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.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Hawk-moth double act and a new Springtail

I found this Yellow-barred Brindle by the trap as I went to check it on the evening of Tuesday 15th, a new one for the year.

Yellow-barred Brindle, North Elmham, 15th May

There didn't seem to be many other moths in the trap and sure enough when I went through it in the morning there were only a dozen.  But these included my first two hawk-moths for the year, side by side on the same egg tray: Poplar Hawk-moth and Eyed Hawk-moth.  The others were Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Brindled Pug, 2 Brimstone Moths, Waved Umber, Pale Tussock, White Ermine, Early Grey and Nut-tree Tussock (and there was a Case-bearing Clothes Moth Tinea pellionella indoors).

Poplar Hawk-moth, North Elmham, 15th May

Eyed Hawk-moth, North Elmham, 15th May

White Ermine, North Elmham, 15th May

Next day Common Wave and 2 Spectacles were new for the year.  There were also Beech Midget Phyllonorycter maestingella, Common Pug, 2 Scalloped Hazels, Muslin Moth, Flame Shoulder, Hebrew Character and a Common Earwig.

Common Wave, North Elmham, 16th May

Spectacle, North Elmham, 16th May

Scalloped Hazel, North Elmham, 16th May

The following night Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis and Small Square-spot were added to the garden year list, and there were also Green Carpet, 3 Common Pugs, 2 Scalloped Hazels, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Coxcomb Prominent, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Flame Shoulder and Hebrew Character.

Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis, North Elmham, 17th May

Small Square-spot, North Elmham, 17th May

There was one other thing in the trap of note, a springtail.  Unlike the springtail I saw at the meadows a few days earlier the third segment of the antennae was of an even width, indicating this was genus Tomocerus.  This one had spines on the dens that I could see clearly (well, clearly once I had gently prised the two prongs of the furcula apart), and they were simple, not tri-dentate, indicating (I think) that it was Tomocerus vulgaris, a new species for me.  Although it was alive and kicking (or rather jumping) when I got it out of the trap, by the time I went to photograph it an hour or two later it had already died, so my only shots are of a dead springtail I'm afraid.  It doesn't show very well in the photo but under the microscope you could clearly see how the irridescent scales formed discrete bands around each segment of the abdomen, which I believe is characteristic of this species.

Tomocerus vulgaris, North Elmham, 17th May

Monday, 21 May 2018

New Pigmy for the garden

Another visit to the Cathedral Meadows on Monday 14th added a few more species to the list.  A Large White was the only new butterfly but I managed to get some better photos of other species including Holly Blue and Orange-tip (just too slow for Brimstone).

Holly Blue, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

Orange-tip, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

Green-veined White, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

As well as 5 Large Red Damselflies there was this Common Blue Damselfly, my first this year.

Common Blue Damselfly, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

A Dark-edge Bee-fly provided an opportunity for some flight shots...

Dark-edged Bee-fly, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

I only found 3 moths: Oak Satin Lift Heliozela sericiella, Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella and Vetch Piercer Grapholita jungiella.

Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

Hoverflies included another Melanostoma mellinum and my first Epistrophe eligans.

Epistrophe eligans, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

I eventually identified this bee as a Chocolate Mining Bee Andrena scotica.

Chocolate Mining Bee Andrena scotica, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 14th May

When I got home I found a Varied Carpet Beetle in the house.  Ironically I always seem to find them in the uncarpeted rooms - maybe the ones in the carpeted rooms are hiding in the carpets?

The star of that night's moth trap was a Coarse Hazel Pigmy Stigmella floslactella, a new species for the garden.

Coarse Hazel Pigmy Stigmella floslactella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 14th May

Also new for the year were Black-headed Conch Cochylis atricapitana, Pale Tussock, Heart and Dart (again, worn almost to the point of being unrecognisable) and a Cockchafer.

Black-headed Conch Cochylis atricapitana, North Elmham, 14th May

Pale Tussock, North Elmham, 14th May

Cockchafer, North Elmham, 14th May

Other moths were 3 Red Twin-spot Carpets, Garden Carpet, Green Carpet, Common Pug, Brimstone Moth, Chocolate-tip, Flame Shoulder and Nut-tree Tussock, while Mottled Sedge Glyphotaelius pellucidus and 3 Limnephilus auricula represented the caddisflies.

Brimstone Moth, North Elmham, 14th May

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Battered new moths for the year and a new beetle

Last Saturday night (12th May) produced a few moths with Flame Carpet, Spruce Carpet, 2 V-Pugs, Scalloped Hazel and White Ermine being new for the year.  It's always nice at this time of year when new species are appearing that you see them looking at their best, pristine fresh insects just emerged.  Well I don't know what's going on at the moment but they all seem to be coming out looking like they're on their last legs already.  Apart from the Spruce Carpet none of the above were especially smart, the V-Pugs and White Ermine were particularly well-worn already.

Flame Carpet, North Elmham, 12th May

Spruce Carpet, North Elmham, 12th May

V-Pug, North Elmham, 12th May

Other moths were Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acuminatella, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Brindled Pug, Double-striped Pug, Muslin Moth and Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acuminatella, North Elmham, 12th May

A Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum (a mayfly) was new for the year.

Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum, North Elmham, 12th May

It was a good night for caddisflies too.  The majority (11) were Limnephilus auricula but there were also Grammotaulius nigropunctatus and 2 Limnephilus sparsus, both new for the year.

Grammotaulius nigropunctatus (female), North Elmham, 12th May

Limnephilus sparsus (female top, male bottom), North Elmham, 12th May

Although it was a clear evening on Sunday the forecast promised it would cloud over at dusk so I thought it might be a good night for moths.  I should have learnt from last time and gone to the meadows before dark to see what was flying in the evening sunshine but instead went for the light-trapping option.  On arrival at dusk it was still clear and the forecast had pushed back the arrival time of the cloud, but it wasn't going to be long so I set up.  As I did so the forecast moved the cloud's arrival time back another hour and I could already feel the temperatures dropping.  I gave it a little time but there was hardly anything flying and the estimated arrival time of the cloud was still pushing back even later.  Instead of cloud, mist was forming, and just after 11pm I gave up with just 5 species of moths (most of which were seen in torchlight rather than coming to light).  They were Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, 4 Green Carpets, White-pinion Spotted, 4 Flame Shoulders and Powdered Quaker.

Flame Shoulder, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Slightly better from my perspective was a new species of hoverfly for me, though a common one that I have almost certainly overlooked: Melanostoma mellinum.

Melanostoma mellinum, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

A wander round with the headtorch resulted in the discovery of a few caterpillars which I believe are Common Footmen (at least on algae-covered fences) and a Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, on a rusty gate.

Common Footmen larvae, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing larva, North Elmham Cathedral Meadows, 13th May

Unsurprisingly, not many moths in the trap at home either: just Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent, Chocolate-tip and White Ermine. But there was a beetle that I haven't identified before, Leistus rufomarginatus.

Leistus rufomarginatus, North Elmham, 13th May

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Abundant rarely-recorded waxflies

I headed up to the Cathedral Meadows early on Saturday 12th May.  One striking feature was the abundance of Waxflies flying alongside the hedgerows.  There are several species of Waxfly and most are poorly recorded (which is presumably how I added two species to the Norfolk list from my garden last year).  Several can only be identified if they are male, so I retained enough to be reasonably confident that I would have males from each of the two tetrads I was covering.  In the end they were all males and they all proved to be Coniopteryx tineiformis, a very poorly-recorded species.  I had one at home in 2016 but prior to that there was just one record in Norfolk.  I have noticed early morning waxflies flying around hawthorns elsewhere at this time of year before - I bet this is actually a very common and widespread species that simply isn't recorded.  I don't suppose there are all that many people out at five in the morning with nets who are prepared to catch waxflies and examine their genitalia.  Quite odd really - I wonder why not?

Coniopteryx tineiformis (males, gen det), Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

There were also a few moths flying around including Common Thorn Midget Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae, Beech Midget Phyllonorycter maestingella, 5 Horse Chestnut Leaf-miners Cameraria ohridella, 2 Pearled Dwarfs Elachista apicipunctella and Little Mompha Mompha raschkiella.

Pearled Dwarf Elachista apicipunctella, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

Little Mompha Mompha raschkiella, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

This Scorpion Fly is another Panorpa germanica.

Parnorpa germanica, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

I think this springtail is Pogonognathellus longicornis, though it's quite a bit smaller than they can get, the antennae were only fractionally longer than the body and the filaments on the empodia (is that the pluaral of empodium?) weren't quite as long as they're supposed to be.  On the scarcer flavescens the antennae should be shorter than the body and the empodium shorter than the claw, neither of which were the case, quite.  I think the similar Tomocerus species have less tapered antennae and spines on the inside of the dens which I couldn't see, but I'm basing this primarily on the descriptions of the 4 Tomocerid species at Naturespot, and I'm not 100% sure there aren't any other contenders I should rule out (or in).

Pogonognathellus longicornis, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

I have struggled a bit using the key to land snails but decided to put a bit more effort in this year as I'm trying to record as many different taxa as possible at the meadows.  Today I identified White-lipped Snail, Strawberry Snail (both of which I had identified before) and Copse Snail (which was entirely new to me).

 Copse Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

White-lipped Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

Strawberry Snail, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May

As I understand it these slugs can't be identified to either Great Red Slug or Great Black Slug without dissection and examination of their genitalia.  For some reason looking at a slug's naughty bits is somehow less appealing than looking at a moth or waxfly's naughty bits...

Great Red Slug or perhaps Great Black Slug, Cathedral Meadows, 12th May