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, 20 April 2018

Early April - moths starting to appear

No April fools on 1st April but an Early Grey was new for the year.  Not many other moths: Small Quaker, Clouded Drab and 9 Hebrew Characters.

Early Grey, North Elmham, 1st April

Next day this Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci appeared in the house (as usual, in a room without carpets).  This one was my first this year.

Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci, North Elmham, 2nd April

That night Twin-spotted Quaker made it on to the year list.Others moths were 2 Shoulder Stripes, Oak Beauty, Common Quaker, 6 Clouded Drabs, 11 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts.

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 2nd April

It missed its own month but a March Tubic Diurnea fagella was new for the year on 3rd April.  Other moths that night were 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, 3 Oak Beauties, Red Chestnut, 2 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 7 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker and 9 Hebrew Characters.

March Tubic Diurnea fagella, North Elmham, 3rd April

A single new moth for the year for the fourth consecutive night on 4th, this time Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla.  Also that night: Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, 3 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, 3 Clouded Drabs, 5 Hebrew Characters and Black Sexton Beetle.

Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, North Elmham, 4th April

The following night's moths were March Moth, 3 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers and 10 Hebrew Characters. The only new species for the year in the trap was this Buff-tailed Bumblebee (I guess the tick it was carrying would have been too had I been able to identify it).

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, North Elmham, 5th April

The following night produced March Moth, 2 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, 8 Clouded Drabs, 10 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

On Saturday 7th I took a birding group round Minsmere in Suffolk.  As I was tucking into a slice of Chocolate Challenge at the cafe after we'd finished I felt a sharp nip to the back of my hand.  The culrpit turned out to be this Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum.

Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum, Minsmere, 7th April

A good variety of moths at home that night, though an Engrailed was the only one that was new for the year.  The others were 6 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Shoulder Stripe, Red Chestnut, 10 Small Quakers, 7 Common Quakers, 7 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 11 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and Chestnut.

Engrailed, North Elmham, 7th April

There were a few other insects caught too, including my first green lacewing of the year, a male Chrysoperla carnea, and my first leafhopper of the year, Empoasca vitis.  Having recently joined the Dipterists Forum I thought I'd try my hand at identifying a fly, but failed.  I think it belonged to the family Simuliidae but I couldn't get any further than that.

Chrysoperla carnea (male), North Elmham, 7th April

Epoasca vitis, North Elmham, 7th April

Simuliid fly sp., North Elmham, 7th April

The following night was quieter with just 4 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, Twin-spotted Quaker, 17 Hebrew Characters and Black Sexton Beetle. Next day was even worse with Varied Carpet Beetle inside, 3 Small Quakers and 7 Hebrew Characters.

The night of 10th April was more promising and hopes were raised when I went to have a quick look round the outside of the trap before I went to bed as the first two moths I saw were both new for the year: Water Carpet (not quite annual here) and Brindled Pug.  It turned out they were the only new for the year but a reasonable variety included March Tubic Diurnea fagella, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Red Chestnut, 7 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers, 23 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Brindled Pug, North Elmham, 10th April

Water Carpet, North Elmham, 10th April

Another new moth for the year the following night: Early Thorn.  That was my 30th moth species this year - pretty poor for 11th April (last year I was on 47 by this time despite having spent a week out of the county in early April).  Also March Tubic Diurnea fagella, Red Chestnut, 6 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, Twin-spotted Quaker, 15 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Early Thorn, North Elmham, 10th April

Monday, 16 April 2018

March Moths

I omitted to mention this Orange Ladybird in my last post - I trapped it on 21st February.

Orange Ladybird, North Elmham, 21st February

After a few blank nights while the Beast from the East brought lots of lovely snow things finally thawed on Sunday 4th March when a Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana appeared on the front door.

A trip to Fakenham on 5th produced my first Bee of the year, a Honey Bee I think.  Also Yellow Brain fungus or it's very similar counterpart (thanks again to James for confirming).  There were a couple of Springtails on the base of the fungus.

Honey Bee, Fakenham, 5th March

Yellow Brain (most likely Tremella mesenterica but possibly T aurantia), Fakenham, 5th March

Springtail sp., Fakenham, 5th March

That night Chestnut and Satellite turned up in the trap.

Satellite, North Elmham, 5th March

The following night was quiet with just Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 3 March Moths and 2 Chestnuts.  There was nothing the next night and just a single March Moth on 8th March.  Things picked up again on 9th with 5 Dotted Borders, 3 Hebrew Characters and 2 Chestnuts.

The following day I noticed a fly scuttling across the patio, a behaviour I don't recall seeing in flies before.  I've not done much with flies but thought this might be worth attempting to identify.  Eventually I narrowed it down to a Megaselia sp. but couldn't get any further with it.  It belongs to the family Phoridae, appropriately known as Scuttle Flies.

Scuttle Fly Megaselia sp., North Elmham, 10th March

That night saw a signifiant up-turn in number and variety of moths: 7 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, 4 March Moths, Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Dotted Borders, Clouded Drab and Chestnut.  The Clouded Drab was new for the year.

Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 10th March

The following night produced 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Oak Beauty, 3 Dotted Borders and Hebrew Character, and then after a blank night, Common Quaker was new for the year on 13th, with Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

A Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella was new for the year on 14th - a species I don't get many of here (average one a year).  The only other moths that night were 2 Hebrew Characters.

Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella, North Elmham, 14th March

There were Clouded Drab, 2 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut on 15th and then I was away on the night of 16th.  I did leave the trap running though (on timer) and when I returned in the evening there was a Clouded Drab in it. No more moths in the snow that night thouugh, or the next couple of nights.

Things re-started with 2 Hebrew Characters on 19th and another 2 on 20th, the latter alongside an Oak Beauty.  I visited Great Ryburgh on 21st and found a Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana in the hide.  That night a Tufted Button Acleris cristana was new for the year; also Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 4 Hebrew Characters.

Tufted Button Acleris cristana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 21st March

The next night was the best night of the year so far with Small Quaker and Grey Shoulder-knot new for the year.  I didn't get the latter species last year and never get many.  The others were 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, March Moth, Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, 4 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 4 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and Chestnut.

Sallow Quaker, North Elmham, 22nd March

Grey Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 22nd March

Another new moth for the year appeared the following night: Shoulder Stripe.  The other moths that night were Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 3 March Moths, Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, Small Quaker, 4 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 9 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Shoulder Stripe, North Elmham, 23rd March

Another Grey Shoulder-knot was the highlight the following night.  There was also March Moth, Small Quaker, 11 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and 2 Chestnuts.

Sunday 25th was mild and sunny and as I took the scenic route back home from Norwich at lunch-time I thought I'd probably see a few Brimstones.  A glimpsed butterfly at Swanton Morley was probably Small Tortoiseshell, my first butterfly this year.  Eventually I did see a Brimstone, just down the road at Worthing - and then a second Brimstone outside my house when I drew up.

The only micro in the trap that night was a good one, Red-letter Flat-body Agonopterix ocellana, a species that perhaps surprisingly I hadn't seen until last year.  Other moths that night were 3 March Moths, 2 Oak Beauties, 2 Small Quakers, 12 Hebrew Characters, Grey Shoulder-knot and Chestnut.

Red-letter Flat-body Agonopterix ocellana, North Elmham, 25th March

The following night there was March Moth, Shoulder Stripe, Small Quaker, Common Quaker and 7 Hebrew Characters. No new moths for the year on 27th either though another Winter Shade Tortricodes alternella was noteworthy. The others were March Moth, 3 Small Quakers and 10 Hebrew Characters. A Black Sexton Beetle was my first this year.

Winter Shades Tortricodes alternella, North Elmham, 27th March

Black Sexton Beetle, North Elmham, 27th March

There was only a single Common Quaker on 28th.  This Red Chestnut was new for the year the following night.  Other than that it was still very quiet though: Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Red Chestnut, North Elmham, 29th March

The next night was poor again: Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 2 Hebrew Characters.  The month ended with Small Quaker, Common Quaker and 3 Hebrew Characters on 31st.

I've been working through a number of beetles I retained last year and managing to put names to most, some more easily than others, but the last one proved a real struggle.  Part of the problem was that I failed to correctly identify what family it belonged and after spending several hours on it on 3 occasions I was ready to give up.  Then I came across the beetle families page on the UK Beetle Recording website and this led me to Scirtidae, the Marsh Beetles.  I'd somehow missed this family so after all this time I was glad to finally have a lead.  In the end I still couldn't get a species-level ID as I believe it's a female Elodes sp., a genus in which only the males are identifiable (at least according to the references I've been using).  On the one hand disappointing that I couldn't resolve it fully but on the other hand satisfying that I finally managed to get as far as I think is possible with such a troublesome beast.

Elodes sp., North Elmham, 19th July 2017

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