James Lowen 

Back to some unfamiliar moths - this time the micros.

Such uncertainties add to the joy (if also to the frustration) of mothing in a new country, without access to the type of ID literature we are blessed with in the UK. The moths of Cyprus did us proud - and so did those little LED lights. 

Finally, the final night trailed earlier... When we went to bed, I had already had to move the trap once for fear of it being blown away - so strong, and cold, was the easterly wind howling past the balcony. Mike said that the easterly lasted, at pace, until about three hours before dawn. Accordingly, I almost didn't bother to do a pre-dawn check of the trap, as the strong winds surely would mean no moths. I could not have been more wrong. It appears that the winds brought in large numbers of presumed migrants - and perhaps the calm conditions in the latter part of the night enabled them to find our trap. Either way, for a Brit who loves migrant-mothing, it was the trap of my dreams (even if were just a run-of-the-mill night for Steve Nash...). Of those that I could put a name to in a migrant context... Striped Hawk-moth, Ni Moth, 2 Crimson Speckled, 5 Eastern Bordered Straw, 1 Scarce Bordered Straw, 1 Cosmopolitan, 10 Bordered Straw, 6 Pale Shoulder, 10 Small Mottled Willow, Dark Mottled Willow, Palpita vitrealis, White-speck, Dark Sword-grass, 5 Rush Veneer and Crocidosema plebejana (which, oddly, is not listed for Cyprus on Lepiforum...). Wow.

I have not yet been able to find any authority to the moths of Cyprus, so both my identifications here and my suggestions as to the moths' status are based on my interpretation of information on Lepiforum. That wonderful repository may have errors or omissions in it (.e.g. as to whether a moth has occurred in Cyprus), and I may have interpreted its information incorrectly - and have doubtless made misidentifications. If anyone can correct any errors, I would be most grateful - but, in the meantime, the blog comprises my best guess at what we saw, and what status' it has. I'll start with what appear to be some specialities.  

  • Scoparia berytella appears to be a good one in a European context, with Cyprus the only European country it occurs in: indeed, the only other country listed by Lepiforum is Lebanon.
  • Reinserita latinsaulella, which is an orange tinned, also appears to have Cyprus as its only European location.
  • Scopula sacraria appears to be a largely Asian geometer
  • Phtheochroa cypriana appears to be endemic to Cyprus, and was described new to science in 2015
  • ​... as was Ditula bartoniana, another endemic, named in honour of its discoverer, Ian Barton
  • Hoyosia cretica - a very Festoon-like creature - occurs only in the eastern Mediterranean

The plebejana mentioned above is one of several current mysteries that need resolution. Presumably it does occur in Cyprus, and ours is not the first national record. More research needed. In a similar vein, we recorded something that in the UK I might be thinking was a rather dark Epinotia subocellana, but that species is not known from Cyprus (as far as I can tell), so needs working through. There were also three of what I would be thinking were Thistle Ermine in the UK -  but that species is also apparently unrecorded in Cyprus. A fourth micro, had it had long palps (unless those palps have worn off, as might well be the case), I would have wagered were Ematheudes punctellus, but it doesn't occur in Cyprus either.

Here are some more familiar macros - often known as rare migrants or vagrants to the UK. Clearly, I have no idea whether any of these are migrants in a Cypriot context - but my suspicion is they are resident here, as none turned up in the apparent moratory influx we had on our final night (more of which, later).

Then let's take a look at a fairly random gaggle of macros with wider distributions. Most of these, understandably, were new to me (if I kept such a thing as a moth list). 


26 April 2024 Cyprus moths

After my blog on (almost) all things Cyprus wildlife last weekend, I threatened one dedicated to the 90-ish species of moths we trapped on our hotel balcony. So here it is. It was the first outing for my LED lights, bought from Anglian Lepidopteran Services - and they did well. The lowest catch was two moths, on a cool night with strong northerlies coming down from the mountains. One night was moderate. But two nights were excellent. I don't know how many moths we had in total, but I'd guess 200+, which isn't too shabby. The absolute highlight was the stunning moth Jon Clifton of ALS suggested I target - the olive-loving Problepis ocellata. Jonathan Newman was also trapping on the island while we were there, and ocellata was his target too. How my eyes lit up when I spotted it in the trap nary an hour after dusk! And what a sumptuous geometer it was - although not as big as I imagined and not particularly fresh.