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, 30 April 2018

A trio of new moths including 9x Pammene giganteana to lure

The night of Tuesday 17th April was an excellent one with two moths in the trap that were completely new to me, Large Birch Purple Eriocrania sangii and Scarce Cosmet Mompha jurassicella.   I think I've seen sangii before but never been 100% certain about its identity previously.  There's been some debate about whether female sangii can be safely identified by reference to its genitalia but I think the consensus seems to be that the combination of the form of the scales on the hindwing and the relative sizes of the sensoria on its abodomenal sclerites is sufficient.

Large Birch Purple Eriocrania sangii (female), North Elmham, 17th April

Scrace Cosmet Monpha jurassicella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 17th April

There was a reasonable selection of other moths too: 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Frosted Green, 2 Brindled Pugs, 3 Double-striped Pugs, 2 Early Thorns, Brindled Beauty, 4 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 3 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and Chestnut.

There were 3 Chrysoperla carnea (green Lacewings) (at least 2 confirmed males and a presumed female).  Interestingly the female was fully green while all the males I've seen so far this year have still had some of their winter brown colour retained.  There were also 2 different brown Lacewings, and surprisingly both proved to be new species for the garden, Hemerobius micans and Wesmaelius nervosus.

Hemerobius micans, North Elmham, 17th April

Wesmaelius nervosus, North Elmham, 17th April

The following day I headed out to the east coast where there were plenty of butterflies on the wing including Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone.

Brimstone, Horsey, 18th April

I think this spider was Pardosa nigriceps, a new one for me.

Pardosa nigriceps, Horsey, 18th April

On the way home I stopped at St Faith's Common where insect-life included a new beetle for me, Hylurgops palliatus.

Hylurgops palliatus, St Faith's Common, 18th April

At Bittering while retrieving some algae covered oak bark to feed my Luffia ferchaultella on (see last post) I unwittingly also retained this tiny creature - but it took mne a while to work out what it is, and I'm still not sure.  I considered it could be an aphid, but I don't think so, or perhaps one of the globular springtails though I haven't seen it spring (and do any of the collembola live on trees anyway?).  A nymph of some kind of bug perhaps?  In the end I think it's most likely to be the larva of a Lacewing, but I'm not entirely sure.  I've seen green lacewing larvae covered in muck before and that was significantly larger (this was only about 1-2 mm long at most).  I guess it could be one of the smaller brown lacewings, although some photos of these show much more elongated creatures, or perhaps even one of the Waxflies?  I'm not entirely clear if all of these cover themselves in material to camouflage themselves or if it's just the larger species?  On the other hand I thought all lacewing larvae were carnivorous yet this is surviving in a pot with only some algae-covered bark for company for 12 days so far and it still seems very healthy, so perhaps it is something else entirely...?  Please let me know if you have any ideas!

unidentified insect, Bittering, 18th April

That night a good selection of moths included 4 that were new for the year: Maple Slender Caloptilia semifascia, Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, Pine Beauty and Nut-tree Tussock. The Pine Beauty was particularly welcome being my first here since 2015.

Maple Slender Caloptilia semifacscia, North Elmham, 18th April

Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, North Elmham, 18th April

Pine Beauty, North Elmham, 18th April

Nut-tree Tussock, North Elmham, 18th April

Other moths caught that night were Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Frosted Green, 4 Brindled Pugs, 2 Double-striped Pugs, 3 Early Thorns, 2 Brindled Beauties, 3 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 5 Clouded Drabs, 7 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and 2 Chestnuts.  There were also 2 Chrysoperla carnea and a Black Sexton Beetle.  A good crop of leafhoppers consisted of 5 Empoasca vitis and, new for the year, Zygina angusta.

Zygina angusta, North Elmham, 18th April

I recently acquired a pheromone lure for the tortrix moth Grapholita lobarzewskii.  Jon had been trialling this in his garden last year and caught Norfolk's first example of this moth previously only known from the south east.  It's too early in the year for a lobarzewskii but I put it out on Thursday 19th April knowing that these lures sometimes attract other species too.  I checked the trap that evening and was delighted to find a tortrix moth inside - not a lobarzewskii of course, but whatever it was looked interesting.  Sure enough it proved to be a new species for me and one that's only been recorded a handful of times in the county, Early Oak Piercer Pammene giganteana.

Early Oak Piercer Pammene giganteana, North Elmham, 19th April

My third new moth in as many days - what had until this week been a dire year for moths has suddently started turning more interesting!

That night Streamer and Lunar Marbled Brown were new for the year.

Streamer, North Elmham, 19th April

Lunar Marbled Brown, North Elmham, 19th April

Other moths included 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Frosted Green, Water Carpet, 4 Brindled Pugs, Double-striped Pug, 2 Early Thorns, 5 Brindled Beauties, 2 Small Quakers, 2 Common Quakers, 5 Clouded Drabs, 8 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Next day I put the lobarzewskii lure out again and this time I caught another 2 Early Oak Piercers Pammene giganteana - amazing!

Early Oak Piercer Pammene giganteana, North Elmham, 20th April

If 3 in 2 days was good, there was more in store... I tried one more time on 21st and when I checked the trap that evening there were another 6 Early Oak Piercers Pammene giganteana in there!  There were only 10 previous records of giganteana in Norfolk so catching 9 in 3 days seems quite remarkable - but such is the power of a pheremone lure for finding things that I'm sure are always around and just not tending to come to light very often and are therefore rarely recorded.  Interestingly Mick Kerr managed to attract a giganteana to the same lure at Sporle near Swaffham too.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Warming up in mid April

Moths on 12th April consisted of 4 March Tubics Diurnea fagella, Red Chestnut, 4 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 6 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.  There was also a Carabid Beetle that has defied identification so far.  I've spent far more time than I have keying it out and no matter which way I go when the couplets are ambiguous or uncertain I always end up at a dead end.

Next day a look round the patch at Bittering with Dave produced relatively little in the way of inverts, but a few things of note.  The only adult moth was a March Tubic Diurnea fagella on an Oak trunk.  Also on an Oak was this algae-covered caterpillar.  I think it belongs to a Virgin Bagworm Luffia ferchaultella, a new species for me.  I will see if I can rear it through - I've already had to go back to find some more algae-covered bark as it soon cleaned up the algae off the bit of bark I took it home on!  As I write, over a week later, it's still chomping away. [Update May 2018: I reared it through successfully and it turns out it was in fact a White-speckled Bagworm Narycia duplicella!]

White-speckled Bagworm Narycia duplicella, Bittering, 13th April

I recently acquired a sweep net and used it for the first time today.  A couple of sweeps and I had enough insects to identify that would keep me busy for long enough!  One was a new beetle for me, Epuraea silacea.  Two other beetles have so far defied identification, so I'll hold them back for another day when I have more time.

Epuraea silacea, Bittering, 13th April

A couple of these curious little knobbly creatures came out of a Norway Maple tree.  They turned out to be aphids, and look like Periphyllus testudinaceus.

Periphyllus testudinaceus, Bittering, 13th April

That night was arguably the best of the year so far for moths with Scarce Alder Slender Caloptilia falconipennella, Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, Brindled Beauty and Pale Pinion all new for the year here, and apart from the Brindled Beauty all species that I don't quite record annually here.  Indeed the falconipennella was only my third anywhere.

 Scarce Alder Slender Caloptilia falconipennella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 13th April

Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 13th April

Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 13th April

Pale Pinion, North Elmham, 13th April

Other moths that night were 2 March Tubics Diurnea fagella, 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Shoulder Stripes, Red Chestnut, 3 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 5 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.  There was also the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea and 3 Black Sexton Beetles.

The following night there were a few moths but not much variety and nothing new: 3 Brindled Beauties, Red Chestnut, 6 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 11 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

When I went out to check the light was going on the next night I moved the electrics box and this beetle came out from underneath.  It turned out to be Harpalus affinis, a new species for me.

Harpalus affinis, North Elmham, 13th April

Frosted Green, Double-striped Pug and Herald were all new for they year that night and I also recorded Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Engrailed, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, 6 Hebrew Characters and 2 Black Sexton Beetles.

Frosted Green, North Elmham, 15th April

Double-striped Pug, North Elmham, 15th April

Herald, North Elmham, 15th April

There was another Varied Carpet Beetle in the house on 16th and that night I trapped Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Frosted Green, Early Thorn, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, 7 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and 3 Black Sexton Beetles.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Early April - moths starting to appear

No April fools on 1st April but an Early Grey was new for the year.  Not many other moths: Small Quaker, Clouded Drab and 9 Hebrew Characters.

Early Grey, North Elmham, 1st April

Next day this Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci appeared in the house (as usual, in a room without carpets).  This one was my first this year.

Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci, North Elmham, 2nd April

That night Twin-spotted Quaker made it on to the year list.Others moths were 2 Shoulder Stripes, Oak Beauty, Common Quaker, 6 Clouded Drabs, 11 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts.

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 2nd April

It missed its own month but a March Tubic Diurnea fagella was new for the year on 3rd April.  Other moths that night were 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, 3 Oak Beauties, Red Chestnut, 2 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 7 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker and 9 Hebrew Characters.

March Tubic Diurnea fagella, North Elmham, 3rd April

A single new moth for the year for the fourth consecutive night on 4th, this time Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla.  Also that night: Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, 3 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, 3 Clouded Drabs, 5 Hebrew Characters and Black Sexton Beetle.

Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, North Elmham, 4th April

The following night's moths were March Moth, 3 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers and 10 Hebrew Characters. The only new species for the year in the trap was this Buff-tailed Bumblebee (I guess the tick it was carrying would have been too had I been able to identify it).

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, North Elmham, 5th April

The following night produced March Moth, 2 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, 8 Clouded Drabs, 10 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

On Saturday 7th I took a birding group round Minsmere in Suffolk.  As I was tucking into a slice of Chocolate Challenge at the cafe after we'd finished I felt a sharp nip to the back of my hand.  The culrpit turned out to be this Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum.

Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum, Minsmere, 7th April

A good variety of moths at home that night, though an Engrailed was the only one that was new for the year.  The others were 6 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Shoulder Stripe, Red Chestnut, 10 Small Quakers, 7 Common Quakers, 7 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 11 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and Chestnut.

Engrailed, North Elmham, 7th April

There were a few other insects caught too, including my first green lacewing of the year, a male Chrysoperla carnea, and my first leafhopper of the year, Empoasca vitis.  Having recently joined the Dipterists Forum I thought I'd try my hand at identifying a fly, but failed.  I think it belonged to the family Simuliidae but I couldn't get any further than that.

Chrysoperla carnea (male), North Elmham, 7th April

Epoasca vitis, North Elmham, 7th April

Simuliid fly sp., North Elmham, 7th April

The following night was quieter with just 4 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, Twin-spotted Quaker, 17 Hebrew Characters and Black Sexton Beetle. Next day was even worse with Varied Carpet Beetle inside, 3 Small Quakers and 7 Hebrew Characters.

The night of 10th April was more promising and hopes were raised when I went to have a quick look round the outside of the trap before I went to bed as the first two moths I saw were both new for the year: Water Carpet (not quite annual here) and Brindled Pug.  It turned out they were the only new for the year but a reasonable variety included March Tubic Diurnea fagella, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Red Chestnut, 7 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers, 23 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Brindled Pug, North Elmham, 10th April

Water Carpet, North Elmham, 10th April

Another new moth for the year the following night: Early Thorn.  That was my 30th moth species this year - pretty poor for 11th April (last year I was on 47 by this time despite having spent a week out of the county in early April).  Also March Tubic Diurnea fagella, Red Chestnut, 6 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, Twin-spotted Quaker, 15 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Early Thorn, North Elmham, 11th April