Friday, 30 April 2010

To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

Having read about Larch Case-bearer (Coleophora laricella) on Charlie Streets' blog I decided to go and find some for myself. I explored the woodland on Otley Chevin until I located a couple of European Larch (Larix decidua)trees with branches close enough to the ground to be accessible. It didn't take long to find larval cases of Coleophora laricella.
The Larch is a native of central and east European mountains and was not introduced to Britain until circa 1629.................when John Milton was alive.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Beating (and a weaveri update)

Here is a tiny Mottled Umber caterpillar shaken from an elm at Hollins Hall, Baildon VC64, this morning.

I lay a ground sheet underneath the tree and then shake branches vigorously and see what drops off.

This particular elm isn't quite in leaf yet, after the harsh winter, so I will probably wait a couple of weeks before returning to gather some larger larvae.


The Ectoedemia weaveri mines now have opaque central blotches where the larvae have lined the inside of the leaf with silk and become cocoons.

Apparently, because the leaf is tough, the larvae prepare for their escape as an adult by gnawing through to the cuticle and then constructing a silk-lined corridor directed to this spot.

I am expecting an emergence at some point in the next fortnight.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


Two "sleeves" of fine netting arrived by post from Worldwide Butterflies today.

I am using the smaller one to contain this Light Emerald (Campaea margaitata) caterpillar on a branch of my garden birch tree.

The idea of the sleeve is that it overcomes the problem of wilting when cut food plant is used. The fine netting keeps the caterpillars in and the predators out and when large numbers are being reared there is a considerable saving of effort.

Tomorrow I may go and look for caterpillars of Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria) which I have usually been able to shake off elms at this time of year. I have some elm in the garden and would like to rear some caterpillars with the intention of seeing the wingless females of this species.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Phyllonorycter strigulatella

I first recorded Phyllonorycter strigulatella from leafmines on Grey Alder (Alnus incana) collected at Shipley Station in 2004. The colony is still thriving, as evidenced by this specimen that emerged yesterday from leaves collected in October.
Grey Alder is native to mountain regions of central Europe, often in drier habitats than Common Alder. It is often planted in difficult situations, such as reclamation sites and for amenity in urban situations. In Mid-west Yorkshire, Grey Alder is sometimes found on the edge of conifer plantations and there is a fine example on the river bank, south of Bolton Abbey.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Stoat crossed my Path

I spent another few hours on Barden Moor yesterday and found this female Philedonides lunana resting on a Cowberry leaf. It isn't recorded very often in Vice-county 64, presumably due to its early flight period.

The lunana was the last find of the day and the weather was closing in as I descended from Upper Barden Reservoir. I used the site to identify it, the illustration in Razowski bearing no similarity to my moth.

A Stoat crossed my path as I walked along the eastern edge of Lower Barden Reservoir where the Cowberry grows in abundance.

I was already pleased with myself having located a couple of examples of Phyllonorycter junoniella and a Northern Eggar caterpillar.

I can now categorically state that the multitude of dark larvae spinning the Cowberry here are Olethreutes mygindiana; one of these emerged, yesterday, from a specimen collected earlier.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

When Toads are Vocal

I went back to Barden Moor yesterday to find that toads were making their way out of the heather towards the reservoir. Frog tadpoles are already swimming in the shallow moorland pools.


I swept the heather and found a small caterpillar that is possibly Neglected Rustic. I have seen these on the Calderdalemoths blog recently.


The Ectoedemia weaveri mines on Cowberry now have visible larvae when the leaves are held up to the sunlight and viewed with a 10x hand lens.


There seem to be two different types of tortrix larvae creating spinnings on the Cowberry. These are predominantly a dark type but there are small numbers of a brown-headed paler kind. I will have to rear these to see what emerges.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Whoever wakes in England

This Comma (Polygonia c-album), my first "real" butterfly of the year landed on the drive at lunchtime, moments after I had released a Peacock that I have kept through winter in the garden shed.

In the autumn, I was given an old wasps' nest from Denso Wildlife Reserve by my entomologist friends, Harry Whiteley and Steve Warrillow. Larvae of the Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) are feeding on the remnants of the comb.

The first of my newly-purchased plants is in flower. In Yorkshire, Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) is a widespread but infrequent escape from gardens occurring in hedgerows and on road verges. I am growing both Lungwort and Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinialis) in the hope of finding the rare leaf-mining moth Dialectica imperialella.
Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
Robert Browning

Friday, 2 April 2010

Orthosia munda and Cowberry tortrix update

I haven't used the moth trap much this year but still keep my eyes open when passing security lights and tree trunks where moths can often be found resting during the day-time.

This Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) was attracted to the lights around Hollins Hall Hotel in Baildon. It is one of the species that can be found feeding at sallow catkins with other members of the Orthosia genus.

Having decided to check on the progress of my tortrix larva in its Cowberry leaf-sun home, I found that it has already pupated.