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.
While travelling to Scotland to visit
family, my partner Carolyn and I stayed at Windermere in the Lake District. While
returning to our hotel in the late afternoon I found the largest horsefly I had
ever seen, sitting in the shade on the pavement.
It was quickly potted and taken back to
the hotel to photograph. As it happens it was not just the largest fly I had
ever seen, but at 25mm in length the largest British fly.
It was a female Tabanus sudeticus.
The females of this species have to feed on blood before they oviposit. Their
main hosts are large mammals such as horses, cattle and deer, but they will bite
humans. They do not pierce the skin as with insects such as bugs and mosquitoes,
but cut an incision to let the blood run. The bite often causes painful swelling
a few hours later.
The species can be recognised by the
large size, very dark markings, the pale triangles on the abdomen not reaching
right across the tergites, and the reddish base to the third part of the
antennae. Males (which have no gap between the eyes when viewed from above) have
larger facets in the upper part of the compound eye when compared with the lower
Tabanus sudeticus -
Tabanus sudeticus -
The species is most common in the
western half of Britain and some southern parts of Ireland, especially the
Scottish Highlands, Cumbria, most of Wales and Cornwall. Elsewhere in Britain
the records are very scattered except for the New Forest where it is common.
This was a visit
the Bristol and District Moth Group to Lower Woods NR at Wetmoor in
Gloucestershire. With 10
people in attendance we ran 6 MV traps and 2 UV fluorescent traps from
9.30pm. We packed up at around 1.30am, although the last light was
probably turned off about half an hour later than that.
Despite the temperature not being
unusually warm (14C going down to 12C by 1.30am), we recorded 128 species of
Amongst these species were Incurvaria
praeletella, Pseudosciaphila branderiana, Poplar Lutestring, Mocha, Scallop
Shell, Maple Pug, Orange Moth, Brindled White-spot, Blotched Emerald, Little
Emerald, Muslin Footman, Orange Footman, Rustic Shoulder-knot, Purple Clay,
Green Arches and Short Cloaked.
(Nb) Pseudosciaphila branderiana was of interest as it was the first
record in the Bristol area since the 1960's.
The species is commonly an almost
uniform brown in colour, although at all of the three sites where I have
recorded it (which were widely separated across
southern England), the moth has been the banded form.
The larvae feed from within a rolled
leaf, or two spun
leaves of Aspen Populus tremula. It is an uncommon moth, but is widely
distributed across the southern half of England, although not in the south-west. The moth
has a forewing
length of 11 to 12mm.
We attracted a large number of male
Orange Moth Angerona prunaria of the commoner orange form, but I was interested in the female shown in the picture below, as I had not seen this
more uncommon form for many years and did
not have a good picture. It was one of the latest moths to arrive (as is normal
with females of this species). The males are usually orange with small black
dashes all over, or brown with an orange central blotch in each wing,
making them reminiscent of a Meadow Brown butterfly. The females are similar,
but often a paler orange or cream-yellow. The males have feathered antennae,
while females have simple antennae.
The species has a wide distribution
across southern English woodlands, the Wye Valley, north-west Wales, and a
scattered, but wide distribution across Ireland. The larvae feed from August and
again in the spring until May, on a wide variety of broadleaved trees, shrubs and climbers, including Honeysuckle and Old-man's Beard.
The moth in the picture was at the
large end of its size range with a forewing length of 24mm.
70.230 Orange Moth - colour form
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.