Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Port Burwell moths

I recently picked up a new moth light that utilizes LED technology. Marketed as the LepiLED, the light is produced in Germany by Dr. Gunnar Brehm, a lepidopterist who studies moth communities in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Some moths and other insects are attracted to light and are particularly found of wavelengths found along the UV spectrum. Black lights and mercury vapor bulbs are some of the better options to produce the desired wavelengths, but these lights come with a downside. That being, of course, that they use a lot of energy and thus need a constant energy source, such as an electrical outlet on the side of your house, a generator, or a deep cycle battery. Neither of these options are very portable! LEDs use far less energy but in the past they were never really used to attract insects. But relatively recent advances in LED technology mean that LEDs that produce the correct types of wavelengths are now available. The LepiLED uses 8 LEDs that cover various wavelengths - UV, blue, green and white. The reviews seemed to be generally positive so I forked out the cash and patiently waited for the light to arrive.

The light certainly wasn't cheap, and you can buy a lot of UV lighting for how much one LepiLED costs, but you can't beat the portability. It weighs a total of 410 grams and can run off of a powerbank (I use a 30,000 mAh powerbank to power it). The setup is incredibly portable and the powerbank should provide about 12 hours of continuous use before it needs to be recharged. It also appears to be very well built, and is more-or-less waterproof as well (though it shouldn't be used in steady rain, but who goes mothing when its raining?).


The light arrived last week and I completed a few trial runs at home. But I did not get a chance to test it out properly until this past weekend when Laura and I drove down to Port Burwell to meet my parents, sister and brother-in-law for our annual camping weekend. We strung up a white sheet from the awning of my parent's trailer, hung the LepiLED and turned it on for a few hours after dark.



I have to say, I was very impressed with the results! I photographed about 90 species of moths combined between the two nights. And that is with my powerbank dying on me during the second night, giving us only about an hour or so of mothing. In addition to the moths, a nice variety of wasps, beetles, leafhoppers and other insects appeared. Many of them were species I had never seen before. Without any further ado, below are a few photos of some of our favourite finds from the weekend.

Straight-lined Argyria Moth (Argyria critica) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

White-ribboned Carpet (Mesoleuca ruficillata) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Red-crossed Button Slug Moth (Tortricidia pallida) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Bamasa dimidiata) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Even-lined Sallow (Ipimorpha pleonectusa) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

The next one seems to be uncommon in Ontario. There are only four previous reports of this species on iNaturalist for the province; all of them from deep within the Carolinian.

Black-patched Glaphyria (Glaphyria fulminalis) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Red-fringed Emerald (Nemoria bistriaria) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Beautiful Wood-Nymph (Eudryas grata) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Yellow-shouldered Slug Moth (Lithacodes fasciola) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Doubleday's Baileya Moth (Baileya doubledayi) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Theridion sp. - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

While the big showy moths are fun, my favorites have to be the micros. The diversity in morphology and patterning is insane. With the help of a macro lens, the intricate detailing comes to life.

Reticulated Decantha Moth (Decantha boreasella) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Aster Eucosma Moth (Eucosma parmatana) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Orange-headed Epicallima Moth (Epicallima argenticincella) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Clemens' Bark Moth (Xylesthia pruniramiella) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Maple Caloptilia Moth (Caloptilia bimaculatella) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Walnut Caloptilia Moth (Caloptilia blandella) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Casebearer (Coleophora sp.) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

This is what a typical section of the moth sheet looked like:

Mothing at Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Olethreutes is a diverse genus of moths. I noted at least five species at the sheet, and they were some of the more common moths as well.

 Olethreutes concinnana - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario


Bunchberry Leaffolder Moth (Olethreutes connectum) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Mysterious Olethreutes Moth (Olethreutes mysteriana) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Northern Bush Katydid (Scudderia septentrionalis) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Red-lined Panopoda Moth (Panopoda rufimargo) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Crowned Slug Moth (Isa textula) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

I botched the focus on the next photo but wanted to include it anyways. This Crane Fly is afflicted with several mites. After doing some research it appears that these are mites in the genus Calyptostoma. This type of mite apparently prefers the thorax of crane flies.

Calyptostoma sp. - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Omnivorous Leafroller (Archips purpurana) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Variegated Midget (Elaphria versicolor) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

This beetle had pretty crazy antler-like antennae!

Dendroides canadensis - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Striped Chocolate-tipped Moth (Clostera strigosa) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Basswood Leafroller Moth (Pantographa limata) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

A single Summer Azure decided to visit for a few minutes as well. It was the only butterfly that came to the light.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Check out these showy leafhoppers, each of them barely 5 mm in length.

Saddled Leafhopper (Colladonus clitellarius) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Three-banded Leafhopper (Erythroneura tricincta) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario


Morrison's Pero Moth (Pero morrisonaria) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Sawfly sp. - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Showy Emerald (Dichorda iridaria) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Arched Hooktip (Drepana arcuata) - Port Burwell Provincial Park, Elgin County, Ontario

Even if the LepiLED is, say, only 3/4 as effective as a mercury vapor bulb, its advantages far outweigh that, at least for someone like myself who travels a fair bit, either within Ontario or places further afield. I will be taking it with me on future trips to the tropics, where even in a remote part of the jungle I could do several nights of mothing before the powerbank runs out. It will also be very useful in Ontario, as I will be able to set it up pretty much anywhere I visit. I am planning on taking an evening or two this week to set it up in a high quality natural area locally, like perhaps Short Hills, St. John's Conservation Area, Wainfleet Bog or Niagara Shores Conservation Area. It should be fun!!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Borneo 2018: Part 11 (Danum Valley)

Part 1: Fly to Borneo, Kota Kinabalu (September 30 - October 2, 2018)
Part 2: Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu (October 3, 2018)
Part 3: Full day at Mount Kinabalu (October 4, 2018)
Part 4: Mount Kinabalu to Sepilok (October 5, 2018)
Part 5: Sepilok (October 6, 2018)
Part 6: Kinabatangan River (October 6-7, 2018)
Part 7: Kinabatangan River, Gomantong Caves (October 7-8, 2018)
Part 8: Tabin Wildlife Reserve (October 8-9, 2018)
Part 9: Tabin Wildlife Reserve (October 9-10, 2018)
Part 10: Danum Valley (October 11-12, 2018)
Part 11: Danum Valley (October 13-14, 2018)


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October 13, 2018

Early morning birding at the BRL - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

The news of the morning was a small family group of Maroon Leaf Monkeys that were feeding on some trees beside the lodge. Before venturing on our morning hike, we took the time to watch the behaviours of these primates for the first time of the trip.

Watching the Maroon Leaf Monkeys - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Maroon Leaf Monkey - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

As is usually the case, the babies stole the show with their cuteness!

Maroon Leaf Monkey - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Maroon Leaf Monkeys - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Maroon Leaf Monkeys - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Maroon Leaf Monkeys, as their name implies, specialize by feeding on leaves and possess specialized gut fauna to help process the difficult material. Unlike Orangutans which have to feed on a wide range of fruits, leaf monkeys always have a steady year round food source. They just have to spend much more time eating to gain enough nutrients from this diet.

Maroon Leaf Monkey - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Maroon Leaf Monkeys - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Once we had our fill of the Maroon Leaf Monkeys we ventured down a trail, crossed a suspension bridge and completed the climb to a viewpoint overlooking the river. Along the way we stopped for whatever biological curiosities we detected, while the soundtrack included distant gibbons and barbets.

Dead invertebrates do not last very long in the tropical rainforests of the world. Ants were making quick work carrying off this millipede in one piece. The dismemberment would occur later.

Unidentified millipede - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

This Moellenkampi Beetle, while still alive, appeared to be on its way out when we discovered it. I am sure it provided a meal to ants in short order.

Moellenkampi Beetle - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

It seemed strange to see Cattle Egrets in such a heavily forested environment but two or three were regular fixtures on the grass surrounding the lodge. 

Cattle Egret - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Shortly after crossing the suspension bridge the loud calls of the gibbons were a little closer. Soon we spotted the culprits and one even put on a show by brachiating along a branch. I was pretty pleased with these photos, the side-lighting provided an interesting view.

North Bornean Gray Gibbon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

North Bornean Gray Gibbon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

North Bornean Gray Gibbon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

We found fewer new birds this morning but as usual there were a few. These included Striped Wren Babblers and a Plaintive Cuckoo.

Another major highlight was spotting a Draco lizard; this time a new species for our group known as the Black-barbed Flying Dragon (Draco melanopogon). It is one of the easiest Draco lizards to identify due to its distinctive dewlap.

Black-barbed Flying Dragon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

The ascent up the mountain was slow going not only due to the wildlife we were seeing, but also because of the stifling hot and humid conditions. The view from the top, however, was well worth any discomfort!

The BRL as seen from the viewpoint- Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

While we rested near the viewpoint I spotted this Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella), our second of the trip.

Green Crested Lizard - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Green Crested Lizard - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

This butterfly is called the Striped Blue Crow Butterfly (Euploea mulciber), a widespread species in southeast Asia.

Striped Blue Crow Butterfly- Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

On the way back down the mountain we made the judgement call to stop for an hour by a natural swimming hole, below a waterfall found along a trailside stream. It was one of the most refreshing swims I can ever recall and it was great to get away from the heat and humidity for a little while, at least. One can experience a pedicure here too since there is a type of fish that is well-known for nibbling dead skin from feet. It was a strange sensation and a little bit painful even!

By the time we returning to the lodge we were famished, and eager to tuck into the impressive lunch spread provided by the lodge. While we were eating and conversing I interrupted everyone upon spotting a huge scorpion on the other side of the dining area. This is Heterometrus longimanus, one of the largest scorpions in the world!

Heterometrus longimanus - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Soon after lunch the clouds descended and a steady rain began falling. We had planned on going for an afternoon walk but that idea was postponed while we waited out the weather. A check of the Danum River produced several Asian Water Monitors and a Bearded Pig.

Bornean Bearded Pig - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Just outside the lodge, Adzil spotted a snake in a tree just above eye-level. Seeing that it was something not particularly dangerous I did what anyone would do and caught it. The look on Adzil's face was priceless! I guess not a lot of their guests catch the snakes they see.

Gray Bronzeback - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

This is a widespread species called the Gray Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus) which is found throughout southeast Asia. It spends most of its time in trees but rarely descends higher than about four meters. It feeds mainly on arboreal lizards and tree frogs. This was a feisty individual that gave me a few nips for my efforts.

Gray Bronzeback - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

That evening we went for one final nightwalk along the main entrance road for a couple of hours.

File-eared Tree Frog - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Borneo Forest Dragons were easily found again. This individual was particularly bright, but is still the same species. What a stunner!

Borneo Forest Dragon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Borneo Forest Dragon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Borneo Forest Dragon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

We were hoping to come across a Western Tarsier which is a strange, mouse-sized primate that clings to the branches in the understorey and which feeds on a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates alike (including bats which it catches by hand!). Unfortunately rain apparently makes the tarsiers difficult to find and we were unsuccessful for a second straight year. At least the light rain made it easier to find frogs such as this Common Puddle Frog which was vocalizing from the roadside ditch.

Common Puddle Frog - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

A roosting White-rumped Shama was great to see as well!

White-rumped Shama - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Invertebrates, of course, were very prevalent though I did not photograph as many this time.

Unidentified wandering spider - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Unidentified katydid - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

We stopped by the frog pond on our way back to take a look at the brightly coloured Harlequin Tree Frogs (Rhacophorus pardalis) as well as whatever else we could coax out of the woodwork.

Harlequin Tree Frog - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Harlequin Tree Frog - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

This one I have identified as a Copper-cheeked Frog (Chalcorana raniceps), presumably named due to the colour of the tympanum.

Copper-cheeked Frog - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia


October 14, 2019

It was hard to believe but our time in Borneo was coming to an end. With flights booked to Kota Kinabalu for that afternoon we had just a few hours to explore on the morning of October 14.

One of the other guides at the lodge had discovered a different male Bornean Orangutuan, quite close to the lodge, happily feeding on figs. We walked over and had incredible views, yet again, of another wild Bornean Orangutan. Some of the group was happy to spend the rest of our allotted time with the orangutan while others were keen to go back up the canopy tower. We split up the group and I joined Adzil and some of the travellers on the canopy walkway for a couple of hours, while Ben and Ali stayed back with the rest to watch the orangutan.

Canopy walkway at the BRL - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Clipper - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

The morning was warm and sunny with a slight breeze and bird activity was very good at the tower. Whiskered Treeswifts put on a show, our first Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker and Crimson Sunbirds were spotted, and a nice variety of cuckoos appeared as well (Violet Cuckoo, Banded Bay-Cuckoo, Raffle's Malhoka, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha).

Raffle's Malkoha - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

A pair of Diard's Trogons were spotted by one of the travellers which provided a dose of excitement. Much better than the heard-only one we had the previous day!

Diard's Trogon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Diard's Trogon - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

We finally caught up with a confiding Least Pygmy Squirrel as well. This Bornean endemic is among the smallest squirrel species in the world!

Least Pygmy Squirrel - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Near the end of our time on the canopy walkway as the minutes ticked down, one more special bird was in store. It was a male Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher, a new one for our group (and my first "lifer" in a couple of days). While widespread in southeast Asia the Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher appears to be declining in Borneo for unknown reasons. It was an awesome way to finish up our last morning on the canopy walkway.

Blyth's Paradise-Flycatcher - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

And with that, the trip was pretty much over though we did add Paddyfield Pipit on the tarmac at the airport. Borneo continues to inspire and astound and I am excited to return with Quest in 2020. 

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Part 1: Fly to Borneo, Kota Kinabalu (September 30 - October 2, 2018)
Part 2: Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu (October 3, 2018)
Part 3: Full day at Mount Kinabalu (October 4, 2018)
Part 4: Mount Kinabalu to Sepilok (October 5, 2018)
Part 5: Sepilok (October 6, 2018)
Part 6: Kinabatangan River (October 6-7, 2018)
Part 7: Kinabatangan River, Gomantong Caves (October 7-8, 2018)
Part 8: Tabin Wildlife Reserve (October 8-9, 2018)
Part 9: Tabin Wildlife Reserve (October 9-10, 2018)
Part 10: Danum Valley (October 11-12, 2018)
Part 11: Danum Valley (October 13-14, 2018)