Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

In the garden: Moths, Fungi & That Bramble

November 18, 2020

Two new moths have taken my total for adult moths here to 199 species:

There are fungi everywhere at the moment, but two pink ones in the garden recently are Coral Spot (Nectria cinnabarina)and Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda), both common enough generally but with rather few records locally. (None in VC104 on NBN for the latter.)

Meanwhile, it is looking more likely that the bramble in the last post is in fact Rubus subinermoides as determined by Alan Newton when he stayed with me in 2007, though I am waiting for a view on the pink petals.

Recent Sightings

October 29, 2020

An excursion to Skye meant I happened across Tropaeolum speciosum (Flame Nasturtium) sprawling over gorse near Lynedale.

Tropaeolum speciosum
Tropaeolum speciosum

This is a first for VC104, the sixth this year and, like most of the others, not a native.

Here at home, a caterpillar climbing up the outside wall of the house unexpectedly turned out to be that of a Small White butterfly. Green-veined Whites occur in huge numbers, but I have never recorded an adult Small White. Phil had some freshly-emerged adults in Sleat earlier in the year, so they are clearly now breeding locally.

Following the unsuccessful determination of an Epirrita moth recently, this morning I had two Autumnal Moths (Epirrita autumnata). This is most probably what the previous one was too.

Epirrita autumnata

Meanwhile, I am hoping for help with this Cranefly which is probably Tipula pagana.

Tipula pagana?

October Moths

October 19, 2020

The total number of moth species I have recorded at home as adults has reached 197. New this month have been Feathered Thorn, Green-brindled Crescent, Large Wainscot and November/Autumnal Moth. The last was an Epirrita species which often need dissection to distinguish Autumnal, Movember and Pale November Moths. This was one such.

Feathered Thorn
Large Wainscot
Autumnal/November Moth

Mines, Galls and Microfungi

October 13, 2020

By the front gate there is a small Hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna). Yesterday I spotted a small moth larva that turns out to be a young Light Emerald.

Light Emerald larva

Apparently this species overwinters as small larvae lying flat along stems of the food plant. As you can see the larva has a fringe of hair-like projections hanging down from the sides.

Also on the Hawthorn a couple of leaves had been spun together with silk and inside was another moth larva. The identity of this one has not yet been resolved.

Spun leaves

Before I left the premises I noticed a fungus on Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet) which Bruce tells me is Alternaria solani.

Alternaria solani on Solanum dulcamara

This is not entirely good news as this fungus causes Early Potato Blight and we grow quite a lot of potatoes.

Moving on a couple of hundred metres to a strip of woodland by the Arish Burn, I noticed some leaf mines on Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) caused by the true fly Amauromyza labiatarum.

Amauromyza labiatarum mines on Stachys sylvatica

and a little further on a Hazel (Corylus avellana) had leaf mines made by two different micro-moths.

Stigmella floslactella mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii larva

Also there was a springtail, Entomobrya nivalis (sometimes called Cosmopolitan Springtail), though I almost missed it and have no worthwhile image to share.

A little further on there were galls on Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) caused by the fungus Urocystis ranunculi

Urocystis ranunculi galls on Ranunculus repens

I am grateful to various folks for identifying and confirming many of the species shown here: Bruce Ing, Roy Leverton, Murdo Macdonald, Stephen Moran, Nigel Richards and Mark Young.

A Few Minutes with an Alder

October 6, 2020

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes with my camera at an alder by my front gate. It turned out rather well….

This is the larva of the sawfly Platycampus luridiventris with no records on NBN for the west of Scotland. Thanks to Chris Johnson and Ian Andrews for i.d.

Platycampus luridiventris

This shows larvae of two more sawflies, the free-range one being Hemichroa crocea with just nine Scottish sites on NBN. Thanks Seth for i.d.

Hemichroa crocea larva plus one

This mine is caused by yet another sawfly, Heterarthrus vagans, which is more widespread but with no records for VC104 on NBN:

Heterarthrus vagans mine

On the other hand, it is a true fly, Agromyza alnivora, that causes this mine. I have recorded this before on Raasay, also in October.

Agromyza alnivora mines

Not counting two common galls caused by gall mites, my last find was of this leaf roll caused by the micro-moth Caloptilia elongella (Pale Red Slender). This is probably not uncommon but the only previous Skye/Raasay records I can find are from 1979 and 1998. Thanks to Seth for i.d. and Tony for confirming there is no other Scottish candidate for such activity.

Leaf roll caused by larva of Caloptilia elongella

What this shows most is how under-recorded our area is for inverts.


September 20, 2020

I was away for a couple of weeks, but here are a few items from before or after, mostly seen with Seth and/or Neil.

Acleris emargana Notch-winged Tortrix

Galls caused by the sawfly Euura venusta on Salix caprea (Goat Willow)

This Grey Dagger larva attached itself to me in the garden and then fell off onto the carpet. I took its picture before escorting it out again:

Grey Dagger larva

A seashore excursion to see Neil’s extensive Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the sea at Harlosh sadly did not lead to any seahorse sightings. (There are records this far north, but not from Skye.)

Zostera marina at Harlosh

It was the equinoctial tide and we found many interesting critters such as a Stalked Jellyfish Calvadosia campanulata, a Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii, Risso’s Crab (Xantho pilipes), Star Ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri) and the Small Brittlestar (Amphipholis squamata).

Risso’s Crab

Catch-up Time

August 25, 2020

A family expedition to Brochel at low tide produced this fine fish under a rock:

Cornish Sucker (A Clingfish) Lepadogaster purpurea

The taxonomy of Lepadogaster was confused for many years but a 2003 paper sorted out the difference between this and L. lepadogaster using a combination of morpholgical and molecular characteristics. This diagram shows a reliable difference:

Yesterday, walking to the south of the River Drynoch I spotted this proliferative Dactylis glomerata (Cock’s-foot). This is a known phenomenon in this grass, see e.g. here.

Proliferative Dactylis gloerata

Nearby there were two Light Knot Grass caterpillars

Light Knot Grass Larva

and a couple of adult Shaded Broad-bar moths:

Shaded Broad-bar

Neither of these have large numbers of records locally.

Spar Cave and Surrounds

August 20, 2020

Ludicrously, I had never been to Spar Cave near Glasnakille on Skye – until last Tuesday. It is well worth a visit, but one needs to be prepared for a steep climb down, slippery rocks on the shore and total darkness in the extensive cave.

Spar Cave

Spar Cave

Unsurprisingly, there was no plant life apart from around the entrance. Hopes of finding the gametophyte of Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern) remained unrealised even though it is known in a couple of sites not far away. Animal life was also thin on the ground but a few fungi may turn out to be of interest.

Just outside there were moth pupae on Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue) which Seth is checking whether the culprit is Psychoides filicivora or P. verhuella. (Later: Confirmed as P. filicivora from larval charcaters.)

Psychoides pupa

Down on the shore there was Devonshire cup-coral (Caryophyllia smithii)

Devonshire cup-coral Caryophyllia smithii

Away from the shore we found a patch of Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed) together with Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony) and later on the roadside there was Linaria repens (Pale or Striped Toadflax) – only the third site in the vice-county. It has been known in Portree for getting on for 50 years and there is a single 1978 record from Kyleakin.

Linaria repens (Pale or StripedToadflax)

More New Moths

August 16, 2020

My latest effort with the moth trap produced three moths that I have not seen here before, which takes my total number of adult moth species seen here to 190.

Common Footman
Dotted Carpet
Northern Spinach

Meanwhile, out on the hill there were several Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata) moths near Camas Malag. The China-marks are unusual in that their larvae are entirely aquatic, feeding on water plants. There were leaf mines in Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) that were likely produced by the larvae.

Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata)

An Interesting Mothtrapful

August 11, 2020

A couple of nights ago the trap yielded 27 moths including

  • four Eudonia angustea – I usually see one or two of those a year
  • A Bee Moth
  • and the star of the show, Satin Beauty – the second record ever for VC 104.

Eudonia angustea

Eudonia angustea      Narrow-winged Grey

Bee moth

Aphomia sociella   Bee Moth

Satin Beauty

Satin Beauty

Roy Leverton who confirmed Keith’s identification says, “Those plumose antennae alone are sufficient. Also characteristic is the wear. Wild-caught ones are typically worn. I wonder whether the scales are more loosely attached than in similar species.”

Also in the trap were three sexton beetles, Nicrophorus investigator and two small caddisflies. Jason Doe says that the second is a Hydropsyche sp. – the antennae have helical ridges and the first looks like a Limnephilid, with the prominent black spines on the legs.

Caddis 200808 #1

Caddis #1

Caddis 200808 #2

Caddis #2

I am afraid that is as far as I am going with those.