Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella is an exceedingly common species which can quite easily be found in their hundreds feeding in Ox-eye Daisies and other wildflowers during the day-time. I see them around North Elmham in abundance, but in four years of nightly light-trapping I have never caught a single individual in my garden. So when I found what looked very much like one in my moth trap, two thoughts went through my mind. First, this is a new moth for the garden, and second, given that simpliciella doesn't normally come to my trap, might this be one of the rarer congeners that I've never seen before, anywhere?
At first I thought it was perhaps a little larger than simpliciella that I'm used to seeing, which put me in mind of haworthana - but in fact it wasn't nearly big enough for that (I measured it just to be sure). Easily observable external features ruled out all but two species - the very common simpliciella and the much rarer schoenicolella. The literature cites three differences in the external appearance of these two species - the colour of the cilia (hairs) on the edge of the hindwing, which are very hard to see on an insect that tends to keep its hindwings covered up, the relative spacing of the bars along the costa (the leading edge of the wings) and the eveness in colour of the forewing and extent of copper near the apex. Having looked at scores of pictures of both species on the internet I am not convinced of the reliability of any of these features except the colour of the cilia. The few glimpses I got of its hindwings looked encouraging - very encouraging in fact. I was pretty sure I could see brilliant white cilia there, near the base of the wings, but I couldn't get a clear enough view to be sure while the insect was still alive. When I could eventually examine it without it moving I was delighted to see glistening white cilia at the proximal end of the dorsal edge of both hindwings, strongly contrasting with the greyer cilia in the outer half or two-thirds. It had to be Bog-rush Fanner Glyphipterix schoenicolella. That's an unexpected find here as it feeds on Black Bog-rush, a species that does not appear round according to the maps in A Flora of Norfolk. It's not all that far away though, and with a widespread scattering of records across the county (including Dereham and Reepham areas) I imagine it is possible that it grows closer to here than the maps show.
Bog-rush Fanner Glyphipterix schoenicolella, North Elmham, 2nd August
I checked the genitalia too, just to make doubly sure, although looking at the images of female genitalia of both species online it wasn't very clear what the differences are. One website suggests a possible difference but I couldn't really see this on the images, and indeed the relavant bit of the genitalia seems to be hard to keep intact when preparing specimens as it is completely missing from most photos (although I did see it on mine during prepraration I had lost it by the time I finished). However, I think I can see two or three other differences between the two species:
- On both species the papillae anales, the very tip of the abdomen, have a tiny discrete projection at their very tip. On simpiciella this seems to be bigger, starting as a continuation of the more proximal section and narrowing gradually to form a point, whereas on schoenicolella this seems to start narrower than the adjacent more proximal section, so stepped at least on the outer side and is therefore tinier and sharper.
- Between the two papillae anales just below their broadest sections the membrane is covered in longitudinally wrinkled light sclerotisation. This seems to be thicker and more sclerotised on schoenicolella, though I'm not sure how much this could depend on how the genitalia are prepared.
- On both species the sclerotisation on the 8th segment is extended centrally into a triangular pointed projection pointing distally. On schoenicolella this projection seems to be shorter, just a little longer than an equilateral triangle and with straight sides coming to a point, whereas on simpiciella it is more horn-shaped, a longer clearly isosceles triangle with convex sides and a rounded or at least blunt tip.
female genitalia of Bog-rush Fanner Glyphipterix schoenicolella, North Elmham, 2nd August
The second new moth for me was a slightly commoner species, Elm Midget Phyllonorycter tristrigella. There are a number of similar species but on this one the third dorsal fascia is distinctively angled back in a sort of chevron shape. I was therefore fairly confident about this ID before chopping it, but as its genitalia are also quite distinctive I checked it under the microscope too.
Elm Midget Phyllonorycter tristrigella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 2nd August
There were a number of other new moths for the year too: Oak Bent-wing Bucculatrix ulmella, Brown Rowan Argent Argyresthia semifusca, 2 Heather Tortrixes Argyrotaenia ljungiana, Orange Swift, Sallow Kitten and Six-striped Rustic.
Oak Bent-wing Bucculatrix ulmella, North Elmham, 2nd August
Brown Rowan Argent Argyresthia semifusca, North Elmham, 2nd August
Heather Tortrix Argyrotaenia ljungiana, North Elmham, 2nd August
Orange Swift, North Elmham, 2nd August
Sallow Kitten, North Elmham, 2nd August
Six-striped Rustic, North Elmham, 2nd August
A few other species were noteworthy too: White-speckled Clothes Moth Nemapogon koenigi, Pointed Slender Parornix finitimella, Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, Mouse-ear Groundling Caryocolum fraternella, Dark Umber and Twin-spotted Wainscot.
White-speckled Clothes Moth Nemapogon koenigi, North Elmham, 2nd August
Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, North Elmham, 2nd August
Mouse-ear Groundling Caryocolum fraternella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 2nd August
The other moths were Bordered Carl Coptotriche marginea, 3 Bird’s-nest Moths Tinea trinotella, Blackthorn Slender Parornix torquillella, Horse-Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella, Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella, 4 Diamond-backs Plutella xylostella, Clover Case-bearer Coleophora alcyonipennella, Woundwort Case-bearer Coleophora lineolea, 2 Golden-brown Tubics Crassa unitella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, Brindled Flat-body Agonopterix arenella, Dark Neb Bryotropha affinis, 2 Cinerous Nebs Bryotropha terrella, 2 House Nebs Bryotropha domestica, an Oegoconia sp. that escaped, 4 Dingy Dowds Blastobasis adustella, 2 Light Brown Apple-moths Epiphyas postvittana, Maple Button Acleris forsskaleana, 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 3 Rush Marbles Bactra lancealana, Holly Tortrix Rhopobota naevana, Bright Bell Eucosma hohenwartiana, Hoary Bell Eucosma cana, 3 Marbled Piercers Cydia splendana, Codling Moth Cydia pomonella, Pale-streak Grass-veneer Agriphila selasella, 38 Straw Grass-veneers Agriphila straminella, 24 Common Grass-veneers Agriphila tristella, Chequered Grass-veneer Catoptria falsella, 15 Water Veneers Acentria ephemerella, Ringed China-mark Parapoynx stratiotata, 4 Garden Pebbles Evergestis forficalis, Pale Straw Pearl Udea lutealis, 18 Mother of Pearls Pleuroptya ruralis, 4 Grey Knot-horns Acrobasis advenella, Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Maiden's Blush, Blood-vein, Small Fan-footed Wave, 4 Single-dotted Waves, 2 Riband Waves, 7 Red Twin-spot Carpets, 2 Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpets, 6 Common Carpets, Small Rivulet, 2 Maple Pugs, 2 Lime-speck Pugs, 2 Wormwood Pugs, Grey Pug, Magpie Moth, 2 Bordered Beauties, 2 Early Thorns, Iron Prominent, Yellow-tail, 6 Dingy Footmen, Common Footman, Buff Ermine, Ruby Tiger, 3 Turnip Moths, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 8 Flame Shoulders, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 13 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Square-spotted Clay, 2 Common Wainscots, Copper Underwing, 2 Straw Underwings, Angle Shades, 2 Dun-bars, Dark Arches, Common Rustic, Small Rufous and 9 Straw Dots.
Although the new moths were very exciting, neither of them were fully identified on the morning that I found them. Well neither was this lacewing, but I was pretty sure it would prove to be something I had never seen before. And so it turned out - it was Hemerobius nitidulus, a pine-feeding species that had been recorded in Norfolk 5 times up to 1988 and not since, at least until the last summary publication of records that was published in 2016.
Hemerobius nitidulus, North Elmham, 2nd August
Other brown lacewings were Hemerobius lutescens and 4 Micromus variegatus. Green lacewings consisted of Chrysopa commata (new for the year) and Dichochrysa flavifrons. The only mayflies were 5 Green Drakes Ephemera danica, and once again all five were dead in the bottom of the trap. Caddisflies were Hydropsyche pellucidula and 2 Hydropsyche siltalai.
Chrysopa commata, North Elmham, 2nd August
No new bugs for a change (lots recently) but a variety of species: Birch Shieldbug, Blepharidopterus angulatus, Lygus pratensis, Psallus haematodes and the leafhopper Empoasca vitis.
There was one more lifer waiting for me: a Lesser Mealworm Beetle Alphitobius diaperinus. Also among the beetles the water-beetle Rhantus suturalis was new for the year and there were 5 Bradycellus verbasci along with single Hydrobius fuscipes and Aphodius rufipes.
Lesser Mealworm Beetle Alphitobius diaperinus, North Elmham, 2nd August
Rhatnus suturalis, North Elmham, 2nd August
The following evening I had a wander round the Cathedral Meadows with a torch and found a selection of moths: Hawthorn Slender Parornix anglicella, Common Mompha Mompha epilobiella, Common Marble Celypha lacunana, Rush Marble Bactra lancealana, 2 Common Grass-veneers Agriphila tristella, Pale Straw Pearl Udea lutealis, 14 Mother of Pearls Pleuroptya ruralis, Orange Swift, Blood-vein, Single-dotted Wave, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Yellow Shell, Coxcomb Prominent, Flame Shoulder, Square-spotted Clay, 4 Silver Ys and Straw Dot. There were also 3 Common Earwigs, the green lacewing Dichochrysa flavifrons and 2 Common Toads.
Orange Swift, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 3rd August