Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - August 1996 - No 2
Andrew Lucas

Another wealth of records have been received from several recorders. Barry Stewart (BS), and Sandra Turner (SJT), have recorded 409 species in Carmarthenshire (vc44). They have also been active in Glamorgan where Barry is now the county recorder. The author (SL), who has now taken over as the Carmarthenshire county recorder from Ian Morgan, has also been busy working three main sites: Pembrey Forest, Tregyb Wood near Llandeilo, and at his home at Betws. Andrew Lucas (AL) has carried out useful work at a number of locations especially Coedydd y Garn near Drefach whilst others such as Ian Morgan (IKM), Nigel Stringer (RNS), Jamie Bevan (JB), Graham Motley (GM), A. Mitchell (AM) and Richard Pryce have provided interesting records from a variety of sites across the county. Initials are only given where specific records are referred to. For the first time, an annual review of microlepidoptera recorded in the vice county is included; readers are also referred to Stewart (1993) and Lucas (1994).

Microlepidoptera

It is understandable why the microlepidoptera are generally ignored. This is a pity since there are several good publications available which cover the larger groups in their entirety, eg. British Pyralid Moths by B.Goater, British Tortricoid Moths Vols. 1 and 2 by Bradley, Tremewan & Smith. There is also the Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland (MBGBI) series published by Harley of which volume 3 is to be published in May of this year. In addition, there are a number of other more general books which portray various species across the taxonomic spectrum. Any of these texts should enable the recorder to identify most of the commonly encountered microlepidoptera and both Barry Stewart and I are available to assist if necessary.

A new National Recording Scheme for the pyralids and pterophorids (plume moths) has been recently established. Apart from providing a recording scheme, it should also help to stimulate interest in this group. This new database currently has some 6,500 records highlighting perhaps the distribution of recorders rather than species! Once the Carmarthenshire records have been updated then these will be forwarded, helping to fill an apparently large gap for Welsh records.

With the current species list numbering 423, it would not be unreasonable to expect several new records to be added annually. 1995 has seen the addition of 16 new county records:

  1. Larvae of Coleophora adiunctella, at Penclacwydd 21/530984, (BS/SJT) 2/8
  2. Phtheochoa inopiana, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 12/6 1/8
  3. Cacoecimorpha pronuba, Carnation Tortrix, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 1/10
  4. Epiphyas postvittana, Light-brown Apple Moth, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 20/5 8/10; at Penclacwydd 21/530984,         27/7 (BS/SJT); and at Tycroes 22/610110, (BS/SJT) 30/9
  5. Acleris forsskaleana, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 29/7 and at Talley 22/649330, (SL) 29/7
  6. Calypha cespitana, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 29/6
  7. Gypsonoma acerana, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 26/7
  8. Epiblema foenella, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 1/7
  9. Pammene trauniana, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 29/6
  10. Acentria ephemeralla, Water Veneer, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 1/8
  11. Larvae of Mecyna asinalis, Madder Pearl, at Pendine 22/233078, (BS/SJT) 8/10
  12. Platyptilla gonodactylla, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 29/6
  13. Lozotaeniodes formosanus, at Pembrey Forest 22/393026, (SL) 20/7
  14. Stigmella alnetella, at Pembrey Forest (BS/SJT) 29/10
  15. Phyllonorycter dubitella, at Pembrey Forest (BS/SJT) 29/10
  16. Phyllonorycter froelichiella, at Pembrey Forest (BS/SJT) 29/10

Lozotaeniodes formosonus, whose larvae feed on Scot's Pine Pinus sylvestris, is now common in southern England and is spreading rapidly (pers. comm. E.M. Emmett). It is a distinctive and attractive species with reddish yellow forewings which are broken up with characteristic longitudinal chestnut brown markings termed 'fascia'. The hind wing is a light grey.

Acleris forsskaleana is another easily identifiable moth with bright yellow forewings which are conspicuously reticulated due to the darkened radial veins and fascial markings. The median fascia is acutely angled and may be thickened. The larvae are said to feed on Field Maple Acer campestre, and Sycamore A. pseudoplatanus.

The Water Veneer, Acentria ephemeralla, is a pyralid which is unremarkable in appearance but has an interesting life style. The female of the species is sub-aquatic and swims by means of adaptations to the middle and hind legs. The larvae are also sub-aquatic feeding mainly on various pondweeds and algae.

Macrolepidoptera

The exceptionally warm weather experienced in 1995 had the effect of both bringing forward the anticipated flight period of many species and in some instances, encouraged the production of second broods which would not otherwise generally occur. The commonly occurring Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis, can usually be found on the wing in June and July with occasional individuals being noted a week or so either side of these months. However, second broods were noted in late August through to mid September. Second brooding can also account for the finding of the Scarce Tissue Rheumpter cervinalis, a species that is regarded as being on the wing in late spring. Although described as nationally common, this is a first record for the county and was taken at Tregyb Wood SSSI.

Three new pugs were also added to the county list. The Ling Pug Eupithecia f. goossensiata, and the Shaded Pug E. subumbrata, are locally occurring species. The Shaded Pug was caught at Pembrey Burrows where many of the larval foodplants including Ragwort Senecio jacobaea, occurs. The larval foodplant of the Ling Pug is said to be heathers, Calluna and Erica spp., so presumably these individuals were looking for new breeding areas. Haworth's Pug E. haworthiata, was taken along the 'Bee Orchid Ride' in Pembrey Forest (22/372032) where Traveller's Joy Clematis vitalba, is abundant. It is described as a local species as is the Yellow barred Brindle Acasis viretata whose larva feed on various shrubs including Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus. The nationally common Pine Carpet Thera firmata was also recorded seemingly for the first time in the county which is a little surprising given the amount of forestry plantations in Carmarthenshire.

The addition of these six brings the county species list to 529.

A seventh (but provisional) new county record is the Fen Square-spot Diarsia florida, taken at Tycroes. Little is known about this species although it has been the subject of interest as some consider it to be closely related to the Small Square-spot D. rubi, and some would argue that it is in the process of separating from the small square spot. The distribution map shown in Heath et al (1983) shows the Fen Square-spot to occur mainly in the north of England and into Scotland although a few 10 km square dots appear to provide records for Carmarthenshire!

New County Records:

  1. Rheumpter cervinalis, Scarce Tissue, at Tregyb Wood SSSI 22/641215, Common (SL) 15/8
  2. Eupithecia f. goossensiata, Ling Pug, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, Local (BS/SJT) 20/7, 1/8
  3. Eupithecia subumbrata,  Shaded Pug, at Pembrey Burrows 21/40 99 , Local (BS/SJT) 9/7
  4. Eupithecia haworthiata,  Haworth's Pug, at Pembrey Forest 22/372032, Local, (BS/SJT) 27/7
  5. Acasis viretata,  Yellow-barred Brindle, at Llwynhendy 21/537993, Local, (BS/SJT) 21/8 and 14/9
  6. Thera firmata, Pine Carpet, at Tycroes 22/610110, Common, (BS/SJT)  30/9
  7. Diarsia florida, Fen Square-spot, at Tycroes, 22/610110 Local (BS/SJT) 1/7 [Provisional Record]

Eleven species of Notable status have been recorded. Coedydd y Garn is a woodland along the limestone ridge close to Mynydd Cerrig. This site produced the Blomer's Rivulet Discoloxia blomeri, and Double Line Mythimna turca. The latter is confined to the south west of England and south Wales although its range is said to be extending eastwards. Whilst both are woodland species, the larvae of the Double Line feed on various woodland grasses whilst those of Blomer's Rivulet occur on Wych Elm Ulmus glabra. The Alder Kitten Fercula bicuspis, is a second record for the county as is the Small Chocolate-tip Clostera pigra.

'Notable B' Species:

  1. Adscita statices, The Forester, at Goitre wen 22/550070, (JB/GM) 1/6;  and at Ammanford 22/635128, (SL) 13/6
  2. Scopula emutaria, Rosy Wave, at Penclacwydd, 21/530984 (BS/SJT) 26/6; and at Llwynhendy, 21/537993 (BS/SJT) 29/6
  3. Lampropteryx otregiata, Devon Carpet, at Tregyb Wood SSSI 22/641215, (SL) 29/7
  4. Discoloxia blomeri, Blomer's Rivulet, at Coedydd y Garn, Drefach 22/508147, (AL) 14/6
  5. Hydrelia sylvata, Waved Carpet, at Tregyb Wood SSSI 22/640218, (SL) 16/6
  6. Fercula bicuspis, Alder Kitten, at Tycroes, 22/610110 (BS/SJT) 7/5
  7. Clostera pigra., Small Chocolate-tip, at Pembrey Forest 22/393026, (SL) 27/7
  8. Agrotis trux, Crescent Dart, at Penclacwydd, 21/530984 (BS/SJT) 27/7; at Llwynhendy, 21/537993 (BS/SJT) 20/7, 26/7, 1/8
  9. Agrotis ripae, Sand Dart, at Cefn Sidan 22/378026, (SL) 8/6, 27/6, 13/7
  10. Mythimna turca, Double Line, at Gelli Aur Country Park 22/591198, (SL) 15/7; at Tycroes, 22/610110 (BS/SJT) 16/7; at Carreg Dwfn 22/656175, (AL) 17/7; and at Dinefwr Deer Park 22/615221, (SL) 17/6
  11. Mythimna litoralis, Shore Wainscot, at Cefn Sidan 22/378026, (SL) 8/6, 27/6, 13/7, 20/7

'Notable A' Species:

  1. Lasciocampa trifolii, Grass Eggar, at Llwynhendy, 21/537993 (BS/SJT)  29/7
  2. Diachrysia chryson, Scarce Burnished Brass, at Penclacwydd, 21/530984 (BS/SJT) 5/7; at Llwynhendy, 21/537993 (BS/SJT) 20/7, 26/7; at Cefn Sidan 22/378026, (SL) 20/7

One species which is now missing from this list is the Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula. The status of this very attractive day-flying moth has now been downgraded to 'local'. It has been recorded from some 51 tetrads within the county. Singletons were noted at Llwynhendy 21/537993, (BS/SJT) 29/6; Pembrey Forest 22/378026 (SL) 13/7, and at Llanelli 22/497004 (IKM) 2/7. Two were seen flying at the Dyfed Wildlife Trust's Cors Goch Nature Reserve 22/326184 (SL) 17/7.

Some other day flying moths not already mentioned are:

  1. Zygaena filipendulae, Six-spot Burnet, near Llyn Llech Owain 22/563148, (JB/GM) 21/7
  2. Zygaeana trifolii subsp. decreta, Five-spot Burnet, at Pembrey Forest 22/377035 (BS/SJT) 27/7; at Llanllwch 22/360177 (JB/GM) 28/6; at Syddyn Melyn near. Trimsaran 22/447057 (JB/GM) 16/8; at Tir Philip 22/482186 (AL) 21/5; at Alltwalis 22/426327 (AL) 28/6; near Llyn Llech Owain 22/563148 (JB/GM) 21/7; at Gelli Aur Country Park 22/591198, (SL) 15/7; at Betws 22/642125 (SL) 25/6.
  3. Odezia atrata, Chimney Sweeper, at Allt Rhyd y Groes 22/761483 (RNS) 13/7.
  4. Pseudopanthera macularia, Speckled Yellow, at Abergorlech 22/575355 (IKM) 23/5.

Larvae/Pupae

Although only a handful of confirmed breeding records were reported, the observed occurrence of larvae in general seemed to be high. Four larvae of Scarlet Tiger were noted on bramble at Cors Goch 22/326184 (SL 4/4). At the same site, larvae of the Beautiful Yellow Underwing Anarta myrtili,(SL 8/8) and the Emperor Moth Pavonia pavonia, (SL 17/7) were seen. This was followed by observation of a cocoon of the latter species (SL 8/8). At another DWT reserve, Rhos Cefn Bryn 22/558081, larvae of the Broom Moth Ceramica pisi, and the Fox Moth Macrothylacia rubi, (SL 19/9) could be seen basking in the late summer sunshine. The long hot summer undoubtedly forced many species to find alternative food sources as their preferred plants were consumed and withered in the prolonged drought. At Pembrey Burrows 21/419994, Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae, larvae were to be noted on Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara, a seemingly unrecorded foodplant (BS/SJT) 8/7.

Migratory Species

The occurrence of migratory species appeared to be spasmodic in Carmarthenshire. Small migrations first started as early as March and April when the Dark Sword Grass Agrotis ipsilon, first appeared on 23/3 (SL) and again on 6/4 (SL). It was not until well into July did this species regularly turn up in the traps and this continued into November when it was last recorded on 9th (BS/SJT). The Silver-y Autographa gamma, also exhibited similar flight patterns as did the Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella.

In August, a singleton Humming-bird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum, was reported in Llanelli 22/505005 (AM) 15/8 and the following month a second was noted feeding at the flowers of Red Valerian Centranthus ruber, on the cliffs at Pendine 22/233078 (IKM and G. Hutchinson) 19/9. During September, a Convolvulus Hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli was reported from Rhandirmwyn (22/74) (Tony Pickup, pers. comm.)

By early autumn, migration was reaching its zenith with a third record of M. stellatarum from Tycroes 22/610110 (D. Wiliams) 14/10 and influxes of The Vestal Rhodometra sacraria at Llwynhendy 21/537993 (BS/SJT) on 14/10 and 20/10, and Udea ferrugalis, a well known migratory pyralid, also at Llwynhendy (BS/SJT) on 14/10, 29/10 and 31/10 and from Mynydd-y-garreg on 17/10.

Acknowledgements

I should like to express my gratitude to all who have provided records. Gratitude must also be expressed to those people who have kindly given their consent for recorders to visit their homes and sites. In particular thanks goes to June and Doug Williams of Tycroes; Dr. and Mrs. Nakielny of Talley; and to Forest Enterprise at Pembrey Forest.

References

Bradley, J.D. Tremewan, W.G. & Smith, A.,  (1973).  British Tortricoid Moths, 1.  The Ray Society.

Bradley, J.D. Tremewan, W.G. & Smith, A.,  (1979).  British Tortricoid Moths, 2. The Ray Society.

Heath, J. (Ed.).  (1976-85).  The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland.  Vols. 1,2,7(2),9 & 10.  Curwen Press, London.

Goater, B.  (1986).  British Pyralid Moths   a Guide to their Identification.  Harley Books.

Lucas, S.  (1994).  A Check List of the Microlepidoptera of Carmarthenshire (vc44).  Entomologist's. Rec. J. Var., 106, pp161 169.

Stewart, B.,  (1993).   A Review of Microlepidoptera in Carmarthenshire.  Dyfed Invertebrate Gp. Newsl, 27, Autumn 1993.