Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - January 2005 - No 71
Ian Morgan

N.B. a more authoritative review of recording throughout Carmarthenshire by Jon Baker, the County Recorder, will appear in the next edition of the Llanelli Naturalists’ Bulletin.

2003

An unseasonal Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla found indoors at Tyrwaun, Pwll SN469013 in late March was one of the first interesting records.  About a month later (23/4/03) larvae of Bilberry Pug Chloroclysitis debiliata were found in leaf-tip tents on the abundant bilberry that clothes the steep slopes of Craig Bach, Troserch Woods SN546043 – a classic oak-clad ‘cwm’, with an abundance of its food plant.

The writer’s main locality for moth-trapping in 2003 was at Tyrwaun, Pwll, where the potential catchment area includes rank pasture, deciduous and mixed woodland and fen/reedbed habitats.  The coastal location also favours migrants.  Moth records of interest include the following:

23/24.4.03    2 x Pine Beauty Panolis flammea, a seemingly local moth in Carmarthenshire.

26/27.4.03    Vine’s Rustic Hoplodrina ambigua, a migrant.

30/31.4.03    Silky Wainscot Chilodes maritimus, a fenland species. Privet Hawk-moth Sphinx ligustri

21/26.6.03    Beautiful Snout Hypena crassilis. Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum. 3 x Privet Hawk-moth. Beautiful Golden-Y Autographa pulchrina

29/30.6.03    Spotted Shoot Moth Rhycacionia pinivorana (det. B.Stewart)

9/10.07.03    Scarce Footman Eilema complana. Vine’s Rustic. Ringed China-mark  Paraponyx stratiotata

25/26.8.03    2 x Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua. Archer’s Dart Agrotis vestigialis

14/15.9.03    Vestal Rhodometra sacraria

16/17.10.03    Blair’s Shoulder-knot Lithophane leautieri hesperica. Large Ranunculus Polymixis flavicincta

Nearby, at Pwll Lagoon (the former fuel-ash settling lagoon for Burry Port Power Station) SN472011, Round-winged Muslins Thumatha senex, Silky Wainscots and 2 Chevrons Eulithes testata were pleasing finds (on 8/9.7.03), whilst Ashpits Ponds SN463012 (13/14.7.03) had more Round-winged Muslins, Silky Wainscots and the pyralid moth Chilo phragmitella.

Other coastal records of note were a White Colon Sideritis albicolon (det. B.Stewart) and Sand Darts Agrotis ripae at Machynys Beach SS505980 on 25/26.6.03 and the enchanting swarm of c.8 Six-belted Clearwings Bembecia scopigera that came to a pheromone lure on wasteground at Bynea SN/552986 on 18.6.03.  I had, on previous occasions, swept this species from its food plant at several Carmarthenshire sites but this was my first (and only!) success with the new pheromone lures!

A Striped Wainscot Mythimna pudorina on rank, acidic pasture east of Cencoed-uchaf SN485033 on 15/16.7.03 and the local pyralid Crambus uliginosellus at a small ‘kettle-hole’ bog North of the same farm (at SN480036) were worthwhile records, as were the Round-winged Muslins and a Double Dart Graphiphora augur at Pontnewydd SN448073 in the Lower Gwendraeth Valley on 16/17.7.03.  A ‘Firethorn Leaf-miner’ Phyllonorycter leucographella on its foodplant at Denham Avenue, Llanelli SN493013 (26.5.03) and larvae of Toadflax Pug on Linaria vulgaris at Box Cemetery, Llanelli SN518008 (27.8.03) are also mention-worthy.

(Readers should also be aware that the County Moth Recorder, Jon Baker carried on with his extremely thorough survey of Pembrey Forest and Pembrey Burrows moth fauna in 2003 - ‘The Moths of Pembrey Forest and Burrows 2002-2003’ which also includes earlier records made by other recorders).

2004

2004 was a year of contrasts to 2003 as, whilst the spring/early summer was not too bad in terms of weather, the latter part of the summer/autumn was wet and windy with little notable migrant activity.  Most of the trapping was confined to Tyrwaun, Pwll with a little elsewhere – primarily at Stradey Woods nearby.  Again the more interesting at Tyrwaun are listed below:

5/6.6.04    Green Silver-lines  Bena bicolorana. Bordered White  Bupalus piniaria. Scorched Wing  Plagodis dolabraria

17/17.6.04    Sand Dart  Agrotis ripae. Small Seraphim  Pterapherapteryx sexalata. Pinion-streaked Snout  Schrankia costaestrigalis

6/7.7.04    Scarce Burnished Brass  Diachrysia chryson

10.7.04    Blair’s Shoulder-knot    Lithophane leautieri: larva on Cypressus (Thomas Morgan)

17/18.7.04    Beautiful Carpet  Mesoleuca albicillata. Chilo phragmitella (a pyralid moth)

29/30.7.04    Double Kidney  Ipimorpha retusa (2). Brown-veined Wainscot  Archanara dissoluta

6/7.8.04    Nutmeg  Discestra trifolii. Archer’s Dart    Agrotis vestigialis. Southern Wainscot  Mythimna straminea

25/26.8.04    Agriphella geniculata (a pyralid)

3.9.04        Convolvulus Hawk-moth  Agrius convolvuli:  feeding at tobacco plants

7/8.9.04    Four-spotted Footmen  Lithosia quadra. Large Ranunculus  Polymixis flavicincta

Apart from the Convolvulus Hawk-moth and Four-spotted Footman mentioned above, there was little of note in terms of migrants, though a Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum near Talley SN628328 on 15.6.04 was a pleasure to see.  Six-belted Clearwings Bembecia ichneumoniformis flocked to a pheromone lure at the old open-cast coal site at Ffos-Las, Trimsaran SN453063 on 16.6.04 – some 25+ were estimated!  Best of all, was the single immaculate Large Red-belted Clearwing Synanthedon culciformis that fleetingly came to lure at the edge of wet carr at Pontnewydd SN447073 on the same date – only the second county record!  Later that day, five more Six-belted Clearwings were ‘lured’ at Cynheidre SN492083.

At Stradey Woods SN488016, noteworthy captures included a Black Arches Lymantra Monacha on 14/15.7.04 (and several subsequent dates, including six and eight at different ‘sub-sites’ in mid-August, indicating a strong, viable population).  A Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Xanthorhoe ferrugata, again on 14/15.7.04 was also noted at this locality.

Finally, larvae of Toadflax Pugs Eupithecia linariata were frequent on Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) at Machynys SS509986 and near Ashpits Pond SN462011 on 19.9.04:  searching for the larvae may well be easier than finding the adult!

I am grateful to Jon Baker for allowing me to illustrate this article with his excellent photographs.