Welcome

My Blog's aim is to promote and encourage others to participate in the wonderful hobby that is Moth-trapping.
So why do we do it? well for some people it is to get an insight into the world of Moths, for others it is to build a list of species much like 'Twitching' in the Bird world.
The reason I do it....you never know what you might find when you open up that trap!
I hope to show what different species inhabit our Country by getting people aware of what is out there.
On this Blog you will find up-to-date records and pictures.
I run a trap regularly in my garden here in Hertfordshire and enjoy doing field trips to various localities within Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Please also check out the links in the sidebar to the right for other people's Blogs and informative Websites.

Thanks for looking & happy Mothing!

KEY

NFY = New Species For The Year
NFG = New Species For The Garden
NEW! = New Species For My Records

Any Species highlighted in RED signifies a totally new species for my records.

If you have any questions or enquiries then please feel free to email me
Contact Email : bensale@rocketmail.com

Herts Recent Notables and Rarities Reported

Friday, 1 January 2021

Best Moths of 2020 Roundup

Well what a funny old year it's been.

In and out of lockdown, put on furlough, off work for covid symptoms, then sent home from work with a temperature and requested to get a test (negative thankfully).

But, moths have kept me as sane as possible, them and my amazing wife and our little boy Tommie. 

Moths, it was a strange year, common species in my area seemed to be well down in numbers, but more late records and extra broods were noted than ever before (Due to climate warming).

2020 was a warm year and broke many records (see the Met Office YouTube video here)

Species wise it was my second highest with 496 species recorded, second to the bumper year of 2018 (529).
A total of 30 new species were added to my garden list, which is incredible considering it was my 8th year here trapping.
 
So below are my highlights from 2020, not necessarily quite in date order mind!

1. Eriocrania semipupurella - Bramfield Woods - (17/03/20) - A new Eriocrania for me, and seperated by the similar sangii (by Graeme Smith) from Bramfield Woods in early Spring, a really beautiful tiny moth.

2. Ruby Tiger - Stevenage Garden - (30/03/20) - After sighting several Ruby Tiger caterpillars crawling across the patio last October, it was great to find a cocoon attached to one of our outside chairs, the pupa was wiggling well inside it's woven home, the moth emerged scale perfect in May.

3. Pammene trauniana - Stevenage Local Farmland - (06/05/20) - I specifically targetted a stand of mature Field Maple inbetween two arable fields and on my second tap I dislodged a Tortrix that settled on the underside of a leaf (A very characteristic trait of Tortrix moths I must add).. and then I couldn't believe my eyes, it was one! A lovely Pammene trauniana and the 4th County record for Herts.
I took the first in my garden in 2017, so I knew they were around here... this confirms that they must be breeding locally and with a further 2 county records in just over a week, maybe it was having a good year or is it more frequent than we originally thought?

4. Ectoedemia subbimaculella - Stevenage Garden - (24/05/20) - I always collect a few leaves that are generally blown into the garden in late Autumn, particularly the Oak Leaves that we get drop in profusion from several large trees at the bottom of our garden.
Because of the green islands that are highly visible on the brown leaf, it makes spotting leaves that have larvae present fairly easy, last year I identified one that was tenanted, and after 6 months, it has finally emerged today.
This is Ectoedemia subbimaculella and new for the garden, a right mare to get photographs of mind! A fairly common moth found as a mine in Herts, but I reckon there aren't many photos of the adults.

5. Caloptilia honoratella - Stevenage Garden - (21/05/20)  Confirmed by dissection by Graeme Smith and new to Herts, I have since recorded 1 possibly 2 other specimens (which await dissection)
Last minute, and before I left home for a field trip I thought I might as well rummage a trap together as it was going to be a warm night (and with all of my 5 traps out with me) I managed to find an old Heath trap with an inverted lampshade and a few egg trays, and popped a 20w Wemlite over the top of it.
When I returned from my trip out, completely frazzled and ready for bed, I thought I would just have a peek at what the little light had attracted, the usual fare to start with and then I turned round and spotted a Caloptilia, and then I looked again and couldn't quite believe my eyes... I potted it up and rushed inside to get my hand lens.
Under the hand lens and in more natural light it appeared to be Caloptilia honoratella.
A 5th UK record at the time. 
 
6. Carpatolechia notatella - Bramfield Woods - (21/05/20) - A 4th County record for Herts and last seen in 1978, a great record and I even managed to trap a second a week later from the same location. Confirmed by dissection once again by Graeme Smith.

7. Elachista utonella - Bramfield Woods -  (21/05/20) - Another good moth on the same night and new to me and Hertfordshire, a fairly non-descript Elachista species but worth checking to confirm. It was amongst 100's of Coleophora and a respectable catch of 165 species over 5 traps, for May this was exceptional.

8. Pammene suspectana - Stevenage Garden - (15/05/20) - Since getting started with Pheremone traps on the 7th of May, I had 4 different lures hanging in the garden and in the adjacent alleyway, these are for 'pomonella' 'funebrana' 'vitrealis' and 'molesta'
On the 15th of May at 6:30pm, a small dark Tortrix was racing around inside of the 'funebrana' lure trap. Potted up and photographed, I held onto the moth with the possibility of it being Pammene suspectana (With thanks to Tim Green for highlighting this potential species to me), it was more likely to be albuginana, still a rare moth for me and my last record being 8 years ago, either would be new for the garden.
Then the next day, I checked again at pretty much time the following day, and a slightly smaller specimen was sitting inside the same trap, the moth looked exactly the same species. 
Two weeks later and Graeme Smith had got back to me with the dissection results, and unbelievably they were both the Ash feeder Pammene suspectana! And a 1st and 2nd County record and moth species no.736 for the garden.
It just shows you the power of these pheremone lures. With not much Ash around here, I was convinced they would be the Oak feeding Pammene albuginana, of which we have plenty of the foodplant.

9. Elachista gangabella - Bramfield Woods - (02/06/20) -  A new species of Elachista (The second in 2020 which nearly completes the full UK set) This species was presumed to be correct but had to go for the chop and I was delighted when it came back correct. A 3rd County record for Herts.

10. Narycia duplicella - Boxmoor - Hemel Hempstead - (17/06/20) - I was at work, when I was just taking the keys back to the key safe and spotted a moth dancing up and down in a slither of sunshine, not knowing what it was I opened my hand and somehow managed to entrap it, well at least I thought I had... I couldn't feel it in my hand at all.
So I went indoors, shut the door and opened my fist, phew! I had got it, and as anticipated it flew straight for the window and was easy to pot.
Upon a quick inspection I couldn't quite decide between Diplodoma laichartingella & Narycia duplicella, the former I get regularly in my garden.
Once home and in better light, it was clear it was indeed, Narycia duplicella.
Only the 6th record for Herts to boot and only the second time I have ever encountered this species (the first was in 2009 at Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex, 11 years ago!). 

11. Cosmopterix lienigiella - Chippenham Fen - (20/06/20) - I set up 4 traps in total at Chippenham Fen after being granted access, I spread them out across the wetland site, and popped 1 trap in the adjacent woodland (This is always worth doing, as you will get different species).
Once again, the 250w Trap did the business, it was swarming past midnight and quite hard to get near the trap for fear of treading on moths (the main reason I always put a white sheet under the trap, to minimise casualties). Lots of highlights, the best micro was the rare Cosmopterix lienigiella, a new moth for me and confined to East Anglia.

12. Flame Wainscot - Chippenham Fen - (20/06/20) - Best catch of the year and then a big drama!
Pick of just over 300 species out at Chippenham Fen towards the end of June with several still to check (My highest ever species count in one night), Flame Wainscot (new for me) and Gelechia muscosella (The 2nd time I have trapped this rare species here). The bad news was that I only managed a few photos, and then my camera died, it got extremely hot and maybe overheated...threw loads of errors and wouldn't turn on.  
 
13. Heart & Club - Stevenage Garden - (17/06/20) - A common moth, but by jove what a cracking colouration! I don't think i've ever trapped a Heart & Club with such contrasting colours before. I do like a nice form of a regular moth.

14. Vitula biviella - Stevenage Garden - (25/06/20) - A new moth for my garden and the best moth of the night, Vitula biviella, a species very similar to the Ephestia group, although when fresh the difference is clear.
It was moth species no.744 for the garden, and the first entry under the letter V in my micro moth species spreadsheet!

15. Parallel Lines (Grammodes bifasciata) - Chippenham Fen - (04/07/20) - Well I couldn't leave this one out! Technically not my moth, but read on... 
The night was getting late at Chippenham Fen, and it was approximately1:30pm and we were nearly packed up, Trevor was just packing up his last trap so I came over to lend a hand and see what moths he had.
Standing just to the left of the trap and with the light off (and only light from Trevor's lantern and my torch) my attention was suddenly drawn to a large black striped moth 'GEOMETRICIAN' I shouted 'GET A POT QUICK', with wings vibrating, as soon as I got near the moth it flew, 'Shit'... I think I cursed...
Trevor meanwhile acted on instinct and fired the trap light back up in vain hope of it coming back, I was searching the grass, the egg trays already on the floor from going through the trap, and then, Trevor spotted it again 'THERE IT IS, QUICK', carefully I approached the settled moth and it was in the pot and we were able to look at it.
I looked at it again and no... it wasn't the Geometrician, it was something even rarer, a Grammodes species and later confirmed as Grammodes bifasciata, a Moth new to Britain!
Naturally Trevor was over the moon and we just could not believe it... I even said earlier, that the wind might blow something good in migrant wise, and it did!!

16. Nemophora cupriacella - Bovingdon Brickworks, Bovingdon - (17/07/20) - At work during July I have been lucky to be able to glance regularly at the flora on the estate whilst carrying about my duties.
On the 17th of July I was checking on some sheep that were grazing a scrubby area on the edge of Bovingdon Brickworks, when, walking back, I spotted a brightly coloured day-flying moth feeding from a Teasel in flower.
It turned out to be my first ever Nemophora cupriacella, a female and my 8th species (out of 10 possible in the family) that I've recorded in this Country.

17. Nemophora metallica - Bovingdon Brickworks, Bovingdon - (13/07/20) - On the 13th of July I was strimming and raking a patch of stinging nettles away from a small piece of chalk grassland next to our office car park at the Box Moor Trust Centre.
In the car park is plenty of Knapweed, Lady's Bedstraw, Bird's-foot Trefoil and Field Scabious, the latter is a foodplant associated with the day-flying longhorn moth, Nemophora metallica.
A quick scan whilst in the area, revealed 2 moths dancing around the heads of the flowers, with the breeze they weren't keen on settling so I managed to coax one into a pot when it got near the ground.
On closer inspection, Nemophora metallica has such beautiful green eyes, the next day he was released (A male with long antennae) in the same spot.
I still need to find fasciella and minimella… maybe one day! 
 
18. Oak Eggar - Stevenage Garden - (18/07/20) - Oak Eggar, a really large Female as well, was only my 2nd garden record after first recording it last year, such a beauty and one I rarely encounter.

19. Lunar Hornet Moth - Barwick Ford - (16/07/20)  - The success of this new lure from ALS (Jon Clifton) was astonishing. I think almost everyone that purchased one of these lures had success on their first try. Mine took me about 40 seconds to respond (honest) I found a nice stand of foodplant alongside a brook in Central East Herts, such a stunning creature and very pleasing to observe.

20. Balsam Carpet - Bramfield Park Woods - (15/07/20) - Some really lovely moths were still on the wing on a particularly breezy night, it was all worthwhile, I managed a new moth species for my records, the Balsam Carpet.
Not a particularly common moth, and great to see, albeit in a rather poor condition.
 
21. Marbled Clover - Chippenham Fen - (17/07/20) - A new moth for my records, again a little worn but very pleasing, an East Anglian speciality and one we don't see in Hertfordshire. I had only previously seen it in France before. 

22. Goat Moth - Chippenham Fen - (17/07/20) - Amongst 231 species, another moth that i've previously encountered in France, to see one in the UK was amazing. I knew they were here but sometimes it just doesn't happen despite best efforts, luckily this one was found in the long grass beside one of my traps.

23. Cydia amplana - Stevenage Garden - (15/08/20) - Pleasing to record my 2nd Cydia amplana (last seen in 2014). I see these more regularly out in the field with more traps at my disposal. 

24. Large Emerald - Bramfield Woods - (24/07/20) - The usual suspects were observed at a session at Bramfield Woods with Trevor Brownsell, the pick however had to be not one, but two Dark Crimson Underwings! and both to two different traps that were run by Trevor...narrowly avoiding mine! Once again Trevor rubbed my nose in it (O we had a good laugh at that).
My trump card was to be found in the lower 160w blended trap, a really unusual coloured Large Emerald, an aberration of somekind that wasn't worn and was scale perfect! Never seen a green moth look so odd.

25. Gypsy Moth - Stevenage Garden - (01/08/20) - It was expected, and after seeing most people around me adding it to their garden list since 2017, one was finally attracted to my light on the first night of August. I had previously trapped several at our local woods a week before.

26. Slender Burnished Brass - Stevenage Garden - (03/09/20) - Macro Moth highlight of the year for me, what a cracker, unbelievably not a County first (I did a double take), We have two previous records of this rare immigrant for Hertfordshire: One was seen flying around a kitchen in Hitchin on 18th November 2000 and was found dead the next day (D. Hudson reported in Atropos, number 12, page 69), the second was found at a Sainsbury's in Watford in December 2013 (Allan Hall). 

27. Autumnal Moth - Stevenage Garden - (10/11/20) - I finally got my finger out and went through 8 Epirrita species on the 12th of November with a hand lens, a steady hand and patience, 2 I fudged up and I couldn't work out what I was looking at (tricky through a x10 hand lens), the 3rd correlated exactly to a November Moth, then the 4th the same.. then the 5th a Pale which was pleasing, 6th another November and then the 7th BINGO, a tenatative initial ID of Autumnal Moth was correct! The 8th, yep... another November Moth.
 
Have a fun moth-filled 2021 all 





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