Category: Moths and Butterflies
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The following account summarises moth records of interest made in south‐east Carmarthenshire in 2008. For much of the period, the weather was poor, with wet or windy weather, resulting in reduced numbers of common species; scarce or rare moths were correspondingly even rarer, especially as summer 2007 likewise experienced a lack of warm, sunny weather. Migrant activity was very limited in 2008, though 41 Silver Y's were 'nectaring' in my garden at Tyrwaun, Pwll on the evening of 14.9.08. Nevertheless, the level of recording was not much behind that of 2007 and many useful records were made. The records below are those of the author, although Simeon Jones, Colin Jones and Keith Williams also did some recording in the south‐east of the county but they too were badly impacted by the bad weather. Jon Baker also recorded in the Pembrey area, west of Llanelli, as well as elsewhere in Carmarthenshire. A summary of moth recording in the county as a whole will appear in the forthcoming annual Moth Report compiled by Jon Baker. The scientific names are only given after the first mention of each species.

Tipped off by Jon Baker that Orange Underwings Archieris parthenias were abroad in warm sunshine at Pembrey Forest. A search was made at two localities where individuals were seen flying rather restlessly in warm sunshine over young birches at Cencoed‐uchaf 22/485033, 2.4.08, where 3+ were seen and at a small raised peat bog south‐west of Ty‐llwyd, Pont Abraham 22/577063, 3.4.08, where c.6 were counted. At this latter site, the pyralid Pempelia palumbella (see photo overleaf), a new county record, was recorded on 28‐29.6.08. This species was also here on 10‐11.7.08. Cors Goch Llanllwch, another lowland peat bog, just west of Carmarthen would be worth checking for this species. Also recorded at the Ty‐llwyd bog was a Confused Apamea furva on 26‐27.7.08. The Confused was considered 'rare and was unconfirmed in the county until records from two sites in 2007.

I believe that I saw another Orange Underwing, earlier in March, which flew past me low over the heathery ridge near the Visitors Centre at Llyn Llech Owain (c.20.3.08, 22/568152).

Trapping at my 'home trap' at Tyrwaun, Pwll 22/469013, yielded the following useful records during the year:

5‐6.4.08 Waved Umber Menophra abruptaria x2

7‐8.4.08 Freyer' s Pug Eupithecia intricaria, Alder Kitten Furcula bicuspis (there are less than a dozen county records of the Alder Kitten, which feeds on Alder as a larva) 11‐12.5.08 Rustic Shoulder‐knot Apamea sordens.

12‐13.5.08 Lime Hawk‐moth Mimas tiliae (I suspect that it feeds on elms locally).

17‐18.5.08 Dark Sword‐grass Agrotis ipsilon, Silver Y Plusia gamma, Dog's Tooth Lacanobia suasa. The first two species are migrants, the Dog's Tooth is an estuarine species.

23‐24.5.08 Bee Moth Aphonia sociella, Alder Moth Acronicta alni x6, Figure of 80 Tethea ocularis, Vine's Rustic Hoplodrina ambigua (the Vine's Rustic is an increasing colonist).

31.5‐1.6.08 Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria, Figure of 80, Clay Triple Lines Cyclophora linearia, Mottled Rustic Caradrina morpheus. The clay triple lines is a local beech feeder in our county.

23‐24.6.08 Lilac Beauty Apeira syringaria: not rare, but local and with subtly coloured and distinctively‐folded wings (see photo below).

30.6‐1.7.08 Broad‐barred White Hecatera bicolorata, Heart and Club Agrotis clavis: both are rather local species in the county, especially the Heart and Club which is confined to the Llanelli area.

24‐25.7.08 Four‐spotted Footman Lithosia quadra x2; 2‐3.8.08 x2; 21‐22.8.08 x1. Once thought of as a very scarce migrant in the county, it is now likely that a resident population exists in the south‐east of Carmarthenshire.

29‐30.8.08 Red Underwing Catocala nupta: a feeder on the spear‐leaved willows that has seemingly colonised the county in recent years. This impressive moth has doubtless benefited from amenity plantings of these willows (see photo overleaf).

14‐15.9.08 Large Ranunculus Polymixis flavicincta. A typical but very scarce autumnal moth of coastal localities in the county.

17‐18.9.08 Large Wainscot Rhizedra lutosa

11‐12.9.08 Blair' s Shoulder‐knot Lithophane leautieri: feeds on garden cypresses and now reasonably widespread in the county.

17‐18.10.08 Feathered Ranunculus Polymixis lichenea lichenea: rare in Carms, a coastal species, flying in autumn.

The pyralid Pempelia palumbella, a new county record from south-west of Ty-llwyd, Pont Abraham. The Lilac Beauty, a local species in the county having subtly coloured and distinctively-folded wings. Photo: Keith J Williams Page 13 Photo: Keith J Williams

Stradey Woods 22/489016 10‐11.5.08 Waved umber Menophra abruptaria

Bynea 21/553986 28‐9.5.08 Treble Bar Aplocera plagiata plagiata x2 (it feeds on St John's worts (Hypericum) in dry, open habitats). Also, a single seen in daytime flight, one warm autumn afternoon (26.9.08) on dry, shaley ground at Mynydd Mawr 22/541124.

The Red Underwing has seemingly colonised the county in recent years. This impressive moth has doubtless benefited from amenity plantings of spear‐leaved willows on which it feeds. Photo: Keith J Williams

Stradey Woods 22/488018 29‐30.5.08 Lime Hawk‐moth: strangely, under a beech tree, not lime!

A visit to the re‐vegetated and very wildlife‐rich former mine waste site at Cynheidre 22/492082 on 2.6.08, resulted in 18 Burnet Companions Euclidia glyphica being counted. Nearby at 22/493077 there were another 2 Burnet Companions and a Mother Shipton Callistege mi.

As part of 'National Moth Night' (which includes daytime recording of diurnal species) a locality south‐east of Garnbig, Carmel 22/583157, 7.6.08 was checked to ascertain whether a target species, the White‐spotted Sable Anania funebris was present, as I had recorded several at this site last year. This time, however, only one was observed. The same day I went down to look at the rough, flower‐rich ground east of Burry Port 22/449003, where fast‐flying yellow moths puzzled me until one was caught. They proved to be Yellow Shells Camptogramma bilineata (x5). Also, Yellow Belles Semiaspilates ochrearia were seen at 22/448005 and plenty of Bee Orchids Orchis apifera were found nearby as an additional bonus. Yellow Belles (x2) were also noted at Machynys 21/507985.

North of Ashpits Pond 22/462012 24‐25.6.08 Nutmeg Discestra trifolii, a rare Carms. species, which is found with any regularity only on the Llanelli coast.

Gelli Aur 22/598197 28‐29.6.08 Clouded Magpie Lomaspilis marginata x7: a scarce feeder on Wych Elm Ulmus glabra, which was deliberately targeted by putting the actinic moth trap under a sheltered, streamside Wych Elm tree. Incidentally, on another night, the same trap was attacked not far away by Fallow Deer, resulting in the loss of part of its crucial wiring. It was later found, having presumably become entangled in the deer's antlers! Such are the perils of moth trapping! (Also see entry under Morfa'r ynys farm below).

East of Berwick Roundabout 21/553986 28‐29.6.08 Obscure Wainscot Mythimna obsoleta, Heart and Club x2

Gelli Aur 30.6‐1.7.08 Double Line Mythimna turca: this moth seems to be a Gelli Aur speciality favouring the management regime of the rough grassland.

Llangennech 22/5566013, 14‐15.7.08 Southern Wainscot Mythimna straminea x4, Dog's Tooth x6. Most of the wainscots listed in this article are local species of wet habitats.

Bryntirion Allotments 22/5513008 15‐16.7.08 Privet Hawk‐moth Sphinx ligustri: the luxuriant privets around this urban allotment are doubtless the food plant of its caterpillars.

North of Ashpits Pond 22‐23.7.08 Four‐spotted Footman x2.

Wasteground near Dyfatty Park, Burry Port 22/457009 22‐23.7.08 a Nutmeg, and on 18‐19.9.08 a Large Ranunculus.

Large Ranunculus Polymixis flavicincta. A very scarce autumnal moth of coastal localities in the county. Photo: Richard Pryce

East of Burry Port 22/461002 22‐23.7.08 Barred Rivulet Perizoma bifaciata: a species that has only been confirmed from the adjacent Pembrey dune grasslands. It feeds on Red Bartsia Odontites verna, which is not uncommon on dry dune and urban grasslands.

Palycwrt 22/678183 24‐25.7.08 Northern Rustic Standfussiana lucernea and Galium Carpet Epirrhoe galiata. Northern Rustic x3 also nearby at 22/684184. These scarce upland moths were first recorded at this limestone outcrop last year.

Morfa'r ynys farm 21/521989 26‐27.7.08 Dark Spinach Pelurga comitata x7, Olive Ipomorpha subtusa. The Dark Spinach was another specially targeted scarce moth that is only recorded in the Llanelli area. It feeds on 'chenopods' (oraches, goosefoots, etc) weeds which grow commonly at this dung‐enriched horse grazed site between Morfa and the Trostre Works. Later, on another moth trapping occasion here, the trap was vandalised and the battery stolen – at least with the Gelli Aur deer it was innocent! Repairs and a new battery resulted in it being 'back in action' shortly afterwards.

Near Garn‐big, Carmel 22/585157 28‐29.7.08 Marsh Oblique‐barred Hypenodes humidalis x11. I was pleased to see this gathering of this little and local moth of acidic bogs around the trap, as was a hungry Stonechat that I had to chase off! 37 True Lover's Knots Lycophotia porphyrea were also present in or by the trap. At the same site on 24‐25.8.08, five Neglected Rustics Xestia castanea and one Heath Rustic Xestia agathina agathina were caught. Thirteen Heath Rustics (a heather specialist like the True Lover's Knot) and one Neglected Rustic were also trapped at the 'south‐west of Ty‐llwyd' site (see under Orange Underwing, above) on the next night.

East of Berwick Roundabout 2‐3.8.08 Small Rufous Coenobia rufa.

South‐west of Erw‐las, Llwynhendy 21/535993, 2‐3.8.08 Double Lobed Apamea ophiogramma, Crescent Dart Agrotis trux. Both these very local wetland species were recorded quite close by at Erw‐las by Barry Stewart in the mid 1990s.

Horeb 22/498057 4‐5.8.08 Scalloped Hook‐tip Falcaria lacertinaria: a birch feeder, not rare county‐wide.

South‐west of Berwick Roundabout 6‐7.8.08 Webb's Wainscot Archanara sparganii x4, Small Wainscot Chortodes pygmina, Bulrush Wainscot Nonagria typhae. A nice assemblage of wetland moths, feeding on Bulrush Typha and other plants.

North Dock, Llanelli 21/469998 21‐22.8.08 a Toadflax Pug Eupithecia linariata. A week later, on 28‐29.8.08, a pristine Archer's Dart Agrotis vestigialis was caught at this coastal site (both recorded with Simeon Jones). A Yellow Belle was recorded here on 18‐19.9.08.