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, 16 April 2018

March Moths

I omitted to mention this Orange Ladybird in my last post - I trapped it on 21st February.

Orange Ladybird, North Elmham, 21st February

After a few blank nights while the Beast from the East brought lots of lovely snow things finally thawed on Sunday 4th March when a Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana appeared on the front door.

A trip to Fakenham on 5th produced my first Bee of the year, a Honey Bee I think.  Also Yellow Brain fungus or it's very similar counterpart (thanks again to James for confirming).  There were a couple of Springtails on the base of the fungus.

Honey Bee, Fakenham, 5th March

Yellow Brain (most likely Tremella mesenterica but possibly T aurantia), Fakenham, 5th March

Springtail sp., Fakenham, 5th March

That night Chestnut and Satellite turned up in the trap.

Satellite, North Elmham, 5th March

The following night was quiet with just Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 3 March Moths and 2 Chestnuts.  There was nothing the next night and just a single March Moth on 8th March.  Things picked up again on 9th with 5 Dotted Borders, 3 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts.

The following day I noticed a fly scuttling across the patio, a behaviour I don't recall seeing in flies before.  I've not done much with flies but thought this might be worth attempting to identify.  Eventually I narrowed it down to a Megaselia sp. but couldn't get any further with it.  It belongs to the family Phoridae, appropriately known as Scuttle Flies.

Scuttle Fly Megaselia sp., North Elmham, 10th March

That night saw a signifiant up-turn in number and variety of moths: 7 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, 4 March Moths, Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Dotted Borders, Clouded Drab and Chestnut.  The Clouded Drab was new for the year.

Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 10th March

The following night produced 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Oak Beauty, 3 Dotted Borders and Hebrew Character, and then after a blank night, Common Quaker was new for the year on 13th, with Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

A Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella was new for the year on 14th - a species I don't get many of here (average one a year).  The only other moths that night were 2 Hebrew Characters.

Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella, North Elmham, 14th March

There were Clouded Drab, 2 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut on 15th and then I was away on the night of 16th.  I did leave the trap running though (on timer) and when I returned in the evening there was a Clouded Drab in it. No more moths in the snow that night thouugh, or the next couple of nights.

Things re-started with 2 Hebrew Characters on 19th and another 2 on 20th, the latter alongside an Oak Beauty.  I visited Great Ryburgh on 21st and found a Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana in the hide.  That night a Tufted Button Acleris cristana was new for the year; also Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 4 Hebrew Characters.

Tufted Button Acleris cristana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 21st March

The next night was the best night of the year so far with Small Quaker and Grey Shoulder-knot new for the year.  I didn't get the latter species last year and never get many.  The others were 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, March Moth, Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, 4 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 4 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and Chestnut.

Sallow Quaker, North Elmham, 22nd March

Grey Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 22nd March

Another new moth for the year appeared the following night: Shoulder Stripe.  The other moths that night were Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 3 March Moths, Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, Small Quaker, 4 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 9 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Shoulder Stripe, North Elmham, 23rd March

Another Grey Shoulder-knot was the highlight the following night.  There was also March Moth, Small Quaker, 11 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and 2 Chestnuts.

Sunday 25th was mild and sunny and as I took the scenic route back home from Norwich at lunch-time I thought I'd probably see a few Brimstones.  A glimpsed butterfly at Swanton Morley was probably Small Tortoiseshell, my first butterfly this year.  Eventually I did see a Brimstone, just down the road at Worthing - and then a second Brimstone outside my house when I drew up.

The only micro in the trap that night was a good one, Red-letter Flat-body Agonopterix ocellana, a species that perhaps surprisingly I hadn't seen until last year.  Other moths that night were 3 March Moths, 2 Oak Beauties, 2 Small Quakers, 12 Hebrew Characters, Grey Shoulder-knot and Chestnut.

Red-letter Flat-body Agonopterix ocellana, North Elmham, 25th March

The following night there was March Moth, Shoulder Stripe, Small Quaker, Common Quaker and 7 Hebrew Characters. No new moths for the year on 27th either though another Winter Shade Tortricodes alternella was noteworthy. The others were March Moth, 3 Small Quakers and 10 Hebrew Characters. A Black Sexton Beetle was my first this year.

Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella, North Elmham, 27th March

Black Sexton Beetle, North Elmham, 27th March

There was only a single Common Quaker on 28th.  This Red Chestnut was new for the year the following night.  Other than that it was still very quiet though: Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Red Chestnut, North Elmham, 29th March

The next night was poor again: Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 2 Hebrew Characters.  The month ended with Small Quaker, Common Quaker and 3 Hebrew Characters on 31st.

I've been working through a number of beetles I retained last year and managing to put names to most, some more easily than others, but the last one proved a real struggle.  Part of the problem was that I failed to correctly identify what family it belonged and after spending several hours on it on 3 occasions I was ready to give up.  Then I came across the beetle families page on the UK Beetle Recording website and this led me to Scirtidae, the Marsh Beetles.  I'd somehow missed this family so after all this time I was glad to finally have a lead.  In the end I still couldn't get a species-level ID as I believe it's a female Elodes sp., a genus in which only the males are identifiable (at least according to the references I've been using).  On the one hand disappointing that I couldn't resolve it fully but on the other hand satisfying that I finally managed to get as far as I think is possible with such a troublesome beast.

Elodes sp., North Elmham, 19th July 2017

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