Friday, 18 November 2011

Nothing but a foriegn moth ... probably

I'm haven't been dead, ill or even lost, this is my first post for a while simply because I've had so little time and subsequently seen virtually zero. Admittedly I was tempted away off-site into Northumberland to see a Greater Yellowlegs and a Grey Phalarope last weekend but that wasn't Waldridge so it does not count. Yes I confess I went twitching
I had a half hour walk last week but saw very little, it was early afternoon and it was already getting dark. The bit of sun earlier had produced a Red Admiral (this was the 12th November) and others were seen in Gateshead the same day. The walk itself produced nothing better than a Goldcrest, a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll and three small groups of Long-tailed Tit. A few plants were still flowering with Dame's-violet and Cow Parsley being particularly late.

The best thing of the past couple of weeks was actually seen by someone else, goes back to September and wasn't even in Waldridge, but I think it's very interesting. So if you like detective stories, read on.

A lady from Low Fell in Gateshead sent a photograph of a moth found inside her house and this was passed to me to see if I could name it. Apparently "15-20mm from nose to end of wing and the 'almost crimped edges to the wing were lovely'". My attempts to identify it failed completely - I couldn't even get it down to a family. Was it some accidental import or was I just rubbish? 

The mystery alien moth

To answer the question I posted it onto the north-east Moth Forum to see what others thought. Everyone seemed stumped so the county moth recorder emailed Martin Honey at the Natural History Museum and other county moth recorders.
Investigations are continuing but it appears to be a species of Cryptolechia probably the 4th for the UK, (another from Durham, one from Hampshire and one from Suffolk most likely from South Africa imported on flowers, possibly dried. The lady finding this one confirmed she had bought some dried flowers originating from South Africa weeks earlier.

The tale of the Suffolk specimen (which looks very similar indeed) was re-told by Tony Pritchard, the Suffolk County Recorder that was reported to him by the finder -
However, the biggest piece of news to come out of Woolpit stems not from the trap but from the lounge curtains. A strange place to look for moths you might think? It all dates back to the 21st October when I stumbled across a rather strange looking moth sitting on the mat below said curtains. It looked nothing like any moth I had ever seen before. It was duly photographed and the image sent to a few group members who were equally stumped. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the moth was exhibited at the BENHS Exhibition in London where at first it generated little interest. That was until someone suggested that it could be a 'micro' moth from Asia or Australasia. Martin Honey from the Natural History Museum was invited to have a look and he recalled having seen something similar but couldn't place it. After a quick chat both the moth and pupal case were donated to the NHM in the hope that a positive identification could be secured.
That evening I tried to thing of anything unusual that had been in the house. All I could come up with was a somewhat 'woody' bouquet of flowers that had been given to my wife a few weeks before hand. Further investigation the next day revealed that the flowers had come from Marks & Spencer's where they had been sold under the name of 'Cape Flora'. The news was quickly relayed to Martin who replied by saying that he had already come to the independent conclusion that my moth was, indeed, South African in origin. Further more, he had narrowed it down to a species of Cryptolechia (a rather large family of micro-moths).
Sadly, that's where the story ends at the moment. Martin's still waiting to hear back from colleagues in South Africa and I still don't know whether I have an 'adventive' first for Suffolk and the UK. All I can say is "Stay Tuned Folks"”.

Today, still quiet but a very late queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee was flying around one of the flowerbeds in town.

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