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

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Not Overdue - Golden-rod Pug

I had one garden record of Golden-rod Pug going way back to August 2000. I am absolutely certain that I have had others since, but given that they are often melanic in the midlands I would of ignored them. I put out my synergetic trap last night with no genuine expectation of anything much, and was not surprised when there were just two Hebrew Characters and a small dark pug. I potted up the pug with the intention of having a better look after work.

Aside from being small and dark, not really much to look at aside from it having strongly evident dark discal spots, a hint of a pale spot on the thorax and faint witnesses of pale tornal spots. As it was clearly a male, I decided to have a go at brushing away the scales and checking the abdominal plates. Male pugs have plates on the ventral surface of the 8th sternite, and the shape of some of these is distinctive enough to confirm species (though a lot look very similar on the illustrations I have).

Anyway, it turned out to be a Golden-rod Pug - some 18 years after the last record (but, again, almost certainly not 18 years since the last one in the garden!).

Golden-rod Pug

Abdominal plate, showing a quirky and deeply forked kink to the left

Monday, 23 April 2018

Ivy Muncher plus

Found this larva on a brick wall immediately adjacent to a large ivy bush in the garden. I recognised it straight away as it's one I've found here before on the same ivy bush ....

Old Lady

I've got it feeding up in a tub of ivy leaves and will rear through - with a bit of luck I can get a few shots of a pristine fresh adult.

Over the weekend I had a bit of a half-arsed attempt at recording Emperor Moth with a pheromone lure. I tried three sites on different days and times without success. Either I'm not patient enough, the lure is dead or the moth is genuinely not present (and quite possibly all three at the same time!). One of the sites was Warren Hills, one part of what little heath and billberry scrubby moor we have in the Charnwood area. Green Hairstreak was on the wing but too quick and active for a snap.

The lure is just about visible in a black net wrap on the twiggy bush

Recent bits from the garden traps include:

Least Black Arches

Brindled Beauty


Water Carpet - only fifth for garden and first since 2009

Streamer, first since 2012

Caloptilia rufipennella

Caloptilia stigmatella

Pine Beauty

I also had a great night out in the field with Adrian Russell and Graham Finch last week, at a site right in the north-west of VC55. Grange Wood is a decent sized mixed woodland, which is actually in the county of Derbyshire but just falls within the VC55 recording area (one of the historical quirks that again show how the VC boundaries have nothing to do with current political boundaries). We had a great mix of species, including a couple of full British Ticks for me - a cracking Blossom Underwing that Adrian took to photograph and this tortrix:

Pammene giganteana - third VC55 record

Also a few nice-to-see species for the year including Early-tooth Striped, Lunar Marbled Brown, Purple Thorn and a few Lead-coloured Drabs including this lead-coloured and drab one ..

Lead-coloured Drab

Monday, 16 April 2018

Late Early

A quick catch up on a few from the garden, with two 'Early' moths appearing a bit later than might be expected:

Pine Beauty, 06/04/2018

Early Grey, 13/04/2018

Shoulder Stripe, 06/04/2018

Early Thorn, 14/04/2018

Double-striped Pug, 07/04/2018

A very knackered Oak Nycteoline, 14/04/2018

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Small Q.

Managed to get the trap out again last night - two nights in succession already in April versus five nights in total during March. More moths, but still lacking in variety and just the one NFY ....

Small Quaker

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


Managed to wade across the sodden garden yesterday evening and get the trap out of the shed. After several damp days with heavy rain at times, our garden is pretty much flooded out at the bottom end. Although the forecast wasn't great, I was determined to at least get the trap on given that it was meant to be a rain-free night. It was, and there were a handful of moths in the trap, but the best moth of the night actually popped up by the 20W actinic running in an old outdoor light fitting on the front of the house ....

Oak Beauty - the first garden record since 2015
(though that's almost certainly due to the lack of spring trapping in 2016/17!)

Other than that, there were just a few of the usual suspects including the first Clouded Drabs for the year (showing how late everything is in my garden this spring).

Clouded Drab - a slightly cloudy one

Clouded Drab - a very drab one!

Hebrew Character

Monday, 2 April 2018

Sweet Lemon

Nipped into a local garden center with the Mrs today and helped myself to a large slab of chocolate cake and a pot of tea. Whilst there, I had a good look at some of the citrus plants they had in. Lots of Kumquats and a couple of Lemons. Eventually found what I was looking for on one of the Lemon plants, making it the sweetest lemon I've had. There was no way I was going to fork out c£20 for a Lemon plant I don't want, but luckily the leaf I needed to look at fell off ........

And here it is - avec a clear mine of Phyllocnistis citrella. Like other Phyllocnistis spp. the mine barely breaks below the epidermis, and this one has feeding on both sides of the leaf. Sadly it's a vacated mine, but nevertheless a solid second VC55 record for this adventive species.

Phyllocnistis citrella, Leicestershire 02/04/2018

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Larval Life

A bit of a catch up from the last week or so. No garden trapping as the weather has been absolute pants, and I had a long weekend away with family to celebrate my wife's big birthday. Around that, and in lieu of any trap action, I've been looking for larval life.

After the long weekend, I had the Monday off with Nichola and we headed out to Swithland Res and Bradgate Park for some fresh air in relatively decent spring weather. Whilst walking about, I had a quick look at the dry-stone walls and found plenty of psychidae and a couple of larvae ...

Luffia ferchaultella, Bradgate Park 26/03/2018

Narycia duplicella, Bradgate Park 26/03/2018

Dahlica lichenella, Swithland Res 26/03/2018

Taleporia tubulosa (with Bristly Millipede getting in on the action)
Swithland Res 26/03/2018

Psyche casta, Bradgate Park 26/03/2018

Common Footman, Bradgate Park 26/03/2018

Believe this is a Large White chrysalis, Swithland Res 26/03/2018

Believe this is a Green-veined White chrysalis, Swithland Res 26/03/2018

Back on 15/03/2018 I found a few noctuid larvae in the garden. Amongst them was an early-instar that I didn't recognise at all with obvious setae that seemed odd for a noctuid. Anyway I've been feeding it up on dandelion etc and it is growing, but it is the most docile larvae I've ever reared. I've not seen it crawl about at all, and it just curls up into a tight coil if disturbed. I think I've sussed what it may be but I'm going to have to try and rear to adult to confirm.

Believe this is a Hoplodrina spp, either an Uncertain or a Rustic.

I've also made an earlier start than last year on looking for leaf-miners. I checked out a known Holm Oak just a few miles down the road at Sapcote on 30/03/2018 hoping to fine a few mines. Hadn't realised how easy it would be - the whole tree was heavily infested and it was obvious as I passed the tree before parking up.

Pretty much every leaf had numerous mines with at least two species involved

Ectoedemia heringella, vacated mines

Ectoedemia heringella, tenanted mines

Ectoedemia heringella tenanted and vacated mines, and Phyllonorycter messaniella vacated mine

Phyllonorycter messaniella vacated mine, upperside

Phyllonorycter messaniella vacated mine, underside