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.
19th June 2013
Over the last three summers Roger and I
have visited the Wyre Forest area several times in the hope of finding two
Oecophorid species, Oecophora bractella and Dasycera oliviella as
we wished to photograph them.
Despite recording many other rare
species such as Common Fanfoot, until we did an all night moth trapping session
last year, we had no luck.
Both species will apparently fly in
daylight. We have found records of Dasycera oliviella flying in the
afternoon, but we are less sure exactly what time of day Oecophora bractella
What we did know was that both also
come to light. We recorded five Dasycera oliviella at one of our light
traps last year, but unfortunately they were all so worn that we were barely
able to identify them. These arrived between 1.00 and 2.00 am on the morning of
Oecophora bractella is known to
fly between dawn and sunrise, which is the reason we trapped all night last year
(without recording any).
On this years visit we placed one of the two
traps we were using in the middle of an area of dead wood that was scattered
across a large area of ground. The larvae of these species are dead wood feeders
and we were hoping we would be able to catch some newly emerged specimens.
We had two portable traps each with two
20W compact fluorescent UV bulbs. They were running from lithium batteries that
will each keep a trap running for 4 hours 20 minutes, so we needed to stagger them
to last the night. The first one was not turned on until 10.25 pm, as the days
at this time of year are long and it was still light until then.
As there was only a thin layer of
cloud, the sky was not completely dark until almost midnight and only about 20
species of moth had arrived by that time. About 12.30 am a Common Fanfoot
arrived at the trap. It had a patch of scales missing in the centre of one wing,
but was in an otherwise reasonable condition. Within the next half hour two more
arrived, and these were fresh and in near perfect condition.
Unfortunately these were not what we
were after, as we had photographed them before, but just after 1.00 am one of
our target species arrived, a beautiful specimen of Dasycera oliviella.
From the pictures below you can see why
we were so interested in photographing these two species as they are perhaps
Britains most attractive micro-moths.
Dasycera oliviella is found
mainly in the south-east of England in old woodland, but it is also found at a
few other sites further west in Dorset, Devon and Shropshire. It is on the wing
from May until July according to the season. This specimen had a forewing length
During the nights trapping we noticed a
large number of spiders hunting on the dead wood substrate around the trap. The
most frequent species were the very common Pisaura mirabilis and
the more local but widespread Micrommata virescens. These spiders
ambush their prey and despite chasing them off the sheet many times during
the trapping session, they still managed to catch a Smoky Wave and a
Scalloped Hook-tip just off the sheet in the surrounding wood chips.
The male Micrommata virescens
that we encountered were all about 8 or 9mm from front of head to tip of
abdomen, while the larger bodied females were around 14 or 15mm long.
As already mentioned this colourful
species is widespread, but local in the south. It is much rarer in the north of
Micrommata virescens -
Micrommata virescens -
At around 3.00 am the sky was starting
to lighten, but it was not until about 4.00 am just after a small shower of rain
that dawn really started to break and the first birds started to sing. It was
then that an Oecophora bractella
arrived at the light. It did not go into the trap, but just made short fast hops
on the sheet causing us much concern, as it looked like it might fly off before
we had a chance to have a look at it, but luckily that was not the
Having recorded our second target
species and around seventy other moth species, we decided to open the trap and
pack up. At about 4.15 am while we were checking the contents of the trap,
another Oecophora bractella
arrived. This was also a fresh specimen.
Oecophora bractella is
found in ancient woodland mainly on the west side of Britain from Shropshire
down to Devon including South Wales. The specimen in the picture had a forewing
length of 8mm.
22nd May 2013
Earlier in May this year I disturbed a
dragonfly from some long grass by the garden pond while I was mowing the lawn.
It immediately took to the air, flew briefly around the pond then over the hedge
into the neighbours garden. On closer inspection I found the larval exuvia
clinging to the blade of grass that it had crawled up before the adult had
Since then I have found half a dozen
more exuvia around the pond, but not seen any more adults.
Today I was lucky enough to find
a newly emerged adult of Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa a
couple of feet from the pond, clinging to the stem of a Meadowsweet. I took a
few pictures, and then visited again half an hour later. I was expecting it to
have crawled up higher so that it could open it's wings ready to fly, but it was
still in the same position.
Being a bit impatient, I decided to
give it a helping hand and move it to a higher position so that I could get a
clearer view (and picture). It was not as sluggish as I had expected, as it
immediately took off and flew over the hedge, never to be seen by me again.
Although my impatience had lost me the
picture of the insect with its wings open, I did find some more exuvia on
another stem nearby. I had already photographed a mature male at the pond in a
previous year, but I had not realised that they were actually breeding there.
I am pleased with the success of the
pond, as since I dug it in about 2002, I have had eleven species of dragonfly
and damselfly either visiting or breeding there, as well as Common Frogs, Smooth
Newts and several uncommon as well as interesting flies, moths and other
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa
with wings still hardening
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula
depressa mature male
During the last few weeks
Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria has turned up at our traps in Somerset
and Gloucestershire. As Pale Brindled Beauty and Small Brindled Beauty
featured in 'Travel Notes'
earlier in the year, I thought it would be worth showing Brindled
Beauty for comparison.
Unlike the other two species
Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria has fully winged females, but the
sexes are easily separated by the antennae which are 'feathered' only in the
The larvae feed on the leaves of
deciduous trees and because of this the habitat for this species is woodland, or
partially wooded areas, including parks and wooded town suburbs. The moth flies
from the latter part of March through to May, so the Pale and Small Brindled
Beauty are near the end of their flight period when Brindled Beauty starts to
The forewing length is between 16mm and
21mm, of a similar size to Small Brindled Beauty at the bottom end of its range,
although most are larger and of a similar size to Pale Brindled Beauty.
Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria -
Due to the continuing poor British
weather, very little moth trapping has taken place. With night time temperatures
around freezing, very few moths are flying far enough to find a light trap.
For this reason Roger and I decided to
try some different methods of obtaining moths to photograph this year. On 2nd
April 2013 we visited a woodland near Bristol and collected freshly fallen
Norway Spruce cones. These were housed in a plastic box and kept indoors.
On the 16th and 17th
April two moths emerged. These were specimens of Spruce Seed Moth
Cydia strobilella. The larvae of this moth live within the cones of Norway
Spruce and Serbian Spruce feeding on the seeds from August onwards. They
overwinter as larvae, not pupating until the spring, occasionally as late
as the end of April.
The cones we collected showed no signs
of containing larvae or pupae. The moth in the picture had a forewing length of
Spruce Seed Moth Cydia
Due to a long spell of lower than
average temperatures, Roger and I were looking forward to getting out into the
countryside for some moth trapping. The temperature for this evening was around
12C and there was very little breeze and no rain forcasted until later.
We visited some woodland in south
Gloucestershire and used two sets of twin 20W compact fluorescent actinics.
These were switched on from 6.30pm until 9.00pm.
It was quiet for the first half an
hour, then Roger netted two Agonopterix away from the light. These
were A. ocellana and A.
heracliana. Then we had the first of nine male Pale Brindled Beauty.
The light trapping was quite successful as we
also caught six male Small Brindled Beauty, one Yellow Horned, one
Common Quaker, one Engrailed, ten male March Moth and two
Dotted Border. Another Dotted Border was netted.
Although usually larger, the smaller of
the Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria at first seem easy to confuse with the Small Brindled
Beauty Apocheima hispidaria. The latter usually has darker, more defined markings and looks
different when it arrives at the light trap, with its proportionately fluffier
thorax and faster flight making it look a bit like a bumblebee. Another difference is the colour of the antennae, which are grey brown in Pale
Brindled Beauty and orange in Small Brindled Beauty.
Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia
Beauty Apocheima hispidaria
left Pale Brindled Beauty, right Small Brindled
Both of these species feed on oaks, birch and a variety of other tree species. The females of both are
wingless, so only the males are usually seen, unless the trunks of trees are
searched for the females, or the moths are bred through from larvae.
The more common Pale Brindle Beauty
flies from early January until late March. The rather local Small Brindled
Beauty flies from the middle of February until late March. A third species,
the Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria, starts its flight period in the
second half of March and lasts until late May. This species has similar markings
to Small Brindled
Beauty, but is as large as Pale Brindled Beauty. Both
sexes are winged.
The Pale Brindle Beauty caught
on this trip had a forewing length of from 20 to 22mm the Small Brindled
Beauty from 15 to 17mm.