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, 26 December 2016

December's moths and things

A Chestnut was the only moth on 1st December but the following evening produced 2 Winter Moths, Feathered Thorn and another Chestnut.  3 Winter Moths and a Mottled Umber on 3rd were followed by a couple of nil returns.  Another Winter Moth showed up on 6th accompanied by the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus.

This spider appeared inside the house on 7th - so far I haven't been able to identify it as there seem to be a number of similar species.

unidentified spider, North Elmham, 7th December

A better showing on the night of 7th December: December Moth, 2 Winter Moths, Scarce Umber and 2 Mottled Umbers. Four species again the following night with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, Winter Moth and Mottled Umber. Nice to get a migrant (the Rusty-dot Pearl) in December!

Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, North Elmham, 8th December

Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, North Elmham, 8th December

Other insects that night included Common Earwig, another Limnephilus lunatus and this Rove Beetle which I cannot identify.  Any help welcome!

unidentified Rove Beetle, North Elmham, 8th December

A surprise on 9th December was by far my latest ever Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea.  Apart from one in Cornwall in mid November my previous latest was 6th November, so over a month later than any I've recorded in Norfolk before.

Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, North Elmham, 9th December

A Mottled Umber was the only other moth that night, along with another Common Earwig and Limnephilus lunatus.  The following night produced Winter Moth, Mottled Umber and Chestnut, with just single Mottled Umbers the following two nights.  Next day I found a moth in the bathroom, presumably having come indoors the night before, or perhaps beforehand.  It proved to be a Common Cosmet Mompha epilobiella, only my second record at home this year.  Presumably it was trying to over-winter here.

Common Cosmet Mompha epilobiella, North Elmham, 13th December

That night there was another Mottled Umber and the bug Pinalitus cervinus.

Pinalitus cervinus, North Elmham, 13th December

The following night there were 2 Winter Moths and a Mottled Umber.  No moths on 15th but another Pinalitus cervinus.

Pinalitus cervinus, North Elmham, 15th December

A Mottled Umber on 16th and the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus on 17th.  Winter Moth on 18th, Mottled Umber on 19th, nothing on 10th, 4 Winter Moths on 21st, nothing on 22nd and Winter Moth and Mottled Umber on 23rd.

Nothing on 24th or on the very mild but windy night of Christmas Day.  The ladybirds hibernating (or more accurately in winter dormancy - apparently insects don't actually hibernate in the strict sense of the word) in my study have noticed the change in temperatures though... some of them are going for little wanders now.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Beetley Common by torchlight and now caught up

I'd recently acquired a new headtorch with a very bright beam so on the relativly mild evening of 28th October I decided to have a wander round Beetley Common to see if it was any good for mothing.  In the first few yards 3 moths passed through the torchbeam, two of which I managed to net: White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella and Nut Leaf Blister Moth Phyllonorycter coryli.

White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella, Beetley Common, 29th October

Nut Leaf Blister Moth Phyllonorycter coryli, Beetley Common, 29th October

After that things went downhill as the temperature dropped - just one more moth which I didn't manage to catch and a Green Lacewing Chrysoperla carnea agg. (actually they go brown in the winter, but they're still Green Lacewings not Brown Lacewings...).  It will be interesting to see how effective this method is when there are more moths about - my impression is that with a good beam it will make finding and catching flying moths easier although I'm not sure it actually attracts them to the light.  On the downside the light was noticeably dimmer after just a couple of quick circuits of the common so battery life doesn't seem particularly good, plus I'm not sure how comfortable it will be if it attracts lots of midges to my forehead!

The light was good at picking out certain types of fungi (although others were much harder to see than in daylight).  This Fly Agaric was nice and easy to identify.

Fly Agaric, Beetley Common, 29th October

This Stinkhorn was covered in flies - anyone know what sort of fly?

Stinkhorn with flies, Beetley Common, 29th October

I'd tentatively identified these as Parasol Mushrooms though noted that they were smaller and in different habitat from other Parasols I'd seen.  Big thanks to James for putting me right... they are in fact False Death Caps.

False Death Caps, Beetley Common, 29th October

I'd considered Penny Bun and Bay Bolete for these, but James thinks they're Bay Boletes...

Bay Boletes, Beetley Common, 29th October

At home that night I caught my first December Moth of the autumn.

December Moth, North Elmham, 29th October

This Currant Pug was a surprise being about a month later than my previous latest.

Currant Pug, North Elmham, 29th October

I find separation of Currant Pugs and Wormwood Pugs tricky - there are supposed to be differences in the prominence of the wing markings but I can't personally find any consistent differences.  The way they hold their wings also seems to be variable although size can be a good indicator on many, though they're close enough and with enough overlap that I now measure them all and check the genitalia of the ones that aren't clear.  With a forewing of 9.5-10 mm this individual was too small for Wormwood Pug but I checked it anyway.  The aedeagus was indeed that of a Currant Pug with three cornuti arranged in a band at the tip, so I'm sure the ID must be correct, but the 8th sternite was long and notched like on a Wormwood Pug!

8th sternite of Currant Pug resembling that of a Wormwood Pug, North Elmham, 29th October

Also late was my second October record of Common Marble Celypha lacunana.  There was also a bit of an Epirrita fest with 8 November Moths, 5 Pale November Moths and 2 unidentified (1 female, 1 escaped).  Also 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Barred Sallow and Angle Shades.

Pale November Moth (male, 8th sternite checked), North Elmham, 29th October

This cluster of 4 Harlequin Ladybirds seem to think my study is a good place to hibernate.

Harlequin Ladybird, North Elmham, 29th October

Next night there were Red-green Carpet, November Moth, Pale November Moth, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut and 2 Angle Shades.

The last night of October produced a female Epirrita sp., 4 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.

November started very quietly on the moth front with Feathered Thorn and 2 Sprawlers on 1st, Sprawler and Beaded Chestnut on 2nd, just one Feathered Thorn on 3rd and nothing at all on 4th.

It continued poor for a week or so with just 1 Sprawler on 5th and 2 Sprawlers on 8th.  Slightly milder conditions on 11th produced Feathered Thorn and 2 Sprawlers and then the next evening produced my first Scarce Umber of the year along with Yellow-line Quaker.

Scarce Umber, North Elmham, 12th November

Seven moths the following night making it the best night for a fortnight - 2 Feathered Thorns and 5 Sprawlers.  Things continued to improve on 14th with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 December Moths, Pale November Moth, another unidentified Epirrita sp., 6 Feathered Thorns and 2 Sprawlers.

The species count was even better on 15th (though still short of double figures) with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, December Moth, November Moth, another unidentified Epirrita sp., 3 Feathered Thorns, Scarce Umber, 5 Sprawlers, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut. Also the caddisflies Rhyacophila dorsalis and Limnephilus lunatus plus the mirid bug Pinalitus cervinus.

Things then returned to normal for November with Feathered Thorn, 3 Sprawlers and Yellow-line Quaker on 16th, an Epirrita sp. and a Sprawler on 16th.  No more moths for a few nights but these fungi - I can identify the Candlesnuff (I think) but not sure about the others.

Candlesnuff, Thetford, 19th November

unidentified mushrooms, 19th Thetford, November

The next moths were Sprawler and Black Rustic on 20th followed by 3 Feathered Thorns and a Sprawler on 21st, December Moth, Mottled Umber and Yellow-line Quaker on 22nd, just Feathered Thorn on 23rd, December Moth and Angle Shades on 24th, Feathered Thorn and Scarce Umber on 25th and December Moth on 26th.  Also caddisflies on 26th: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

Halesus radiatus, North Elmham, 26th November

My first Winter Moth of the winter appeared with a Sprawler on 27th.

Winter Moth, North Elmham, 27th November

Unsurprisingly given the subzero conditions, nothing on 28th or 29th.  The following night, last night, fell below zero too but started fractionally milder, enough for a Winter Moth to appear at one of the windows.

And that, for the first time in months, brings me bang up to date!