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.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Some new beetles

Antoher relatively good night on 18th February produced 2 new moths for the year: Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana and Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana. There were also March Moth, 2 Dotted Borders, Early Moth, Hebrew Character and 5 Chestnuts.

Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 18th February

Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 18th February

The following night brought March Moth, 2 Pale Brindled Beauties, Hebrew Character, 4 Chestnuts and a Minotaur Beetle.

Minotaur Beetle, North Elmham, 19th February

There were only 2 moths on 20th but these included my first Satellite of the year (along with a March Moth).

Satellite, North Elmham, 20th February

A tiny beetle in one of the egg-trays turned out to be Bembidion obtusum, a new one for me.

Bembidion obtusum, North Elmham, 20th February

There were no moths in the trap last night but a Dotted Border on one of the windows.

I've also been looking at some more beetles I retained over last summer but couldn't resolve at the time.  This has produced a couple of new (for me) species taken at Warham Greens on 16th June: Amara apricaria and Curtonotus convexiusculus.  The two were rather similar-looking medium-sized ground beetles but one (the Curtonatus) was distinctly larger than the other and there were several differences under the microscope.  The Curtonatus is a coastal species.

Amara apricaria, Warham Greens, 16th June 2017

Curtonatus convexiusculus, Warham Greens, 16th June 2017

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Springtail and spring moths

A few nights with no moths came to an end with a Chestnut on 8th February.  The following day I identified a spider in the house as Amaurobius similis (I'm still working on the assumption that the similar fenestralis wouldn't be indoors but I'm not quite sure I've interpreted that correctly).

Amaurobius similis, North Elmham, 9th February

That night a Winter Moth was my latest ever and first February record.

Winter Moth, North Elmham, 9th February

Also in the trap was a Springtail.  I don't have a key for Springtail species identification but as far as I can tell from googling this one was Orchesella cincta (a very common species).  I think I've seen one before but I can't find any reference to it in my notes so I'm counting it as a first.  Springtails are supposed to be the most abundant creatures just about everywhere, but being tiny and living in the soil most of us are completely unaware of their existence.  They don't normally come to light - on the contrary - but I've seen at least 3 of the larger species when moth trapping now.  I don't recall seeing any actually inside the trap before though and it makes you wonder how it got there - did it jump in, or did it somehow get dropped in?

Orchesella cincta, North Elmham, 9th February

There were 2 Chestnuts the following night, the last moths for a couple of nights.  A 2-spot Ladybird woke up from hibernation in my study on 12th which reminded me I'd not put down any of the Harlequins that were doing likewise yet this year.

There were 2 moths on each of 13th, 14th and 15th: Early Moth and Chestnut, Dotted Border and Chestnut and Early Moth and Chestnut.

Nothing on 16th but the night of 17th February was the best night of the year so far in terms of numbers and variety with 8 moths of 4 species: March Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Hebrew Character and 5 Chestnuts. The March Moth was new for the year and the 5 Chestnuts was a record count for here.  Not bad for a frosty night!

March Moth, North Elmham, 17th February

I'm beginning to work through a few beetles I retained earlier last year but couldn't key them out successfully at the time.  Having practised a bit more over the course of last year I think I'm hoping I'll be able to name some of them now.  Certainly it's starting off that way.  The first I've re-examined was a Cabbage Flea Beetle Phyllotreta cruciferae, one of at least 6 similar beetles at Hills and Holes on 7th May and a new species for me.

Cabbage Leaf Beetle Phyllotreta cruciferae, Hills and Holes, 7th May 2017

The second and third were both species I'd identified before without resorting to keys, but for some reaons I'd hit a barrier when I looked at them in the spring.  Both were from 11th May, one a Tabacco-coloured Longhorn Beetle Alosterna tabacicolor from Thursford Wood and the other a Common Grammoptera Grammoptera ruficornis, one of 30 seen at Brancaster.

Tobacco-coloured LonghornBeetle Alosterna tabacicolor, Thursford Wood, 11th May 2017

Common Grammoptera Grammoptera ruficornis, Broad Lane, Brancaster, 11th May 2017

The next one eventually proved to be Luperus longicornis, another new species for me this time from Holt Lowes on 13th June.

Luperus longicornis, Holt Lowes, 13th June 2017

Sunday, 18 February 2018

2018 off the blocks

The year got off to a slow start without any moths until a Mottled Umber on 5th January.  The beetles got off the ground slightly quicker though, with a Minotaur Beetle on 4th January.

Minotaur Beetle, North Elmham, 4th January 2018

I think this spider is a Walnut Orb Weaver Nuctenea umbratica - I understand the marks on the underside of the abdomen are distinctive though I'm still not entirely clear if they're diagnostic.  However unlike the last one I had at home I could see the top side of this one a bit too, and that seems to support the ID of umbratica.

Walnut Orb Weaver Nuctenea umbratica, North Elmham, 6th January

Next up for the moths was an Early Moth on 6th - presumably recently emerged although it already looked like it had been through the wars.

Early Moth, North Elmham, 6th January

After a couple of blank nights there was Winter Moth (and another Mottled Umber) on 9th and Pale Brindled Beauty (and another Winter Moth) on 10th.

Pale Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 10th January

I'm not sure how unusual it really is but a Common Wasp in my study the next day seemed quite unseasonal to me.

Common Wasp, North Elmham, 11th January

There was another Pale Brindled Beauty that night and an Early Moth the following night.  Then a run of blanks before another Pale Brindled Beauty on 18th.  22nd January was the first night of the year with 3 species of moth: Early Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty and my first Chestnut of the year.

The following night was even better - 4 species and 6 moths: Dotted Border new for the year along with Pale Brindled Beauty, Early Moth and 3 Chestnuts.  It wasn't just moths either - there was a Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis and my first bug of the year, Tarnished Plant Bug Lygus rugulipennis.

Dotted Border, North Elmham, 23rd January

Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis, North Elmham, 23rd January

Tarnished Plant Bug Lygus rugulipennis, North Elmham, 23rd January

It eased off again after this with Pale Brindled Beauty and Chestnut on 24th, another Chestnut on 25th and then a nil return. 

My first micro of the year on 27th, a Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana.  Also Pale Brindled Beauty, Early Moth and 3 Chestnuts.

Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana (female, gen det), North Elmham, 27th January

A nice surprise the following night was an Oak Beauty, about a week earlier than my previous earliest.  Also Early Moth and 2 Chestnuts.

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 24th January

There were more Early Moths on 31st January and 2nd February and 3rd February, and on the 2nd also a Hebrew Character, a real surprise as it's more than 3 weeks earlier than my previous earliest record.

Hebrew Character, North Elmham, 2nd February

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Southern Bell, the last new moth of the year

My last night moth-trapping before I went away for the first 3 weeks or so of November proved to be a good finale to the season.  The main highlight was a tortrix that I didn't immediately recognise.  It soon proved to be a Southern Bell Crocidosema plebejana, a relatively new arrival to Britain that has only been recorded in Norfolk about 5 times previously.  A lifer for me and my last new moth at home this year (bringing my garden moth list up to 786).

Southern Bell  Crocidosema plebejana (female, gen det), North Elmham, 31st October

I would miss the main flight period for December Moth (which, despite its name, is November) so it was good to get my first for the year in just before I went away.

December Moth, North Elmham, 31st October

I resumed trapping at home after an excellent trip to Oman on 21st November, catching a single Sprawler.  No moths the next night but a caddisfly: Limnephilus lunatus.  The following night there were 3 moths: a December Moth, a November Moth agg. and a Sprawler.  That was it until 2nd December when this Winter Moth turned up.

Winter Moth, North Elmham, 2nd December

Over the next few days there were 2 December Moths and 3 Winter Moths on 3rd, December Moth on 4th, 2 December Moths, Winter Moth and Mottled Umber on 5th and Mottled Umber on 6th.  Then there was another lull in activity broken only by single Mottled Umbers on 10th and 12th.

The lull ended on the night of 20th December when 3 species of moth and 1 caddisfly appeared, including my first ever December Pale Brindled Beauty.  This species normally appears in January and February but there are quite a few records in December - not here until now though.  The others were 2 Winter Moth, Mottled Umber and Limnephilus lunatus.

Pale Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 20th December

Next day there was less variety but December Moth, a record count of 5 Mottled Umbers and my second record of Micropterna sequax (caddisfly).

Micropterna sequax (male), North Elmham, 21st December

The following night there was Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, December Moth, Winter Moth and a Dark Chestnut.

Dark Chestnut, North Elmham, 22nd December

There were no moths the following night but a Minotaur Beetle in the bottom of the trap was my first here this year.

Minotaur Beetle, North Elmham, 23rd December

The year ended with Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla and Chestnut on 30th and a single Chestnut on New Year's Eve.

I ended up with a total of 578 species of moth in my garden in 2017 (291 micros, 287 macros) - quite a long way short of 2016 (when I recorded 627 species), confirming what we all knew, which was that it was quite a poor year.  If you take away the 7 species I only recorded in 2017 by using clearwing lures (which I didn't use in 2016) it was 56 species (9%) down on 2016.

Among the 578 were 66 that were new for the garden.  I only need another 14 needed to bring the garden list up to 800, surely within reach for 2018, before the end of my 4th year here maybe...?  I only had 60 new moths for Norfolk in 2017 - I don't have comparable data for previous years but this must be a long way down on any previous year since I started mothing seriously.  No surprise there of course - the more you see the harder it is to find new species (unless you go twitching moths which I have no plans to start doing).

It was a good year for me personally in getting to grips with other groups though.  In the garden I recorded 8 species of mayfly, 37 bugs (21 heteropteran & 16 homopteran), 2 barklice 15 lacewings, 48 beetles and 39 caddisflies.  Among them were two firsts for Norfolk, both Waxflies (which come under lacewings), Coniopteryx esbenpeterseni and Semidalis pseudouncinata.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Scarce Bordered Straw and a host of bugs

It was a good year for Scarce Bordered Straw but it took me until late October before I added this species to my largely migrant-free garden list.  24th October wasn't a particularly remarkable night for moths in general but this scarce migrant more than made up for that.  Very pleased to finally get one here.

Scarce Bordered Straw, North Elmham, 24th October

Other moths were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 7 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, Common Marbled Carpet, 6 November Moths, 2 Pale November Moths, 4 Feathered Thorns, Light Emerald, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Sprawler, 3 Black Rustics, 4 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, 7 Yellow-line Quakers, 2 Beaded Chestnuts and 2 Straw Dots.

It was actually a better night for bugs (including leafhoppers) than for moths.  Heteropteran bugs consisted of a Parent Bug, the first time I've recorded that here, a Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae and a noteworthy 3 Tarnished Plant Bugs Lygus rugulipennis.  I've not been doing the trickier-to-ID bugs like this for long but I have been checking them for the whole of this year and I'd only seen a single up to now so 3 in a night must be pretty good for here.

Parent Bug, North Elmham, 24th October

At least 6 species of leafhopper in the moth trap can't be bad either, and they included one species I'd not recorded before: Eupteryx decemnotata (though this had to be identified from photos as it escaped - I think it's a safe ID but please shout if you disagree).  In the same genus Eupteryx urticae was also new for the garden.  The others were 2 Empoasca vitis, 3 Kybos sp. (all females so not fully identifiable - most probably betulicola but possibly smaragdula), 2 Fagocyba cruenta and an Edwardsiana sp. (female so not fully identifiable).

Eupteryx decemnotata, North Elmham, 24th October

Eupteryx urticae, North Elmham, 24th October

Other inects included 4 Chrysoperla carnea (2 confirmed males), the water beetle Rhantus suturalis and the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

A Common Carder Bee next day was the first I'd positively identified in my garden this year, though I'm pretty sure there have been lots that I haven't nailed (I tend to only look hard at the ones that come inside or get caught in the moth trap).

Moths trapped on 25th were 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 November Moths, 3 Feathered Thorns, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Merveille du Jour, 5 Yellow-line Quakers, Barred Sallow, Pale Mottled Willow and Snout.

Having failed to convince myself about a likely Empoasca decipiens a few days earlier it was good to get another chance.  No doubt about this one, a new addition to the garden leafhopper list.

Empoasca decipiens, North Elmham, 25th October

There wasn't much else - the caddisflies Limnephilus auricula and Limnephilus lunatus were all I recorded.

Perhaps the biggest surprise the following night was a Common Quaker - a common species in spring but one I'd not seen in autumn before.

Common Quaker, North Elmham, 26th October

Although that was unexpected the best moth of the night was a Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, a new species for the garden.  It also appears to be the first adult to be recorded in the vice-county (there are mine and larval records).  It wasn't my first - one at my previous house was the first adult to be recorded in the whole county.

Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, North Elmham, 26th October

Other moths that night were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 3 November Moths, Pale November Moth (plus a female November Moth agg.), 2 Feathered Thorns, Large Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Merveille du Jours, Satellite, 4 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Large Wainscot and Straw Dot. Caddisflies were Limnephilus affinis and Limnephilus lunatus.

The moth trap was very poor on my birthday night: just Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, November Moth, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and Beaded Chestnut.

The following night wasn't much better for moths (though Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis was a migrant and only my second this year) but it picked up a few other interesting things.  The other moths were Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, November Moth agg., 2 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Brick, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Straw Dot and Snout.  Caddisflies consisted of 4 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus and there was a Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae.  The barkfly Ectopsocus briggsi was new for the year.

Ectopscocus briggsi (male), North Elmham, 28th October

Leafhoppers consisted of a Fagocyba cruenta and 2 of a new species for me (although they looked familiar so I think I've seen them before without identifying them) - Lindbergina aurovittata.

Lindbergina aurovittata, North Elmham, 28th October

The following night produced only Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Sprawler, 2 Bricks, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Flounced Chestnut

A good night on 19th October with 51 moths of 22 species.  I didn't immediately recognise the best one but when Dave suggested the ID it was obvious (well, fairly).  Indeed I'd been keeping an eye out for one as I'd never seen one before but they're usually a bit more strongly marked and I'd not appreciated how plain they could be.  It was a Flounced Chestnut, a very welcome macro lifer for so late in the season.  They're a little on the scarce side so it's not entirely surprising that I'd not seen one before but there are a few records in Norfolk every year.

Flounced Chestnut, North Elmham, 19th October

The other moths were Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 6 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Ashy Buttons Acleris sparsana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, Large Yellow Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 7 Black Rustics, 4 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Brick, Red-line Quaker, 10 Yellow-line Quakers, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, Angle Shades, Large Wainscot, Burnished Brass and 2 Straw Dots.

Other insects included 5 Chrysoperla carnea (green lacewing), Limnephilus auricula, Limnephilus flavicornis, 15 Limnephilus lunatus, Limnephilus marmoratus, Halesus radiatus (caddisflies), Pinalitus cervinus (bug) and a leafhopper that was probably Empoasca decipiens (would be new for the house but I wasn't entirely convinced by the externals and couldn't make the genitalia quite fit either, though I couldn't find anything else that fitted better).

I think this ugly little beast in my study the next day was Amaurobius similis.  I still dislike spiders but I'll try to identify them so long as I don't have to touch them or get too close.  Maybe one day I'll grow to like them, but for now, ugh.

Amaurobius similis, North Elmham, 20th October

Slightly fewer moths that night: 2 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 November Moths, Pale November Moth, 2 Feathered Thorns, 3 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 2 Black Rustics, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Merveille du Jours, 2 Bricks, 5 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Straw Dot and Snout.

Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, North Elmham, 20th October

The only lacewings and caddisflies were Chrysoperla carnea, Limnephilus affinis and 7 Limnephilus lunatus but hot on the heals of my first identified ones a few days earlier there were 5 Fagocyba cruenta (yellow leafhoppers).

There was a big drop in moth numbers the following night: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, November Moth, Pale November Moth, Black Rustic, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.  But it was worth putting the trap on for the leafhoppers - two more yellow leafhoppers, one another Fagocyba cruenta but the other a new one for me, Alnetoidea alneti.  The joy of being fairly new to identifyting a group like this is that you can still pick up new species from among the common ones - and this one is supposed to be "extremely common".

Alnetoidea aneti, North Elmham, 21st October

Fagocyba cruenta, North Elmham, 21st October

A Froghopper hopped away before I could ID it and the only other insects I noted were caddisflies: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

Things quietened down the following night with just Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, 5 Yellow-line Quakers and 2 Beaded Chestnuts making up the moths and Chrysoperla carnea agg., Limnephilus flavicornis and Limnephilus lunatus the lacewings and caddisflies.

If 22nd was quiet 23rd made up for it.  The highlights among 58 moths of 28 species were my first Sprawler of the year and my first Mottled Umber of the autumn but a much bigger surprise was an Orange Pine Tortrix Lozotaeniodes formosana.  Not because it's rare (though it is unusual here - I've only seen one here before, this July) or because it's stunning (though it certainly is) but because of the late date.  They normally finish flying in August and I think this might be the latest ever in Norfolk.

Orange Pine Tortrix Lozotaeniodes formosana, North Elmham, 23rd October

Blair's Shoulder-knot (left) and Sprawler (right), North Elmham, 23rd October

Mottled Umber, North Elmham, 23rd October

Other moths were 2 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, 4 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Red-green Carpet, 2 Pine Carpets, 9 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 4 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, White-point, 2 Common Wainscots, 2 Black Rustics, Blair's Shoulder-knot, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Satellite, Red-line Quaker, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, 5 Beaded Chestnuts, Rosy Rustic, 2 Large Wainscots, 2 Burnished Brasses, 3 Straw Dots and Snout.

November Moth (male), North Elmham, 23rd October - not every pale November Moth is a Pale November Moth...

It wasn't just moths in the trap - there were lots of leafhoppers.  Having had several in recent days I imagined all the bright yellow leafhoppers would be Fagocyba cruenta so didn't retain them all for checking.  Of those I did keep 2 were indeed cruenta but one turned out to be Edwardsiana flavescens, a new one for here.  Other leafhoppers included Alebra albostriella, 5 Empoasca vitis and probably 2 Kybos betulicola (the male confirmed, the female either this or smaragdula).

Edwardsiana flavescens, North Elmham, 23rd October

Alebra albostriella, North Elmham, 23rd October

There were also 2 mirid bugs (Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae and Pinalitus cervinus), 2 barkflies Valenzuela flavidus, the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea and the caddisflies Limnephilus affinis, Limnephilus auricula, Limnephilus flavicornis and 9 Limnephilus lunatus.

Someone once pointed out a spider to me which they identified as Nuctenea umbratica on the basis of two white marks on the underside of its abdomen.  This spider in my shed had similar markings, but whether that's diagnostic or not I'm not sure.  I didn't get a good look at the top side of it.

Spider (possibly Nuctenea umbratica?), North Elmham, 24th October