A diary of my mothing activity covering highlights and photos from my moth trapping activities. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I may mention other wildlife sightings here, especially insects, but for birds see my birding diary.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Bilberry Tortrix, Meal Moth and Double Dart

A visit to Burnham Overy on 14th June was as much for birding as it was for moths and other insects but it was the insects that provided the most interest in the end.  A selection of butterflies included 3 Painted Ladies.  I didn't see as many moths as I sometimes do but one good quality moth made up for that.  Common Swift and Cinnabar were the only moths seen until I went over to the Sea Wormwood to look for Scarce Pugs.  No luck with them but I did see a little moth flying around in the Sea Wormwood and duly netted it.  I didn't recognise it - it recalled a Timothy Tortrix Aphelia paleana but was the wrong colour, in particular lacking any yellow at the head end.  A quick look online revealed that there is a congener that was a dead-ringer for my moth, and later on I confirmed it back at home - it was a Bilberry Tortrix Aphelia viburnana.  Despite the common name it doesn't just feed on bilberry (good job as I don't think there is much in Norfolk).  Probably it feeds on Sea Wormwood as I subsequently discovered that the only record of this species in Norfolk since 2003 was one swept from Sea Wormwood at Burnham Overy about a year before mine (probably the same clump as I don't think there is much more growing here).

Bilberry Tortrix Aphelia viburnana (male, gen det), Burnham Overy, 14th June

I retained one of a couple of beetles to check.  I thought it was something familiar but it turned out to be Welsh Chafer Hoplia philanthus which I don't have down as having seen it before.  NBN Atlas doesn't show any records anywhere near here, so perhaps a good record?  Not sure, but I saw lots more here on a more recent visit.

Welsh Chafer Hoplia philanthus, Burnham Overy, 14th June

I attempted to attract Six-belted and Thrift Clearwings to lure but with no success - hardly surprising in the case of Thrift Clearwing which is mainly a west coast species and hasn't been recorded anywhere near Norfolk (but you never know unless you try) but it ought to be good for Six-belted here.  Maybe a little early?  Anyway all was not lost as while I was trying for them a Red-veined Darter flew past.  For a flight view it was a good view - in steady flight I managed to keep focussed on it with my bins and even saw the blue on the bottom of the eyes (as well as red in the wings).  Flying directly west past the west end of the dunes I can only assume it was on active migration.

As I approached the dunes on my arrival I saw a tweet from John W who was apparently already there mentioning 'plague proportions' of Sawflies.  I'd seen a few Turnip Sawflies but nothing remarkable, and while I was in the dunes that didn't really change.  Yes, quite a few more than usual, now but still nothing like the extremes implied by John's message.  But then I saw another tweet from Steve G at Cley referring to "MILLIONS of Turnip Sawflies swarming west".  I started to wonder if I was going blind - why wasn't I seeing such vast numbers?  As I returned up the seawall on my way back I started to see them in much bigger numbers.  There was a cloud of them moving alongside me as I approached the sluice and I thought I was disturbing them from the vegetation and pushing them along as I moved.  But quickly it became clear that I was not seeing the same insects all the time, because when I stopped they carried on!  There was a constant procession of Turnip Sawflies moving south along the seawall, mainly along the sheltered western side of it.  It was hard to estimate how many were involved but as a really conservative estimate there were over 100 Turnip Sawflies moving south past me every minute - and I suspect it was really more like 500!  In the end I put down 10,000 as a bare minumum for just the ones I clapped eyes on, but I'd imagine a more carefuly census would have produced a six-figure estimate if not more.  I don't know if they're migrants - but a southerly movement might suggest they were coming in off the sea rather than dispersing from inland after a big emergence.  On the other hand if they were dispersing from inland, accumulating on the coast and then moving along the coast (west at Cley per Steve's report) they might, I suppose, turn inland at the seawall to avoid going out into the saltmarsh. So perhaps they were the product of a large emergence inland after all?

That night at home moth-trapping was excellent!  73 species wasn't an excessively big total but it included some real quality.  The star was my first ever Meal Moth Pyralis farinalis, a very attractive pyralid moth.

Meal Moth Pyralis farinalis, North Elmham, 14th June

A Double Dart wasn't so pretty but this macro can be quite hard to find - it was a first for the garden.  Also new for the garden, and a species I only recently saw for the first time anywhere, was Brindled Argent Argyresthia curvella.

Double Dart, North Elmham, 14th June

Brindled Argent Argyresthia curvella, North Elmham, 14th June

Several more were new for the year here: Bordered Carl Coptotriche marginea, Buff Cosmet Mompha ochraceella, Hawthorn Cosmet Blastodacna hellerella, Elder Pearl Anania coronata, White Plume Pterophorus pentadactyla, Common Emerald, Freyer's Pug and Clouded Silver.

Bordered Carl Coptotriche marginea, North Elmham, 14th June

Buff Cosmet Mompha ochraceella, North Elmham, 14th June

Hawthorn Cosmet Blastodacna hellerella, North Elmham, 14th June

Elder Pearl Anania coronata, North Elmham, 14th June

White Plume Pterophorus pentadactyla, North Elmham, 14th June

Common Emerald, North Elmham, 14th June

Freyer's Pug, North Elmham, 14th June

Other moths recorded that night were Hawthorn Slender Parornix anglicella, Hedge Case-bearer Coleophora striatipennella, 2 Buff Rush Case-bearers Coleophora caespititiella, Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, Sloe Flat-body Luquetia lobella, London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, 2 Black-headed Conches Cochylis atricapitana, 2 Large Fruit-tree Tortrixes Archips podana, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Large Ivy Tortrix Lozotaenia forsterana, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 11 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Plum Tortrix Hedya pruniana, Marbled Orchard Tortrix Hedya nubiferana, 4 Triple-blotched Bells Notocelia trimaculana, 5 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 2 Hook-streaked Grass-Veneers Crambus lathoniellus, Meadow Grey Scoparia pyralella, 6 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, 2 Little Greys Eudonia lacustrata, 8 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, Fenland Pearl Anania perlucidalis, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Ghost Moth, 4 Single-dotted Waves, Treble Brown Spot, Silver-ground Carpet, 3 Barred Straws, Common Marbled Carpet, Currant Pug, 5 Common Pugs, Green Pug, Clouded Border, Brown Silver-line, Scorched Wing, Brimstone Moth, 5 Willow Beauties, Mottled Beauty, Pale Oak Beauty, Common White Wave, Pale Prominent, Common Footman, White Ermine, 11 Buff Ermines, 2 Cinnabars, 5 Heart and Darts, Flame, Flame Shoulder, Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Ingrailed Clays, Common Wainscot, 4 Shoulder-striped Wainscots, 4 Brown Rustics, Dark Arches, Small Clouded Brindle, 3 Middle-barred Minors, 2 Treble Lines, Uncertain, 6 Mottled Rustics, 7 Straw Dots and Small Fan-foot.

Caddisflies consisted of Tinodes waeneri, new for the year, and Hydropsyche siltalai.

Hydropsyche siltalai (male), North Elmham, 14th June

Holt Lowes, my first garden Clearwing and a Mugwort Plume

I stopped briefly at Bintree Mill on the way up to the coast on 13th June, finding lots of Banded Demoiselles.  At Cley non-avian highlights were Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmers.

Next I had a look round Holt Lowes, in part to look for Clearwings.  In that respect it was worse than a failure - not only did I fail to see any Clearwings but I also dropped and lost my Large Red-belted Clearwing lure somewhere in the valley.  Fortunately I did see some interesting moths that made the visit worthwhile.  As I entered the valley I netted a grass-veneer which I thought might possibly be Marsh Grass-veneer Crambus uliginosellus.  Foolishly having obtained that one I didn't look very hard at any of the next 100 or so similar Crambids, believing that due to their abundance they must have all just been Grass-veneers Crambus pascuella.  Well it turned out that the one I retained was Crambus uliginosellus as I'd initially suspected, a new species for me, and now I'm left wondering whether the other 100 or so were too (would be interesting to find the species in such large numbers), or if I was just lucky and the rest were the commoner species.  Wish I'd looked a bit more carefully at the others.

Marsh Grass-veneer Crambus uliginosellus, Holt Lowes, 13th June

Nearly as good (perhaps better, but not new for me) were two Olive Marbles Phiaris micana.

Olive Marbles Phiaris micana, Holt Lowes, 13th June

Other moths included Netted Argent Argyresthia retinella, 6 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Rush Marbles Bactra lancealana, Bridge Roller Ancylis uncella, 10 Grey Gorse Piercers Cydia ulicetana, Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata, Common Carpet, Double-striped Pug, Brown Silver-line and Marbled White Spot.

Netted Argent Argyresthia retinella, Holt Lowes, 13th June

Dragonflies included Common Blue, Azure and Large Red Damselflies, Broad-bodied Chasers and at least a dozen Keeled Skimmers.

Keeled Skimmer, Holt Lowes, 13th June

I retained a couple of Scorpion Flies for checking and both proved to be Panorpa communis.

Panorpa communis (female, gen det), Holt Lowes, 13th June

Beetles included my first Black-striped Longhorn Beetle Stenurella melanura.

Black-striped Longhorn Beetle Stenurella melanura, Holt Lowes, 13th June

Other insects included Tree, White-tailed and Buff-tailed Bumblebees all buzzing round a single bush.

I'd had no success with Clearwings at Holt but I put out the lure for Currant Clearwing at home and was delighted to find a Currant Clearwing in the lure trap.  My first Clearwing in the garden and the first to have proved that the lure trap actually works.

Currant Clearwing, North Elmham, 13th June

That night the star of the show was a Mugwort Plume Hellinsia lienigianus, a new species for my garden and only my second anywhere.

Mugwort Plume Hellinsia lienigianus, North Elmham, 13th June

Also new for the year here were Brown Elm Bell Epinotia abbreviana, Ghost Moth and Four-dotted Footman.

Brown Elm Bell Epinotia abbreviana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 13th June

Ghost Moth, North Elmham, 13th June

Four-dotted Footman, North Elmham, 13th June

Other moths were White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, 2 Large Fruit-tree Tortrixes Archips podana, 3 Barred Marbles Celypha striana, 9 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Plum Tortrix Hedya pruniana, Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, 2 Triple-blotched Bells Notocelia trimaculana, 3 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, Hook-streaked Grass-Veneer Crambus lathoniellus, 2 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, 11 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, Common Swift, Single-dotted Wave, Riband Wave, Barred Straw, Common Marbled Carpet, Currant Pug, 2 Common Pugs, Willow Beauty, Light Emerald, Marbled Brown, Buff-tip, 15 Buff Ermines, Cinnabar, 3 Heart and Darts, Ingrailed Clay, Shears, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, 2 Brown Rustics, Middle-barred Minor, 2 Mottled Rustics, Burnished Brass, 2 Beautiful Hook-tips, 7 Straw Dots, Snout and Small Fan-foot.  Common Earwig and the caddisfly Hydropsyche pellucidula were the only other insects noted.

Anania fuscalis for the third year

Had a look round Lolly Moor with Dave on Sunday 11th June (I know, I'm falling way behind again... will hopefully start catching up now the summer peak has passed).  For the third year running we had several Cinereous Pearls Anania fuscalis - the only site this species is currently known to occur at in Norfolk.  There was a record from near Attleborough in the mid 90s but our records at Lolly Moor over the last three years are the only others in Norfolk since the 1800s.  I can't believe the species isn't present at other sites - worth checking other damp meadows with Yellow Rattle growing.

We also recorded Large Long-horn Nematopogon swammerdamella, Buff Long-horn Nematopogon metaxella, 3 Common Nettle-taps Anthophila fabriciana, Thistle Conch Aethes cnicana, White-barred Tortrix Olindia schumacherana, 4 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, probable Thistle Bell Epiblema scutulana (had a pale hindwing but was quite worn so perhaps not safe to go on that feature; cirsiana occurs here as well and has similar genitalia) and 5 Grass Rivulets.

Buff Long-horn Nematopogon metaxella, Lolly Moor, 11th June

Thistle Conch Aethes cnicana, Lolly Moor, 11th June

probable Thistle Bell Epiblema scutulana, Lolly Moor, 11th June

Dave passed me this moth which he'd caught at home (Toftwood) for me to check - it was a Blotched Piercer Pammene albuginana, a species only recorded in Norfolk half a dozen times.

Blotched Piercer Pammene albuginana, Toftwood, 10th June

Moths at home on the night of 11th included Small Grey Eudonia mercurella, Oak Hook-tip, Dark Arches and Beautiful Hook-tip all new for the year.

Small Grey Eudonia mercurella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 11th June

Oak Hook-tip, North Elmham, 11th June

Dark Arches, North Elmham, 11th June

Beautiful Hook-tip, North Elmham, 11th June

Other moths were London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Large Ivy Tortrix Lozotaenia forsterana, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 9 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Triple-blotched Bells Notocelia trimaculana, Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella, 3 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, 4 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, 2 Common Swifts, 2 Currant Pugs, 3 Common Pugs, Clouded Border, 2 Brimstone Moths, 3 Mottled Beauties, Light Emerald, Elephant Hawk-moth, Buff-tip, 10 Buff Ermines, 2 Heart and Darts, Flame, 5 Ingrailed Clays, Small Square-spot, Lychnis, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Brown Rustic, Marbled Minor, 2 Middle-barred Minors, Uncertain, 3 Mottled Rustics, 4 Straw Dots and Snout.

Other insects in the trap included the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus and the bug Phylus palliceps which was new for the year.

Phylus palliceps, North Elmham, 11th June

New for the year the following night were Meadow Case-bearer Coleophora mayrella, Large Yellow Underwing, Clay and Smoky Wainscot.

Meadow Case-bearer Coleophora mayrella, North Elmham, 12th June

Large Yellow Underwing, North Elmham, 12th June

Clay, North Elmham, 12th June

Smoky Wainscot, North Elmham, 12th June

Other moths that night were 2 London Dowds Blastobasis lacticolella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Large Ivy Tortrix Lozotaenia forsterana, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 8 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Red Piercer Lathronympha strigana, 5 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 3 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, Little Grey Eudonia lacustrata, 3 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, 2 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, False Cacao Moth Ephestia unicolorella, Single-dotted Wave, 3 Treble Brown Spots, 2 Riband Waves, 2 Silver-ground Carpets, Barred Straw, Common Pug, Brimstone Moth, Willow Beauty, Common White Wave, Light Emerald, 4 Buff Ermines, 2 Heart and Darts, Flame, 3 Ingrailed Clays, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, 2 Brown Rustics, 2 Dark Arches, Middle-barred Minor, 2 Treble Lines, Uncertain, Rustic, Vine's Rustic, Mottled Rustic, Burnished Brass, 7 Straw Dots and Pinion-streaked Snout.

Other things in the trap inlcuded the brown lacewing Hemerobius humulinus, the caddisfly  Limnephilus lunatus, the beetle Aphodius rufipes and another beetle that was new for me, Adrastus pallens.

Adrastus pallens, North Elmham, 12th June

Sunday, 16 July 2017


The highlight from my garden moth trap on 10th June was my first Spongefly, a group of lacewings represented by one species in Norfolk, Sisyra fuscata.  Compared to the brown lacewings (at least the ones I'm familiar with) it was small and dark, but sadly it was on its last legs (although that hadn't been apparent) and died before I managed to get any photos of it.  Not only that but it had covered itself in moth scales left in the pot I used so the photo really is bad!

Sisyra fuscata (dead), North Elmham, 10th June

A number of moths were new for the year: Obscure Groundling Bryotropha similis, Cyclamen Tortrix Clepsis spectrana, Pine Marble Piniphila bifasciana, Marbled Orchard Tortrix Hedya nubiferana, Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, 2 Little Grass-veneers Platytes cerussella, Wormwood Pug, Dingy Footman and Fan-foot.

Obscure Groundling Bryotropha similis (male, gen det), North Elmham, 10th June

Cyclamen Tortrix Clepsis spectrana, North Elmham, 10th June

Pine Marble Piniphila bifasciana, North Elmham, 10th June

Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, North Elmham, 10th June

Little Grsas-veneer Platytes cerussella, North Elmham, 10th June

Fan-foot, North Elmham, 10th June

Also of note were 2 Hawthorn Bent-wings Bucculatrix bechsteinella - my third and fourth here this year but a species I'd not recorded here at all in previous years.

Hawthorn Bent-wing Bucculatrix bechsteinella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 10th June

Other moths were Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, 2 Brown House Moths Hofmannophila pseudospretella, Sloe Flat-body Luquetia lobella, Hook-marked Straw Moth Agapeta hamana, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 5 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 4 Triple-blotched Bells Notocelia trimaculana, 4 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 3 Hook-streaked Grass-Veneers Crambus lathoniellus, 2 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, Ringed China-mark Parapoynx stratiotata, Small Magpie Anania hortulata, 5 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, Common Swift, Small Dusty Wave, 4 Riband Waves, 2 Silver-ground Carpets, Common Carpet, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, Sandy Carpet, 3 Common Pugs, 2 Green Pugs, Brown Silver-line, Scorched Wing, 2 Brimstone Moths, 3 Willow Beauties, 2 Mottled Beauties, 3 Light Emeralds, Coxcomb Prominent, 2 White Ermines, Buff Ermine, Heart and Club, 2 Heart and Darts, Flame, 4 Ingrailed Clays, Shears, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Brown Rustic, Small Clouded Brindle, Tawny Marbled Minor (also another Marbled Minor agg. that escaped), 6 Middle-barred Minors, Treble Lines, 3 Mottled Rustics, Marbled White Spot, 3 Burnished Brasses, Spectacle, 20 Straw Dots, 5 Snouts and 4 Small Fan-foots.

Caddisflies were represented by 2 Ecnomus tenellus (new for the year), Goera pilosa and Mystacides longicornis.

Ecnomus tenellus, North Elmham, 10th June

Goera pilosa, North Elmham, 10th June

Birch Shieldbug, Fly Bug Reduvius personatus (sometimes known as Masked Hunter) and 7-spot Ladybird were all apparently new for the year though I've a feeling I've had the ladybird before and forgotten to record it.

Birch Shieldbug, North Elmham, 10th June

Next day I found 2 Case-bearing Clothes Moths Tinea pellionella in the house, a new species for the year here.

Case-bearing Clothes Moth Tinea pellionella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 10th June