Travel Notes

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.

9th July 2017

This trip was to a mixed woodland site in Kent. Although we still have moths in our local area around Bristol that we have not yet photographed, we have found that mothing is much more productive in the south-east of England and we are more likely to find species we have not yet photographed.

Our journey went well and we arrived at the site at about 9.30pm. The lights were lit on the two 20w compact fluorescent traps we used that night by 9.45pm. Roger also sprayed  'sugar' on some of the foilage along the ride. 

The evening was very successful as we had nearly 50 Waved Carpet, 5 Festoon,  2 Olive Crescent, several Pale Oak Beauty, 4 Beautiful Carpet, a Large Twin-spot Carpet, an Orange Moth, 2 Clouded Magpie, several Satin Lutestring, a Poplar Lutestring, the green form of Barred Red, and 15 Dusky Peacock amongst the eighty species we recorded. 

On the sugar were 8 Herald moths, but none of this species came to the light traps.

The  Waved Carpet Hydrelia sylvata is on the wing from June to early August. Its larvae feed on a variety of trees and shrubs including sallows, birch, Sycamore and Sweet Chestnut. The latter species was probably the foodplant in this case as there were several along the ride where the traps were placed.

Waved Carpet Hydrelia sylvata Copyright Martin Evans

Waved Carpet Hydrelia sylvata

Waved Carpet is found mainly in south-west and south-east England, south and central Wales, Cumbria, more northerly parts of the Midlands and recently in Guernsey. It is also found in some parts of Ireland although it is perhaps declining. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of 11mm.

The Barred Red Hylaea fasciaria is usually a shade of reddish-brown, but in Kent green specimens occasionally occur. This colour form is much more common on the continent and green moths occur as migrants on the south coast of Britain, as did a recent specimen at the Portland Observatory.  The species is on the wing between June and August and occasionally in September and October. The larvae feed on Scot's Pine, Norway Spruce and other conifers, and can be abundant.

The moth occurs throughout Britain and Ireland except for central areas of Ireland. The moth in the picture had a forewing length of 16mm.

Barred Red Hylaea fasciaria  f. prasinaria Copyright Martin Evans

Barred Red Hylaea fasciaria  f. prasinaria

Until 2005 when a resident population was discovered in Kent, Dusky Peacock Macaria signaria was a rare migrant in Britain. There are now at least two resident populations in Kent as well as occasional migrant records along the south coast. Migrants have been recorded as far north as Herefordshire and Norfolk.

It is on the wing from late May until the end of July, and in this warm year most of the specimens we recorded were already very worn, although luckily we had one good specimen which is shown in the picture below.

Like the Barred Red the larvae feed on Scot's Pine and Norway Spruce. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of 15mm.

Dusky Peacock Macaria signaria  Copyright Martin Evans

Dusky Peacock Macaria signaria

1st June 2017

In early May this year Roger and I were trapping on the coastal sand dunes at Berrow in Somerset. It was another of those cool, clear evenings after a warm day and there were not many moths arriving at the lights, so we decided to search for larvae to pass the time. 

Two of the larvae we found on Grey Willow Salix cinerea had a dark length ways stripe and were about 15mm in length. I later identified them at home as the larvae of July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata. Within a few days one of them had pupated and the other only grew a further millimetre or so in size before pupating.

July Highflyer larva 15mm Copyright Martin Evans

July Highflyer larva - Berrow Somerset

In less then a month one of them has emerged and I was surprised to find it was a colour form that I had never seen before. I have photographed forms with a cream band across the wings, but never with such a broad band as this one.

July Highflyer  Copyright Martin Evans

July Highflyer from larva pictured above

July Highflyer  Copyright Martin Evans

Above and below - more typical forms of July Highflyer

July Highflyer  Copyright Martin Evans

The larvae also feed on other Salix spp, Hazel, Heather and Bilberry. All of the moths above had a forewing length of 15 or 16mm, but they are sometimes as small as 13mm. 

This species is common throughout Britain and Ireland and is a regular visitor at light traps. The usual flight period is between mid-June and mid-August in southern Britain. They start a month later in Scotland occasionally through to early October.

13th April 2017

One of the aspects of studying moths that makes them interesting no matter how long you have been doing it, is the discovery of a form of a species that you have not come across before. This was the case for me with the olive banded form of Pine Beauty Panolis flammea that came to a UV light in my garden. Although I have never lived in an area where there are lots of conifers and the moth is common, I have seen a large number of them over the years, but never this form.

The form is not rare and perhaps i have missed it when I have had faded or damaged specimens arrive at the trap, but I definitely have not had it in the garden before.

For comparison, a strongly coloured specimen of the red form is shown below.

Olive form of Pine Beauty

Red form of Pine Beauty

The larvae of this moth feed on the young needles of pines, including the native Scots Pine. They can be a pest in forestry areas, as they were when Lodgepole Pine was commonly planted in northern Scotland in the 1970s.

The moth is found throughout most of Britain and coastal counties of Ireland, apart from central northern England and parts of western and northern Scotland, and parts of the Hebrides.

Both of the moths in the pictures had a forewing length of 15mm.




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