Tag Archive: micro-moths

Mompha subbistrigella (Garden Cosmet), at home, 20 Feb 2013

The Garden Cosmet (Mompha subbistrigella) – only 6mm long, a very welcome harbringer of spring, in our upstairs loo!

Omitting details of my activity when I discovered it (in the upstairs toilet), I will say that I was very, very pleased to see this little chap.

A Garden Cosmet, Mompha subbistrigella, my first adult moth of 2013!

Hey, it is the year of release (relief?)! (Wee inside joke for the DP team :))

Mompha subbistrigella (Garden Cosmet), at home, 20 Feb 2013

Blending in with the sparkling reflections from the obscured-glass

After a tricky (but successful) photo shoot involving a torch – and a magnifying glass blu-tacked to my camera lens – I released him in the back yard.

Going to a talk by Don Hodgers on the insect life of County Louth and further afield, tomorrow night on the Malone Road, Belfast, at 7:15 pm. For anyone interested, check out the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland facebook page or their website – anyone is welcome to come along!

Mompha subbistrigella makes the year list…
2013 MOTHS: 1, 1e, 1t 

(that’s 1 as adult [M. subbistrigella], 1 in early stage [S. aurella], 1 as trace [S. anomalella])

Glencairn Road, 20 Jan 2013

The snowy Glencairn Road

This year’s snowfall was nay too bad up our way – last weekend a few inches fell and mostly thawed overnight, followed by a few fresh flurries, ice on pavements and a final thaw yesterday as a warm front pushed in.

Up in Glencairn Park (above) last Sunday, the snow crunched deeper underfoot as I gained altitude, listening out for birdsong as I went. At the bottom of the park the piping calls of blue tits and coal tits, and the more strident vocalisations of great tits, filled the trees. A herring gull flew solemnly over while black-headed gulls gallavanted by the housing estate.

On the first hill hooded crows picked through the grass and argued loudly with magpies in their skyscraping conifers. A jackdaw also put in an appearance.

As I climbed the hill, listening out for new finds, the round-winged, long-tailed silhouette of a sparrowhawk swooped across the sky. (I probably could have just watched it rather than trying to focus through a hopeless pair of pocket binoculars!)

Soon enough I heard the robin… and perhaps a goldfinch, but I wasn’t sure and didn’t hear it again. Likewise a rattle from the trees could have been a mistle thrush… but probably just a magpie.

I’d been keeping a beady eye out on the bramble bushes. If you remember, last year I really got into leafmining micro-moths, and one of the most common of those is Stigmella aurella. Its tiny orange caterpillar mines bramble leaves, making brown-white squiggles on them. So far on my walk I’d seen plenty of old vacated leafmines that the caterpillars had already left long ago. But what I was really hoping to see was a tenanted mine – one with a caterpillar in it.

And after a while, I had success!

Stigmella aurella larva in mine, 20 Jan 2013

Literate larva!

Not one, but two little caterpillars huddled in their mines, in the freezing cold.

After a few minutes’ worth of fiddling with my camera and hand lens, my hands were going cryogenic so I put my gloves back on and left the caterpillars to their sleep.

As I was rebooting my hands, a bird started calling very loudly from the tree above me.

“Chick…      chick…      chick…”

I peered up to see what it could be, but before I could get my eye in it was off. I chased the sound down the road a bit… it was father away and still calling. Then it flew back the way it had come, revealing itself to be a thrush of some kind.

Didn’t sound like a blackbird,
or a song thrush,
or a mistle thrush…
fieldfare maybe? That would be quite a find.

But as I later found out on the RSPB’s newly-revamped website, fieldfares chuckle not chick, and the only thrush that it really could have been was a redwing. Quite pleased to find this winter visitor.

Before I headed back down to the urban jungle, I had a close encounter with a friendly robin which perched no more than a metre or two away from me, then flew right past me to the other side of the road and back.

It appeared so interested in me that I raised my arm, thinking there might be a possibility it might even come and perch on me, but as it turned out, he wasn’t quite as tame as that common darter dragonfly!

Descending through the woods, I was arrested by a flash of white, black and pink. It couldn’t be… it was! A jay! It flew silently away from me, from tree to tree.

A clan of bullfinches escorted me down the hill.


Yesterday, while I was at school and the rain was clearing the last of the snow, my parents got quite a treat. Just look who showed up in our garden!

Waxwings in the garden! 25 Jan 2013


The Internet is always awash with waxwing photos at this time of year. They come over to the British Isles from Scandinavia during winter, to feast on berries. And I can tell you they did a pretty good job clearing out our cotoneaster!

Apparently the collective term for waxwings is “a grosbeaks of waxwings”. Some people, like me, prefer “an earful of waxwings”. 🙂

If you haven’t yet seen these fantastic fellows, it’s well worth checking online to see if any have been spotted near you. They are fabulous!

And don’t forget the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend!

Home Garden, 26 Jan 2013

What’s-a-in your garden today?

2013 MOTHS: 1L
2013 BIRDS: 33

May I be random?


Known variously as the Triple-barred Argent or Juniper Ermine Moth… or the Golden Zebra 🙂

I will start here and keep doing this until I run out of micros or until I get nabbed for Epic Smiley copyright violation!!! I did take the photo though.

If I get round to it, I’ve one final rearing release to write about, as well as some very cool tern stuff from the bursary placement I’m doing at the RSPB. Not to mention some very cool moths that have been showing up in my graden trap!


Micropterix aruncella, Glencairn Park, 21 May 2012

Micropterix aruncella, Glencairn Park, 21 May

This week has been blessed with heavenly weather across the UK. To wind down after my AS Chemistry practical exam on Monday, I took to Glencairn Park where warm and mostly cloudy conditions made ideal dayflying-micro-spotting conditions. I bagged no less than four new species for my list [NFM]: Micropterix calthella, Micropterix aruncella, Psychoides filicivora and the Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana.

Cryptic Wood White, Cinnabar and Ancylis badiana showed up too, all [NFY]! (“New For my Year list” for anyone unfamiliar with mothing terminology.)

Psychoides filicivora [NFG] (New For Garden) showed up again as I was putting the 25W Blacklight trap out in the garden last night. It sat on a rosemary plant for a photo shoot but didn’t come to the trap when it went on. Probably for the best – the dew on the trap is pretty dangerous for micros and flies, they tend to get stuck to the lid and perish!


Some light fog rolled in overnight but the morning revealed:

Ancylis badiana : 1
Silver-ground Carpet : 1

and a couple of unidentifiable micros (one too fast, the other too bedraggled)

Common Pug : 1 [NFY]
Spectacle : 1 [NFY] Not a Dark Spec! What????
Silver-ground Carpet : 2
Mompha subbistrigella : 1 [NFY]
Grey Pine Carpet : 1 [NFY][NFG][NFM] 
Common Marbled Carpet : 1

All in all my best catch so far this year!

Grey Pine Carpet, trapped in garden 22-23 May 2012

Grey Pine Carpet, with a sticky-up bottom

Grey Pine Carpet  and too many micro-moths to list again make it:
2012 MOTHS: 24

Cryptic Wood White boosts the butterfly total to:

This is just a selection…

1. Discoveries

(Specifically, discoveries of the Moth Kind.)

Especially this teeny-tiny moth called Elachista rufocinerea which, my sources tell me, has never been recorded in Murlough before. You see, it’s worth bringing a camera and a magnifying glass on a walk. You never know what new things you might discover.

Elachista rufocinerea, Murlough, 6 May 2012

Proof that even micro-moths can be beautiful.
Oh wait, I still have to convince my friends that INSECTS IN GENERAL can be beautiful… 🙂

This from my Sunday morning walk in Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down.

Elachista rufocinerea (Red-brindled Dwarf) brings my moth lists to
2012 MOTHS: 10

UPDATE 22 May: Turns out our regional Micro-moth Recorder John beat me to it by a week – he added this along with 3 others to the Murlough List on the night of 29 Apr, bringing the List to 460 species! Well done John! 

Posted on NIBirding.

April goes out with a bang

While England are suffering torrential downpours and floods (sadly claiming the life of a driver today – my heartfelt sympathies), Northern Ireland had a scorcher today and I had a walk in the park. A dander up the road to my old primary school, Forth River, produced a Holly Blue – very nice indeed – along with the usual Orange-tips and Varicose Veins (!) patrolling the verge.

With no camera I had to make field sketches of some tiny moths, only 5mm long, that I found in Glencairn Park a while later. Happy to say my Art GCSE served me well – the drawings were good enough for me to be able to identify them as three Grapholita jungiella (Vetch Piercer). A very pretty moth (as well as a new tick) that I will be keeping an eye out for next time I’m there with a camera!

Grapholita jungiella brings my 2012 list to 9
and my British life list to 139