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.
25th May 2018
This trip was to Kingston
Maurward gardens which are situated to the north east of Dorchester. Here
Carolyn and I met up with our friend Helen, who on our walk around the garden
pointed out a red beetle. I realised it was a
tortoise beetle Cassida sp. because of its shape, but I had only ever
seen the green species in the past.
The beetle was Cassida murraea. While an immature adult this species
is green. It later continues being green or changes to yellow or red.
Cassida murraea Kingston
The adult has been recorded feeding on Common Fleabane
Pulicaria dysenterica and Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre, making holes in the
leaves. The larvae feed
under the leaves. Its wide, but local
distribution is mainly a broad band from central southern England north-west to
southern Wales and on the coast in the south-west. There are also a few records
from east of the Midlands. The specimen found had a total length of 8mm.
For the first time in many years of
British holidays Carolyn and I chose a week when the forecast was for warm, dry
weather. To our relief
the forecast was true. We were based in a very nice cottage
north of Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset.
One of the local attractions is the
Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens. These are beautiful gardens with lots of
exotic trees and shrubs and a large number of ferns.
I knew the site was home to Pachyrhabda
steropodes, a micro-moth in
the family Stathmopodidae, discovered by Phil
Sterling back in 2010. The species is an Australasian adventive that has
naturalised in the garden and was thought to have arrived with imported ferns.
It had previously been reported to fly in April, but other naturalised
Australasian species such as Epiphyas postvittana and Tachystola
acroxantha have a long season with overlapping broods, and as this was a
'late' season anyway, I was hopeful of finding them in late May.
I was not disapponted, as it did not
take long to find large numbers of them flying in the sunshine around the many
Soft Shield Ferns Polystichum setiferum found throughout the gardens. I
probably saw several hundreds throughout the day, all of them around Soft Shield
Fern. I did see them resting on other ferns including Broad Buckler Fern Dryopteris dilatata,
but the Soft Shield Fern was always adjacent or very close. The larvae
feed from tubes on the ferns sporangia on the underside of the leaves.
Pachyrhabda steropodes Abbotsbury
We visited several other gardens in the
Dorchester area, and each time I searched the ferns for this species, but did
not find them. In late April 2014 Chris Manley reported that he had confirmed the presence
of the moth in Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire, on Hard Fern / Deer Fern Blechnum spicant,
where they had been rumoured to be present in 2005. As the species seems to be
associated with native ferns, it could be present elsewhere in planted gardens
or damp woodland in southern Britain or Ireland. The moths at Abbotsbury had a
forewing length up to about 5mm.
The only native moth in the family Stathmopodidae
is Stathmopoda pedella. This
species looks superficially similar, but with more prominent straight, rather
than angled bands. The larvae
feed on the unripe seeds of Alder Alnus
spp. The adults fly in July, and have a forewing length of about 5mm.