Sunday, 1 January 2017

New leaf

Here's to succulent mesophyll
On February 15, 2012 I discovered a colony of Stigmella aurella on the brambles in my parents' front garden. Nearly five years on, it's still going strong. We had six larvae mining away at the leaves on December 20, and we're now down to just two as the others have evidently got out to spin their neat little cocoons and pupate.

This chap seems to think the mesophyll is greener on the other side. Let's hope he's right. Happy 2017.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

All quiet on the Western Front

It's been a while. Here's a moth:

Nematopogon sp.
I haven't been doing any blogging, but I have been doing other stuff. So I made a hub to link things together. A hub to end all hubs, hosted on GitHub and coded from scratch like I always dreamed of. 

There was a name I was holding in reserve for such an enterprise, and now I finally get to use it. 

In all its css-iness and beginner-plicity, here is The Flying Chrysalis.

...ok ok ok back to work.

PS. Look at the top! New pages! (Or rather, old pages I was working on and still haven't finished.)

PPS. Thought I may as well whip out another idea I had back in 2013... a name change. The Lepidoptera Log is now meticulosa!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Mothing moments - June 2013


I'm back! Only two weeks into a five-week, scot-free winter holiday at the end of what has been a fairly overwhelming year... it's time to relax and, on the advice of Her Majesty, time to reflect.

But first, I have a bit of explaining to do.

Last post. 30 June. Exactly six months ago.

Those eggs...

Moth eggs, of course.

Sitting pretty in this picture is a Cabbage Moth which I had potted in my garden on 31 May and kept overnight to photograph. This was a bad idea really. Have you heard the expression "she nearly had kittens"?

Well, the moth freaked out and laid 139 eggs in the pot.

All of which hatched out.

Oh mammy

And that was chaos. When I opened the lid of the pot to put in some lettuce, the tiny, ravenous caterpillars started sprinting up to the rim. I had to take a small paintbrush and gently flick them back to the bottom one by one. Thankfully they all took to the lettuce, and minus a few casualties I released them in Glencairn Park a few days later (by which time they were looking more green, fat and healthy than in the above photo). After I'd let them go, I had a look around the meadow and found this little guy, Micropterix aruncella, one of my favourite micro-moths:

And how nicely he posed for me, too!

Catching adult moths resulted in a couple more very nice rearing projects over the course of June. Firstly, on 8 June, I caught the first Small Phoenix for the garden. It refused to pose with its wings open, so I transferred it to a plastic sandwich bag (with care) to facilitate the photograph.

Let me out of here!!

And of course it didn't like that, and jettisoned five white eggs, three of which turned a marbled orange colour like this one -

Small Phoenix egg

- and hatched into little loopy larvae which eventually grew into large loopy larvae!

See? Loop!
While collecting broad-leaved willowherb from the garden to feed the Small Phoenixes (Phoenices?) I managed to find a fourth, younger, "looper" on the leaves - good to see the species is breeding naturally in the garden!

By this stage, I also had eight early-instar Beautiful Golden Y caterpillars, from eggs laid by this lovely lady -

Beautiful Golden Y - you saw her with her friend the Silver Y in the previous post
- and here's one of them moulting its skin:

I'm regenerating!!!
The box where I kept the caterpillars. A family shot of the four Small Phoenixes - two large ones clinging to the lid with their rear claspers while suspending a leaf stalk between them, on which sits the other large caterpillar (pooing) and the young one. Now how about that for a pose!

Meanwhile, a chapter of my life was closing. Exams were done, school finished, teachers thanked, friends hugged. Every upper sixth class reaching the end of seven years together feels the mixed joy and sadness of leaving. But for this class, at the end of their time together, there was far more sadness than anyone expected - a death in the school community shot a hole in everybody's hearts.

On 4 July, I bid goodbye to my wee "children", releasing the 4 Small Phoenix and 6 Beautiful Golden Y caterpillars in Glencairn Park, which is a much better place for them than my garden (where the wrath of the mower knows no bounds). That day, there were quite a lot of other moths - and butterflies - to see...

Daytime observation 4 Jul 2013

@ Glencairn Park J3075

Golden Lance-wing Epermenia chaerophyllella 25 Larva [Ye N]
Beech Pigmy Stigmella hemargyrella 10 Mine (vacated)
Beech Midget Phyllonorycter maestingella 2 Pupa [eY N]
Small Magpie Anania hortulata 1 Adult
Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana 5 Adult
Yellow-spot Twist Pseudargyrotoza conwagana 15 Adult
Ash Bud Moth Prays fraxinella 1 Adult [Y]
Silver-ground Carpet Xanthorhoe montanata 1 Adult
Little Cosmet Mompha raschkiella 1 Larva
Small Phoenix Ecliptopera silaceata 4 Larva Release
Beautiful Golden Y Autographa pulchrina 6 Larva Release
Common Marble Celypha lacunana 1 Adult [Y]
Common Slender Gracillaria syringella 50 Mine
Common Slender Gracillaria syringella 10 Larva
Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae 6 Adult [Y]
Straw Grass-veneer Agriphila straminella 3 Adult [Y]

Speckled Wood 2 Adult
Ringlet 7 Adult [Y]
Meadow Brown 1 Adult [Y]

Epermenia chaerophyllella larvae on hogweed

Phyllonorycter maestingella (confirmed by rearing through) pupa in mine on beech

Speckled Wood butterfly

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana

Ash Bud Moth, Prays fraxinella

The kiddies: Small Phoenix and Beautiful Yellow Underwing larvae. I think the red cross mark on the rump of the Small Phoenix is apt - a wee resurrection theme going there!

Celypha lacunana

Gracillaria syringella larvae, exposed from leaf spinning on ash

Ringlet butterfly

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, pair in cop

The reason I had to let the caterpillars go early, of course, was because on 6 July, I was to depart on a tip-top not-so-secret mission to the Swiss Alps, to climb mountains - and stuff!

More on that next time, God willing!

Spoilers... :)

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Snowed under

For the past month I've had to redirect all my blogging energy to exams.

So I haven't been able to talk much about these guys...

Or this guy...

Or this pair...

Ah, silly me, back in April - "I think I'll start another blog to go along with the one that I already have trouble keeping up..."

I took off the Garden Moths and Projects pages until such times as the former strikes me as a good idea again and the latter figures out what the heck to do with itself...

I'm away to the Swiss Alps soon, after which I'll hopefully have the energy to do the truckload of writing on the truckload of experiences I'll have and uploading the truckload of photos I'll take. So if you don't hear from me again by the end of next week, you probably won't hear from me until the end of July, or later...

Flip, I gotta compress my life...

Happy mothing! (And enjoy Wimbledon!)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Common Pug

Common Pug

This was the only interesting thing in the trap this morning, accompanied by the usual three Housing Association Microlepidoptera and a caddisfly.

Plus another moth that got away as soon as I lifted the lid. D'oh!

Trap Report 25-26 May 2013

25W Blacklight | @ home garden, Springmartin
11-12°C, B0-1, clear to cloudy

Endrosis sarcitrella: 2
Common Pug: 1 [Y]
Mompha subbistrigella: 3
Hofmannophila pseudospretella: 1

DJ MSub in da house!

Yesterday I was out and about in Murlough NNR and saw some real goodies. Once I have clarified that my photographic activities in relation to a particular species at the reserve are not infringing legislation, I'll be able to report on that!

Updates on Projects 36A, 37A and 38A

None of the three pupae have emerged yet. (The second Lozotaenia is keeping the first one waiting!)

Munching Micropterix

The Micropterigidae are unique in the world of Lepidoptera in that they have functional jaws! Most other moths can only consume liquids (using their proboscis) but these little guys like to munch pollen - in particular the most common species, Micropterix calthella, dozens of which can be found in early summer occupying buttercup flowers.

Last year about this time I recorded 45 of these little beauties at Glencairn Park. In similar conditions on Friday, I found just three.

Another highlight was this Heliozela (of the three Heliozela species probably hammoniella, based on the fact that its foodplant (birch) was closest, although sericiella (oak) can't be ruled out).

[EDIT 9 Jun: Actually, I wasn't really paying attention to the vegetation at the time. Only after returning to the spot for a third time did I notice the thick canopy of alder leaves above where I saw the moth - over which towers a humungous oak tree. H. hammoniella would be the least likely - it was probably resplendella!]

I found more suspected November/Winter Moth caterpillars, two again on beech (U#269/270) bringing the total to 8, but also a very similar one on hawthorn (U#275) along with a tortrix larva (U#276) on an adjacent leaf. I might go and retrieve the tortrix to rear.

[EDIT 9 Jun: I'm fairly sure they're Winter Moth! The hawthorn tortrix has now pupated.]

[EDIT 29 Jun: The hawthorn tortrix emerged, revealing itself to be a Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana)!]

U#275 - Geometrid larva on hawthorn
U#276 - Tortrix larva on hawthorn

Daytime Report 24 May 2013

Flying / on vegetation | @ Glencairn Park J3075, HVC39
Updated 9 Jun

  Green-veined White: 6
  Orange-tip: 6 (male)
  Heliozela resplendella: 1 probable [N] [Y] 
  Winter Moth: +3L (U#269/275)
  Pandemis cerasana: 1L [eY] (U#276)
  Micropterix calthella: 3 [Y]
  Grapholita jungiella: 2

Friday, 24 May 2013

Hashtagged caterpillars galore

Out running to get my fitness up last week, I chanced upon quite a few caterpillars, which I have been revisiting on subsequent days.

Daytime Report 16 May 2013 (early morning)

On vegetation / Flying | @ Glencairn Road J3075 / Glencairn Road J2976, HVC39

  • Six small green Geometrid larvae, possibly of two different species (U#269: 5L; U#270: 1L - could be November Moth, Winter Moth or something similar) were munching away in spun Beech leaves, as were two micro-moth larvae (U#271: 1L; U#273: 1L). On blackthorn was another micro (U#272: 1L), and up in the countryside was...
 Green-veined White:1 [Y]

U#269 larvae in spinning on beech

U#270 larva on beech

One of the five U#269 larvae found on beech, smaller than the single U#270 larva above but with similar markings, so possibly the previous instar rather than a different species. 

Green-veined White

U#272 larva on blackthorn

Daytime Report 22 May 2013 (early morning)

On vegetation | @ Glencairn Park J3075, HVC39

  • I refound two of the green Geometrid larvae, which blurred the lines between what I had thought might be two separate species (U#269/270). A new find was a tiny brown Geometrid larva (U#274: 1L) on the same beech, which could possibly be Mottled Umber.

My use of hashtags to catalogue unidentified records is somewhat different from how Twitter uses them (#myrecordsmyrules) but I know some people may find them just as annoying, so apologies.

Another update on these caterpillars (and other very cool stuff) to come this weekend (hopefully), then I'm holing up for some intense revision next week...

Wings like Angles - and a lovely Lozzy

Final update on Project 3B

Here she is! My Angle Shades moth emerged on Wednesday (22 May), a week and a half earlier than I expected, certainly because I kept the pupa inside for the latter part of its development.

I released her back in the garden that night.

(I say "her". I can't actually sex moths so I'm just guessing...)

I haven't been keeping my Flickr account up to date recently so no links on the photos. Next up...

Update on Project 36A

Yes, the first Lozotaenia forsterana had popped out the same morning. I've kept it back until its companion emerges, then I'll release both of them in the garden. Or see if they'll breed.

In the 22 degree heat of my room, this one only took 10 days to complete its pupal stage. So as a comparison...

Update on Project 3B

...I collected a 2cm larva from the ivy on the garden wall, and am keeping it outdoors to see how long it pupates for in more normal conditions.

I found six other larvae on the ivy, with quite a range of sizes. One of them was only about 8mm, so their emergence is going to be quite well-staggered.

Update on Projects 37A and 38A

Neither of the mystery micro pupae have emerged yet.

Update on Project 7D

I can't find the Light Brown Apple Moth larva on the apple sapling, just two empty leaf spinnings. Another mystery...