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, 29 October 2017

Harlequin invasion and Vapourer

A walk at Massingham Heath on 2nd October didn't produce much wildlife interest - a Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana was the only moth recorded.  A poor catch at home that night consisted of Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Black Rustic, Red-line Quaker, Lunar Underwing, Sallow and Rosy Rustic.

The following night Large Wainscot was new for the year.  Apart from that it was no better than the night before: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Feathered Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Green-brindled Crescent and 2 Lunar Underwings.

Large Wainscot, North Elmham, 3rd October

The next few nights didn't get much better:
  • 4th: Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lunar Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, 2 Large Wainscots and the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus
  • 5th: just single Lunar Underwing and Pink-barred Sallow.
  • 6th: Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Lunar Underwing and Limnephilus lunatus.
  • 7th: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Lunar Underwing, Snout and the beetles Nicrophorus investigator and 2 Leistus spinibarbis.

At Cley on 7th this caterpillar was on the boardwalk to the central hides.  I wasn't sure what it was, even if it is a moth or sawfly.  Turns out it wasn't either - thanks to James again for letting me know it's a soldier beetle larva -  I'd never have guessed that!

soldier beetle larva, Cley, 7th October

There was a slight upturn on the night of Sunday 8th with a Spruce Carpet and my latest ever (first in October) Treble Brown Spot.  Not much else though: 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Mallows, Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow and Snout.

A Harbour Porpoise was about the only non-avian interest at Burnham Overy on 9th October.  That night at home I caught 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Mallows, Common Marbled Carpet, Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow, Straw Dot, Chrysoperla carnea agg. (lacewing) and 3 Limnephilus lunatus (caddis).

The conditions around lunchtime on Tuesday 10th October must have been just right for ladybirds to be looking for somewhere to hibernate as between about 1 pm and 2 pm at least 36 Harlequin Ladybirds entered my study through the window which was only open a crack.  There were loads more outside that didn't find their way in too.  Among them all was a single 2-spot Ladybird, the first I've recorded here this year (though I'm pretty sure one that came in to hibernate towards the end of last year was still lurking in a corner into January at least).

That night there were 2 new moths for the year - one a lovely species I've only caught here once before and the other a very common and rather less attractive species - Vapourer and November Moth.

Vapourer, North Elmham, 10th October

November Moth (male, 8th sternite checked), North Elmham, 10th October

Other moths that night were 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 6 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Mallow, Common Marbled Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Lunar Underwing, Straw Dot and Snout.  Other insects included Chrysoperla carnea (lacewing), Limnephilus flavicornis, Limnephilus lunatus, 2 Limnephilus vittatus (caddisflies) and Lamprotettix nitidulus (leafhopper).

The following night there were 5 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Mallow, November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Beaded Chestnut, 2 Lunar Underwings and Barred Sallow, the last of which was new for the year.  No caddisflies, lacewings, bugs or beetles.

Barred Sallow, North Elmham, 11th October

It was just as quiet the next evening but still one new for the year - Yellow-line Quaker.  The others were 6 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Feathered Thorn, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Lunar Underwing, Limnephilus lunatus, 2 Halesus radiatus (caddisflies) and Harpalus rufipes (beetle).

Yellow-line Quaker, North Elmham, 12th October

A Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella was new for the year on 13th October.

Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, North Elmham, 13th October

This was one of a surprisingly good haul of micro moths which included several species I hadn't seen since the summer. Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana is one I'd not seen anywhere near this late before and as it was fresh it must have been an unusual second-generation.  I had seen late Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana before but it's another one that the textbooks say should stop flying in August. Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis is another one that must be starting to have a second generation - this was my first in October while the Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis is a bit more established at this time of year.  The other micros were more expected: 4 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea and Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla.

Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, North Elmham, 13th October

Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, North Elmham, 13th October

Bizarrely given the nunber of micros, macros were few and far between and every one of them was a noctuid (at least in old taxonomy).  At least with just singles of each it felt like there was some variety among them: Shuttle-shaped Dart, Black Rustic, Brown-spot Pinion, Beaded Chestnut, Barred Sallow, Large Wainscot, Burnished Brass, Straw Dot and Snout.

Beaded Chestnut, North Elmham, 13th October

There was some interest among the other insects too.  Two lacewings were both Chrysoperla but unusually only one was carnea, the other being Chrysoperla lucasina - just my third.  There weren't many caddisflies but they included my first ever Brown Sedges Anabolia nervosa, a male and a female, along with more usual Mottled Sedge Glyphotaelius pellucidus and Limnephilus vittatus.

Chrysoperla lucasina, North Elmham, 13th October

Brown Sedge Anabolia nervosa (male), North Elmham, 13th October

Bugs and beetles consisted of Pinalitus cervinus, 2 Kybos sp. (probably betulicola), Edwardsiana sp., Aphodius rufipes and Orange Ladybird.

Orange Ladybird, North Elmham, 13th October


  1. Your caterpillar is a Soldier Beetle larva - I'm not sure whether it can be taken any further than that, although it would presumably be one of the larger Cantharis species.

    1. Thanks James - quite different from any beetle larvae I've knowingly seen before - didn't realise they could be so caterpillar-like. Much appreciated as always!