Friday, 10 July 2015


Another warm and cloudy night and another good haul of moths in the Robinson moth trap. There is no let up in the pace of new species for the garden appearing, with another four last night. This included a couple of good county records.

The first good moth was one that I found on the outside of a window as I was setting up the trap. This is Monopis obviella, one of the Tineidae. This species is right on the edge of its range here, in fact according to the county recorder this is only the second Shropshire record of this species. Elsewhere in its range the lack of records is partly due to confusion with the very similar Monopis crocicapitella. However, the latter species has not occurred in Shropshire, so this appears to be genuinely rare (or, as more likely, genuinely under recorded). This pretty little micromoth is separated by the dark forewing with limited white spotting, and the deep yellow colour of the band spreading back from the top of the head and along the inside edges of the forewing.

Monopis obviella

My other two new micromoths last night were pretty dull in comparison to the M. obviella. These were Brachmia blandella, a Gelechid associated with Gorse Ulex europaeus, and this positively dingy Matilella fusca (or known as Pyla fusca - I am not sure which is most current in usage). Matilella fusca uses Heather (Erica) and Bilberry (Vaccinium) as larval foodplants. The main commen theme linking my recent new micros has been an association with these and other typical upland heath plants.

Matilella fusca

On to the macromoths, and I recorded this glorious noctuid in my garden for the first time. Beautiful Brocade Lacanobia contigua is a species of moorland, heathland and woodland. I would expect this to be a species I would record here fairly frequently, so perhaps more records will follow.

Beautiful Brocade Lacanobia contigua

There were also a couple of jewels in the trap, emeralds to be precise. This splendid Large Emerald Geometra papilionaria is only my second record of what it usually a common species. I recorded this on my very first moth trapping session back in August 2012, so this is a welcome return. Another species of woods, heaths and moors, it is associated with Birch (Betula). All of these are in good supply here, and so it is a bit of mystery why I do not see this more frequently.

Large Emerald Geometra papilionaria

I have been recording Grass Emerald Pseudoterpna pruinata reasonably frequently this year, but they all appear to be very worn by the time they make it to my garden. This is probably the smartest one I have seen in the garden so far, though it still looks a little worse for wear.

Grass Emerald Pseudoterpna pruinata

One of the more interesting moths in the trap was this variant of Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata, with the broad dark brown band across the wings helping this to blend in with the garden furniture. Having not recorded this species in the garden before this year, I am now seeing them on most occasions I put out the trap. Either a good year for this species, or one that my old actinic heath trap failed to pull in.

Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata

Finally, one of the headaches for moth trappers in the summer is the identification of The Uncertain Hoplodrina octogenaria and The Rustic H. blanda. This is fiendishly difficult species pair that I have only just started to get to grips with this year. Identification is based on subtle characters to do with cross lines, ground colour and texture of the wings. This individual from last night I believe is The Rustic, but this conundrum is something I will continue to work on in the next few weeks.

The Rustic Hoplodrina blanda

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