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.
I have been so busy this summer with
the good weather that I have not had time to work on this website. I have taken
a couple of thousand moth pictures in the last month which is very time
As a change from the moths I have added
a couple of pictures that my partner Carolyn took while she was painting what
has become a local tourist attraction. The poppies below are at Failand (on the
B3128, Clevedon Road) in North Somerset on the south-western outskirts of
Poppies Failand, North Somerset
Poppy Field Failand, North
8th May 2014
At the end of March this year while we were
visiting Speyside in the Highlands of Scotland, Roger collected a few spinnings
from Bilberry shoots. Only six weeks later a beautiful tortrix moth
emerged which was Rhopobota ustomaculana. This moth is quite
striking when fresh, especially when compared with the Holly Tortrix
Rhopobota naevana which is the common member of this genus throughout
Britain and most of Ireland.
is a local species found on the moors of northern England, north Wales, and a
broad band across central Scotland from the Highlands across to Aberdeenshire.
The larvae feed on Cowberry as well as Bilberry. Their flight time is from late
May through to July when they can be seen flying in sunshine over the foodplant in
the afternoon and evening. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of
The Holly Tortrix Rhopobota naevana
is a common species that like R. ustomaculana feeds on
Bilberry on moorland, but unlike that species it is also common in woodlands,
scrub and gardens feeding on Holly, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Apple and a variety of
other tree and shrub species. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length
This was an afternoon visit to Ashton
Court Estate, just south of Bristol, with the Bristol & District Moth Group.
We were there
to look for moths associated with the many veteran oaks in the woodlands.
The afternoon was mainly sunny, so we
recorded a number of day-flying moths as well as others resting on the bark of the trees.
On the north side of one of the oaks
was a lichen of a Lepraria spp. It was here that several of the lichen
covered silk tubes of Infurcitinea argentimaculella larvae were
discovered. The tubes of this tineid can be found from April to June. The lichen
is found not only on trees, but also on fence posts and wooden fences. The adult
moth is black with white broken bands and flies in sunshine during July.
Infurcitinea argentimaculella larval
tube (stretching from top left to bottom right)
Several common spring moths were
recorded, including Micropterix thunbergella, Incurvaria
oehlmanniella, and several Adela reaumurella flying around
the top of a Hawthorn. The only macro-moth found was a White-pinion Spotted
Lomographa bimaculata which was
freshly emerged and resting on an Ash trunk.
The commonest family of moths found
were Phyllonorycter spp. Several were netted while flying in the
sunshine, while others were found in the crevices of the bark on the oaks.
All three species found have larvae
that feed on oaks, these were Phyllonorycter quercifoliella,
Phyllonorycter harrisella and Phyllonorycter muelleriella.
Both Phyllonorycter quercifoliella
and Phyllonorycter harrisella are common, but Phyllonorycter
muelleriella has a more restricted distribution from the West Midlands down
into South Wales and the West Country, with a smaller area of population in
North Lancashire. For this reason it has a National status of Notable B.
All three species form mines on the oak
leaves and have a second adult emergence in the latter half of the summer.
29th March 2014
As the afternoon of our second day in
Scotland was sunny we decided
to take a walk in pine woodland near Loch an Eilein. We were looking for
birds, but soon disturbed some moths from the heather.
We realised by the markings that they
were pine feeders as several tortricoid species have similar cryptic colouring
so that they remain undetected when sitting on the bark or young pine buds.
The species we had disturbed was one of
the scarcer species (Nationally Scarce A), as it is mainly restricted to areas of
pine woodland in the highlands of Scotland. The species was the
Elgin Shoot Moth Rhyacionia logaea. The larvae of this moth
feed on Scot's Pine, but will also eat Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine. The
specimens we found had a forewing length of 7mm and 7.5mm.
Elgin Shoot Moth Rhyacionia logaea
In the evening we moth trapped in birch
woodland in order to try and photograph Rannoch Sprawler
Brachionycha nubeculosa. Although
it was dark by about 7.15pm, we did not expect immediate results as the moths
are reputed to fly later in the evening between 11.00 and 12.00pm with just a
few before that time. We were
therefore surprised when the first moth arrived at 9.30 pm and we had recorded
49 by 11.00pm.
There was an
explanation for this. We were trapping the night before the clocks went forward
for British summertime, so the next evening the moths would have been flying
from 10.30, but mainly between 11.00 and 12.00pm as they were supposed to do.
The larvae of
Rannoch Sprawler feed on birch. Speyside is a stronghold for this Red Databook
species although they are also found near Loch Rannoch, Glen Moriston / Glen
Affric and in the area of Braemar. The specimen in the picture had a forewing
length of 24mm.
Brachionycha nubeculosa Speyside
that surprised us that evening (being used to the less hardy southern moths), was that the
temperature was 3C at 9.30pm and only 1C at 11pm. In southern England in late
March that would probably have meant that we would not have caught a single
species recorded were around 20 Yellow
Horned, 6 Red Swordgrass, 1 Red Chestnut, and a few dozen
Mottled Grey (at light, but many more flying around the site).
Also 3 probable Agonopterix heracliana (genitalia not checked), 1
Acleris notana / ferrugana (again genitalia not
checked), 10 Clouded Drab, 6 Hebrew Character, 2 Engrailed,
unrecorded numbers of Common Quaker and 2 Small Quaker.
We were using a 125W MV trap and another trap with two 20W Wemlite blacklight
compact fluorescent bulbs. We had approximately equal numbers of moths in each
trap. Even the Red Swordgrass were three per trap.
Not bad for an evening ending at a
temperature of 1C, although in Speyside it is considered mild if an evening
starts at 4C or above!
28th March 2014
For the last couple of years Roger and
I had intended to travel up to Scotland in March or April to look for
Sword-grass and Rannoch Sprawler, but unfortunately the poor weather had
prevented us from doing that. It is too far to go from Bristol to risk the cost
and effort of travelling and then fail to do any trapping due to the rain.
This year an unusually long period of
dry weather was forecasted, so we decided that we could not miss the
We went to Aberdeenshire first as
although Sword-grass is found west of the Cairngorms it is apparently more
common to the east of them. We had been advised by a friend that Strathdon was a
good place to find them, so this is where we went. We travelled up through
Glenshee, where they were still snowboarding and ski-ing, as there was still
snow at higher altitudes.
We arrived at Strathdon well before
dark, which gave us time to find a good place to camp for the night and set up
the trap nearby. The best method for attracting Sword-grass is apparently
'sugar' so we painted telegraph poles near the road just before it got dark. We
were feeling fairly confident of success until dusk came, when the temperature
plummeted to 3C. Not being used to trapping in Scotland at that time of year we
were not sure that moths would fly in such low temperatures.
On our first few inspections of the
sugar, we found nothing, but we did see a number of Geometers flying along the
verges by the road and sitting in the tufts of grass by the fence. These were
Mottled Grey and by the end of the evening we had a dozen or so in the 125W
MV trap, but had seen around a hundred in the torchlight when visiting the
It seemed we were heading for a
failure, as nothing seemed to be interested in the sugar. In the light trap we
had the Mottled Grey, 2 Hebrew Character, 2 Dotted Border,
1 worn Acleris heyemana, 1 very worn Agonopterix sp.
(possibly A.heracliana but we did not check) and a single
Acleris lipsiana. By 10.00pm we were feeling a bit depressed, frozen and
very tired as we had left Bristol at 5am., so we decided to have a last check of
the sugar and then get some sleep.
We were surprised and very relieved to
find a single Sword-grass
Xylena exsoleta on one of the sugar
patches. It is surprising how happy a single moth can make us feel.
Xylena exsoleta Strathdon, Aberdeenshire
Sword-grass feeds on a variety of low-growing plants such as docks, groundsel
and Creeping Cinquefoil. It was once found throughout Britain, but in the last
half of the 20th Century became more of a northern species, now
Nationally Scarce B it is only widespread in parts of Scotland, north Wales and
northern England. It differs from the more common Red Swordgrass in having a
paler dorsal region (thorax and trailing edges to the wings), a less reddish
appearance and paler hind legs. The specimen we found had a forewing length of
After a long wet winter, the last few
weeks have been a pleasant change, as it has finally been dry enough, and yet
still mild enough to do some moth trapping. Up to now this has only been done in
the garden in my case, but up to nine species and around 20 specimens in a night
has at least given an incentive to do some regular trapping.
The most interesting moths so far this
year have been Acleris umbrana, Carpatolechia decorella
and Ypsolopha ustella.
The latter moth was a first for the
garden, although I have recorded them several times before while on our travels.
This moth is the most variable of our
Ypsolopha species and the specimens pictured below give no more than an
idea of the wide variety of forms that can be found. It has the typical square
corner to the forewing like the other Ypsolopha, although the moth in the
first picture has the cilia worn at the apex of the wing making it look rounded.
This is a woodland species and the
foodplant is oak. The moth is on the wing from July, and overwinters as an adult
with some moths lasting well into April. It is fairly common and widespread
throughout England, Wales and Scotland, and much of Ireland except the central
area. The moths in the pictures varied in forewing length from 7.5 to 9.5mm.
Ypsolopha ustella Sussex
Care should be taken in identifying the
plain forms of Ypsolopha ustella as shown in the lower of the three
pictures, as Ypsolopha parenthesella has similar colour forms, but these
usually have a head that is paler than the forewing, whereas Ypsolopha
ustella has a head of a similar colour to the wing.