As we travel widely during the summer
looking for insects to photograph, Roger Edmondson and I have decided to put a
record of our more interesting finds on this website.
New entries are not always entered in date order so please check
for changes by clicking on 'What's new' on the home page.
26th June 2012
Acleris ferrugana and Acleris
notana are two similar species that are very difficult to tell apart.
Checking the genitalia is often the only way to be sure of their identity.
There are a few clues that can help
identification as Acleris ferrugana larvae feed on oaks and sallows,
while Acleris notana feed mainly on birches, Alder and Bog-myrtle.
Unfortunately these foodplants often grow together so cannot be used for
identification when an adult is found. Both species have a summer brood and
another in the autumn, after which they hibernate until the spring, so the
flight period does not separate them. Although Acleris notana can be
slightly larger, in general this is not of much help with ID.
Freshly emerged specimens of Acleris
ferrugana have a dark tuft of scales at about a third length of the wing.
These raised scales are either absent in Acleris notana or usually
consist of only two or three scales. In older specimens these scales may have
rubbed off, so cannot be used for ID.
I was lucky enough to get the following
pictures from a captive emergence which illustrate this.
Acleris ferrugana freshly
emerged from its silken cocoon
in a folded lobe of an oak leaf
Acleris ferrugana showing
black scale tufts at one third of forewing
A small gap between periods of
rain allowed us to take a trip up to the Wyre Forest area to do some moth
We arrived just before dusk which
gave us time to set up two actinic traps, each running twin 20W compact
fluorescents. One trap was situated in an open area of heather and the other under
The lights were switched on at 10.15pm
and off again at 4.15am by which time it was light. Over that period we caught
54 species. This would have been a disappointing number in a normal year, but in
2012 it was as expected.
There were a few of the local
specialities such as Common Fanfoot and Great Oak Beauty, the
former with a National status of Na and the latter Nb, and several
Local species such as Satin Lutestring, Clay Triple-lines
and Four-dotted Footman. We also recorded Eucosma aemulana
a rare (pRDB2), pale-brown micro-moth that has larvae which feed on the
seeds of Golden-rod. One of the commoner species at the trap was a pretty,
spotted gelechid Pseudotelphusa paripunctella.
The Great Oak Beauty
Hypomecis roboraria is a large moth of the central south and south-east of
England becoming increasingly scarce towards the west of England, east and
north-east of Wales and up through the midlands of England. It is not found to
the north or in Scotland.
The moth flies from mid-June until
mid-July. The larvae look like thick brown twigs and feed on Pedunculate Oak.
The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of 27mm.
Beauty Hypomecis roboraria
As mentioned above Pseudotelphusa
paripunctella was a species recorded in large numbers at this site. It
is a widespread, but local species that flies in May and June. The larvae feed
mainly on oaks, although in Scotland it is more likely to be found on Bog-myrtle
and sometimes Dwarf Birch. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of
Continual rain, wind and dull cloudy
weather has meant that it has not been worth us travelling long distances in
search of insects, but we have managed to do a small amount of local moth
trapping which has been poor, apart from during the warm spell back in March of
A trip to a coniferous woodland on the
Mendip Hills in Somerset (which also has a small amount of deciduous trees and
an acid ground flora) rewarded us with an improvement in the number of species
arriving at the trap, although thirty-seven is still low for the time of year.
Many of the moths were typical for the
habitat including Epinotia tedella, Spruce Carpet, Grey Pine
Carpet, Tawny-barred Angle, Foxglove Pug, Map-winged Swift,
Fox Moth, Red-necked Footman, True-lovers Knot and Brown
Rustic, plus other attractive species such as Beautiful Golden Y,
Small Phoenix, Marbled White-spot and Peach Blossom.
The Red-necked Footman
Atolmis rubricollis is a locally common resident of that area of the Mendips
which agrees with its National status of Local. It is most common in the
south-west of England, but is also found across the south with colonies as far
north as south-west Scotland. It is also fairly frequent in Northern Ireland,
although less so further south.
The moth flies in June and July and
comes regularly to light, as well as flying during the day in hot weather.
The larvae feed on lichens and green
algae on the trunks of both deciduous and coniferous trees, which is why it does
well in this type of habitat where lichens are abundant.
The moth shown in the picture below had
a forewing length of 15mm.
During this prolonged period of poor
trapping weather I have spent much of my time photographing fresh specimens of
moths of which I had previously photographed, but which were not neccesarily
specimens in the best condition. Searching out fresh specimens has meant that both Roger and I have come
to appreciate how beautiful some of our common species can be.
The Peach Blossom Thyatira
batis in the picture below was obviously a very recently emerged moth, and
although Roger described it as gaudy, I would describe it as having subtle
colours, but with strong markings.
This is a common moth and many people
will be getting them in their garden traps. It is nocturnal and is on the wing
from late May, throughout June and most of July, with a second brood about a
month later which may survive until the end of September.
The larvae feed on Bramble in scrubby
woodland and similar habitats. It is found throughout Britain and Ireland,
although less commonly in Scotland. The specimen in the picture had a
forewing length of 16mm.
Peach Blossom Thyatira batis
23rd May 2012
After several weeks of dull, wet
weather, Roger and I were desperate to get out and look for some insects to
photograph, so we were pleased to get a phone call from Andy Pym to say that he
had again found the micro-moth Schiffermuelleria grandis at the
Somerset site where he had rediscovered it in the mid 1990s.
The weather when we visited was warm
and sunny. Although the moth usually flies in the first part of the morning they
can be found sitting around later in the day if it is warm. We were lucky as we
recorded a total of four in the early afternoon.
The species is rare and is only known
from a few sites, although there have previously been records from the west midlands into north Wales and the west country
down to the south coast.
The larvae feed within dead wood in old
hedgerows and ancient woodland. They are rarely seen, although they do
occasionally come to light.
The adult moth has a forewing length of
6 to 8mm and flies between late May and June. It is similar to the much more
common Alabonia geofrella, but that has a pale head and thorax, no
metallic blue bar across the forewing and the two longitudinal metallic bars are
joined together at the rear, forming a loop.
This was not the only day-flying moth
we found, as we also saw a large number of Metriotes lutarea
flying around the Greater Stitchwort in the shade of the hedge. They were also resting
on the petals of the plant and burrowing into the centres of the flowers,
presumably after nectar, but possibly egg laying as the larvae feed on the
ripening seeds of the stitchwort. The species looks like a small, grey-brown Coleophora
with a shiny head,
except that they do not rest with their antennae pointing forward.
Another day-flyer we saw was
Pammene rhediella a species that Andy had recorded on a previous visit.
This is a small tortricoid moth which has a dark base to the forewing with an
outer third. It has the common name Fruitlet Mining Tortrix because the larvae
feed on the flowers and fruit of hawthorns, apple, plum, cherry
and similar species.
20th March 2012
While rinsing the bath after having a
shower I was shocked to disturb a large thick legged spider from under the bath
plug which was hanging from a chain over the tap. When most people find a spider
in the bath it is usually one of the large House Spiders Tegenaria
spp., but in many parts of Bristol it could be what I had discovered, a
Segestria florentina (found under
the bath plug)
This was originally a Mediterranean
species that found its way to several of the larger ports of southern England on
ships. The first record was in 1845.
This spider has long been known from
London and Bristol, but is now also found in many other towns as far as
Plymouth, Exeter, Fowey and Looe in the west and Southend-on-sea in the east. It
has also travelled further north along the Suffolk coast and in more recent
times there have been inland records from Tedworth in Gloucestershire and
Its common name the Tube Web Spider
comes from the design of its web. The spider lives in small holes in walls, and
sometimes trees, which it lines with a tubular web with strands of silk
radiating from its hole.
The spider sits in its tube with all
but two of its legs stretching forward. If an insect touches one of the
radiating silk strands the spider rushes out and injects the creature with venom
using its large fangs.
The spider can be found by searching at
night with a torch, when it sits with its legs pointing forward out of its hole.
In daylight it can be enticed from its tube by tickling the silk strands outside
the hole. It will rush out and attack, so use a feather or a stem of grass, not
your finger, as its bite is extremely painful. The pain will last for several
hours and cause reddening of the skin and swelling.
The bite can occasionally cause an
allergic reaction. A couple of years ago my partner Carolyn had to visit a
hospital in Bristol. While she was there she met a woman who had been bitten by
a spider on her leg and had been in hospital for two weeks as her leg had become
very swollen and she could not walk. She did not know what species the spider
was, but from her description it was almost certainly a Segestria florentina.
This is especially likely as it is extremely common in Bristol.
It is not at all hard to find. Using a
torch I have counted more than a dozen in a couple of minutes in the cracks
around our lower windows at the back of our house.
showing the green chelicerae which are
tipped with large fangs
This species has only six eyes which
are all placed at the front. Although it does not have the leg span of some of
the large Tegenaria spp. or Raft Spiders Dolomedes spp., it does
have a large body. The males are up to 15mm in length and the females an
impressive 22mm. This may not sound large, but it certainly seems large when a
big female rushes out of its tube to attack and bite whatever you have used to
disturb it. In fact it is difficult not to resist jumping away from it.
The spider in the picture is the one
from my shower. When I went to file the pictures of it on my computer, I found
that I already had some forgotten Segestria pictures from April 2009
labelled 'found in the bath'. So perhaps this could become a regular occurence.
I am not an arachnophobe, but actually I hope it's not.