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, 30 July 2017

Orange-tailed Clearwing and Hornet Moth in the garden

On the morning of Sunday 18th June I put the Hornet Moth lure out in the garden.  I think Hornet Moth is the only Clearwing species that has been recorded in my 10k square prior to this year and it's also the only Clearwing I'd seen before this year, but the nearest poplars are a fair way off so I was by no means expectant that the lure would be productive in my garden.  I checked the trap before going out at around 10ish more in hope than expectation but was pleased to find it already contained a Hornet Moth!

Hornet Moth, North Elmham, 18th June

With that success I switched the lure over to the Yellow-legged Clearwing lure - one of the commonest species I'd not yet encountered - and went out.

In the afternoon I was in Norwich and had a look round Thorpe Marshes - my first visit to this excellent newish reserve.  I only gave it a quick circuit as my wife was waiting for me in a hot car and I realised before I started that my real target (the Mallard x Pintail hybrid) wasn't actually at this site but down the road a little.  I will return here - the site looked great - but in my brief visit the highlight was seeing at least 10 Norfolk Hawkers.

Norfolk Hawker, Thorpe Marshes, 18th June

I returned home and made the mistake of not checking the pheromone lure trap straight away.  The first time I used the Yellow-legged Clearwing lure I'd opened the canister which you're not supposed to do and since then I'd had absolutely no success with it despite trying it in some really good habitat.  I thought I'd probably spoilt it and it wouldn't work, so I wasn't really expecting anything in the trap.  But I was wrong - I hadn't spoilt it - it works perfectly fine, I now know.

I learnt an unfortunate lesson today, which is not to leave the trap in direct sunlight on a hot day without checking it regularly.  When I did eventually check it, the clearwing in the trap was deceased.  This was especially sad because it wasn't the Yellow-legged Clearwing I was expecting but the other much rarer species that also comes to the same lure... Orange-tailed Clearwing!  Prior to this year there had been just two records of Orange-tailed Clearwing in Norfolk, both from the Brecks.  Mick Kerr had had one a few days earlier at Sporle near Swaffham, so a bit closer but still pretty much the Brecks.  Getting one here in North Elmham was a real surprise.

dead Orange-tailed Clearwing, North Elmham, 18th June

It's turned out to be a good year for the species (or maybe it's just that lots of people are trying the lures now?) - there have been another two records in the Brecks and one in the Fens.  I wonder how widespread they really are?  I'm not far from the VC27 border - the first for VC27 must be on the cards.

That night there were quite a few moths new for the year here: Eastern Case-bearer Coleophora vestianella, Brown-barred Tortrix Epagoge grotiana, Mottled Marble Bactra furfurana, 3 Common Cloaked Shoots Gypsonoma dealbana, White-foot Bell Epiblema foenella, Marbled Bell Eucosma campoliliana (only my second ever following one here around this time last year), Two-coloured Bell Eucosma obumbratana, Grass-veneer Crambus pascuella, Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, 2 Brown Powdered Knot-horns Delplanqueia inscriptella, Ermine Knot-horn Phycitodes binaevella, 2 Foxglove Pugs, 2 V-Pugs, Scorched Carpet, 2 Engraileds and Privet Hawk-moth.

Eastern Case-bearer Coleophora vestianella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 18th June

Brown-barred Tortrix Epagoge grotiana, North Elmham, 18th June

Mottled Marble Bactra furfurana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 18th June

Common Cloaked Shoot Gypsonoma dealbana, North Elmham, 18th June

White-foot Bell Epiblema foenella, North Elmham, 18th June

Marbled Bell Eucosma campoliliana, North Elmham, 18th June

Two-coloured Bell Eucosma obumbratana, North Elmham, 18th June

Grass-veneer Crambus pascuella, North Elmham, 18th June

Brown Powdered Knot-horns Delplanqueia inscriptella (males, gen det), North Elmham, 18th June

Ermine Knot-horn Phycitodes binaevella, North Elmham, 18th June

Foxglove Pug, North Elmham, 18th June

Other moths were Cork Moth Nemapogon cloacella, 2 Bird-cherry Ermines Yponomeuta evonymella, Tipped Oak Case-bearer Coleophora flavipennella, Clover Case-bearer Coleophora alcyonipennella, 2 Meadow Case-bearers Coleophora mayrella, 3 Brown House Moths Hofmannophila pseudospretella, 14 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, 14 Large Fruit-tree Tortrixes Archips podana, 7 Privet Tortrixes Clepsis consimilana, 2 Large Ivy Tortrixes Lozotaenia forsterana, Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, Hedge Shade Isotrias rectifasciana, 2 Light Grey Tortrixes Cnephasia incertana, 2 Barred Marbles Celypha striana, 12 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Plum Tortrix Hedya pruniana, Marbled Orchard Tortrix Hedya nubiferana, 2 Rush Marbles Bactra lancealana, Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, 4 Triple-blotched Bells Notocelia trimaculana, 2 Hoary Bells Eucosma cana, Codling Moth Cydia pomonella, 18 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 7 Hook-streaked Grass-Veneers Crambus lathoniellus, Yellow Satin Veneer Crambus perlella, 4 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, 3 Marsh Greys Eudonia pallida, 5 Little Greys Eudonia lacustrata, 5 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, Elder Pearl Anania coronata, Fenland Pearl Anania perlucidalis, 2 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, Twin-barred Knot-horn Homoeosoma sinuella, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Ghost Moth, Small Fan-footed Wave, Small Dusty Wave, 4 Single-dotted Waves, 2 Treble Brown Spots, 8 Riband Waves, Large Twin-spot Carpet, Silver-ground Carpet, Common Carpet, 5 Barred Straws, Sharp-angled Carpet, Sandy Carpet, Currant Pug, Green Pug, Small Yellow Wave, Clouded Border, Brimstone Moth, 2 Lilac Beauties, 2 Swallow-tailed Moths, 3 Willow Beauties, Common Wave, 3 Clouded Silvers, 5 Rosy Footmen, 4 Common Footmen, White Ermine, 6 Buff Ermines, 2 Cinnabars, Short-cloaked Moth, Heart and Dart, Ingrailed Clay, 3 Double Square-spots, Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Smoky Wainscots, 2 Common Wainscots, 3 Brown Rustics, Dark Arches, Small Clouded Brindle, Marbled Minor, 6 Middle-barred Minors, 5 Uncertains, 5 Mottled Rustics, 2 Marbled White Spots, 2 Burnished Brasses, 4 Beautiful Hook-tips, 23 Straw Dots, 3 Fan-foots and 2 Small Fan-foots.

Ghost Moth, North Elmham, 18th June

I often see frogs around the moth trap at this time of year - there were 3 Common Frogs on this occasion.  I've never seen one eat a moth but I suspect that's why they're there.  One thing I did see eating a moth, a Common Marble Celypha lacunana, was one of 2 Fly Bugs Reduvius personatus.

Fly Bug Reduvius personatus eating Common Marble Celypha lacunana, North Elmham, 18th June

Other bugs consisted of a mating pair of Birch Shieldbugs.  Other insects in the trap included 2 Green Drakes Ephemera danica (mayflies) and a new beetle for me, Strawberry Seed Beetle Harpalus rufipes - at least I'm pretty sure that's what it was: it was a bit on the small side and there were slightly more setae on the head than the key implies there should be for this genus, but everything else checked out perfectly and it's supposed to be relatively distinctive with its golden-haired elytra.  Hopefully I'll manage a better photo when I see another one...

Strawberry Seed Beetle

Among the caddisflies 2 Polycentropus flavomaculatus and Oecetis lacustris were new for the year. There were also 2 Hydropsyche siltalai, 3 Hydropsyche pellucidula and Limnephilus lunatus.

Polycentropus flavomaculatus, North Elmham, 18th June


  1. If/when you do return to Thorpe Marshes then I would be interested to hear what you see so I can add new species onto my Whitlingham area species guides!

    Thanks, James.

    1. Hi James, yes, of course. Hopefully next time won't be so rushed - it's a lovely spot.