In July – too busy with work to have any energy for blogging… in August – at a caravan with basically no internet access. But now I’m at the library at good ol’ Newcastle, County Down, and I’m in the mood for bloggingood!!! (well, I had to make it rhyme somehow)

I’ll start off with a bang…

Lesser Swallow Prominent; Murlough NNR; 5 August 2012

Bang!

This, my dear readers, is a Lesser Swallow Prominent moth. Over the past week I’ve been joining a friend of mine, Andrew Crory, a volunteer who regularly puts out UV light traps at Murlough NNR near Newcastle. The light traps attract moths by the dozen (and flies by the million as well as ichneumons, bees and beetles) and in the morning – bingo, you get a box full of beauuuuuuuuuuuutiful moths like this one.

My moth year list is over 240 now and my life list must be approaching 270. It’s getting ridiculous now!

A few more nice pics from the traps before I start typing again:

Antler Moth; Murlough NNR; 6 Aug 2012

Antler Moth

Scallop Shell; Murlough NNR; 6 Aug 2012

Scallop Shell

That’s just a taste – there were loads more and once I get home Flickr will be duly bombarded with all the photos.

A technique that’s also been very useful for finding new stuff is looking for leaf mines. These are distinctive squiggles/blotches/blisters made on the leaves of many different plant species by many different insect species. One of the most common leafminers has to be Stigmella aurella, which I mentioned at the start of the year:

Stigmella aurella larvae mining Rubus sp.; Murlough NNR; 5 Aug 2012

Stigmella aurella larvae, mining some kind of Rubus (Blackberry/Raspberry) cultivar

Well, we knew THAT one was in Murlough, but Andrew and I think we’ve found about 6 new moth species for the reserve in the space of about three days. Noooooo joke.

So you can see the attraction.

Incidentally, I’ve collected some of the tenanted mines (ones with the larvae still in them, as opposed to vacated mines that the larvae have left) and am rearing them. Those three caterpillars above have now all exited their mines and are pupating in tiny brown cocoons on the leaves.

I also have 1 Phyllonorycter coryli (pupated), 1 Ectoedemia minimella (which has left the mine but might not pupate – it’ll be a difficult one as it has to overwinter) and 3 Apple Leaf Miners, Lyonetia clerkella (all pupated). Bringing them into the warmth seems to make them go into pupation mode pretty much immediately. They must know to take advantage of warmf.

The Apple Leaf miner has the coolest pupation technique – it doesn’t make a cocoon. It makes a hammock.

Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella) larva in pupation 'hammock'; Slidderyford, Newcastle; 1 Aug 2012

Yes. A HAMMOCK.

Well, brethren, my time is short so I must fly. But at some point… I’ll get round to talking about those cute tern chicks I think I mentioned. If I can bring myself to. Working during the summer holidays, even paid work, even for the RSPB… really demands motivation. But it’s been very good and I’ve loads of photos, which mostly look the same from a distance.

You’ll see what I mean.

EDIT 04.01.2013: I should have said, actually, to do him justice, that Mr Crory is a volunteer warden at the reserve, and its principal moth recorder.

EDIT 28.03.2013: In fact, he has now been appointed Macro-moth Recorder for Northern Ireland!

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