Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

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 previoulsy. 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.

These last two are both new to VC104.

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.

Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn

July 19, 2018

On Tuesday Skye Botany Group went to Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn. We found Drosera anglica (Great Sundew) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed) for the first time in NG44 since before 2000 – where they had been reported back then.

When I got home I realised that I hadn’t taken any photographs but here is one of Druim Loch from Caroline, showing Lobelia dortmanna (Water Lobelia) and Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily):

Water lobelia

Druim Loch       Photo: C Dear

We failed to find others I had hoped for: Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat), Plantago coronopus (Buck’s-horn Plantain) and Salsola kali subsp. kali (Prickly Saltwort). The last was recorded at Camas Bàn from 1963 to 1974 but not since, so it was a bit of a long shot – and Storm Hector last month probably cleared the sand of any plants, anyway.

However, there was Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge) and Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), so a useful visit.  Nick had an excellent time in the calcareous sandy bryophyte-rich turf at the back of Camas Bàn, including a new vice county record, Leiocolea gillmanii, a rare liverwort that was abundant there, and Brachythecium glareosum, known from only one other site in the vice-county, and last seen in Skye by Birks in the 70s.

We also spotted this moth larva on Myrica gale (Bog-myrtle) which we believe to be Light Knot Grass:

Light Knot Grass larva

Light Knot Grass Photo: S Terry

Gob na h-Oa

July 14, 2018

Gob na h-Oa (The Tip of Oa, if that helps) is a point west of Fiskavaig partly in tetrad NG33C, which until yesterday had a mere 29 plant taxa recorded. There are now 138. It is 92% sea but the land has some nice cliffs with Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and there are good colonies of Honckenya peploides (Sea Sandwort) and Populus tremula (Aspen).

The sea caves are good:

 

and there were moths about including lots of Yellow Shells:

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Yellow Shell

I dropped down into Camas Aird an t-Sabhail to look for Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge), a rare plant on Skye and last recorded there in 1977. I am pleased to report a thriving population:

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Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge)

On the way home I stopped at Sligachan to look for Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) – success: 9 plants – and Rhynchospora fusca (Brown Beak-sedge) – total failure.

There were also more grasshoppers about than we usually see on Skye or Raasay. It seems to be a good year for them here.

Chorthippus parallelus ( Meadow grasshopper)

Chorthippus parallelus (Meadow grasshopper)

The short wings are useful in the determination. It was released after the photoshoot – no grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this blog.

Eilean nan Each

June 27, 2018

Eilean nan Each (Horse Island) lies off northwest Muck and sits conveniently within a single 1 km square of the National Grid. The island was visited in the 1938 by King’s College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University), in the 1960/70s by the Dobsons who lived on Muck and wrote a flora, by my predecessor as vice-county recorder C W Murray plus two colleagues in 1996 and also by N Taylor in 1996.

However, no records have been made since then until yesterday when I travelled with Nick (bryophytes), Bob (birds) and Roger & Pat (mammals). It is quite floristically rich with several orchid species. We found large numbers of Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid) including some pretty robust specimens.

 

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Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid)

and added Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) to the island list

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

but failed to find the previously recorded Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid).

As on other small islands it seems to me that Greylag Geese are changing the vegetation as evidenced by the addition of plants like Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse) and Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed) to the list.

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Capsella & Matricaria

As usual I recorded some rusts, galls and insects. We had a good selection of butterflies including Painted Ladies and I think this fungus on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) may be Puccinia calthae, with few records on NBN and only one in VC104. I await Bruce’s verdict. Later: He says Puccinia calthicola. (No VC104 records on NBN).

Puccinia calthae maybe

Puccinia calthae maybe

This micro-moth, Keith tells me, is Chrysoteuchia culmella (Garden Grass-Veneer).

ENE Micro 2

Garden Grass-Veneer