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.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

A new ladybird, more Small Yellow Underwings and a ex-larva correction

A sunny afternoon walk round the Meadows on Friday afternoon was very productive.  I found 3 Small Yellow Underwings (same fields but different places to last time) though I'm still not really happy with my photos - I just can't seem to get things like this fully sharp using my 7D - not sure why.

Small Yellow Underwings, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Other half-decent moths included Hawthorn Bent-wing Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Lead-coloured Drill Dichrorampha plumbana and my first migrant at the meadows, a Silver Y.

Hawthorn Bent-wing Bucculatrix bechsteinella, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Lead-coloured Drill Dichrorampha plumbana (male, gen det), North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

I counted at least 32 Cocksfoot Moths Glyphipterix simpliciella but they were everywhere and I expect I'd have found hundreds if not thousands if I'd looked hard enough.  Other moths were Plain Gold Micropterix calthella, Hawthorn Slender Parornix anglicella, 6 Common Nettle-taps Anthophila fabriciana and Red Twin-spot Carpet.

Plain Gold Micropterix calthella, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Butterflies consisted of Small White, Green-veined White, 3 Orange-tips, Peacock and Speckled Wood, while my first Azure Damselfly of the year and 5 Large Red Damselflies made up the dragonflies.

Peacock, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

There were 2 Dock Bugs and my first 2 Red-and-black Froghoppers Cercopis vulnerata for the site.  Also a Leptopterna nymph, I suspect dolabrata but I don't think you can rule out ferrugata at this stage (let me know if I'm wrong about that).

Red-and-black Froghoppers Cercopis vulnerata, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Leptopterna sp. nymph, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Two beetles were both completely new species for me.  I've not been doing beetles that require microscopic examination for very long so new beetles are quite a regular feature for me, but one of these was a ladybird, the distinctive examples of which I have been identifying for quite a few years, so a new ladybird is a much more satisfying and exciting find.  It was a 24-spot Ladybird, a species with a scientific name that's way too long: Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata, though I see some sources transcribe it simply as Subcoccinella 24-punctata.

24-spot Ladybird, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

I don't think it's especially uncommon, but uncommon enough for me not to have noticed it before.  The other new beetle was one that required close examination, indeed I think I may have seen it before and misidentified it even after microscopic examination.  I eventually figured out that it was Polydrusus cervinus, a species that, unlike several other similar species, is not always a metallic green colour.  I was initially put off by its colour, thinking it must be one of the other Polydusus or Phyllobius species but in the end cervinus seemed to be the only species that ticked all the boxes, and it turns out they are quite often this green.  One or two of the other features were quite hard to see too, and I wonder if I may have got these wrong in the past as they're meant to be very common indeed.

Polydrusus cervinus, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Hoverflies included another Melanostoma mellinum and a new species for me, Sphaerophoria interrupta.

Sphaerophoria interrupta, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

I found a number of ants on a tree trunk and then swept some more off some nearby Common Vetch.  I was sure they were not one of the two species I'd identified up to now and sure enough they proved to be Negro Ants Formica fusca.  There was also a Common Red Ant Myrmica rubra among them.

Negro Ants Formuca fusca, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Bees included Flavous Nomad Bee Nomada flava, Red-tailed Bumblebee and Common Carder Bees.

Flavous Nomad Bee Nomada flava, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

This spider seems to be Tetragnatha montana I believe...

Tetragnatha montana, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Some nice flowers too, including these Hedgerow Cranesbill and Star-of-Bethlehem.

Hedgerow Cranesbill, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

Star-of-Bethlehem, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 18th May

A while ago I posted about an algae-covered larva I found at Bittering on 13th April.  I'd initially identified it as either Virgin Bagworm Luffia ferchaultella or White-speckled Bagworm Narycia duplicella, both of which have similar algae-covered larvae.  For reasons that I can no longer recall or fathom, I eventually plumped for the former and recorded it as Luffia ferchaultella.

It soon ate all the algae on the bit of bark I collected it on, so I returned to gather some more and put it in the pot with it.  After a few days it stopped munching and remained still - I wasn't sure if it had died or pupated, but kept it sitting on my desk and checked it daily.  On 19th May I looked again and noticed a change - protruding from the tip of the case were what looked like clear wings.  There was no sign of life though and I wondered if it had died on emergence - I hadn't at that point noticed any live insect in the pot.  I checked a bit harder and was pleased to see a moth sitting still on the bark.  Now Luffia ferchaultella is a parthenogenetic species and only wingless females are known.  This insect had wings, so it wasn't ferchaultella after all - it was Narcycia duplicella.  Anyway a first for me, not only a new species but the first time I've ever successfully reared a moth from a larva.

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

White-speckled Bagworm Narycia duplicella reared from the above larva, 19th May

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