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.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Ancylis badiana

I spent much of Friday 5th May birding in the Fens but picked up a few non-birds along the way.  One of a number of Coniopterix Waxflies at Methwold Lode defied identification to species level.  A Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana was easier.  A family of Otters along the River Wissey just west of the beet factory were fun to watch.

Otters, Wissington, 5th May

Further along this path were Orange-tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshells, with Brimstones seen at a number of places later on.  I also found this spider which I initially thought looked very distinctive with a turquoise abdomen.  But looking at the photos I realised that the large round turquoise thing at the end of it was in fact an egg sac, so the spider itself wasn't so distinctive.  Might be identifiable though - but not my me at the moment.

unidentified spider, west of Wissington, 5th May

Back closer to home a new bee for me, Flavous Nomad Bee Nomada flava was on the verge at Ryburgh.

Flavous Nomad Bee Nomada flava, Ryburgh, 5th May

This Cereal Leaf Beetle Oulema melanopus/rufocyanea agg. was at home.

Cereal Leaf Beetle Oulema sp., North Elmham, 5th May

A Roe Deer on the patch was looking photogenic...

Roe Deer, Bittering, 5th May

The moth trap that night produced my first Eyed Hawk-moth and Nutmeg of the year, along with Streaked Flat-body Depressaria chaerophylli, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Flame Shoulder, 3 Hebrew Characters and 2 Common Earwigs.

Eyed Hawk-moth, North Elmham, 5th May

Nutmeg, North Elmham, 5th May

Found a Parsnip Moth Depressaria radiella at Ryburgh the following evening before another poor night's moth trapping at home - Brown-spot Flat-body Agonopterix alstromeriana and Flame Carpet were new for the year but Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, 3 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and Clouded-bordered Brindle were the only other moths.

Flane Carpet, North Elmham, 6th May

James Emerson had been to Hills and Holes at Hockham on Saturday and seen a couple of Ancylis badiana, a very smart tortrix moth that I've not seen before.  The forewing markings looked quite chestnut-brown which piqued my interest as Ancylis unculana is said to be distinguished from badiana by have chestnut-brown forewing markings.  Indeed I couldn't find any references which stated any other distinguishing features.  Yet looking at photos of both species I was pretty sure James was correct with his ID - for example the clean creamy surround to the dorsal blotch which was obvious in James' photos was consistently present on images of badiana whereas on all the images I could find of unculuna this was heavily marked with greyish.  Anyway, a site I had been planning to revisit soon, a good chance of a smart new moth, plus a desire to fully resolve an interesting ID conundrum made for an easy decision as to what to do on Sunday afternoon.

So, Dave and I rocked up to Hills and Holes and very soon found lots of insects including 23 Common Rollers Ancylis badiana.  The extent of chestnut colouration varied quite a lot - some were pretty much textbook individuals while others were much more chestnutty.  None looked like online images of unculana though, and for that matter none showed the terminal marks of the third similar species, Ancylis paludana.  I was already confident badiana was the correct ID and now I was even more sure, but just to leave no stone unturned I retained a couple of the more chestnutty coloured ones for gen detting.  The genitalia were, of course, consistent with badiana, apparently wrong for unculana (though the differences don't seem to be huge) (I can't find out what paludana is meant to be like, so that species was only ruled out on external features).

Common Rollers Ancylis badiana, Hills and Holes, 7th May

Other moths seen were 60 Plain Golds Micropterix calthella, Oak Carl Tischeria ekebladella, 2 Green Long-horns Adela reaumurella, Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella and 4 Grey Gorse Piercers Cydia ulicetana. One female Adela looked really golden-bronze, indeed identical to the individual I posted about the other day which I'd quite unconvincingly concluded must be cuprella.  This time though there were no sallows in the immediate vicinity - surely this wasn't cuprella.  The genitalia were the same as the last one, apparently unlike the published image I had seen of reaumurella, but I still couldn't find any images of cuprella to compare to.  Then I realised that I'd been looking at the reaumurella image wrong - there are two pairs of stick-like appendages joined at the top and on my insects all four appendages were the same length.  The image of reaumurella made it look like one pair was much shorter than the other, but looking at it again I realised the two pairs had been separated so although the tips of one pair fell short of the other they were (probably) the same length.  So both of mine might be reaumurella after all, and despite them not looking green I think that's what they probably both were.

probable Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella, Hills and Holes, 7th May

lots of Plain Golds Micropterix calthella on sedge, Hills and Holes, 7th May

Bugs here included Harpocera thoracica and Red-and-black Froghopper Cercopis vulnerata.

Harpocera thoracica, Hills and Holes, 7th May

Red-and-black Froghopper Cercopis vulnerata, Hills and Holes, 7th May

I keyed this beetle out to Cantharis nigricans but subsequently wondered if I may have made a mistake and it should be Cantharis pellucida having seen Dave's similar insect (from elsewhere) identified as the lattter.  I re-found the specimen and checked the elytra hair again as this seems to be the critical point in the key - "Elytra almost covered with close-set very short pubescence, along with more scattered longer hair" for nigricans and "not as above" for pellucida (there are further species for both but the following couplets key out to nigricans or pellucida).  The elytra are covered with close-set pubescence, though whether that is very short or not is debatable.  There are also some scattered hairs protruding more than the downy hairs and at least some of them are clearly longer than the flatter downy hairs.  So I think I was right - oe else the key is misleading.

Cantharis nigricans, Hills and Holes, 7th May

An intersting selection of Ladybirds included Kidney-spot Ladybird, 7-spot Ladybird, four 14-spot Ladybirds and an 18-spot Ladybird - the latter apparently my first ever.

18-spot Ladybird, Hills and Holes, 7th May

14-spot Ladybirds, Hills and Holes, 7th May

There were half a dozen small shiny round black beetles one of which I retained to identify - but not being sure what family it's in that might take a while.  As I'm already getting behind I think I'll park it for now and come back to it later.

Dave pointed out this Cranefly and I agreed it looked distinctive.  I don't have a key or anything like that for these so please shout if I'm wrong, but I think it's Tipular varipennis, a new one for me.

Tipula varipennis, Hills and Holes, 7th May

Just four moths that night: Scalloped Hazel, Flame Shoulder, Hebrew Character and Early Grey.

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