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, 30 March 2015

Lead-coloured Drab

It's been pretty quiet since my last post: 2 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 5 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts on Thursday night, Small Quaker, Common Quaker and 2 Hebrew Characters on Friday night and Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 March Moths, Small Quaker, 6 Clouded Drabs and 2 Hebrew Characters on Saturday night.

March Moth, North Elmham, 28th March

Black Sexton Beetle, North Elmham, 28th March

One of Saturday's Clouded Drabs looked very distinctive, pale grey with a prominent dark band and spots. It made me review the ID features of Lead-coloured Drab, though once I'd looked it up it became pretty clear that it wasn't that.

Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 28th March

Last night there weren't many more moths, nor much variety, but this time I was more prepared to identify a Lead-coloured Drab, and had the opportunity to do just that.

Lead-coloured Drab, North Elmham, 29th March

There wasn't much else: March Moth, Shoulder Stripe, 2 Clouded Drabs and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Dark Oak Beauty

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 24th March

I didn't expect many moths in the trap this morning - there was thick frost on the ground.  From the top all the egg boxes looked empty.  Turned over the top one and this was inside.  A lot of moths - especially quite a few of the geometers - have dark forms and this was one I don't recall seeing before: a dark Oak Beauty.

Not much else in the trap - an Early Grey and 3 Hebrew Characters - and finally another, more typically patterned, Oak Beauty:

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 24th March

Here they are together:

Oak Beauties, North Elmham, 24th March

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

First Plumes

Saturday night was mediocre with Satellite the highlight.  Otherwise just March Moth, 2 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Monday night was worse - a cold night with just a single Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana.

Last night was the best yet, in terms of numbers and variety, though perhaps not in terms of excitement.  A quick look in the early evening was promising - a Grey Shoulder-knot on the lawn, 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana and 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla on the side of the shed - the plumes new for the year.  But it turned out that these were the only micros - none at all in the trap come the morning.

The trap was busy though, just with common species of macro.  I was surprised to count a record 7 March Moths given that we're well past their normal early March peak. The others were Shoulder Stripe, Dotted Border, 4 Small Quakers, 2 Common Quakers, 4 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers and 15 Hebrew Characters. 

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 23rd March

Small Quaker, North Elmham, 23rd March

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lesser Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle

Last night was the best so far this year for moths - 31 moths of 9 species.  Nothing new for the year though: 9 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, 2 Shoulder Stripes, 2 Small Quakers, 6 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 6 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

A tiny insect on one of the egg-trays had me confused for a while.  Under a lens things became clearer - it was a new species for me, the Lesser Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle Pogonocherus hispidus.

Lesser Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle Pogonocherus hispidus, North Elmham, 20th March

Vice county first!

It seems that the NOLA database is online if you access it via the mobile site, though still showing as offline from the regular site.  Anyway, the mobile site allowed me to check previous county records of Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella.  There are indeed around 20 records but bizarrely they're all in the east of the county, VC27.  There's a good scattering of records in VC27 with some coming reasonably close to the border, but it would appear that my two recent records are the first and second for VC28, west Norfolk.

Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella, North Elmham, 12th March - the first for VC28?

Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella, North Elmham, 18th March - the second for VC28?

Friday, 20 March 2015

Grey Shoulder-knot and other macros

Found tonight's best on the grass before I turned in last night - a Grey Shoulder-knot, new for the year.

Grey Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 19th March

At the same time this Shoulder Stripe was in the shed.  Always nice to see, especially at a time when mothing activity tends to be dominated by Orthosia spp.

Shoulder Stripe, North Elmham, 19th March

All in there was a good number and a good variety - 20 moths of 8 species.  But... STILL NO MICROS!  Can't believe I've still only notched up 3 species of micro this year to date.

The rest of the macros were: March Moth, Small Quaker, 3 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 10 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

 Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 19th March

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Another mucronella

Not a great deal to report since my last post, with no new species for the year over the last 4 nights.

Sunday's best was a Twin-spotted Quaker, with 4 Common Quakers, 5 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and Chestnut in support.

Monday night produced 2 March Moths, 2 Dotted Borders, Small Quaker, Clouded Drab, 3 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Tuesday night  was rubbish: March Moth, Dotted Border, 2 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Last night secured the only micro so far this week - another Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella!  The database is down at the moment but as far as I can see from the flight chart there have only been around 20 Norfolk records before so nice to get a second individual suggesting a population nearby.  This one was rather less well-marked than the last.

Spindle Smudge Yposolopha mucronella, North Elmham, 18th March

So far as macros are concerned, last night was the best of the four in terms of numbers but the worst in terms of variety: 2 Common Quakers, 4 Clouded Drabs and 9 Hebrew Characters.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Shoulder Stripe

Only 3 species in the trap last night, but one of those was new for the year: Shoulder Stripe.  

Shoulder Stripe, North Elmham, 14th March

The others were Clouded Drab (2) and Hebrew Character (5).

Clouded Drabs, North Elmham, 14th March

Friday night got more moths but nothing new: 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, Oak Beauty, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, 5 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Friday, 13 March 2015


My first day-flying moths of the year today.  Didn't realise it was a day-flying species actually - they fly at night as well - but several flying around oaks on Syderstone Common in my lunch break - Winter Shade Tortricodes alternella.

Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella, Syderstone Common, 13th March

Now I just need to find one at home - possibly the commonest moth flying in late winter that I've not seen at home yet.

Early Greys

Among the 15 moths of 7 species at my trap last night were 2 Early Greys, my first of the year.  Also 2 Oak Beauties and a Satellite.  

Early Grey, North Elmham, 13th March

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 13th March

The supporting cast were Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 3 March Moths, Dotted Border and 5 Hebrew Characters.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Ypsolopha murinella - first moth-tick of the year!

Went out to the garden just before dusk to put the light in place and decided to take a second look at the piece of straw stuck to the side of the shed.  I've a feeling it was there this morning when I checked the moth trap and I dismissed it as a piece of straw.  But it wasn't a piece of straw, it was a Spindle Smudge Yposolopha mucronella!  A new moth for me and easily the best moth so far this year!

Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella, North Elmham, 12th March

Another Varied Carpet Beetle appeared in the bathroom today - in almost exactly the same place as the last one - where are they coming from?  Can't find any suitable breeding habitat for them in the bathroom!

Varied Carpet Beetle, North Elmham, 12th March

Recently I had a look at a beech leaf I'd kept back from September that had then contained leafmines occupied by Small Beech Pigmy Stigmella tityrella.  Not really sure how to grow out leafmines and I've no idea if the thing I'm taking to be the pupa is alive or dead, or even empty - or indeed if it is the pupa.  Anyway, when looking to see if anything had emerged from it I discovered a tiny green mite with a few long hairs on its back.  I don't know much about mites but a bit of research uncovered two species that occupy beech leaves (there might be thousands more for all I know).  One (Aceria nervisequa) has distinctive galls that appear to be absent on this leaf.  The other has rolled up edges to the leaf with hairs - my leaf doesn't look nearly as obviously rolled as the photos online but the edges of the leaf are quite hairy in places and maybe just a little rolled.  So don't know, but maybe that's what the mite is: Acalitus stenaspis.  I can't find any pictures of the adult mite online, so no idea if it's supposed to look green and hairy or not.

Couldn't manage to get it to sit still long enough to take photos through the microscope while it was alive, but when I looked again today it was dead, and sitting still.

dead mite from Beech leaf, perhaps Acalitus stenaspis?, North Elmham, 12th March

A trio of Quakers

Thick cloud for at least the start of the night, milder temperatures and less wind.  It should have been a good night.  I kept looking out during the evening and didn't see a single moth around the trap except for one solitary March Moth.  Disappointing, but maybe some were going in unseen...

Fortunately that proved to be the case and the morning revealed 18 moths of 8 species including the two new for the year (the ones photographed below).

Nearly all were macros: 2 March Moths, Oak Beauty, 2 Dotted Borders, 2 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, Twin-spotted Quaker and 8 Hebrew Characters.  The only micro was a Rusty Oak/Rusty Birch Button Acleris ferrugana/notana - I thought I'd potted it to check which one but when I went to check it the pot was empty!

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 11th March

Small Quaker, North Elmham, 11th March

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

First butterfly

Yesterday lunchtime I saw my first butterfly of the year, a Brimstone, at Wolferton.  The problem with nice sunny days is that they are often accompanied by cold clear nights, and yesterday was no exception.  Not good for moths as a result - just one Hebrew Character.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Various inverts

Forecast had been quite promising for moths for Sunday night, though by the time evening came it was looking cooler and breezier.  Dave and I arrived at Creaking Gate Lake and even before I got out of the car and felt the cold I had pretty much made up my mind it wasn't going to be worth putting the MV light up.  We had a look round by torchlight anyway, with Chestnut and 4 Dotted Borders the only moths.  Across the road we couldn't find any moths, but the Copper Beech tree whose trunk has hosted all manner of inverts continued to deliver.  Among the woodlice was a Common Striped Woodlouse Philoscia muscorum.  A tiny beetle seems to be my first Salpingus planirostris, a type of Narrow-waisted Bark Beetle.  Centipedes are well beyond my competency but I'd tentatively identify this one as Strigamia crassipes.  Finally I had a go at identifying some slugs too... Tree Slugs I think.

Philoscia muscorum, Bittering, 8th March

Salpingus planirostris, Bittering, 8th March

Centipede, possibly Strigamia crassipes, Bittering, 8th March

Tree Slugs, Bittering, 8th March

A few moths at home, though nothing new.  An Early Moth was probably the same individual I recorded yesterday.  Otherwise 2 March Moths, 4 Hebrew Characters and a Chestnut.

Yesterday was worse with just Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts.

Here's an interesting fact: of 24 Agonopterix heracliana that I've examined this year 23 have been male.

Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, North Elmham, 9th March - another male

Sunday, 8 March 2015

More like it!

Saw my first hoverfly of the year at Strumpshaw Fen today - a Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus (on a Coltsfoot flower).

Despite Friday night's lack of success with torchlight mothing Dave and I tried again for a short while this evening.  This time Beetley Common was the location as I figured it would be more sheltered.  So it proved and despite the clear sky, moonlight and significant breeze we did manage to find a few moths.  Nothing amazing but 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Dotted Border and Satellite.

There was no sign of much happening at the home moth trap when I went to bed, and the garden was not well sheltered from the wind.  So expectations were low when I went to check the trap in the morning, especially after the poor results of the past couple of nights.  I was pleasantly surprised to see three different moths on the top of the trap: an Early Moth (not living up to its name: my latest ever by about two weeks), a March Moth and my first Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana of the year.

Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 7th March

It didn't stop there as the trap contained 4 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Oak Beauty (always a stunner and new for the year), Clouded Drab (never a stunner but also new for the year), Hebrew Character and Chestnut.

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 7th March

Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 7th March

A Varied Carpet Beetle was less welcome in the house this morning, though oddly in a room that had neither carpets for it to breed in nor open windows for it to have come in through.

Varied Carpet Beetle, North Elmham, 7th March

A slow week

After a couple of nil returns Thursday night seemed more promising but proved a great disappointment with just 5 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana and 2 Dotted Borders.  Friday night was no better with 4 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana and March Moth.  On Friday night Dave and I tried searching by torchlight at a local spot we thought might be sheltered from the wind.  Number of moths attracted to torch light = zero.  A few mildly interesting things on one big old Copper Beech trunk - a Common Earwig, a Common Green Shieldbug and 2-3 woodlouse which proved to be Common Rough Woodlouse Porcellio scaber - probably the commonest woodlouse but the first time I've identified it.

Common Rough Woodlouse Porcellio scaber, Bittering, 6th March

Monday, 2 March 2015

Hebrew Character

My first Hebrew Character for the year was the only inhabitant of my moth trap last night.

Hebrew Character, North Elmham, 1st March

Sunday, 1 March 2015

4th for Norfolk

The end of February didn't bring many more moths - Pale Brindled Beauty and Chestnut on Thursday night and Pale Brindled Beauty last night.

I have a few dissections to do from last summer.  Did 3 Coleophora from July and one turned out good.  It was a Black-bindweed Case-bearer Coleophora therinella.  It's the fourth record for Norfolk, my second.

Black-bindweed Case-bearer Coleophora therinella (female), Bawdeswell, 23rd July 2014

The other two I did were Grey Rush Case-bearer Coleophora glaucicolella, one of each gender.

Grey Rush Case-bearer Coleophora glaucicolella (female), Bawdeswell, 17th July 2014

Grey Rush Case-bearer Coleophora glaucicolella (male), Bawdeswell, 13th July 2014