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

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