22 July 2014

Warm spell brings out the moths

The mothing at my home in Worcester Park has been nuts over the last few days, with warm and humid conditions producing lots of activity around the actinic. I don't know how many species I've recorded (a lot) or individuals (hundreds) but there's been a lot of highlights - some nationally scarce species, lots of beautiful species, and some approaching plague numbers.

Highlights from trapping sessions on the nights of 16/17, 17/18 and 19/20 July include:

Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea - 1 on 19/20 July
The Sycamore Acronicta aceris - 1 on 19/20 July
Hoary Footman Eilema caniola - 2 on 19/20 July
Dingy Footman Eilema griseola - 1 on 16/17 July
Sallow Kitten Furcula furcula - 1 on 19/20 July
Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae - 2 on 18 July, 11 on 19/20 July
Rosy Footman Miltochrista miniata - 1 on 16/17 July, 1 on 18/19 July
Ruby Tiger Phragmatobia fuliginosa - 1 on 19/20 July
Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria - 1 on 20 July
Scarce Footman Eilema complana - 3 on 17/18 July
Scalloped Oak Crocallis elinguaria - 1 on 17/18 July
Single-dotted Wave Idaea dimidiata - 1 on 17/18 July, 1 on 20 July
Cloaked Minor Mesoligia furuncula - 3 on 16/17 July
Least Carpet Idaea rusticata - 3 on 16/17 July
Marbled Beauty Cryphia domestica - 2 on 16/17 July
Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata, 1 on 16/17 July
Swallow-tailed Moth Ourapteryx sambucaria, 1 on 16/17 July, 1 on 18 July
White-spotted Pug Eupithecia tripunctaria 1 on 16/17 July
Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata - 1 16/17 July, 1 18 July
Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba 1 on 17/18 July
Thicket Knot-horn Trachycera suavella - 1 on 16/17 July
Clouded Slender Caloptilia populetorum - 1 on 17 July
Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella - 2 on 16/17 July
Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella - 1 on 16/17 July
Golden-brown Tubic Batia (Crassa) unitella - 1 on 18 July, 1 on 20 July
Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella - 1 on 19 July
Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana - 1 on 16/17 July, 1 on 17/18 July
Marbled Piercer Cydia splendana - 1 on 19/20 July
Woodland Marble Orthotaenia undulana - 1 on 17/18 July
Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella - lots on 19/20 July
Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella - huge numbers (hundreds) over this period, probably originating from the Horse Chestnut opposite my garden. Amazing to think that this species was discovered as recently as 1984 in Greece (described as a new species in 1986) and first recorded in Britain in 2002 (just down the road in Wimbledon). It has now 'infected' most of Britain. A rather beautiful but tiny species - I need an extension tube for the macro lens to photograph it properly.

Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea, 20 July

The Sycamore Acronicta aceris, 20 July

Hoary Footman Eilema caniola, 20 July

Scarce Footman Eilema complana, 17/18 July

Dingy Footman Eilema griseola, 17 July

Sallow Kitten Furcula furcula, 20 July

Ruby Tiger Phragmatobia fuliginosa, 20 July

Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria, 20 July

11 Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae, 20 July

Thicket Knot-horn Trachycera suavella, 17 July

Clouded Slender Caloptilia populetorum, 17 July

Bird-cherry Ermine Yponomeuta evonymella, 17 July

Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella, 16/17 July

Golden-brown Tubic Batia (Crassa) unitella, 18 July - love the declining posture of this species.

Marbled Piercer Cydia splendana, 20 July

Woodland Marble Orthotaenia undulana, 18 July

9 July 2014

Proto garden moth list

I'm not one for keeping lists, but while learning about moths and doing so much moth trapping, I thought I'd start a garden moth list. I'm still adding many common species, and over the last few weeks I've added a few more species and also trapped some beautiful mid-summer species, including.

1 Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria, 6 July - nationally scarce (Nb)
1 Pied Grey Eudonia delunella, 5 July - a nationally scarce micro (Nb)
1 Rosy Footman Miltochrista miniata, 6 July
1 Cypress Carpet Thera cupressata, 6 June
1 Swallow-tailed Moth Ourapteryx sambucaria, 7 July
1 Rough-winged Conch Phtheochroa rugosana, 6 June
1 Swallow-tailed Moth Ourapteryx sambucaria, 6 July
1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua fimbriata, 5 July

I find that I remember the key identification features better if I photograph them, so here's a few pics from the last few week's mothing at home.

Rosy Footman Miltochrista miniata, 6 July

Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria, 6 July (Nationally Scarce B)

Pied Grey Eudonia delunella, 5 July - a scarce woodland species (Nationally Scarce B)

Cypress Carpet Thera cupressata, 6 June. First recorded in Britain in 1984 in West Sussex, this species has become established
in parts of southern England.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua fimbriata

Swallow-tailed Moth Ourapteryx sambucaria, 6 July

Peppered Moth Biston betularia, 6 July

Rough-winged Conch Phtheochroa rugosana, 6 June - a local woodland specialist, found mainly in southern England

6 July 2014

Moth Night 2014 at Mitcham Common: 5 July

Met up with Peter Alfrey and Derek Coleman last night for some moth trapping at Mitcham Common in Surrey for moth night 2014. We ran three MV traps in a small patch of oak woodland close to the boundary with Beddington Farmlands known as the Gunsite (TQ 28535 67263) for three hours from 21:47. The theme of this year's Moth Night is woodland moths. We caught several oak specialities, plenty of other woodland species, and a couple of immigrants. Got a few identifications to confirm before I submit our records to Moth Night, but the list so far is as follows:

2 Scarce Silver-lines Bena bicolorana
4 Black Arches Lymantria monacha
3 September Thorn Ennomos erosaria
1 Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria
1 Green Oak Tortrix Tortrix viridana
2 Kent Black Arches Meganola albula
1 White-point Mythimna albipuncta
1f Ghost Moth Hepialus humuli
1 Dusky Sallow Eremobia ochroleuca
1 Buff Arches Habrosyne pyritoides
1 Peach Blossom Thyatira batis
1 Buff Footman Eilema depressa
1 Peppered Moth Biston betularia
1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua fimbriata
1 Marbled White Spot Protodeltote pygarga
1 Dingy Footman Eilema griseola
1 Early Thorn Selenia dentaria
1 Common Emerald Hemithea aestivaria
Several Small Fan-footed Wave Idaea biselata
1 Holly Tortrix Rhopobota naevana
1 Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla
5 The Dun-bar Cosmia trapezina
2 The Clay Mythimna ferrago
1 Hoary Footman Eilema caniola
1 The Flame Axylia putris
2 Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis
1 Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis
1 Heart & Club Agrotis clavis
2 Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella
1 Small Magpie Eurrhypara hortulata
1 Common Footman Eilema lurideola
1 Small Fan-foot Herminia grisealis
1 July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata
2 Smoky Wainscot Mythimna impura
1 Bee Moth Aphomia sociella
1 Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella
1 The Coronet Craniophora ligustri
1 Elephant Hawk-moth Deilephila elpenor
1 Riband Wave Idaea aversata
1 Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum
1 Bordered Pug Eupithecia succenturiata
1 Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana
1 Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis heparana
1 Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella
1 Hook-marked Straw Moth Agapeta hamana
1 Chequered Grass-veneer Catoptria falsella
2 Rosy Tabby Endotricha flammealis
1 Double-striped Tabby Orthopygia glaucinalis
1 Barred Marble Celypha striana
1 Twin-barred Knot-horn Homoeosoma sinuella
2 Cock's-head Bell Zeiraphera isertana
1 Warted Knot-horn Acrobasis repandana
Lots of Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella
1 Base-lined Grey Scoparia basistrigalis
1 Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana
Lots of Brown-spot Flat-body Agonopterix alstromeriana
1 Hoary Bell Eucosma cana

Black Arches Lymantria monacha

Scarce Silver-lines Bena bicolorana

Female Ghost Moth Hepialus humuli

Weather: Cloudy, very light SW wind, fairly warm, rain earlier in the day.
Date and time: 5 July 21:47 - 6 July 00:40.

24 June 2014

Moth trapping on Dartmoor

Just back from a week staying with our friends Kevin and Donna Cox at their 'pad' Brook Manor, in the Mardle Valley on the east side of Dartmoor. We made good use of Kevin's Robinson MV moth trap and recorded a huge diversity of species over four trapping sessions. White Ermine Spilosoma lubricipeda was the most abundant species, but we also recorded a wide diversity of species, a few regional specialities as well as a few migrants. Here's a selection of the species trapped during the week.

Double Line Mythimna turca, 10 June - largely confined to south-west England and south Wales

Lobster Moth Stauropus fagi, 10 June

Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria, 10 June

Buff-tip Phalera bucephala on a broken Silver Birch twig - amazing camouflage!

Mating Buff-tips Phalera bucephala, 9 June

Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor, 9 June

Small Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila porcellus, 9 June

Pebble Prominent Notodonta ziczac, 9 June

Green Silver-lines Pseudoips prasinana, 9 June

Small Angle Shades Euplexia lucipara, 9 June

Pale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda, 9 June

Barred Umber Plagodis pulveraria, 9 June

Brown Rustic Rusina ferruginea, 9 June - note the rather worn look, even though it is fresh

Peppered Moth Biston betularia, 9 June

Beautiful Golden Y Autographa pulchrina, 9 June

Peach Blossom Thyatira batis, 10 June

True Lover's Knot Lycophotia porphyrea, 13 June

Foxglove Pug Eupithecia pulchellata, 10 June

Brindled Plume Amblyptilia punctidactyla, 10 June

13 June 2014

Rare ground beetles on Dartmoor: 13 June

Rachel and I met up with John Walters again this evening, this time to visit Dendles Wood - a patch of ancient oak pasture woodland situated on the southern edge of Dartmoor, to search for Britain's largest ground beetle - the Blue Ground Beetle Carabus intricatus. Blue Ground Beetles are nocturnal, spending the day in the soil and emerging after dark to climb the moss-covered oaks to hunt slugs. Spring to early summer is the best time to see them, when the adults are most active searching for mates1.

Blue Ground Beetle is an Endangered Red Data Book species now restricted to just seven sites in south-west England and a single site in Wales, with southern Dartmoor being the species stronghold. They have only ever been recorded at 15 sites in Britain, and have been considered extinct more than once2.

A couple of hours lamping moss covered oaks produced 2 Blue Ground Beetles, 1 Lesser Searcher Calosoma inquisitor devouring a caterpillar - a behaviour very rarely witnessed in the wild as this rare beetle tends to feed high in the canopy, 3 Ridged Violet Ground Beetles Carabus problematicus, and a single Moorland Ground Beetle Carabus arvensis. Also, another previously captured Lesser Searcher was released by John.

Tonight was quite dry so slugs were thin on the ground, apart from a single Leopard Slug Limax maximus. Also noted were a Nalassus laevioctostriatus - a Darkling (Tenebrionid) beetle, and a colony of Tree lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria.

Blue Ground Beetle Carabus intricatus, Dendles Wood

Lesser Searcher Calosoma inquisitor, feasting on a caterpillar (that was still alive when we first found it), Dendles Wood

Ridged Violet Ground Beetle Carabus problematicus, Dendles Wood

Moorland Ground Beetle Carabus arvensis, Dendles Wood - more commonly found on the open moor

Tree lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria - an epiphytic Lobariaceae lichen indicative of ancient forest, widely distributed across the
northern hemisphere and even recorded in tropical rainforest in Costa Rica (more here).

A huge thanks to John Walters for a fascinating and very memorable evening. I learn't a lot about these amazing insects and their ecology, and being eaten alive by midges was a small price to pay! For more information on the Blue Ground Beetle see John's website (where you can download some identification excellent guides) and the references below.


1 Baldock, N. & Walters, J. (2008) The Wildlife of Dartmoor. Newton Abbot: Wotton Printers.
2 Boyce, D. & Walters, J. (2001) The conservation of the Blue Ground Beetle in south-west England. British Wildlife 13: 101-108.