Friday, 3 June 2016

Coniferous Christmas surprises

A Christmas tree plantation probably isn't the first place most lepidopterists would have on their mind to visit on a hot & sunny day, but I decided to ditch my usual biking route north to Grimley this afternoon, and instead check out the conifer plantation at Grove Farm (just south-west of Dines Green) on the off chance that some interesting micros might be flying.

It didn't take long to find Epinotia fraternana flying around the Nordmann Fir, including some stunningly patterned specimens, and it quickly became apparent that this was the most common moth in the plantation (even outnumbering the xylostella!).

Also present in large numbers around the Nordmann Fir was a much daintier Epinotia that I was struggling to pin down. Most individuals were worn or poorly marked, but every now and again I'd net a fresh individual that showed off a patch of light brown scales towards the termen, and a well developed ocellus reminiscent of Epinotia subsequana. The latter feature would seemingly eliminate E. pygmaeana, and the lack of a prominent white dorsal patch (as well as a lack of any Scots Pine) would take E. rubiginosana out of the equation. E. subsequana is a rare species across the UK, and I have several specimens ready to be dissected (I'm not taking any chances after letting that Lampronia catch me out!). Are there any previous Worcestershire records? As always, I'd be grateful for any opinions or comments given the lack of internet-based resources covering this species.

(Putative) Epinotia subsequana

Epinotia fraternana

Tinea semifulvella


  1. You are on a roll Billy! Neither Subsequana or pygmaeana are on the VC37 list, while both have been seen in VC36 Herefordshire.
    For what its worth, your photos of subsequana look pretty convincing to me, but you should definitely get one dissected. The late date is a bit of a worry.
    E.fraternana has been seen in the county but we only have 6 records so that too is an excellent find.

  2. Nice work! I have been vaguely thinking about this sort of habitat but haven't seen anywhere close to home so I might have to visit this site.


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