Description


A diary of my mothing activity covering highlights and photos from my moth trapping activities. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I may mention other wildlife sightings here, especially insects, but for birds see my birding diary.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Depressing depressariid (a cloud with a silver lining)

This year hasn't been great for moths at home when I compare with what Dave's been getting in his suburbuan Dereham garden.  Far fewer macros (though comparable variety) and way, way fewer micros (with far less variety).  Tuesday night was no exception with a paltry macro total of March Moth, 4 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, 3 Hebrew Characters, 3 Early Greys and Chestnut.  It was the micros where the real damage was.  I think Dave said he had 21 or 22 micros of 7 species; I had 2.  Both were depressariids, the first got away but looked like Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana.

When I potted the second I thought it looked different.  In fact I thought it was going to be an Acleris sp. before I looked closer. On a closer look it looked superficially similar to another heracliana, but a small pale example with well contrasting dark splodge and the two dark spots in front of that were distinct (these features don't show very well in my photo below).  More to the point the white spots were tiny.  A bit of research came up with Broom Flat-body Agonopterix scopariella - not a rare species but one I've not seen before.  It looked bang on, and I could make out the more square-shaped wing compared to heracliana.  The only slight negative was that the white spots were circled in dark, but this isn't conclusive and plenty of online photos of scopariella share this feature.

The references advise examination of the genitalia to be sure about this species, so I gave it the chop.  Virtually all of my Agonopterix so far have been male but this was a female.  That meant I have only seen one female heracliana to compare it with, and even the genitalia aren't hugely distinctive.  Well, after pawing over the few pictures and descriptions of Agonopterix genitalia that I can find online I reluctantly concluded, if tentatively, that it was in fact just a Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana.  How depressing.

Come the morning I remembered that I do now have the volume of MOGBI that covers Agonopterix - I'd forgotten that last night.  I checked the illustrations of genitalia in there and for the first time I understood what to look for in respect of a diagnostic scopariella feature mentioned in the keys I'd accessed last night.  And my moth seems to have it!  Moreover the illustrations show a couple of other differences that aren't mentioned anywhere so may not be reliable, but mine looks more like scopariella for those too.  So in the end both external and internal features support my original identification, a new moth for me, Broom Flat-body Agonopterix scopariella.


Broom Flat-body Agonopterix scopariella (female, gen det), North Elmham, 7th April


Last night we went to the patch but just before dusk our search for lepidoptera or other interesting insects was completely useless.  Absolutely nothing on the trunks and only the odd fly flying.  As darkness fell nothing was showing in the headlights either.  Dave was getting in his car to go when he found the first moth of the evening, a nice Brown-letter Flat-body Agonopterix alstromeriana.  I then drove off finally seeing a few moths in the headlights, one of which I stopped to look at - a fine Water Carpet.


Water Carpet, Beetley, 8th April


Back at home it was true to form.  Not a single micro and not many macros.  One was new for the year though, a very smart Nut-tree Tussock.

Nut-tree Tussock, North Elmham, 8th April


The rest were 4 Small Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 5 Hebrew Characters and 3 Early Greys.

Had this caterpillar the other night and can't identify it.  Anyone know what it is?


unidentified caterpillar, North Elmham, 7th April

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