Thursday, 4 May 2017

My little record

Eleven-and-a-bit years after first lighting my moth trap, I have secured a modest place in the record books. It is as tiny as its subject, shown above, the little micro-moth which came here on the night of April 21/22 and - as always - left me baffled as far as its ID was concerned.

My kindly Commentor suggested one of the Elachista family but added that it was almost certainly too early in the year for the obvious candidate, E. albifrontella. I had come to the same, very tentative conclusion myself from the photos in the Micro-moth Bible. But it was a puzzle. This is a distinctively-marked moth but not exactly like any of those illustrated in the book.

Similar but not the same
So the next step was to appeal to the experts on the ever-invaluable Upper Thames Moths blog and Peter Hall, a great micro authority, responded at once. He suggested that the moth was albifrontella's close relation E. apicipunctella. Everything fitted, especially the fact that apicipunctella is not picured in the Micro Bible.

Assuming that the moth was new to me, I then went to my Records page and to my surprise found that apicipunctella was already there. Googling took the trail back to last year and thence to 2015 when this midget moth first visited my trap and was identified by the Emperor of All Moth ID Experts, Ben Sale who blogs fascinatingly on Herts Moths. formerly Essex Moths.

Ben met the moth for the first time a year earlier when he took the picture below which puts mine to shame. Meanwhile, when I reported my findings back to the UTM blog, Peter suggested that I contact Oxfordshire's micro-moth recorder Martin Corley (Martin is a compulsory name for moth enthusiasts) because he had trapped apicipunctella on 23 April this year and was under the impression that the record was Oxfordshire's first. So I did, and to conclude this already lengthy saga, Martin kindly agreed that my 2015 record takes that little (but for me, exciting) title.

I have been emailing by chance, through a mutual friend, with another giant of the UK's moth world, Jeremy Holloway (his middle name may well be Martin, I don't know) and he has actually had moths named after him. This is an honour that I dream not of. My little friend apicipunctella will do for me.

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