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.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A rare new moth for Norfolk at Surlingham

On Saturday 26th August the Norfolk Moth Survey went to Brickyard Fen at Surlingham, close to the Ted Ellis reserve.  The weather was ok-ish and the habitat looked interesting so we were keen to see what we might catch.  It proved to be an excellent night with lots of interesting moths including three that were new to me.

The best of these was a fantastic find, picked out of Garry's trap it was passed round the group of us to look at.  I was last in line this time and had to listed to person after person deliberating over it, and struggling to put a name to it.  I was keen to see it - it sounded interesting!  Finally it reached me and I agreed with others that it looked like a Gynnidomorpha sp. or something similar, but not a species I recognised either.  A quick look at the British Moths app on my phone came up with a good match for Coast Conch Gynnidomoprha permixtana but the range map suggested that this species did not occur in East Anglia.  I had no internet connectivity here so couldn't investigate any further and took the moth home to have a more careful look.

Back at home a closer look and further investigation confirmed that it did indeed look like permixtana, but this would be a very significant record.  I found a picture of Gynnidomorpha vectisana that looked pretty close and deduced that this could not be positively ruled out without dissection.  Vectisana is fairly unlikely here, being a coastal species, but perhaps more likely than a species that hadn't been recorded in East Anglia before!  I couldn't find any other serious contenders though I couldn't be 100% sure that certain other species couldn't ever look like this.  Now it needed the chop to determine, but it wasn't entirely clear to me whether I would be able to resolve it even then - the differences in genitalia aren't huge.  One little bit of the genitalia has stout hairs on its tip in one species and fine bristles on the other species.  Would I be able to tell the difference between a stout hair and a fine bristle?  I wasn't sure, but by comparing what I could see with images on the internet I was now almost completely sure that we were indeed dealing with permixtana.  However, I thought I'd best get it checked out so sent photos to Jon Clifton for his advice.  He was pretty sure too, but in view of the significance of the record he forwarded my photos to Bob Heckford who is an expert on the species.  In the meantime Stuart reminded me of what I had forgotten he had said on the night, that there was a large amount of Red Bartsia growing at the site, one of permixtana's favourite foodplants. Finally we heard back from Bob... it was indeed Gynnidomorpha permixtana!

Coast Conch Gynnidomorpha permixtana (male, gen det, confirmed by J Clifton/B Heckford), Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

Far less unusual but still new moths for me were White-bodied Conch Cochylis hybridella and Spindle Knot-horn Nephopterix angustella.

White-bodied Conch Cochylis hybridella, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

Spindle Know-horn Nephopterix angustella, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

Other good records included 2 Large Lance-wings Epermenia falciformis, Oblique Carpet, Balsam Carpet, Bordered Beauty, Vapourer, 2 Crescents and 6 Webb's Wainscots.

Balsam Carpet, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

There was quite a bit of discussion about the ID of this Gold Spot with at least one person seemingly convinced it was Lempke's Gold Spot.  I wasn't convinced, but hoped he was right as it is a species I can't seem to find, so took it home to dissect and confirm.  Sadly it was just a Gold Spot (one of 5, not that I retained any more but we were all agreed about the others).

Gold Spot (male, gen det), Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

The other moths I saw were these (as usual for events like this the counts are the mimimum number I could remember seeing - there were probably lots more): Cork Moth Nemapogon cloacella, Golden Argent Argyresthia goedartella, 4 Triple-spot Dwarfs Elachista maculicerusella, 2 Hook-marked Straw Moths Agapeta hamana, 4 Cyclamen Tortrixes Clepsis spectrana, 8 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 20 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Smoky-barred Marbles Lobesia abscisana, 2 Rush Marbles Bactra lancealana, Grey Poplar Bell Epinotia nisella, Wainscot Veneer Chilo phragmitella, Bulrush Veneer Calamotropha paludella, 3 Pearl Veneers Agriphila straminella, 2 Common Grass-veneers Agriphila tristella, Ground-moss Grey Eudonia truncicolella, 5 Brown China-marks Elophila nymphaeata, Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, 2 Orange Swifts, 4 Chinese Characters, 2 Lesser Cream Waves, Common Carpet, Yellow Shell, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, 4 Green Carpets, Currant Pug, Clouded Border, 5 Brimstone Moths, 3 Dusky Thorns, 2 Willow Beauties, Engrailed, Common White Wave, 2 Common Waves, 5 Light Emeralds, Round-winged Muslin, Dingy Footman, 2 Ruby Tigers, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Flame, 10 Flame Shoulders, 25 Large Yellow Underwings, 2 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings, 10 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings, Small Square-spot, 25 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 6 Six-striped Rustics, 10 Square-spot Rustics, Cabbage Moth, Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 White-points, 2 Common Wainscots, Grey Dagger, 4 Copper Underwings, 3 Angle Shades, 2 Small Wainscots, Rosy Rustic, Vine's Rustic, 3 Burnished Brasses, 8 Spectacles, Red Underwing, 3 Straw Dots, 4 Snouts and Pinion-streaked Snout.

Small Wainscot, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

Two leafhoppers both proved to be new species for me: Macrosteles viridigriseus and Eupteryx aurata.  Other insects included 3 Pond Olives Cloeon dipterum, Slender Groundhopper, Birch Shieldbug and Forest Bug.

Macrosteles viridigriseus, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

Eupteryx aurata, Surlingham Brickyard Fen, 26th August

After all that I might have expected a reasonable night at home, but it was rubbish! Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 5 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Common Grass-veneers Agriphila tristella, 3 Elbow-stripe Grass-veneers Agriphila geniculea, Single-dotted Wave, Brimstone Moth, 3 Willow Beauties, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Lesser Yellow Underwing, 2 Small Square-spots, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Square-spot Rustics, 4 Common Wainscots, 5 Flounced Rustics and Rosy Rustic.  Also the mayflies Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum and Blue-winged Olive Serratella ignita, the caddisflies Hydropsyche pellucidula and Grouse Wing Mystacides longicornis and the beetles Black Clock Beetle Pterostichus madidus and 2 Aphodius rufipes.

Perhaps one reason there weren't many moths at home was this frog... They've been becoming more adventurous, starting off sitting on the sheet round the outside of the trap, then hopping up on top of the trap and it was only a matter of time before I found one inside the trap.

Common Frog, North Elmham, 26th August

Potentially the best moth the following night escaped before I could confirm it.  I wondered if it was a Pearly Underwing as it appeared to show a bit of a thoracic crest, but this wasn't particularly clear and in hindsight I feel it was more likely just a Turnip Moth (either way it would have been new for the year).  Other moths were Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 2 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 2 Elbow-stripe Grass-veneers Agriphila geniculea, Chinese Character, Blood-vein, 3 Single-dotted Waves, Dusky Thorn, Willow Beauty, 2 Light Emeralds, 4 Lesser Yellow Underwings, Small Square-spot, 2 Six-striped Rustics, 3 Common Wainscots, 5 Flounced Rustics, Rosy Rustic and 2 Burnished Brasses. Also Blue-winged Olive Serratella ignita, Limnephilus lunatus and Aphodius rufipes.

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