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.
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
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 - 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 from larva pictured above
Above and below - more typical forms of
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.
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.