The hunt for Phyllonorycter pastorella


With the moth trapping season drawing to an early close this year with disappointing weather and a lack of opportunities to get out into the field,  my attention has turned to leaf mines. I am out and about most days and it’s relatively easy to pick up several species of mine on the school run or walking to the shops.

Today I convinced my wife to have a trip to Africa Alive Zoo because there is a line of mature Willows and I was on the hunt for a moth only added to the British list in 2014.

I found several mines within a few minutes; Phyllonorycter viminiella and Phyllocnistis unipunctella were the most interesting. By the 3rd tree along I began to find some early stage mines which seemed to match Phyllonorycter pastorella but they could’ve been one of several species.  

After half an hour of searching I found something very interesting and quickly snapped a photo to get a second opinion… Dr John Langmaid and a few others suggested that the mine was a perfect match for Phyllonorycter pastorella.



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Leaf miner field meeting Sunday 13th October.

A forecast with the chance of rain is not the best weather for getting out in the field for recording but as I’ve been stuck in front of the computer for too many hours recently was nice just to get out. In the end the rain arrived as predicted at lunchtime, a shame, as it meant the visit to a second site was called off.
Only 3 other recorders plus myself turned out for the meeting. The aim was to primarily search the Poplar and Willow trees to see if we could note the scarcer species associated with them. The relatively new arrival to the UK Phyllonorycter pastorella was one of the hoped for species (on long-leaved Willows), but, sadly, we failed to locate it.
Just over 40sp were recorded, a little less than expected. Some species of tree seemed totally devoid of any mines for reasons unknown. Species of interest included Phyllonorycter comparella (mine on Grey poplar, a scarce species mostly found in west Suffolk at present), Phyllocnistis saligna and xenia (on Crack willow and Grey poplar respectively), Ectoedemia hannoverella (on fallen Black poplar hybrid leaves), Phyllonorycter strigulatella (mines on Italian alder) and a Maiden’s blush larva on Oak.

So the field meetings season has now drawn to a close for another year. Watch this space for news on the group’s annual indoor meeting early in the spring next year – planning for this will begin in the very near future.


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Meeting tomorrow.

It’s been really difficult to call what the weather is going to do tomorrow. At the moment it is looking OK for the morning so the plan is to go ahead, at least until lunchtime or until the rain gets bad (if it does). Of course if it is really tipping it down then the meeing will be off. Some of the main recorders cannot make the following weekend so this is another reason to try and carry on as planned this week.


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Suffolk Moth group leaf miner day – a reminder that it is this Sunday (13th).

Just a reminder to say that the annual end of season leaf miner recording day for the group is this Sunday -  13th October, meeting at Rampart’s Field picnic site car park (TL788715) at 10.30am. We will then move off in convoy the short distance to a small parking area just off the A1101 to do our recording on West stow country park.
I’ll be watching the weather forecast as the week progresses, at the moment it’s a bit changeable. As long as there isn’t any heavy rain it will still go ahead. Watch this space for any news of cancellation the night before.


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September moths at Hollesley

Anyone else been catching moths? True not inspiring moth collecting weather which hasn’t enticed me out a lot but there were a few highlights. I had a specimen for dissection left over from 31st August that looked like and was proven to be a Scrobipalpa suaedella. A rare salt-marsh species that made it to the light in my front garden. For September I picked up a Lyonetia prunifoliella on 10th. Good to get this species here as it gives the species a widespread distribution in the county now. I also had my first Clifden Nonpareil on 7th. This species seems to be getting quite common in the county now! Perhaps my best highlight was an immigrant from the east, a lovely example of Caloptilia honoratella. this species has been expanding across Europe and reached Kent this year, so in now in Suffolk too. Otherwise the month has seen  a peppering of immigrants with the Delicate being dominant. Interesting on this species I noticed a dark specimen of the Delicate being caught as a garden first in Grundisburgh this year well before the immigrant numbers increased suggesting it could be breeding in Suffolk.

Thoughts on Climate Change: This is something that we are all aware of these days. The expected change to our climate, particularly in the east here has been evident this year. Dry warm summers (I have lost two trees in my garden this year from the drought). Mild wet winters. Once the hurricane season started in the Caribbean then the Atlantic storms have brought the rain to us. How will, or is it now, affecting our moth species. We are clearly seeing an increase in immigrants from more southerly and European climes and some of them are settling and breeding. How many of our established residents are on the decline due to climate change versus loss of habitat? The Monarch Butterfly has been turning up in the south west recently. Will American moth species turn up with the increased storm activity?


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Moth Night 2019

As the East Anglian regional representative for Moth Night 2019, I am pleased to invite fellow moth enthusiasts to Bawdsey Hall, on the night of Saturday 28th September.  It is the twentieth anniversary of Moth Night (formerly National Moth Night).

Bawdsey Hall is hosting an event and all interested recorders are invited.  I would appreciate as much support as possible, especially as Bawdsey Hall and I personally have put a lot of effort into this night and recording throughout the year.

This year the theme is Clifden Nonpareil and migrant moths.   A Clifden Nonpareil was taken at light here last night (16 September) but I can’t promise any on the night!  However, Bawdsey is a good site for migrants and hopefully a good selection will be trapped.

The evening will start at 7pm with a tour of the grounds followed by deployment of moth traps. Please let me know how many traps you will be bringing?

If people let me know in advance then we can better plan for refreshments.  In previous years last minute arrangements have meant this has been tricky to organise.

Only supporters of the event will be entitled to view future rare moths trapped at the Hall.

Many thanks.

Matthew – Telephone 07912 859747

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Suffolk Moth Group leaf miner recording day – Sunday 13th October 2019.

The annual end of season leaf miner recording day for the group has now been arranged. It will be on Sunday 13th October, meeting at Rampart’s Field picnic site car park (TL788715) at 10.30am. We will then move off in convoy the short distance to a small parking area just off the A1101 to do our recording on West stow country park. This is a spot we haven’t tried before. After either a pub lunch (if there is interest, could be tricky to get in a pub for food on a Sunday lunchtime) or your own picnic lunch, we will then move on to a second site for more recording in the afternoon. This is likely to be Mildenhall woods, another site that hasn’t had much survey work done before.
All are welcome. It’s a good chance to learn about this interesting form of moth recording from some of us that have been doing it for a number of years. At least 50-60 species are likely to be seen, depending on the variety of trees.


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August 2019 moths Hollesley

This month has not been especially exciting, though there have been a few highlights. The month started reasonably well following a hot July but most of the summery moths disappeared following the rain and wind during the second and third weeks of the month. There has been a slow trickle of routine immigrants plus some highlights amongst them too.

On the local species I had two Butterbur early in the month which is a good sign for the local population. A Rest Harrow on 8th suggesting they are resident now. A Brick on 29th was my first of what I call the true autumn species to start the autumn off. I had an unusual number of Eucosma tripoliana around the middle of the month. It is quite late for them. I was out on a PoMs trip on the Butley Estuary around then and was paddling the high tide over the salt-marsh so that made me think that perhaps they wander inland when high tides force them off the salt-marsh. Moths of interest included a Hellinsia carphodactyla on 18th which was not my first at home as I caught one several years ago. A dark form of Elophila nymphaeata that had me struggling for an identity for a while and a very small dark Caryocolum which dissected as alsinella but lacked any clear white patches quite unlike others I have seen. A few second broods have turned up. White Ermine on 27th, Chrysoteuchia culmella on 27th and the first of a number of Evergestis limbata on 24th.

Immigrants have been regular at a low level. There have been four highlights from my point of view. A Three-humped Prominent on 1st was a new species for me. I have taken three Beautiful Marbled this year and whilst it has been having a very good year as an immigrant Matthew is of the opinion that it is also resident locally. I took a Tuta absoluta on 7th. I did not take one last year and on 31st I had an Apomyelois bistriatella in perfect condition. I have seen this species in the Tangham Forest in mid-June. Sterling, Parsons and Lewington express the view that late examples of this species may be immigrants and I support this view for my specimen as the suitable habitat is not local to my home and it was caught in the front garden trap that faces the coast. In this Painted Lady year I have also had two Painted Ladys and one Red Admiral in the traps.



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The ‘Unrivalled’ …

This year see’s the 20th anniversary of National Moth Night, a celebration of all the things we love and enjoy about this hobby of ours. One of the themes is Clifden Nonpareil (Catocola fraxini) - aka the ‘Blue Underwing’. Despite a much welcome resurgence of this species across the southern counties of the UK it is a species I have only been lucky enough to see on four previous occasions. My first two were courtesy of a moth twitch Matthew and I made to Stiffkey, Norfolk in Sept’ 2001. I then had to wait almost twelve years to the day before seeing one in Kent. My last was back in August 2017, from Hen Reed-beds. The thought of actual catching my own, and in the garden, seemed more fiction than fact but this morning was one of those rare moments when the moth gods finally decided to smile on my trap once again. As I type this post I’m not ashamed to admit that l’m still  buzzing from the excitement of turning over the egg tray and seeing this large pale grey/brown moth sat there, and then the panic that sets in when you think don’t fly before I can pot you up. It’s also interesting to note that the nearest poplar plantation I can think of is approx. 4km due south of me (near Rattlesden) !!

And don’t forget to check out:

C.fraxini (Woolpit) 30 Aug 2019

C.fraxini (Woolpit) 30 Aug 2019




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A Duo of Gypsy Moths

A surprise this morning with not one but 2 male Gypsy Moths in the garden trap. Not sure of the origin of these 2 moths – are they likely immigrants or wanderers from the expanding London population?


Gypsy Moth 1(1)

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