Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - No. 74 - July 2008
Ian Morgan

Most of us (correctly) think of moths as night-flying insects, but there are also species that can be seen by day. The following brief account offers summaries of a selection of the species that are diurnal, followed by a photographic section that will help readers identify what they have seen. The photos have been supplied by the County Moth Recorder, Jon Baker and others, and all will agree that they are of the highest quality. Records should be passed to Jon, either directly (Jon’s address is 14 Jobs Well Road, Johnstown, Carmarthen SA31 3HG, tel: 01267 221681, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,) or via me. We are lacking recent records of many of the species discussed below and whilst many species have declined due to habitat loss, others remain unrecorded (or simply unreported), so please look out this season and pass on records. Jon also produces an interesting regular e-mail newsletter in the spring-autumn.

Forester Adscita statices – a dark Sherwood-green species found on rough acidic pastures, where the larvae feed on common and sheep`s sorrel. May-July. Forester. Photo: Jon Baker
Burnet moths Zygaena spp – the six-spot Z. filipendulae stephensi and the five-spot Z. trifolii palustrella fly in July-Aug on flower-rich grassland where they feed on bird`s-foot trefoils; the five-spot tends to occur on damper grassland.

Six-spot Burnet. Photo: Jon Baker

Five-spot Burnet. Photo: Jon Baker

Lunar Hornet Moth Sesia bembeciformis– one of the `clearwings` and associated with stands of willows. Rarely seen as an adult, but willows with borings suspected to be of this species at WWT Penclacwydd and nearby areas of Llwynhendy were noted in 2007. July –August. Lunar Hornet. Photo: Kirsten Dick
Clearwings Sesidae – see Dyfed Invertebrate Group Newsletter 37:48-49 (Autumn 2001) for a summary of Carmarthenshire records.

Currant Clearwing. Photo: Jon Baker

Six-belted Clearwing. Photo: Jon Baker

Thrift Clearwing. Photo: Jon Baker

Emperor Saturnia pavonia – usually found in upland areas where heather grows, but can wander (one was found resting on my car at Pwll one morning last spring!). April-May. Emperor. Photo: Jon Baker
Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias – Recorded in the Rhandirmwyn area of NE Carms., at a site in west Carms. and, this spring, at Pembrey Forest, Cencoed-uchaf and on a peat bog (with peripheral birch woodland) SE of Pont Abraham. It may be more widespread. Flies on sunny days in March-April, over birch trees and thickets. Orange Underwing. Photo: Paul Harris
Chimney Sweeper Odezia atrata – a little blackish species that occurs on neutral-calcareous grassland (now a rare habitat in the county). Feeds on pignut Conopodium, June-July. It would be worth looking for on the limestone ridge, but it is by no means confined to this rock outcrop. Chimney Sweeper. Photo: Jon Baker
Yellow Belle Semiaspilates ochrearia – a moth of dry coastal rough ground eg at Machynys and North Dock, Llanelli. June-Sept. Yellow Belle. Photo: Jon Baker
Speckled Yellow Pseudopanthera macularia – surprisingly scarce, as the larval foodplant (wood sage), is frequent. I`ve only seen it twice – at Abergorlech and Capel Dyddgen near Crwbin. May and June.
Wood Tiger Parasemia plantaginis plantaginis –yet another species that I have failed to see. It is a moth of moorland and wood edge, last seen by Julian Friese at Mynydd Cynrhos near Talley in 1993. May-July. Wood Tiger. Photo: Graham Catley
Garden Tiger Arctia caja – an unmistakable, but much-declined species. July-August. Garden Tiger. Photo: Jon Baker
Clouded Buff Diacrisia sannio– again a little-seen upland species. Orange and yellow in colour and last recorded by myself at Nant y Rhaeadr on the edge of Mynydd Mallaen (near Cilycwm) in late June 1986. June-July. This, and Wood Tiger, need to be targeted, as recent records are lacking. Clouded Buff. Photo: Andy Musgrove
Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula– a colourful cream, black and red moth associated with wetlands where the caterpillars feed on comfreys or hemp agrimony. Not infrequent in the coastal parts of the Llanelli area – one even wandered to my  previous, (very urban) garden at Coronation Road, Llanelli in 1999! June-July. Scarlet Tiger. Photo: Jon Baker
Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae – a well-known black and crimson day-flier with the even better known orange and black-striped caterpillars that feed on ragwort. May-July. Cinnabar. Photo: Jon Baker
Beautiful Yellow Underwing Anarta cordigera – occurs on heathland or bogs where it feeds on heather eg Cors Goch Llanllwch. April-August. Beautiful Yellow Underwing. Photo: Jon Baker
Small Yellow Underwing Panemeria tenebrata – a local May-June flying moth, with caterpillars that depend on mouse-ears Cerastium spp. Mother Shipton. Photo: Jon Baker
Mother Shipton Callistege mi – thus called because of the wing markings that resemble the face of a celebrated `Yorkshire hag`! Feeds on legumes such as clovers and is on the wing in May-June. Mother Shipton. Photo: Jon Baker
Burnet Companion Euclidia glyphica – another legume-feeder flying in May and June. Burnet Companion. Photo: Jon Baker

 

Other Notes: be aware that some of the night-flying moths may be found or flushed in daytime and some, such as the Silver Y, regularly flying in daytime when they visit nectar sources. One may come across other species too that tend to be easier to flush, such as some of the carpet moths, the (very common) Brown Silver-line, the Magpie, the Latticed and Common Heaths, Treble Bar, Oak Egger and many micro-moths such as the plume moths or Pyralids. And, of course, there may be that delightful Hummingbird Hawk-moth on your garden butterfly bush or other flowers. Some caterpillars are also distinctive and obviously abroad in the day….but that`s another story!