined white, Painted Lady and Small Heath, there was one Large Heath:

Large heath

It is also time for the Purple Bar moth to be about:

Purple Bar

The edge of Loch Mòr had huge amounts of Isoetes lacustris (Quillwort) washed up. I am not sure why; it has been dry and not windy for weeks.


The “scum” is empty larval cases.

Back near the car I hoped to find Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid) as it had been reported there in 1997. The Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) was just coming into flower but I did not find Pseudorchis. I may have been a fraction early.


Heath Fragrant, Heath Spotted etc.

Invaded by Diamond-backs

June 5, 2016

Not rattlesnakes but micro-moths. There have been hundreds of these around the past couple of days – and the same is true in parts of Skye, and much farther afield.


Diamond-back Moth

Alison estimates 760 in her trap this morning on Skye  and Keith points us to this:”The moths are known to be able to migrate a distance of over 3000 km in continuous flight for several days.”…/85papers/1985DBM08.pdf

It is not all good news, however, as the larva fed on Brassicas.