Dr.A.N.B. Simpson

Despite the wet summer, with the welcome absence of restrictions on access to the countryside that troubled us in 2001, a comprehensive moth recording programme was carried out by the "mothers" group and by Rosemary Winnall's Wyre Forest study group. She was also able to visit Wissetts Wood to the west of the main forest area, and reported that it looked very interesting, and has planned visits to a number of new sites in 2003. We will be going to Ribbesford Wood for National Moth Night on the 12th April 2003. Dave Grundy and Jeff Rush have been doing a lot of recording in Wyre Forest and visited other sites in the north and east of the county. Dave has been carrying out a pilot study on the Common Fanfoot Pechipogo strigilata in the Wyre Forest, which is probably the most important site in the UK. for this now very localised insect. As its English name suggests it was once fairly common and widespread (including several other woods in Worcestershire e.g. Monk Wood), but has now declined nationally for reasons that are not entirely understood. It is now a UKBAP species with records from only seven sites. Dave was able to show that the moth was still present in fairly good numbers and he was able to find larvae in the wild, and created suitable feeding sites on wilted oak leaves by leaving broken small branches hanging from trees, on which he found feeding larvae later in the year. This conservation project will hopefully be ongoing with the aim to recreate suitable habitat and eventually return the species to some of its former sites.

There was one new larger moth for the county in 2003. Rosemary Winnall caught a Welsh Wave Venusia cambrica in her moth-trap at Bliss Gate on 25/7/02. This moth feeds on Rowan and is not normally a migrant, but is resident to the north and west of us in Wales and Shropshire. It will be interesting to see if this was a casual vagrant or might represent an extension to its breeding range.

Another new species turned up on 16/8/02 when eight Devon Carpet Lampropteryx otregiata came to lights along the Dowles Brook in the Wyre Forest. However they all stubbornly kept to the Salop side of the brook with none in my trap in VC37 only 40 yards away! So they have still not technically been recorded for Worcestershire. They are probably a new arrival from the west, and seem likely to be resident in the wet flushes along both sides of the Dowles Brook, feeding on Marsh Bedstraw.

I was surprised and delighted to be brought an Orange Footman Eilema sororcula by Peter Garner that had come to his porch light on 16/5/02 at West Malvern. The moth used to occur in Monk Wood, Tiddesley Wood, at Cotheridge, and Middleyard Coppice near Bransford, but the last record was in 1902. The nearest resident population is in the lower Wye valley. Then when this year I received the print out for the Rothhampsted Trap at Westmancote on Bredon Hill for 2001, there was a record for another Orange Footman from last year. One each year in successive years with no records since 1902 makes simple migration less likely, so keep an eye out for this pretty moth which may be expanding its range.

Kevin McGee photographed a clearwing, which alighted briefly on a marsh thistle flowerhead, in Tiddesley Wood on 18/8/02. He was delighted to show me a photo of a worn male Red-tipped Clearwing Synanthedon formicaeformis which had not been seen in VC37 since records near Worcester in the nineteenth century . In April I collected some logs of Goat Willow which had been left on the ground next to the village pond at Crowle Green after clearance operations, and which had "sawdust" filled holes in their cut ends. Three Lunar-Hornet Clearwings Aegeria bembeciformis emerged in the summer, and when released next to the pond one flew straight up into the top of the willows. Where forestry or ride clearance work has been done look for recent cut small pieces of timber containing possible clearwing feedings, and stand these in damp sand in a container, and you may succeed in breeding out some of these fascinating insects. Ian Duncan was again successful in attracting some Red-belted Clearwings S. myopaeformis to his pheromone lures at Melrose Farm Meadows, and also some Currant Clearwings S. tipuliformis at a farm near Powick. I was totally unsuccessful myself however in Bransford and at the Knapp, but the weather did not give us many good days suitable for daytime clearwing hunting in 2002.

Migrants were very uncommon this year. The only notable ones were a single Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua on 1/6/02 at Crossway Green (Mike Southall), and a Gem Orthonama obstipata on 21/10/02 at Stoke Prior (Jeff Rush).

Blomer's Rivulet Discoloxia blomeri was seen at Hanley Dingle and Ribbesford Wood, which is a further spread of this species which has been increasing in Herefordshire. Mike Southall had a Dusky-lemon Sallow Xanthia gilvago to light on 20/9/02. This moth has now become very uncommon since the onset of the Elm Disease, so it is nice to see it is still "hanging on". Jeff Rush recorded a Crescent Celaena leucostigma on 17/8/02 in a wet area near the canal and river just east of Hawford. This is a very rarely seen species in our area. There have been records of Square-spot Paradarisa consonaria from Wyre Forest, Uffmoor Wood, and Gannow Wood, and the Satin Beauty Deileptenia ribeata, the Barred Hook-tip Watsonalla cultraria, the Bird's Wing Dypterygia scabriuscula, the Buff Footman Eilema depressa= deplana, and the Dingy Footman Eilema griseola continue to increase and spread, and the Sycamore Acronicta aceris was recorded at Stoke Prior, Bransford, and the Knapp, and after the 2001 record this suggests that it is now moving into our area. Rosemary Winnall recorded a single Autumn Green Carpet C. miata at Stoke Bliss on 5/10/02.

One of our priority species in the West Midlands, the Argent and Sable Rheumaptera hastata, was not seen at all in Wyre Forest and no larvae were found, and another, the Drab Looper Minoa murinata, was only recorded twice: once by Dowles Brook in Wyre Forest on 6/5/02 and once in Monk Wood on 1/6/02. The weather in May/June in 2002 was not good for the recording of these day flying species and we must hope for better conditions, with nice sunny days in 2003!

Other notable Macrolepidoptera listed by 10km. square were:

SP05 Gannow Wood
Jeff Rush made a number of visits in April and May and recorded:
3 Mottled Grey Colostygia multistrigaria 21/4/02
c.35 Seraphim Lobophora halterata in 5/02
1 Tissue Triphosia dubitata 15/5/02
2 Square-spot Paradarisa consonaria 15/5/02
c30 Poplar Lutestring Tethea or in 5/02
SO74 Malvern Wells
1 Barred Hooktip 4/8/02 W. cultraria and
2 Buff Footman E. griseola 4-7/8/02 (Peter Holmes).
SO75 Bransford
2 Sycamore Acronicta aceris on 20/7/02 (ANBS)
The Knapp
1 Sycamore A. aceris on 28/7/02 (Fergus Henderson)
SO76 Hanley Dingle
1 Blomer's Rivulet Discoloxia blomeri 22/6/02 (Neil and Corrina Gregory)
1 Rosy Footman Miltochrista miniata record from J.W.Meiklejohn
SO77 Wyre Forest
1 Broom-tip Chesias rufata on 19/4/02 (R.Winnall et. al.)
1 Lesser Cream Wave Scopula immutata 2/6/02 (J.Rush)
7 Satin Beauty D. ribeata over several visits (D. Grundy and J. Rush)
4 Square-spot P. consonaria over several visits (D. Grundy and J. Rush) and
large numbers of Bilberry Pug Pasiphila debiliata, 2 Orange Moth
Angerona prunaria, and over 20 Great Oak Beauty Hypomecis roboraria
Ribbesford Wood
3 Blomer's Rivulet D. blomeri on 15/6/02 (R. Winnall et. al.)
SO84 Ashmoor Common
1 Dingy Footman E. griseola on 21/7/02 (K. McGee)
1 Blackneck Lygephila pastinum on 6/7/02 (K.McGee)
SO86 Crossway Green
Mike Southall also recorded the following of particular interest:
1 Ochreous Pug Eupithecia indigata on 11/5/02
1 Mallow Larentia clavaria on 21/9/02
1 Scarce Tissue Rheumaptera cervinalis on 4/5/02
1 Light Brocade Lacanobia w-latinum on 17/5/02
SO88 Kingsford Country Park
1 Clouded Magpie Abraxas sylvata on 29/6/02 (D.Grundy and J. Rush)
1 Suspected Parastichtis suspecta on 29/6/02 (D.Grundy and J.Rush)
SO96 Stoke Prior
Jeff Rush recorded among many others the following of particular interest:
1 Clay Triple-lines Cyclophora linearia 8/6/02
1 Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Xanthoroe ferrugata on 20/7/02
5 Spinach Eulithis mellinata between 24/29/6/02
1 Barred Rivulet Perizoma bifaciata on 12/8/02
9 Buff Footman E. depressa
7 Dingy Footman E. griseola
2 Bird's Wing Dypterygia scabriuscula 166/02 & 12/8/02
2 Golden Plusia Polychrisia moneta on 5&17/7/02
SO97 Pepper Wood
D. Grundy and ANBS recorded:
11 Lead-coloured Pug Eupithecia plumbeolata on 22/6/02
1 Varied Coronet Hadena compta on 22/6/02
SO98 Uffmoor Wood
4 Square-spot P. consonaria on 25/5/02 (D. Grundy and J.Rush)

The second volume of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Atlas covering all the microlepidoptera except for the Tortricids, Pyralids, and Plumes was published at the end of January 2003 (copies available from Jim and Christine Chance details after this article), with the third volume planned for early 2004.

There were 6 smaller moths recorded in the county for the first time in 2002:
Tachystola acroxantha (Meyrick)(the Ruddy Streak): Jim and Christine Chance had a specimen of this species identified by Mike Harper. It had come to actinic light in their garden in Harborne on 30/7/02. I told them that this locality was just inside VC39 (Staffordshire) for recording purposes. However when later looking through some specimens that Dave Grundy had kept from his garden trap in Balsall Heath, which is in VC37 despite being in Birmingham, I found another, dated 25/6/02, which confirms that this adventive Australian species is now resident in the West Midland conurbation. Its larva feeds on dead and decaying vegetation on the ground.
Mompha lacteella (Stephens): 2 specimens were taken at light by D. Grundy and J. Rush in Wyre Forest on 2/6/02. The larva feeds on willowherb species.
Spatalistis bifasciana (Hubner): 1 to my light-trap at Ribbesford Wood on 15/6/02 was the first known VC37 record, but when going through Dave Grundy's specimens that he had retained for identification, I found 2 more from Lodge Hill Wyre Forest dated 2/6/02 and 9/6/02. The larva feeds in the berries of alder buckthorn, and sometimes purging buckthorn and dogwood.
Acleris hyemana (Haworth): a worn male at light by the clay road in the Wyre forest on 19/4/02 (ANBS). The larva feeds on heather and heath spp.
Ancylis upupana (Treischke): 2 examples of this species came to light near Lodge Hill Farm, Wyre Forest on 2/6/02 (D. Grundy and J. Rush). In this locality it is probably feeding on birch rather than on elm, its other foodplant.
Ephestia cautella (Walker), also known as the Dried Currant Moth, which is a synanthrope, feeding on seeds and dried fruit and nuts. Recorded by Val Weston and Alan Prior at Hall Green, which is just in VC37; probably originating from larvae in their bird food.
Messrs. Grundy and Rush also recorded a small black and white tortrix on 2/6/02, which I was able to identify as Epinotia demarniana (Fischer von Roslerstamm), and I saw 2 more at light myself at Ribbesford Wood on 15/6/02. This is another birch feeder of which there is only one previous VC37 record. There is a specimen in the Worcester Museum collection labelled "Worcs." 21/6/1902, so it is nice to find it is still around and to have some definite localities for it now.
On 30/5/02 Jenny Joy was going into Ribbesford Wood at about 11.0a.m. when she noticed 8 small moths resting on a wooden gate-post in the sunshine. She noticed how very pretty they were and put a container over one to get it identified later. She gave the specimen to Neil Gregory who put an image of it on a moth website and an old friend, John Langmaid replied to say it looked like Schiffermuellerina grandis (Devignes), a rare moth nationally. In fact the original "Type specimen", from which Desvignes described this insect for the first time in 1842, and which is in the national collection at the Natural History Museum South Kensington, came from "Bewdley, Worcs."
I was able to examine the specimen and confirm the identity. On the 15/6/02 in another part of the same wood, quite by chance I found another of the same species in the bottom of my moth trap! The larva feeds in dead wood, and the moth is reported to be usually diurnal, flying in the sunshine in the morning.

Other notable smaller moths:
Tinea dubiella Stainton Stoke Prior 2/6/02 (J. Rush)
Bucculatrix demaryella (Duponchel) 3 at Wyre Forest on 2/6/02 (D. Grundy and J. Rush)
Caloptilia populetorum (Zeller) Stoke Prior 12/9/02 and Bilberry Hill 14/9/02 (J. Rush)
Yponomeuta rorrella (Hubner) Bransford 29/7/02 (ANBS)
Swammerdamia compunctella Herrich-Schaffer Wyre Forest 2/6/02, the second VC37 record (J. Rush)
Coleophora alcyonipennella (Kollar) frischella auct. Wyre Forest 2/6/02 (J. Rush)
Pseudatemelia josephinae (Toll) Wyre Forest 7/7/02 (D. Grundy)
Pseudotelphusa scalella (Scopoli) Gannow Wood 16/5/02 (J. Rush) as well as several from Wyre Forest where it is regularly recorded.
Pseudotelphusa paripunctella (Thunberg) several from Wyre Forest 2-9/6/02 (D. Grundy and J. Rush)
Gelechia rhombella (Denis & Schiffermuller) 1 at light at Stoke Prior 12/9/02 (J.Rush)
Commophila aeneana (Hubner) 1 near Bredon's Norton 30/5/02 (P. Garner)
Cochylis hybridella (Hubner) 1 at St. Wulstans Nature Reserve near Malvern 1/7/02 (ANBS)
Ancylis uncella (Denis & Schiffermuller) 1 at Wyre Forest 2/6/02 (J. Rush)
Pempelia formosa (Haworth) 1 at Crossway Green 16/7/02 (M. Southall)
Dioryctria simplicella Heinemann= mutatella Fuchs 2 in the Wyre Forest on 5/7/02 (J. Rush).


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