Description


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, 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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Leafhoppers

A Red-green Carpet was new for the year at home on 15th October.  Other moths that night were Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 4 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Common Marbled Carpet, 7 November Moths, Black Rustic, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, 2 Red-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing and Straw Dot.   There were also caddisflies: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

At Burnham Overy the next day there was the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea among the Sea Buckthorn, a Small Copper and 4 Red Admirals, and the barkfly Graphopsocus cruciatus.

Graphopsocus cruciatus, Burnham Overy, 16th October


That afternoon it became eerily dark quite early on with calm conditions and dark grey cloud.  This prompted my to override the timer on my moth trap with a view to putting it on early.  Somehow in doing so I blew the electrics and so was forced to use my old Skinner trap for the next couple of nights (not quite as good at holding moths compared to the Robinsons).  I misdiagnosed the fault initially - it turned out to be the bulb so I could have just swapped the bulbs over but it took me a couple of days to realise that.  Anyway in the Skinner trap that night were Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 November Moths, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, Chestnut, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, Lunar Underwing, Barred Sallow, Chrysoperla carnea agg. and Limnephilus lunatus.

The following night was reasonably good with Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Brindled Flat-body Agonopterix arenella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, 7 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, Brick, 6 Beaded Chestnuts, Rosy Rustic and Burnished Brass.


Brick, North Elmham, 17th October


Four species of caddisflies included my first Limnephilus decipiens for the garden (closely following my first ever at Bacton Wood on 14th).  The others were Limnephilus affinis, 10 Limnephilus lunatus and Limnephilus vittatus.

Limnephilus decipiens, North Elmham, 17th October


The following night was excellent for the time of year - 76 moths of 21 species: a record 7 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Red-green Carpet, 6 November Moths, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 8 Large Yellow Underwings, 6 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 3 Black Rustics, 6 Green-brindled Crescents, 3 Merveille du Jours, 2 Satellites, 4 Yellow-line Quakers, 11 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Barred Sallows, Sallow, 2 Angle Shades, Rosy Rustic, Large Wainscot, 7 Straw Dots and Snout.

Red-green Carpet, North Elmham, 18th October


There were also 33 caddisflies: Limnephilus affinis, 3 Limnephilus auricula, 2 Limnephilus flavicornis and an impressive 27 Limnephilus lunatus.  Other insects included 4 Chrysoperla carnea (2 males, 2 agg. females), the bug Pinalitus cervinus and the water beetle Rhantus suturalis and, new for the year, the barkfly Valenzuela flavidus.

Valenzula flavidus, North Elmham, 18th October


It was the leafhoppers that provided the most interest though, with no less than 3 species all identified for the first time.  I'd trapped quite a few Kybos sp. previously including 4 females already this year that were either betulicola or smaragdula, but not fully identifable as females.  It would only be a matter of time before an identifiable male turned up and tonight was its turn, a male Kybos betulicola.

Kybos betulicola, North Elmham, 18th October


A Eupteryx melissae was a little more distinctive, and new for me.

Eupteryx melissae, North Elmham, 18th October


I've trapped quite a lot of plain yellow leafhoppers before and thought they were (at least) one of the difficult-to-identify Edwardsiana species.  In fact some examples of Fagocyba sp. are similar and I hadn't properly ruled those out.  Indeed, armed with online keys I'd not found until relatively recently I identified the four I caught on this occasion as Fagocyba cruenta.

Fagocyba cruenta, North Elmham, 18th October

Friday, 5 January 2018

Bacton Wood

The last field meeting of the year for the Norfolk Moth Survey was at Bacton Wood on Saturday 14th October.  We arrived a little late and when setting up I realised I'd forgotten my sheets.  The technique of suspending a light over a tripod on a white sheet is a little less effective when the white sheet is missing.  We did ok though - I had another trap and others brought theirs too.

Stuart found this occupied pupal case of a Common Bagworm Psyche casta on a tree trunk, a common species that's meant to be easy to find as a pupa, but the adult I'm still to find.

occupied pupal case of Common Bagworm Psyche casta, Bacton Wood, 14th October


Other moths were Small Red Slender Caloptilia rufipennella, Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 White-shouldered Smudges Ypsolopha parenthesella, Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella, 4 London Dowds Blastobasis lacticolella, White-faced Tortrix Pandemis cinnamomeana, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 8 Dark-triangle Buttons Acleris laterana, 2 Ashy Buttons Acleris sparsana, 4 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, Notch-wing Button Acleris emargana, Bud Moth Spilonota ocellana, Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, 2 Double-striped Tabbies Hypsopygia glaucinalis, Mallow, 3 Red-green Carpets, 3 Common Marbled Carpets, 4 Pine Carpets, 15 Grey Pine Carpets, 50 Spruce Carpets, 2 Pale November Moths, Brimstone Moth, Feathered Thorn, Buff Footman, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, 3 Chestnuts, Brick, 2 Barred Sallows and 3 Snouts.


Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella, Bacton Wood, 14th October


The only lacewing I retained was Chrysoperla carnea but a caddisfly was more interesting - my first Limnephilus decipiens (there were also 3 Limnephilus lunatus).

Limnephilus decipiens, Bacton Wood, 14th October


A Water Boatman proved to be Callicorixa praeusta, the first time I'd identified this species.

Callicorixa praeusta, Bacton Wood, 14th October


This psyllid was another lifer, Cacopsylla melanoneura.

Cacopsylla melanoneura, Bacton Wood, 14th October


Two leafhoppers were challenging.  I narrowed them down to one of the two Acericerus species but couldn't decide between Acericerus vittifrons and Acericerus ribauti.  The latter doesn't feature in the RES Handbook as its a recent arrival in the UK but the British Bugs website gives a couple of tips to identify the males (one of the two was a male).  Mine quite unambiguously had a long dark midline on the face rather like vittifrons (and quite unlike ribauti) and equally unambiguously had the short antennal palettes of ribauti (and clearly wrong for vittifrons).  These were the only similar species showing in the British Bugs gallery and the RES Handbook seeemed to confirm I was in the right area but didn't offer any further options.  So unable to proceed any further I retained the specimens for later study.  And that would be the end of the story so far but that I had another idea when typing this up... the British Bugs website has a checklist of all the leafhoppers and sure enough there is a third species of Acericerus listed on there which doesn't yet feature in the gallery.  A quick google found lots of good images of this species from Europe and well, they're basically identical to the two I'd taken.  I will keep them in case they prove to be significant (it's another new arrival to the UK amd I'm not sure if there are any Norfolk records yet or not (probably - several in Suffolk)) but I'm reasonably happy now that they are this third species, Acericerus heydenii.



Acericerus heydenii (male), Bacton Wood, 14th October




Acericerus heydenii (female), Bacton Wood, 14th October


Other less interesting bugs were Birch Shieldbug and 3 Empoasca vitis.  We saw one Hornet, an Orange Ladybird and lots of large Dor Beetles on the ground near my light which had particularly strong bluish-purple shine on the underside.  I retained one to identify and it proved to be another new species for me, Woodland Dor Beetle Anoplotrupes stercorosus.

Woodland Dor Beetle Anoplotrupes stercorosus, Bacton Wood, 14th October


So even if the moths were a bit so-so the other insects made the event very worthwhile from my perspective.

There were hardly any moths at home that night although Merveille du Jour was new for the year.

Merveille du Jour, North Elmham, 14th October


The few others were 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 November Moths, Beaded Chestnut and Lunar Underwing.   One of the November Moths was very interesting as the genitalia hadn't formed properly.  The 8th sternite was effected too making identification difficult but there were two smudges which I suspect would have been the projections had they formed properly, in which case their distance from one another eliminated Pale November Moth.  The valvae had not developed properly, joined together to form a broadly-spherical but bi-lobed sac.  The edges of the lobes had darkened ridges with teeth like the valvae edges of November and Pale November Moths (thus eliminating Autumnal Moth).  I am not entirely sure if this was simply a male that had developed aberrantly or if it was an intersex.  The structure of the 8th sternite was rather female-like but although the genitalia themselves were very unusual I couldn't really identify anything female-like (but most male parts were there, if not formed how they should have been).  For that reason I suspect it wasn't intersex but had simply been malformed.  The moth seemed healthy enough until I opened its abdomen, but I'm quite sure it would never have been able to breed with its genitalia in that state!

presumed November Moth with abnormally developed genitalia, North Elmham, 14th October


In case anyone's interested I've done a PDF with photos and a fuller description of the genitalia.

2 Limnephilus lunatus were the only caddisflies but there was also a beetle, a small weevil.  There are good keys to a lot of the beetle families freely available online but although Mark Gurney has some excellent guides to weevils I can't yet find an online source that allows a complete identification of some groups of weevils.  Mark Gurney's guides got me into the right ballpark (I think) for this weevil and by comparing various images from a number of online sources I eventually reached an ID that I am fairly sure is correct.  Perhaps I should leave it as tentative at this stage but I think it's Notaris acridulus.


probable Notarus acridulus, North Elmham, 14th October

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Harlequin invasion and Vapourer

A walk at Massingham Heath on 2nd October didn't produce much wildlife interest - a Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana was the only moth recorded.  A poor catch at home that night consisted of Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Black Rustic, Red-line Quaker, Lunar Underwing, Sallow and Rosy Rustic.

The following night Large Wainscot was new for the year.  Apart from that it was no better than the night before: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Feathered Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Green-brindled Crescent and 2 Lunar Underwings.

Large Wainscot, North Elmham, 3rd October


The next few nights didn't get much better:
  • 4th: Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lunar Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, 2 Large Wainscots and the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus
  • 5th: just single Lunar Underwing and Pink-barred Sallow.
  • 6th: Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Lunar Underwing and Limnephilus lunatus.
  • 7th: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Lunar Underwing, Snout and the beetles Nicrophorus investigator and 2 Leistus spinibarbis.

At Cley on 7th this caterpillar was on the boardwalk to the central hides.  I wasn't sure what it was, even if it is a moth or sawfly.  Turns out it wasn't either - thanks to James again for letting me know it's a soldier beetle larva -  I'd never have guessed that!

soldier beetle larva, Cley, 7th October


There was a slight upturn on the night of Sunday 8th with a Spruce Carpet and my latest ever (first in October) Treble Brown Spot.  Not much else though: 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Mallows, Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow and Snout.

A Harbour Porpoise was about the only non-avian interest at Burnham Overy on 9th October.  That night at home I caught 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Mallows, Common Marbled Carpet, Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow, Straw Dot, Chrysoperla carnea agg. (lacewing) and 3 Limnephilus lunatus (caddis).

The conditions around lunchtime on Tuesday 10th October must have been just right for ladybirds to be looking for somewhere to hibernate as between about 1 pm and 2 pm at least 36 Harlequin Ladybirds entered my study through the window which was only open a crack.  There were loads more outside that didn't find their way in too.  Among them all was a single 2-spot Ladybird, the first I've recorded here this year (though I'm pretty sure one that came in to hibernate towards the end of last year was still lurking in a corner into January at least).

That night there were 2 new moths for the year - one a lovely species I've only caught here once before and the other a very common and rather less attractive species - Vapourer and November Moth.



Vapourer, North Elmham, 10th October


November Moth (male, 8th sternite checked), North Elmham, 10th October


Other moths that night were 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 6 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Mallow, Common Marbled Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Lunar Underwing, Straw Dot and Snout.  Other insects included Chrysoperla carnea (lacewing), Limnephilus flavicornis, Limnephilus lunatus, 2 Limnephilus vittatus (caddisflies) and Lamprotettix nitidulus (leafhopper).

The following night there were 5 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Mallow, November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Beaded Chestnut, 2 Lunar Underwings and Barred Sallow, the last of which was new for the year.  No caddisflies, lacewings, bugs or beetles.

Barred Sallow, North Elmham, 11th October


It was just as quiet the next evening but still one new for the year - Yellow-line Quaker.  The others were 6 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Feathered Thorn, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Lunar Underwing, Limnephilus lunatus, 2 Halesus radiatus (caddisflies) and Harpalus rufipes (beetle).

Yellow-line Quaker, North Elmham, 12th October


A Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella was new for the year on 13th October.

Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, North Elmham, 13th October


This was one of a surprisingly good haul of micro moths which included several species I hadn't seen since the summer. Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana is one I'd not seen anywhere near this late before and as it was fresh it must have been an unusual second-generation.  I had seen late Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana before but it's another one that the textbooks say should stop flying in August. Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis is another one that must be starting to have a second generation - this was my first in October while the Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis is a bit more established at this time of year.  The other micros were more expected: 4 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea and Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla.

Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, North Elmham, 13th October


Long-horned Flat-body Carcina quercana, North Elmham, 13th October


Bizarrely given the nunber of micros, macros were few and far between and every one of them was a noctuid (at least in old taxonomy).  At least with just singles of each it felt like there was some variety among them: Shuttle-shaped Dart, Black Rustic, Brown-spot Pinion, Beaded Chestnut, Barred Sallow, Large Wainscot, Burnished Brass, Straw Dot and Snout.

Beaded Chestnut, North Elmham, 13th October


There was some interest among the other insects too.  Two lacewings were both Chrysoperla but unusually only one was carnea, the other being Chrysoperla lucasina - just my third.  There weren't many caddisflies but they included my first ever Brown Sedges Anabolia nervosa, a male and a female, along with more usual Mottled Sedge Glyphotaelius pellucidus and Limnephilus vittatus.

Chrysoperla lucasina, North Elmham, 13th October


Brown Sedge Anabolia nervosa (male), North Elmham, 13th October


Bugs and beetles consisted of Pinalitus cervinus, 2 Kybos sp. (probably betulicola), Edwardsiana sp., Aphodius rufipes and Orange Ladybird.




Orange Ladybird, North Elmham, 13th October