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.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Scarce Bordered Straw and a host of bugs

It was a good year for Scarce Bordered Straw but it took me until late October before I added this species to my largely migrant-free garden list.  24th October wasn't a particularly remarkable night for moths in general but this scarce migrant more than made up for that.  Very pleased to finally get one here.

Scarce Bordered Straw, North Elmham, 24th October

Other moths were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 7 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, Common Marbled Carpet, 6 November Moths, 2 Pale November Moths, 4 Feathered Thorns, Light Emerald, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Sprawler, 3 Black Rustics, 4 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, 7 Yellow-line Quakers, 2 Beaded Chestnuts and 2 Straw Dots.

It was actually a better night for bugs (including leafhoppers) than for moths.  Heteropteran bugs consisted of a Parent Bug, the first time I've recorded that here, a Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae and a noteworthy 3 Tarnished Plant Bugs Lygus rugulipennis.  I've not been doing the trickier-to-ID bugs like this for long but I have been checking them for the whole of this year and I'd only seen a single up to now so 3 in a night must be pretty good for here.

Parent Bug, North Elmham, 24th October

At least 6 species of leafhopper in the moth trap can't be bad either, and they included one species I'd not recorded before: Eupteryx decemnotata (though this had to be identified from photos as it escaped - I think it's a safe ID but please shout if you disagree).  In the same genus Eupteryx urticae was also new for the garden.  The others were 2 Empoasca vitis, 3 Kybos sp. (all females so not fully identifiable - most probably betulicola but possibly smaragdula), 2 Fagocyba cruenta and an Edwardsiana sp. (female so not fully identifiable).

Eupteryx decemnotata, North Elmham, 24th October

Eupteryx urticae, North Elmham, 24th October

Other inects included 4 Chrysoperla carnea (2 confirmed males), the water beetle Rhantus suturalis and the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

A Common Carder Bee next day was the first I'd positively identified in my garden this year, though I'm pretty sure there have been lots that I haven't nailed (I tend to only look hard at the ones that come inside or get caught in the moth trap).

Moths trapped on 25th were 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 November Moths, 3 Feathered Thorns, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Merveille du Jour, 5 Yellow-line Quakers, Barred Sallow, Pale Mottled Willow and Snout.

Having failed to convince myself about a likely Empoasca decipiens a few days earlier it was good to get another chance.  No doubt about this one, a new addition to the garden leafhopper list.

Empoasca decipiens, North Elmham, 25th October

There wasn't much else - the caddisflies Limnephilus auricula and Limnephilus lunatus were all I recorded.

Perhaps the biggest surprise the following night was a Common Quaker - a common species in spring but one I'd not seen in autumn before.

Common Quaker, North Elmham, 26th October

Although that was unexpected the best moth of the night was a Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, a new species for the garden.  It also appears to be the first adult to be recorded in the vice-county (there are mine and larval records).  It wasn't my first - one at my previous house was the first adult to be recorded in the whole county.

Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, North Elmham, 26th October

Other moths that night were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 3 November Moths, Pale November Moth (plus a female November Moth agg.), 2 Feathered Thorns, Large Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Merveille du Jours, Satellite, 4 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Large Wainscot and Straw Dot. Caddisflies were Limnephilus affinis and Limnephilus lunatus.

The moth trap was very poor on my birthday night: just Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, November Moth, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and Beaded Chestnut.

The following night wasn't much better for moths (though Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis was a migrant and only my second this year) but it picked up a few other interesting things.  The other moths were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, November Moth agg., 2 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Brick, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Straw Dot and Snout.  Caddisflies consisted of 4 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus and there was a Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae.  The barkfly Ectopsocus briggsi was new for the year.

Ectopscocus briggsi (male), North Elmham, 28th October

Leafhoppers consisted of a Fagocyba cruenta and 2 of a new species for me (although they looked familiar so I think I've seen them before without identifying them) - Lindbergina aurovittata.

Lindbergina aurovittata, North Elmham, 28th October

The following night produced only Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Sprawler, 2 Bricks, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Flounced Chestnut

A good night on 19th October with 51 moths of 22 species.  I didn't immediately recognise the best one but when Dave suggested the ID it was obvious (well, fairly).  Indeed I'd been keeping an eye out for one as I'd never seen one before but they're usually a bit more strongly marked and I'd not appreciated how plain they could be.  It was a Flounced Chestnut, a very welcome macro lifer for so late in the season.  They're a little on the scarce side so it's not entirely surprising that I'd not seen one before but there are a few records in Norfolk every year.

Flounced Chestnut, North Elmham, 19th October

The other moths were Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 6 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Ashy Buttons Acleris sparsana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, Large Yellow Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 7 Black Rustics, 4 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Brick, Red-line Quaker, 10 Yellow-line Quakers, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, Angle Shades, Large Wainscot, Burnished Brass and 2 Straw Dots.

Other insects included 5 Chrysoperla carnea (green lacewing), Limnephilus auricula, Limnephilus flavicornis, 15 Limnephilus lunatus, Limnephilus marmoratus, Halesus radiatus (caddisflies), Pinalitus cervinus (bug) and a leafhopper that was probably Empoasca decipiens (would be new for the house but I wasn't entirely convinced by the externals and couldn't make the genitalia quite fit either, though I couldn't find anything else that fitted better).

I think this ugly little beast in my study the next day was Amaurobius similis.  I still dislike spiders but I'll try to identify them so long as I don't have to touch them or get too close.  Maybe one day I'll grow to like them, but for now, ugh.

Amaurobius similis, North Elmham, 20th October

Slightly fewer moths that night: 2 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 November Moths, Pale November Moth, 2 Feathered Thorns, 3 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 2 Black Rustics, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Merveille du Jours, 2 Bricks, 5 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Straw Dot and Snout.

Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, North Elmham, 20th October

The only lacewings and caddisflies were Chrysoperla carnea, Limnephilus affinis and 7 Limnephilus lunatus but hot on the heals of my first identified ones a few days earlier there were 5 Fagocyba cruenta (yellow leafhoppers).

There was a big drop in moth numbers the following night: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, November Moth, Pale November Moth, Black Rustic, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.  But it was worth putting the trap on for the leafhoppers - two more yellow leafhoppers, one another Fagocyba cruenta but the other a new one for me, Alnetoidea alneti.  The joy of being fairly new to identifyting a group like this is that you can still pick up new species from among the common ones - and this one is supposed to be "extremely common".

Alnetoidea aneti, North Elmham, 21st October

Fagocyba cruenta, North Elmham, 21st October

A Froghopper hopped away before I could ID it and the only other insects I noted were caddisflies: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

Things quietened down the following night with just Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, 5 Yellow-line Quakers and 2 Beaded Chestnuts making up the moths and Chrysoperla carnea agg., Limnephilus flavicornis and Limnephilus lunatus the lacewings and caddisflies.

If 22nd was quiet 23rd made up for it.  The highlights among 58 moths of 28 species were my first Sprawler of the year and my first Mottled Umber of the autumn but a much bigger surprise was an Orange Pine Tortrix Lozotaeniodes formosana.  Not because it's rare (though it is unusual here - I've only seen one here before, this July) or because it's stunning (though it certainly is) but because of the late date.  They normally finish flying in August and I think this might be the latest ever in Norfolk.

Orange Pine Tortrix Lozotaeniodes formosana, North Elmham, 23rd October

Blair's Shoulder-knot (left) and Sprawler (right), North Elmham, 23rd October

Mottled Umber, North Elmham, 23rd October

Other moths were 2 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 4 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Red-green Carpet, 2 Pine Carpets, 9 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 4 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, White-point, 2 Common Wainscots, 2 Black Rustics, Blair's Shoulder-knot, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Satellite, Red-line Quaker, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, 5 Beaded Chestnuts, Rosy Rustic, 2 Large Wainscots, 2 Burnished Brasses, 3 Straw Dots and Snout.

November Moth (male), North Elmham, 23rd October - not every pale November Moth is a Pale November Moth...

It wasn't just moths in the trap - there were lots of leafhoppers.  Having had several in recent days I imagined all the bright yellow leafhoppers would be Fagocyba cruenta so didn't retain them all for checking.  Of those I did keep 2 were indeed cruenta but one turned out to be Edwardsiana flavescens, a new one for here.  Other leafhoppers included Alebra albostriella, 5 Empoasca vitis and probably 2 Kybos betulicola (the male confirmed, the female either this or smaragdula).

Edwardsiana flavescens, North Elmham, 23rd October

Alebra albostriella, North Elmham, 23rd October

There were also 2 mirid bugs (Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae and Pinalitus cervinus), 2 barkflies Valenzuela flavidus, the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea and the caddisflies Limnephilus affinis, Limnephilus auricula, Limnephilus flavicornis and 9 Limnephilus lunatus.

Someone once pointed out a spider to me which they identified as Nuctenea umbratica on the basis of two white marks on the underside of its abdomen.  This spider in my shed had similar markings, but whether that's diagnostic or not I'm not sure.  I didn't get a good look at the top side of it.

Spider (possibly Nuctenea umbratica?), North Elmham, 24th October

Saturday, 13 January 2018


A Red-green Carpet was new for the year at home on 15th October.  Other moths that night were Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 4 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Common Marbled Carpet, 7 November Moths, Black Rustic, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Red-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing and Straw Dot.   There were also caddisflies: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

At Burnham Overy the next day there was the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea among the Sea Buckthorn, a Small Copper and 4 Red Admirals, and the barkfly Graphopsocus cruciatus.

Graphopsocus cruciatus, Burnham Overy, 16th October

That afternoon it became eerily dark quite early on with calm conditions and dark grey cloud.  This prompted my to override the timer on my moth trap with a view to putting it on early.  Somehow in doing so I blew the electrics and so was forced to use my old Skinner trap for the next couple of nights (not quite as good at holding moths compared to the Robinsons).  I misdiagnosed the fault initially - it turned out to be the bulb so I could have just swapped the bulbs over but it took me a couple of days to realise that.  Anyway in the Skinner trap that night were Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 November Moths, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, Chestnut, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, Lunar Underwing, Barred Sallow, Chrysoperla carnea agg. and Limnephilus lunatus.

The following night was reasonably good with Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Brindled Flat-body Agonopterix arenella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, 7 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Brick, 6 Beaded Chestnuts, Rosy Rustic and Burnished Brass.

Brick, North Elmham, 17th October

Four species of caddisflies included my first Limnephilus decipiens for the garden (closely following my first ever at Bacton Wood on 14th).  The others were Limnephilus affinis, 10 Limnephilus lunatus and Limnephilus vittatus.

Limnephilus decipiens, North Elmham, 17th October

The following night was excellent for the time of year - 76 moths of 21 species: a record 7 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Red-green Carpet, 6 November Moths, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 8 Large Yellow Underwings, 6 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 3 Black Rustics, 6 Green-brindled Crescents, 3 Merveille du Jours, 2 Satellites, 4 Yellow-line Quakers, 11 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Barred Sallows, Sallow, 2 Angle Shades, Rosy Rustic, Large Wainscot, 7 Straw Dots and Snout.

Red-green Carpet, North Elmham, 18th October

There were also 33 caddisflies: Limnephilus affinis, 3 Limnephilus auricula, 2 Limnephilus flavicornis and an impressive 27 Limnephilus lunatus.  Other insects included 4 Chrysoperla carnea (2 males, 2 agg. females), the bug Pinalitus cervinus and the water beetle Rhantus suturalis and, new for the year, the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

Valenzula flavidus, North Elmham, 18th October

It was the leafhoppers that provided the most interest though, with no less than 3 species all identified for the first time.  I'd trapped quite a few Kybos sp. previously including 4 females already this year that were either betulicola or smaragdula, but not fully identifable as females.  It would only be a matter of time before an identifiable male turned up and tonight was its turn, a male Kybos betulicola.

Kybos betulicola, North Elmham, 18th October

A Eupteryx melissae was a little more distinctive, and new for me.

Eupteryx melissae, North Elmham, 18th October

I've trapped quite a lot of plain yellow leafhoppers before and thought they were (at least) one of the difficult-to-identify Edwardsiana species.  In fact some examples of Fagocyba sp. are similar and I hadn't properly ruled those out.  Indeed, armed with online keys I'd not found until relatively recently I identified the four I caught on this occasion as Fagocyba cruenta.

Fagocyba cruenta, North Elmham, 18th October

Friday, 5 January 2018

Bacton Wood

The last field meeting of the year for the Norfolk Moth Survey was at Bacton Wood on Saturday 14th October.  We arrived a little late and when setting up I realised I'd forgotten my sheets.  The technique of suspending a light over a tripod on a white sheet is a little less effective when the white sheet is missing.  We did ok though - I had another trap and others brought theirs too.

Stuart found this occupied pupal case of a Common Bagworm Psyche casta on a tree trunk, a common species that's meant to be easy to find as a pupa, but the adult I'm still to find.

occupied pupal case of Common Bagworm Psyche casta, Bacton Wood, 14th October

Other moths were Small Red Slender Caloptilia rufipennella, Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 White-shouldered Smudges Ypsolopha parenthesella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella, 4 London Dowds Blastobasis lacticolella, White-faced Tortrix Pandemis cinnamomeana, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 8 Dark-triangle Buttons Acleris laterana, 2 Ashy Buttons Acleris sparsana, 4 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, Notch-wing Button Acleris emargana, Bud Moth Spilonota ocellana, Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, 2 Double-striped Tabbies Hypsopygia glaucinalis, Mallow, 3 Red-green Carpets, 3 Common Marbled Carpets, 4 Pine Carpets, 15 Grey Pine Carpets, 50 Spruce Carpets, 2 Pale November Moths, Brimstone Moth, Feathered Thorn, Buff Footman, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, 3 Chestnuts, Brick, 2 Barred Sallows and 3 Snouts.

Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella, Bacton Wood, 14th October

The only lacewing I retained was Chrysoperla carnea but a caddisfly was more interesting - my first Limnephilus decipiens (there were also 3 Limnephilus lunatus).

Limnephilus decipiens, Bacton Wood, 14th October

A Water Boatman proved to be Callicorixa praeusta, the first time I'd identified this species.

Callicorixa praeusta, Bacton Wood, 14th October

This psyllid was another lifer, Cacopsylla melanoneura.

Cacopsylla melanoneura, Bacton Wood, 14th October

Two leafhoppers were challenging.  I narrowed them down to one of the two Acericerus species but couldn't decide between Acericerus vittifrons and Acericerus ribauti.  The latter doesn't feature in the RES Handbook as its a recent arrival in the UK but the British Bugs website gives a couple of tips to identify the males (one of the two was a male).  Mine quite unambiguously had a long dark midline on the face rather like vittifrons (and quite unlike ribauti) and equally unambiguously had the short antennal palettes of ribauti (and clearly wrong for vittifrons).  These were the only similar species showing in the British Bugs gallery and the RES Handbook seeemed to confirm I was in the right area but didn't offer any further options.  So unable to proceed any further I retained the specimens for later study.  And that would be the end of the story so far but that I had another idea when typing this up... the British Bugs website has a checklist of all the leafhoppers and sure enough there is a third species of Acericerus listed on there which doesn't yet feature in the gallery.  A quick google found lots of good images of this species from Europe and well, they're basically identical to the two I'd taken.  I will keep them in case they prove to be significant (it's another new arrival to the UK amd I'm not sure if there are any Norfolk records yet or not (probably - several in Suffolk)) but I'm reasonably happy now that they are this third species, Acericerus heydenii.

Acericerus heydenii (male), Bacton Wood, 14th October

Acericerus heydenii (female), Bacton Wood, 14th October

Other less interesting bugs were Birch Shieldbug and 3 Empoasca vitis.  We saw one Hornet, an Orange Ladybird and lots of large Dor Beetles on the ground near my light which had particularly strong bluish-purple shine on the underside.  I retained one to identify and it proved to be another new species for me, Woodland Dor Beetle Anoplotrupes stercorosus.

Woodland Dor Beetle Anoplotrupes stercorosus, Bacton Wood, 14th October

So even if the moths were a bit so-so the other insects made the event very worthwhile from my perspective.

There were hardly any moths at home that night although Merveille du Jour was new for the year.

Merveille du Jour, North Elmham, 14th October

The few others were 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 November Moths, Beaded Chestnut and Lunar Underwing.   One of the November Moths was very interesting as the genitalia hadn't formed properly.  The 8th sternite was effected too making identification difficult but there were two smudges which I suspect would have been the projections had they formed properly, in which case their distance from one another eliminated Pale November Moth.  The valvae had not developed properly, joined together to form a broadly-spherical but bi-lobed sac.  The edges of the lobes had darkened ridges with teeth like the valvae edges of November and Pale November Moths (thus eliminating Autumnal Moth).  I am not entirely sure if this was simply a male that had developed aberrantly or if it was an intersex.  The structure of the 8th sternite was rather female-like but although the genitalia themselves were very unusual I couldn't really identify anything female-like (but most male parts were there, if not formed how they should have been).  For that reason I suspect it wasn't intersex but had simply been malformed.  The moth seemed healthy enough until I opened its abdomen, but I'm quite sure it would never have been able to breed with its genitalia in that state!

presumed November Moth with abnormally developed genitalia, North Elmham, 14th October

In case anyone's interested I've done a PDF with photos and a fuller description of the genitalia.

2 Limnephilus lunatus were the only caddisflies but there was also a beetle, a small weevil.  There are good keys to a lot of the beetle families freely available online but although Mark Gurney has some excellent guides to weevils I can't yet find an online source that allows a complete identification of some groups of weevils.  Mark Gurney's guides got me into the right ballpark (I think) for this weevil and by comparing various images from a number of online sources I eventually reached an ID that I am fairly sure is correct.  Perhaps I should leave it as tentative at this stage but I think it's Notaris acridulus.

probable Notarus acridulus, North Elmham, 14th October