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.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Battered new moths for the year and a new beetle

Last Saturday night (12th May) produced a few moths with Flame Carpet, Spruce Carpet, 2 V-Pugs, Scalloped Hazel and White Ermine being new for the year.  It's always nice at this time of year when new species are appearing that you see them looking at their best, pristine fresh insects just emerged.  Well I don't know what's going on at the moment but they all seem to be coming out looking like they're on their last legs already.  Apart from the Spruce Carpet none of the above were especially smart, the V-Pugs and White Ermine were particularly well-worn already.

Flame Carpet, North Elmham, 12th May

Spruce Carpet, North Elmham, 12th May

V-Pug, North Elmham, 12th May

Other moths were Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acuminatella, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Brindled Pug, Double-striped Pug, Muslin Moth and Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acuminatella, North Elmham, 12th May

A Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum (a mayfly) was new for the year.

Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum, North Elmham, 12th May

It was a good night for caddisflies too.  The majority (11) were Limnephilus auricula but there were also Grammotaulius nigropunctatus and 2 Limnephilus sparsus, both new for the year.

Grammotaulius nigropunctatus (female), North Elmham, 12th May

Limnephilus sparsus (female top, male bottom), North Elmham, 12th May

Although it was a clear evening on Sunday the forecast promised it would cloud over at dusk so I thought it might be a good night for moths.  I should have learnt from last time and gone to the meadows before dark to see what was flying in the evening sunshine but instead went for the light-trapping option.  On arrival at dusk it was still clear and the forecast had pushed back the arrival time of the cloud, but it wasn't going to be long so I set up.  As I did so the forecast moved the cloud's arrival time back another hour and I could already feel the temperatures dropping.  I gave it a little time but there was hardly anything flying and the estimated arrival time of the cloud was still pushing back even later.  Instead of cloud, mist was forming, and just after 11pm I gave up with just 5 species of moths (most of which were seen in torchlight rather than coming to light).  They were Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, 4 Green Carpets, White-pinion Spotted, 4 Flame Shoulders and Powdered Quaker.

Flame Shoulder, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Slightly better from my perspective was a new species of hoverfly for me, though a common one that I have almost certainly overlooked: Melanostoma mellinum.

Melanostoma mellinum, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

A wander round with the headtorch resulted in the discovery of a few caterpillars which I believe are Common Footmen (at least on algae-covered fences) and a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, on a rusty gate.

Common Footmen larvae, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing larva, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Unsurprisingly, not many moths in the trap at home either: just Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent, Chocolate-tip and White Ermine. But there was a beetle that I haven't identified before, Leistus rufomarginatus.

Leistus rufomarginatus, North Elmham, 13th May

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Abundant rarely-recorded waxflies

I headed up to the Cathedral Meadows early on Saturday 12th May.  One striking feature was the abundance of Waxflies flying alongside the hedgerows.  There are several species of Waxfly and most are poorly recorded (which is presumably how I added two species to the Norfolk list from my garden last year).  Several can only be identified if they are male, so I retained enough to be reasonably confident that I would have males from each of the two tetrads I was covering.  In the end they were all males and they all proved to be Coniopteryx tineiformis, a very poorly-recorded species.  I had one at home in 2016 but prior to that there was just one record in Norfolk.  I have noticed early morning waxflies flying around hawthorns elsewhere at this time of year before - I bet this is actually a very common and widespread species that simply isn't recorded.  I don't suppose there are all that many people out at five in the morning with nets who are prepared to catch waxflies and examine their genitalia.  Quite odd really - I wonder why not?

Coniopteryx tineiformis (males, gen det), Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

There were also a few moths flying around including Common Thorn Midget Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae, Beech Midget Phyllonorycter maestingella, 5 Horse Chestnut Leaf-miners Cameraria ohridella, 2 Pearled Dwarfs Elachista apicipunctella and Little Mompha Mompha raschkiella.

Pearled Dwarf Elachista apicipunctella, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

Little Mompha Mompha raschkiella, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

This Scorpion Fly is another Panorpa germanica.

Parnorpa germanica, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

I think this springtail is Pogonognathellus longicornis, though it's quite a bit smaller than they can get, the antennae were only fractionally longer than the body and the filaments on the empodia (is that the pluaral of empodium?) weren't quite as long as they're supposed to be.  On the scarcer flavescens the antennae should be shorter than the body and the empodium shorter than the claw, neither of which were the case, quite.  I think the similar Tomocerus species have less tapered antennae and spines on the inside of the dens which I couldn't see, but I'm basing this primarily on the descriptions of the 4 Tomocerid species at Naturespot, and I'm not 100% sure there aren't any other contenders I should rule out (or in).

Pogonognathellus longicornis, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

I have struggled a bit using the key to land snails but decided to put a bit more effort in this year as I'm trying to record as many different taxa as possible at the meadows.  Today I identified White-lipped Snail, Strawberry Snail (both of which I had identified before) and Copse Snail (which was entirely new to me).

 Copse Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

White-lipped Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

Strawberry Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

As I understand it these slugs can't be identified to either Great Red Slug or Great Black Slug without dissection and examination of their genitalia.  For some reason looking at a slug's naughty bits is somehow less appealing than looking at a moth or waxfly's naughty bits...

Great Red Slug or perhaps Great Black Slug, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

Friday, 18 May 2018

A distinctive new beetle, Anthocomus fasciatus

The night of Wednesday 9th May wasn't anywhere near as good as the previous night but there were a few nice things.  New moths for the year included Common Mompha Mompha epilobiella, 2 Currant Pugs and Pale Prominent.

Common Mompha Mompha epilobiella, North Elmham, 9th May

Currant Pug, North Elmham, 9th May

Pale Prominent, North Elmham, 9th May

Other moths were Hazel Slender Parornix devoniella, Little Ermel Swammerdamia pyrella, 2 Little Dwarfs Elachista canapennella, Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, Chinese Character, 2 Common Pugs, Brindled Pug, Double-striped Pug, Purple Thorn, Waved Umber, Lesser Swallow Prominent, 3 Chocolate-tips, 3 Muslin Moths, Cinnabar, Clouded Drab, 2 Hebrew Characters and 2 Nut-tree Tussocks.

A few other nice bits and pieces in the trap including the caddisfly Rhyacophila dorsalis (not so common here - only 3 last year), Black Sexton Beetle, a very striking red-and-black Anthocomus fasciatus (a completely new species of beetle for me), the bug Harpocera thoracica (new for the year), the hoverfly Melanostoma scalare and the ant Lasius niger.

Rhyacophila dorsalis, North Elmham, 9th May

Anthocomus fasciatus, North Elmham, 9th May

Harpocera thoracica, North Elmham, 9th May

Next day I dropped something off at the allotments and found this Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet.

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (male, gen det), North Elmham allotments, 10th May

Not many moths in the trap that night: just Coxcomb Prominent, 3 Muslin Moths, Hebrew Character and Nut-tree Tussock.

Next day a Holly Blue was in the garden, and that night a Black Clock Beetle Pterostichus madidus on the ground by the moth trap.

Another Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet that night was new for the garden year list, as was a lovely Maiden's Blush.  Other moths were Hazel Slender Parornix devoniella, 2 Beech Midgets Phyllonorycter maestingella, 3 Little Dwarfs Elachista canapennella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 3 Common Pugs, Brindled Pug, Brimstone Moth, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent, Muslin Moth, Cinnabar, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts and 2 Hebrew Characters.

Maiden's Blush, North Elmham, 11th May

There were 3 species of caddisfly: Mottled Sedge Glyphotaelius pellucidus, Limnephilus auricula and, new for the year, Micropterna lateralis. Other than that just Black Sexton Beetle and the hoverfly Platycheirus albimanus.

Micropterna lateralis (male), North Elmham, 11th May

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Small Yellow Underwings

A wander round the Cathedral Meadows on Wednesday 9th was productive.  The day-flying moths were particularly interesting, especially the Small Yellow Underwings that I found in two of the meadows.  There are no previous records from this 10km square and they're the first ones I've ever seen anywhere where I hadn't already known they occurred.

Small Yellow Underwing, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

Other nice moths, both also seen at two different parts of the meadows, were Feathered Leaf-cutter Incuvaria masculella and Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella.  Horse-Chestnut Leaf-miners Cameraria ohridella continue to fly.

Feathered Leaf-cutter Incurvaria masculella, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

There were 3 Large Red Damselflies, the Scorpion Fly Panorpa germanica, and a variety of butterflies including Green-veined Whites, Orange-tips, Brimstone and Speckled Woods.

Large Red Damselfly, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

Panorpa germanica, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

Bugs and beetles included 2 Dock Bugs and 2 Byturus ochraceus, the latter feeding on a Dandelion head.

Dock Bug, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

Byturus ochraceus, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

I didn't retain any hoverflies for checking this time, although this Leucozona lucorum was distinctive enough to identify in the field.

Leucozona lucorum, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

There was a Dark-edged Bee-fly and among the real bees were Common Carder Bee, Orange-tailed Mining Bee Andrena haemorrhoa and Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea.  The latter looked suspiciously like the bee I identified as Large Gorse Mining Bee at home the other day, though keyed out very differently.  Can't help wondering if I made a mistake with the gorse one.

Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 9th May

When I got home this very distinctive beetle Ptinus sexpunctalis appeared on my study window.

Ptinus sexpunctalis, North Elmham, 9th May

Monday, 14 May 2018

A rush of moths

Bank Holiday Monday was nice at the meadows with a number of new species for the site recorded.  I counted at least 13 Large Red Damselflies and butterflies included 8 Orange-tips, 4 Brimstones, 2 Holly Blues, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and 3 Speckled Woods. Moths weren't especially well represented with just Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana and another Vetch Piercer Grapholita jungiella.  There were Dark-edged Bee-flies and bees included Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

I haven't been using my new sweep net very much as it provides so much material I end up spending all my hours working through it all in my study and not having enough time to go outside - it's bad enough anyway!  This was exemplified today when a single sweep through some grass and Ground Ivy produced the bug Stenodema laevigata, the planthopper Javesella pellucida, a rove beetle Tachyporus sp. (probably Tachyporus hypnorum), a Pea-leaf Weevil Sitona lineatus and a spider Metellina mengei, the first time I've identified this species.

Javesella pellucida, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 7th May

Tachyporus sp., probably Tachyporus hypnorum, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 7th May

Metellina mengei, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 7th May

Among the flora, Greater Celandine was a new species for me.

Greater Celandine, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 7th May

Common Field Speedwell, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 7th May

That evening a White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella was new for the year (appearing in my study) while the moth trap delivered two more additions to the garden year list, Pebble Prominent and Flame Shoulder.

 White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, North Elmham, 7th May

Pebble Prominent, North Elmham, 7th May

Flame Shoulder, North Elmham, 7th May

The following night was remarkably good compared to recent nights, or indeed any night this year so far.  Surprisingly a couple of other moth-trappers I've spoken to didn't have the same experience but for me it was massive!  Ok, 45 moths of 25 species may not sound like an extroadinary catch, but no less than 14 of these were new for the year.  Bear in mind that I trap every night, new moths for the year tend to be fairly well spread out.  The best night for new additions so far this year was 21st April with 6, and these 14 increased my year-list by over 20% in one foul swoop.  More nights like this please!

The 14 additions to the garden year list were: Little Ermel Swammerdamia pyrella, Pearl Dwarf Elachista apicipunctella, 3 Little Dwarfs Elachista canapennella, Chinese Character, Garden Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, 2 Common Pugs, Brimstone Moth, White-pinion Spotted, Coxcomb Prominent, 2 Orange Footmen, Cinnabar, Least Black Arches and 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts.

Little Ermel Swammerdamia pyrella, North Elmham, 8th May

Pearl Dwarf Elachista apicipunctella, North Elmham, 8th May

Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, North Elmham, 8th May

Chinese Character, North Elmham, 8th May

Garden Carpet, North Elmham, 8th May

Grey Pine Carpet, North Elmham, 8th May

Common Pug, North Elmham, 8th May

Brimstone Moth, North Elmham, 8th May

White-pinion Spotted, North Elmham, 8th May

Coxcomb Prominent, North Elmham, 8th May

Orange Footman, North Elmham, 8th May

Cinnabar, North Elmham, 8th May

Least Black Arches, North Elmham, 8th May

Shuttle-shaped Dart, North Elmham, 8th May

The other moths caught that night were 2 Beech Midgets Phyllonorycter maestingella, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Bee Moth Aphomia sociella, Red Twin-spot Carpet, 4 Brindled Pugs, 4 Waved Umbers, another 4 Chocolate-tips, 4 Muslin Moths, Hebrew Character and 3 Nut-tree Tussocks.

It was good for other insects too.  My first Mayfly of the year was a Large Dark Olive Baetis rhodani, actually a new species altogether for me, although I think some of my earlier attempts to identify mayflies were flawed so it may be that I've misidentified them in the past (I made a significant breakthrough with mayflies half way through last year when I realised how easy they were to sex).

Large Dark Olive Baetis rhodani (male imago), North Elmham, 8th May

Three species of caddisfly tripled my caddis year-list: Mottled Sedge Glyphotaelius pellucidus, Limnephilus affinis and 3 Limnephilus auricula.

Limnephilus affinis, North Elmham, 8th May

Limnephilus auricula, North Elmham, 8th May

Beetles included Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis, Black Sexton Beetle and my first Cantharis cryptica (one of the soldier-beetles) of the year.  Check out the suction pads on the underside of one of the Diving Beetles tarsal segments...

Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis, North Elmham, 8th May

Cantharis cryptica, North Elmham, 8th May