Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Stig of the Beech

A good look over an isolated beech tree at Misterton Marsh revealed 100s of mines, including S. tityrella (which I'd already found at Ulverscroft) and a few that were different. These were again typical Stigmella gallery mines, but the egg position and early part of the mine was well away from the mid-rib and the frass pattern in the early part of the gallery was also different. One of the mines also ploughs through a vein rather than being constrained between them. These are Stigmella hemargyrella. So, starting from a complete novice I've now found both of the Stigmella species that mine beech. I should of done this years ago!

Stigmella hemargyrella

I've also added a new noctuid to the garden breeding list, although it's one I had no idea about. I found a pupa very loosely spun into a cocoon of leaves on the garden silver birch, and felt sure it was a noctuid. There was no feeding damage that I could see, so I collected up the pupa and to see what came out in due course. Only a week or so later, and this came out .....


It emerged yesterday, but wouldn't play ball for a photo. After a night in the fridge, it still wouldn't play ball. In fact it took me well over an hour to eventually get any photos, and although it still looks pretty fresh its not exactly the mint example it could of been - particularly on the cilia and right forewing. This has got to be the most uncooperative individual I've ever bothered with. Anyway, once I knew what it was I could check the texts, and clearly it hasn't been feeding on my birch but far more likely on the large sallow that overhangs it. Pupation in a cocoon of leaves is normal for this species.

Far more cooperative, and ironically looking fresher, was this from the last garden trap I ran .....

Black Rustic

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

All the leaves are brown ...

... and so are the moths. I think that's how the song went back in '65.

I've just noted that it's over a week since I posted a moth photo, so an easy opportunity for a lazy post right here right now. Here's some shades of brown from the last couple of traps (still not much yellow appearing!).

Brown-spot Pinion
Sadly fresh, rubbed and nicked at the same time. Only the 7th garden record, and first since 2011.

Setaceous Hebrew Character
Been getting a good few of these lately, and still fresh individuals arriving.

Common Wainscot
Always seem to get more of these in the autumn than earlier in year.

Dark Sword-grass
Another - lost count of how many this year now (and my MapMate not up to date).

I'm going to keep trapping through the autumn into the early winter this year - I'm still hoping to pick up one or two overdue species that I've had in years gone past.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Misterton Marsh

Nipped down to Misterton Marsh this afternoon for a potter about. It's not a site that I've visited many times, and certainly not with any regularity. A handful of moth trapping nights, a few attempts with clearwing lures and a couple of walks around is probably it.

As soon as I pulled up, I noticed that there were several teneral Common Darters on the fence trying to catch some rays between cloudy interludes.

Common Darter

I also noted a load of mines on willow that looked interesting. I collected a few leaves to check out, and once I got them home I established that every single one was tenanted .. and that the culprit was neither lepidopteran, dipteran or hymenopteran. So these are the first coleopteran mines I've knowingly seen. They are one of the Isochnus spp. weevils that can't be identified in the larval stage or by the mine, but having posted them onto a local beetle group it turms out that the VC recorder independently found the same mines on the same small group of trees a couple of years ago and sucessfully reared them through, so almost cerainly the same species.

Larval mines of Isochnus sequensi (probably)

Whilst looks for mines, I also found Alder Tongue. Lots of it.

Otherwise I swept and potted a few bits, and collected a few mines from beech, norway maple and elm for another day. Here's a few general shots from around the site, not really a marsh but there are plenty of alders, willows, rushes and loads of willowherb. And some buzzing HV cables carried over the site on a pylon run.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Guys and Galls

I noted today that a new facebook group has been launched for galls. Which reminded me that I'd photographed a couple whilst out and about lately and then not done anything with them, so here they are .....

Oak Marble Gall
Caused by the asexual generation of the wasp Andricus kollari

Artichoke Gall
Caused by the asexual generation of the wasp Andricus foecundatrix

Bedeguar Gall = Robin's Pincushion Gall
Caused by the wasp Diplolepis rosae

I really ought to make more effort to actually record galls rather than just notice them occasionally!

I also found some dipterous mines recently on Himalayan Balsam, which is handy as there is only one candidate (at present).

Phytoliriomyza melampyga

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

When is a leafmine not a leafmine?

Well, when it's not on a leaf! I'm not sure if nutmines, fruitmines, seedmines etc are valid or accepted terms.

The first one here was found by complete accident during a nice afternoon walk at Fosse Meadows with Nichola. It's one that I have been actively looking for at other times without success. Nichola was pointing out to me some pustule-type galls on Field Maple leaves and asking what they were, and as I went to look I immediately saw this:

I'm as sure as I can be at this stage that this is the mine of Ectoedemia louisella, which mines from the samara 'wing' into the seed. I promptly set about looking for more, and found none.

Earlier in the day, I went to Croft Hill and actually got my bins out and did some birding for an hour or so. Redstart was the hoped-for target, but no joy on that front. I did find x2 juv Spotted Flycatchers, x2 male and x1 juv Blackcaps, x1 juv Whitethroat and x1 juv Lesser Whitethroat that were all acting like passage birds - all within a small area littered with gorse and hawthorn that forms a sort of 'wall' along side of the hill.

I then set about checking a few trees on the way back to the car for leafmines, and whilst checking an apple tree I found this apple:

Not sure what caused this - maybe Codling Moth larvae have a nibble on the outside first sometimes, although they actually look a bit dipterous. Nothing revealed when trying to dissect the fruit.

I did find some proper leafmines during the day, including the following. I should say that these are tentative/assumed identifications, though I am quite confident:

Bucculatrix bechsteinella - vacated mines on pear

Stigmella malella - vacated mine on apple

Bohemannia pulverosella - vacated mine on apple. There is actually a very short gallery on this mine, just along the edge of the top two serrations at the top of the blotch.

Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella)
Tenanted mine on ?Swedish Whitebeam? - note the segmented body of the larva.

Stigmella anomalella - tenanted mine on rosa

Monday, 28 August 2017

VC First Macro....

... but it's not mine. I've added quite a good number of moths to the VC55 list over the years, but all have been micros. I've never had the pleasure of finding and adding a macro. This morning a photo was posted onto a local facebook group, and I immediately recognised the species having seen it a few times before. The poster is a complete novice and was oblivious to the potential importance of the species. I managed to contact her, and thankfully the moth was still in situ and she was able to secure it in a washed out yoghurt pot. Most incredibly of all, the moth was noticed having been attracted to a porch light left on all night. Anyway, I collected the moth and grabbed some shots for posterity in lieu of the county recorder who is away on holiday. I don't keep a VC55 list as such, but this wouldn't be on mine anyway: not my record, not present when taken, not recorded as part of a group effort. I am the determiner though! I am sure this is a first for VC55, unless there is another lurking in someone's records from earlier this year (doubtful).

Cypress Pug, Kirby Muxloe (recorder Lyn Bull) - presumed first for VC55

No idea on the status in neighbouring counties at present, other than I know it has been recorded at least once in Northants in the last few years. Quite likely a recent colonist that's has moved in rather than a wanderer from afar, given the circumstance of the record.

Nothing quite so exciting in my garden traps, all standard fare including the now obligatory Scarce Bordered Straw ......

Scarce Bordered Straw
Subtly different to both of yesterday's in terms of markings .... and the complete lack of any wear on thorax! Two in the preceding 17 years, now five in a week.

Otherwise there is a subtle shift, still a lot of brown but some yellow coming in.

Centre-barred Sallow

Dusky Thorn

Rosy Rustic

Light Brown Apple Moth

 Garden Rose Tortrix