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I’ve had very little to write up, sadly. There were five moth species in the bathroom last night and two of them, the Clay and phylctaenia coronata have been very regular visitors this summer. The other three moths were obviously micro moths and new to me.

One was not actually that small, probably with a wingspan closer to 30mm than 20mm. But it is a remarkably deep and rich brown colour and I’ve found it impossible to capture a good image of it. Despite working my way through everything I could think of, including the UKMoths website one species at a time, I haven’t got to the point where I’m confident in the species. I’m only nearly certain it is a pyralid and possibly a dark variant. Nothing I’ve seen comes close.

Unidentified (pyralid?)

Unidentified (pyralid?)

The second moth seemed the most likely to be identified. Size-wise it was about half the size of the moth above, but several times larger than the smallest of the three, with quite distinct markings. But whereas I’ve been tempted to name the moth above and actually think I might have nailed the really, really tiny moth this one has completely eluded me. I wouldn’t even like to put it in a family. For what it might be worth, and I don’t imagine that’s much, here it is:

No ID

No ID

The last of the three is so small I might easily have missed it as a shadow on the ceiling or a small trail of cobweb I’d missed (I do this, as you may have already noticed in some previous pics). As it clung stubbornly to the ceiling the angles from which I could get pictures were few, yet I think I might have worked out what this is.

paraswammerdamia albicapitella?

paraswammerdamia albicapitella?

In taxonomy there can be few acts more perverse or even grotesque than lumbering such a petite creature with a name like that (assuming I’m correct). This particular species is on the wing at this time of the year and comes to light as this specimen did. The larva is a blackthorn leaf miner (the sort of grub that creates tracery in foliage). There are no contra-indications and in my long almost tedious slog through the entire UK moths database I found nothing fitted better.

All in all a father disheartening and deflating experience.

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After a couple of barren nights there were moths in the bathroom yesterday and they offered a new twist on the old mystification challenge.

On first glance the crop, actually small by the standards being set a week ago on the back of the spell of genuinely warm weather we had (Summer?), seemed to include perhaps as many as three or even four new moths. Alas, on inspection of the pictures I took I’m convinced that none of them were new for me and only one a new visitor this year.

On the other hand if I’m right about the moths to visit, and my can IF be a mighty big word in certain contexts, then last night’s visitors offer an insight into the ravages of the passage of what for moths is I suppose a long period of time.

The first moth, however, was a Dark Arches which is a moth I particularly like for there is something dignified about the way it conducts itself – and the markings are elaborate and subtle at the same time. I am beginning to understand that different species can be expected to exhibit certain behaviours and this is a species that isn’t given to displays of hysteria at the flick of a light switch.

It was a fine specimen, unblemished but for a small nick in the right hind which might well have been the result of a close encounter with a hungry bird*.

The Clay is a species that was visiting in numbers and regularly during the warm weather; two were in last night. The Clay, unlike the Dark Arches, is reluctant to settle and difficult to work with. I have plenty of photographs and only took last night’s set to prompt me in the morning when I made notes so I can compile a detailed list at the end of the year.

Early on I spotted a conventionally crisp Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignaria) which is a species I’ve recorded a number of times already. I thought nothing much of it, took one photograph and moved on. Later another similar moth came in fluttered about restlessly and made itself generally difficult to photograph. I succeeded, eventually. But in the bathroom light I was not sure I was taking photographs of the same moth species.

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Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignata)

Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignata)

But after looking at these two photographs I’m all but convinced I’m looking at two moths of the same species; one new-minted (top) the other rather worn.

High on the same wall as the Dark Archs was another moth which I was much more sure must be a new species though I couldn’t immediately recall seeing anything it resembled. Then today I’ve had time to examine the pictures I took and I think I’ve again got a study in what happens as time passes for a moth. Allowing for the possibility I’m completely wrong I think this is a desperately faded Bright-line Brown-eye. The only room for doubt seems to me that the eye is quite small, unlike as in full coloured specimens that have been in the house. I’m intrigued. The lower picture is for comparison, the upper figure is of the moth in the bathroom last night.

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Bright-line Brown-eye

Bright-line Brown-eye

There was just one pyralid in the bathroom, but I got a picture of it I’m rather pleased with – though the ID is uncertain:

agriphila latistria?

agriphila latistria?

Finally, last night my bathroom was graced with the presence of an instantly recognisable moth I’ve only seen once before. I knew it the minute I saw it, trying to hide low on a wall and in shadow. It looked like a molten drop of gun metal grey but the shape is distinctive (the extravagently high ‘collar’ in particular is a give away). Only the photographs I took when looked at this morning revealed clearly the markings that lend this moth its name. It is the Spectacle (abrostola tripartita), so called because of the rings that look like, well, specacles:

The Spectacle (abrostola tripartita)

The Spectacle (abrostola tripartita)

While the above photograph shows the wing markings best it is the next photo, otherwise poor, that shows the giveaway markings best:

The Spectacle (abrostola tripartita)

The Spectacle (abrostola tripartita)

And so, overall it was a night of some frustration (at least partly connected to IDing the moths) and puzzlement and some delight at finding new species.

 

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I know I’m tempting fate, here. It has dawned on me that had I applied myself with the same focus, dedication and commitment at school or after university in my career things might have turned out rather differently. I’d be sitting behind a desk somewhere, or in an airport lounge somewhere or interviewing someone I secretly despise … no I can’t regret putting management consulting behind me.

As it is last night there were 17 species of moth in the bathroom last night, and of them just two remain unidentified. Slowly but steadily this is getting easier, I’m getting measurably better at it. Two of the moths making their first ever appearance I readily recognised immediately just because I’ve invested so much in this over the past two months – putting in probably four hours a day. Perhaps my orchestra career might not have stalled at the third violin section if I’d invested that much time per day in practising.

Small Cream wave (idaea fuscovenosa)

Small Cream wave (idaea fuscovenosa)

The above image was actually taken earlier in the day when I spotted this little moth on the inside of the back door, the remainder were taken later at night long after dark. The hot spell continues despite my best effort to sabotage it by digging swimwear out of the closet and I’d left the patio doors open as well as the bathroom light on so the moths were coming at me from more than one direction. I counted 17 moth species in total (including the Dwarf Cream Wave above) which isn’t the highest figure of the year but of that lot I’ve readily identified all but two.

Things will probably go horribly wrong tonight. In the meantime last night’s crew included the Clay, the Bee Moth, the Willow Beauty, the Riband Wave, the Least Carpet, the Small Magpie, phylctaenia coronata, the Diamond-back and the Brown House Moth – all of which have already been in the house on at least one occasion this year. Note the absence from that list of the Common Emerald – upwards of a dozen a night for days on end and then abruptly not one. Curious.

Last night I had my first visit for the year of a readily recognisable macro moth that in other years has been a frequent caller:

Silver-Y (autographa gamma)

Silver-Y (autographa gamma)

And four moths that are new for me including one that isn’t found all over Britain, but is essentially a moth of East Anglia:

Dark Arches (apamea monoglypha)

Dark Arches (apamea monoglypha)

Dark Arches (apamea monoglypha)

Dark Arches (apamea monoglypha)

The Dark Arches is described as ‘common and abundant’ so why is this the first one I’ve seen? No idea.  The larvae feed on a variety of grasses.

The Snout (hypena proboscidalis)

The Snout (hypena proboscidalis)

This is another larger moth and also common and fairly widespread. The foodstuff is predominantly Common Nettle, so that’s OK. It is on the wing between June and October so possibly not the last one I’ll see; that being usually how it works.

Dotted Fan-foot (macrochilo cribrumalis)

Dotted Fan-foot (macrochilo cribrumalis)

This moth is on the wing between June and August and is found across South-east England but particularly in East Anglia. The larvae feed on wood-sedge, hairy and field wood-rush. It is prefers bogs and marshy areas so it had wandered a bit off its usual turf.

The final one is my favourite. Much smaller than the other two, I almost missed it as it had gone to rest on the window. Being both small and almost transparent I couldn’t photograph it there and had to persuade it to move to a wall.

Twenty-plume Moth (alucita hexadactyla)

Twenty-plume Moth (alucita hexadactyla)

This is the solitary British member of the Alucitidae family of micro moths. It has a wingspan of 15mm and though common I can imagine it is easy enough to overlook, though unmistakable once spotted. It is on the wing throughout the year and the larvae feed on honeysuckle.

The other two moths I’ve not been able to definitively ID, though one is undoubtedly a plume moth and other probably a noctuid:

Plume moth

Plume moth

A noctuid?

A noctuid?

[This is almost certainly the Rustic (hoplodrina blanda) or, fittingly and more likely, the Uncertain (hoplodrina alsines) – these two species are difficult to distinguish.]

And that was relatively easy peasy.

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While I’m still moderately guilty with excitement at the overnight olive grove developments in between bits of work and alternate forms of displacement activity I have knuckled down to organising the records of the things that have either come into the house or been found by me outdoors while working or on walks.

This afternoon while pottering about at the far corner of the front beyond the greengage section on a fence panel largely shrouded in ivy I found these two moths this afternoon:

Currant Pug and eudonia mercurella

Currant Pug and eudonia mercurella

I’m frankly struggling to differentiate these pugs which are so similar in size and shape. It might well be the Currant Pug is one that has visited the bathroom of an evening but only with the natural light was I able to be even reasonably certain about the ID. The other is definitely a new one for me. The pug flew off to hide in the ivy when I took the first picture. The other moth chose to stay and I was able to get this better picture:

Eudonia mercurella

Eudonia mercurella

Most of the new moths have been small and therefore probably the relatively poorly documented micro moths. The major new macro moths are the following two, both making their first ever appearance – as noted by me, in the bathroom.

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

This is a specimen of the Clay (mythimna ferrago), a noctuid that is described as ‘plain’ in one authority but is actually a rather lovely colour, and heavy bodied relative to its wingspan (c.40mm). It is also described as common though a scan of my archive of pictures confirms I’ve not photographed it before. I uplifted this to flickr before posting and didn’t name it as I wasn’t certain. Thanks to Andrew MacKaywho came by and confirmed the ID. The link is to Andrew’s photostream.

Flame Shoulder (ochropleura plecta)

Flame Shoulder (ochropleura plecta)

This isn’t a great photo but representative. This moth is also a noctuid, again common and on the wing for a relatively extended period – April through to September. It isn’t particular in terms of habitat and the larvae feed on various herbaceous plants so it is slightly surprising this is the first I’ve seen.

Three other moths made their first appearance for the year.

Dwarf Cream Wave (idaea fuscovenosa)

Dwarf Cream Wave (idaea fuscovenosa)

And these ones which are personal favourites and quite unmistakeable:

Hook-marked Straw Moth (agapeta hamana)

Hook-marked Straw Moth (agapeta hamana)

Swallow-tailed Moth (ourapteryx sambucaria)

Swallow-tailed Moth (ourapteryx sambucaria)

Agapeta hamana is classed as a micro moth and doesn’t necessarily even make it into a reasonably comprehensive guide to British Moths. Ah well. The Swallow-tailed Moth is unmistakeable and I missed it last year. It is relatively a large British species of moth with a wing span of c.55mm. It is common, too.

Sometimes there’s so little room left in the moth trap bathroom the moths are having to rest on the floor. A couple of nights recently I’ve been worried I’d tread on one of these stupid but often lovely creatures.

Among the moths that have been in the bathroom over the course of the past two nights, having already made their first appearance are

Orange Moth
Bright-Line Brown-eye
Common Emerald
Willow Beauty
Riband Wave
Diamond-backed
Small Magpie
Broom
Small Blood-vein
Least Carpet
L-album Wainscot
Small Dusty Wave
Bee Moth

And there were a number of unidentified moths, mostly small (ie, wingspans of quite a bit less than 20mm). These moths don’t always lend themselves to the taking of good representative photographs: the following are some of the better pictures I was able to obtain. As ever any suggestions would be welcomed and gratefully received.

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possibly crambus perlella

possibly crambus perlella

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Phew. Completely unanticipated number and variety of bathroom moth trap visitors. I’ve sat in that room late at night on a couple of nights in this past week and been dumbfounded mostly at how I managed to miss this extraordinary parade most of my life. These moths have not just started to visit because I’m now looking, afterall. Of those many moths a number are currently unidentified. Most but not all are small micro moths.

There were several species I’ve not recorded in the bathroom before:

  • Small Magpie (eurrypara hortulata)
  • Diamond Back Moth (plutella xylostella)
  • Heart and Dart (argrotis exclamationis)
  • L-album Wainscot (mythimna l-album)
  • Clouded Silver (lomographa temerata)
  • Tawny-speckled Pug (eupithecia icterata)*
  • Slender Pug (eupithecia tenuiata)*
  • Foxglove Pug (eupithecia puchellata)”
  • Bee Moth (aphomia sociella) M & F
  • Adela croesella*
  • Meal Moth (pyralis farinalis)
  • Barred Yellow (cidaria fulvata)
  • Marbled White Spot (protodeltote pygarga)
  • Broom Moth (melancra pisi)
  • Willow Beauty (peribatodes rhomboidaria)
  • Magpie Moth (abraxas grossulariata)
  • Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignaria)
  • Carcina quercana
  • Common Rustic (mesapamea secalis) or Lesser Common Rustic*

And the following moths were back for the first time this year:

  • Common Emerald (hemithea aestivaria)
  • Orange Moth (angerona prunaria) mottled variant
  • Large Yellow Underwing (noctua pronuba)
  • Apple (yponomeuta malinellus) or Bird-cherry Ermine*
  • Garden Grass-veneer (chrystoteuchia culmella)

The ones marked * have an amount of uncertainty attached to the ID

Worth mentioning also in the context of this being a summary of the month’s activity are the moths that had already appeared in May but were still around in what is now last moth:

  • Phylctaenia coronata
  • Udea olivalis
  • Emmelina monodactyla
  • Brimstone Moth (opisthograptis luteolata)
  • Small Dusty Wave (idaea seriata)

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Last night was quieter, but the bathroom moth trap has been setting an unanticipated and unprecedented standard in terms of both quantity and quality over most of the past week.

I’ve posted on the ones that I photographed and don’t expect to ID as well as those I’m hesitant about in the two preceding posts. This last catch up post features the moths I’ve been able to ID. Some have established themselves as regular visitors this year, others are returns from previous years. Happily though the list of visitors has now significantly expanded with some new species and new variants. Here they are:

Carcina quercana

Carcina quercana

This is a lovely moth from the family Oecophoridae which are as a group among the most colourful of those classed as micro moths. About half the world’s species are found in Australia; this one is normally on the wing in July and August and typically frequents woodland though I’ve seen it before in the strawberry patch. This one was in the bathroom a couple of nights ago and stayed until the previous evening but is now gone.

 The Least Carpet  (idaea rusticata atrosignaria) isn’t scarce but is found predominantly in the south-east of England from here around to Dorset and on the wing from June to August. The larvae feed on Ivy and Traveller’s Joy. This is the first I’ve seen and noted in the bathroom, it is prettier than the more common Garden Carpet.

Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignaria)

Least Carpet (idaea rusticata atrosignaria)

Phylctaenia coronata is a regular visitor. It is associated with Elder both as a moth and in its larval form. It is on the wing through June and July.

Phylctaenia coronata

Phylctaenia coronata

The Magpie Moth (abraxas grossulariata) is one of the most eye catching moths to turn up in the bathroom; big and bright and distinctive. This is the first one I’ve seen in the bathroom. It is a common moth and will be on the wing through now until August. It isn’t particular in terms of plants. It has a wingspan in the order of 50mm but isn’t as heavy bodied as some, so it wasn’t such an overpowering presence, and quite lovely to look at when at rest. This particular one stayed overnight and until the following evening.  

Magpie Moth (abraxas grossulariata)

Magpie Moth (abraxas grossulariata)

The Small Magpie (eurrhypara hortulata) has been in any number of times this year; it has a shorter season, being on the wing in June and July. It is specifically associated with Common Nettle.

Small Magpie (eurrhypara hortulata)

Small Magpie (eurrhypara hortulata)

The Orange Moth (angerona prunaria) has been to the Bathroom light in previous years – it is the moth in the header photograph.  But it has two quite different forms. The one I used in the header is orange with a bit of brown bordering and light flecking across the wings. The moth that came into the bathroom was huge – certainly at least the 50mm guideline.

Orange Moth (angerona prunaria)

Orange Moth (angerona prunaria)

The Bee Moth (aphomia sociella) is a new one this year and made a second appearance. It is a threat to honeycomb and therefore not entirely to be welcomed. It is on the wing between June and August.

Bee Moth (aphomia sociella)

Bee Moth (aphomia sociella)

The Common Emerald (hemithea aestivaria) has been in the bathroom in past years but this year is appearing in far greater numbers. It also seems to be appearing in two forms: one deep emerald the other very washed out. They are in effect the same size and in no way resemble any of the other ’emerald’ moths.

Udea olivalis

Udea olivalis

Udea olivalis is a common moth and on the wing in June and July. It has been in the house before this year, and I’ve spotted it in previous years. It is a pyralid, therefore a micro moth, found through out Britain and in its larval form dines on a variety of plants.

Willow Beauty (peribatodes rhomboidaria)

Willow Beauty (peribatodes rhomboidaria)

The Willow Beauty (peribatodes rhombaoidaria), on the wing between June and October though in two generations, is common and widespread. Like a lot of the moths that come to the bathroom the food plants include Ivy.

 And also…

Of course last night there would be more small moths I’m unsure of. The larger moth on the left in this photo is a Small Dusty Wave. The point of the pic. is the smaller moth on the right – I took several pictures but this is the one that shows its markings most clearly.

Small Dusty Wave and unidentified micro moth

Small Dusty Wave and unidentified micro moth

And then there was this moth. Its highly reflective scales meant I could not get a particularly good picture of it. For what it is worth:

Unidentified micro moth

Unidentified micro moth

And with that I have caught up on the moth trap and it remains only to sift through the photographs taken on my walk this afternoon.

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As well as the moths I’m never likely to get close to giving an ID (see previous post) a number of the moths that have come to the bathroom after dusk over the past two days are one’s I’m not certain I’ve ID’d correctly. For starters there’s this large moth which has been every evening this week and which is rather boistrous. I think it is the Broom Moth – it is certainly a moth I’ve not recorded in previous years, and appears to be about in relatively large numbers at the moment. A bathroom full is rather daunting.

Broom Moth (melanchra pisi)?

Broom Moth (melanchra pisi)?

And this moth, too, has been about on most days over the past week. I believe it is either the Apple Ermine or the Bird-cherry Emine.

Apple (or Bird-cherry) Ermine ?

Apple (or Bird-cherry) Ermine ?

Then there’s those wretched pugs … all small and generally dark and usually lurking somewhere difficult to get at. I’m leaning towards this one being the Tawny Pug:

Tawny-speckled Pug (eupithecia icterata)?

Tawny-speckled Pug (eupithecia icterata)?

Finally, among this group there is this moth which is either the Common Rustic or Lesser Common Rustic – two moth species so nearly indistinguishable one from the other that a dissection would be necessary to decide one way or another. I left this one to fly another day.

Common or Lesser Common Rustic

Common or Lesser Common Rustic

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