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, 7 August 2017

Cacao and Corn Moths

After a good night's mothing at Holt Country Park I returned home to find a reasonable selection of moths in the garden trap.  There were no real stand-out highlights but new for the garden year list were Pine Cosmet Batrachedra pinicolella, Burdock Conch Aethes rubigana, Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella, Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis, Yellow Shell, 2 Scalloped Oaks, Pine Hawk-moth and Purple Clay.

Scalloped Oak, North Elmham, 1st July

Purple Clay, North Elmham, 1st July

This Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana was arguably better than any of those, judged by the number of county records, but it seems to be getting commoner with quite a few records in very recent years.  That's certainly my experience with my first ever last year and now three so far this year.  I need to improve my detection of them though as I passed off both of the last two (at least) as Acleris laterana/comariana agg. until I looked at their genitalia.  Some schalleriana can look quite distinctively broad-shouldered to my eyes (recalling sparsana to me) but this one didn't.  Nor were the dark triangles on the costa particularly extensive (they didn't reach the apex as they're supposed to on schalleriana for starters).  Apparently schalleriana has rougher scales along the leading edge of the forewing - I'm not sure about that - I think I could possibly make out this feature when I looked under the microscope but will need to look for this critically on future insects to test it.

Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 1st July

The other moths were 2 Bird-cherry Ermines Yponomeuta evonymella, Hawthorn Ermel Paraswammerdamia nebulella, Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, Gorse Crest Brachmia blandella, Buff Cosmet Mompha ochraceella, 3 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, 2 Large Fruit-tree Tortrixes Archips podana, 2 Privet Tortrixes Clepsis consimilana, 2 Grey Tortrixes Cnephasia stephensiana, Flax Tortrix Cnephasia asseclana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 4 Barred Marbles Celypha striana, 6 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Pine Marble Piniphila bifasciana, 2 Marbled Orchard Tortrixes Hedya nubiferana, Hoary Bell Eucosma cana, 17 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 3 Grass-veneers Crambus pascuella, Pearl Veneer Agriphila straminella, 5 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, Small Magpie Anania hortulata, Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, Rosy Tabby Endotricha flammealis, Bee Moth Aphomia sociella, 2 White Plumes Pterophorus pentadactyla, Ghost Moth, Drinker, Buff Arches, Large Emerald, Small Emerald, 2 Small Blood-veins, 7 Small Fan-footed Waves, 3 Dwarf Cream Waves, 9 Single-dotted Waves, 4 Treble Brown Spots, 2 Riband Waves, Common Carpet, 4 Barred Straws, Green Pug, Double-striped Pug, 3 Clouded Borders, 3 Early Thorns, Swallow-tailed Moth, 3 Willow Beauties, 14 Clouded Silvers, 3 Elephant Hawk-moths, Buff-tip, 5 Rosy Footmen, 2 Dingy Footmen, 22 Common Footmen, Cinnabar, 4 Flames, 2 Flame Shoulders, 4 Double Square-spots, 2 Bright-line Brown-eyes, 2 Clays, 7 Smoky Wainscots, Small Angle Shades, 2 Dark Arches, 37 Uncertains, Rustic, 3 Mottled Rustics, 2 Beautiful Hook-tips, 2 Straw Dots, 6 Snouts, 6 Fan-foots and 2 Small Fan-foots.

Beetles were represented by Summer Chafer (new for the year) and Brown Chafer.

The following day I put the Yellow-legged Clearwing lure out again, hoping for another Orange-tailed that comes to the same lure rather than more Yellow-legged.  I didn't get either, but it did attract an entirely different moth - and a good one at that - a Gold-sheen Clothes Moth Nemapogon ruricolella.  If you read my account of the previous night's event at Holt you'll know we had one there too, only the night before.  Two in two nights at different locations is rather good given there had only been four records in Norfolk since 1874 - and the last of those in 2013 was me too, at my old house.

Gold-sheen Clothes Moth Nemapogon ruricolella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 2nd July

A very mediocre catch in the light trap that night produced just one addition to the garden year list, Chequered Straw Evergestis pallidata.  Other moths caught were 3 Bird-cherry Ermines Yponomeuta evonymella, Cinereous Groundling Bryotropha terrella, Gorse Crest Brachmia blandella, 2 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, 2 Grey Tortrixes Cnephasia stephensiana, Green Oak Tortrix Tortrix viridana, 2 Barred Marbles Celypha striana, 5 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Marbled Orchard Tortrixes Hedya nubiferana, 6 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 2 Grass-veneers Crambus pascuella, Pearl Veneer Agriphila straminella, Common Grey Scoparia ambigualis, 2 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, 2 Elder Pearls Anania coronata, Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, 4 Rosy Tabbies Endotricha flammealis, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Small Blood-vein, 3 Small Fan-footed Waves, 3 Dwarf Cream Waves, 15 Single-dotted Waves, 4 Riband Waves, 2 Barred Straws, Wormwood Pug, 3 Clouded Borders, Lilac Beauty, 2 Early Thorns, Scalloped Oak, Peppered Moth, Willow Beauty, Engrailed, Common White Wave, Elephant Hawk-moth, Pale Prominent, 2 Buff-tips, 2 Rosy Footmen, 4 Dingy Footmen, 26 Common Footmen, 8 Buff Ermines, Cinnabar, Flame, Double Square-spot, Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Clays, 13 Smoky Wainscots, Dark Arches, 28 Uncertains, 4 Mottled Rustics and Burnished Brass.

The following afternoon and evening I discovered four moths which entered my study through the open window, two of them very interesting.  At least one of them arrived during the afternoon well before dark, my third Corn Moth Nemapogon granella and my second this year - these three being the only records in the county since 2013. Larvae of this species feed indoors on stored grain or other vegetable products and the first of mine was a mystery being found during a cold spell in February last year suggesting it might have hatched indoors.  But I didn't have any stored grain or anything where I could imagine it was likely to have emerged from so I speculated that I might have accidentally transported it home from a recent visit to a farm shop specialising in bird food.  With two subsequent records this year perhaps a more local origin is a better explanation.  There used to be a bakery next door to me - it closed down and was converted to houses several years ago (before I moved in) but I wonder if there may have been a population there that now still survives in the area outside (they can breed outside on fungus, apparently).  It will be interesting to see if records continue.

Corn Moth Nemapogon granella (female, gen det), North Elmham, 3rd July

The other three moths in the study were found after dark: Small Dingy Tubic Borkhausenia fuscescens, Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella and another really good one: Cacao Moth Ephestia elutella.  The Cacao Moth was a lifer and like the Corn Moth is a species that feeds indoors on stored vegetable products, in this case mainly nuts and especially cocoa and tobacco, however it is sometimes recorded outside.  There are only six previous county records, so a very pleasing addition to the garden list.  Identification requires examination of the genitalia to be certain but I had a very strong suspicion that this one would prove to be elutella - compared to the much commoner Falso Cacao Moth Ephestia unicolorella it looked smaller, greyer and smoother - all quite subtle though and I certainly wouldn't have identified it confidently from these photos...

Cacao Moth Ephestia elutella (female, gen det), North Elmham, 3rd July

Moths I caught that night using the more traditional light trap included my first Summer Rose Bell Notocelia roborana of the year.

Summer Rose Bell Notocelia roborana, North Elmham, 3rd July

Others were Clover Case-bearer Coleophora alcyonipennella, 2 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, 3 Large Fruit-tree Tortrixes Archips podana, 3 Grey Tortrixes Cnephasia stephensiana, 9 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Pine Marble Piniphila bifasciana, Hoary Bell Eucosma cana, Two-coloured Bell Eucosma obumbratana, 5 Garden Grass-veneers Chrysoteuchia culmella, 2 Grass-veneers Crambus pascuella, 4 Small Magpies Anania hortulata, Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, White Plume Pterophorus pentadactyla, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Small Emerald, 2 Small Fan-footed Waves, 2 Dwarf Cream Waves, 10 Single-dotted Waves, Treble Brown Spot, 3 Riband Waves, 2 Large Twin-spot Carpets, Shaded Broad-bar, 2 Barred Straws, Currant Pug, 3 Clouded Borders, Brimstone Moth, 6 Early Thorns, Peppered Moth, Willow Beauty, Common White Wave, 2 Clouded Silvers, Elephant Hawk-moth, Coxcomb Prominent, 2 Buff-tips, 2 Dingy Footmen, 20 Common Footmen, 7 Buff Ermines, Cinnabar, Short-cloaked Moth, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 5 Double Square-spots, Bright-line Brown-eye, Brown-line Bright Eye, 11 Smoky Wainscots, Dark Arches, 36 Uncertains, Rustic, 2 Mottled Rustics, 2 Beautiful Hook-tips, Snout and Fan-foot.

I'm pretty sure I've seen these at home before but the beetle Lagria hirta was the first I've actually identified here.  There was also a Brown Chafer.

Lagria hirta, North Elmham, 3rd July

The only caddisfly was a Leptocerus tineiformis.

I recently acquired the new spiders book (Britain's Spiders by Bee, Oxford & Smith) and put it to the test for the first time on 4th July when I found this spider in my house.  Turns out it's one of two species that can't be identified on externally visible features but if I understand it correctly the fact that it was inside my house pretty much rules out one of them leaving Amaurobius similis as the ID without recourse to dissection (which I wouldn't want to do with a spider - I find them horrible enough to look at without a microscope and am certainly not ready to start handling them).

Amaurobius similis, North Elmham, 4th July

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