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.

29th September 2014

Roger and I took a trip to some water meadows in South Dorset to look for Blair's Wainscot Sedina buettneri. The larvae of this species feed on Lesser Pond Sedge and so our aim was to find an area of the meadows where the sedge was dominant and search for the moth by torch light at dusk.

We worked out where we needed to go during the late afternoon then returned at dusk. Sunset was at 18.50pm, but it did not appear to be getting dark (dark enough to need our head torches) until about 19.25pm when the first Blair's Wainscots appeared.

They were not hard to find as they flew up vertically from the Lesser Pond Sedge, then flew rapidly at a height of around 2.5 metres. After seeing a few, it was easy to recognise them by their flight and paleness.

We did see a couple of browner moths flying at a lower height. Roger netted one of these. It was a Small Square-spot. We also recorded a Snout and a worn Acleris (probably laterana).

When on a sedge, the Blair's Wainscots tended to stay still, although as luck would have it the one that we found in the best condition dived into the undergrowth after the first couple of photographs.

After about an hour Roger and I had seen at least 15 to 20, but by this time (about 20.30pm) it was completely dark and the wainscots had stopped flying. We had 'sugared' the leaves of some of the tall comfrey plants at the edge of the sedges, but this did not attract anything.

This RDB species is only found along a couple of rivers in Dorset. It was originally discovered on the Isle of Wight in 1945, but became extinct there due to habitat destruction in 1951. The present populations were first discovered in 1996. It flies from late September until mid-October and is also an occasional rare migrant. It has a forewing length of 12 to 14mm which is slightly smaller than the more familiar Common and Smoky Wainscots.

Blair's Wainscot  Sedina buettneri   Copyright Martin Evans

Blair's Wainscot  Sedina buettneri

22nd August 2014

Out of the five Button Snout Hypena rostralis larvae mentioned below two were parasitized, one by an unknown organism that made the larva die and go stiff instead of pupating and another by a small tachnid fly. The pupating larva in the picture below (28th July) is the one that died from an unknown cause, which perhaps accounts for the strange colour as it was pupating.

The other three pupated succesfully and the first emerged on the 19th August and the second today (22nd), about three weeks after pupation.

Button Snout Hypena rostralis Copyright Martin Evans

Button Snout Hypena rostralis

28th July 2014

While visiting Mike Bailey at his home near Bath, he told Roger and I of some sites where he had found Button Snout Hypena rostralis larvae. As one of these sites was very close to our route home we decided to visit it and tap some Hop plants to see if we could also find some larvae. We would then be able to photograph them and rear them to get some pictures of the adults.

The site was in a narrow lane and after finding a reasonably safe place to park the van we set about the job of finding larvae. To our surprise the very first tap of a Hop plant yielded one, as did the second and within ten minutes we had found three more, which was plenty for what we wanted.

Mike had said that the larvae would be in their last instar and he was correct as within a couple of days of feeding on leaves from a golden Hop that was growing in my garden they started to pupate. The larvae were at this stage about 20mm long and spun a silken web between two hop leaves where they pupated.

Button Snout Hypena rostralis larva  Copyright Martin Evans

Button Snout Hypena rostralis larva

Button Snout Hypena rostralis larva pupating  Copyright Martin Evans

Button Snout Hypena rostralis larva pupating

23rd to 25th July 2014

While on holiday on the coast in Cornwall my partner Carolyn and I noticed what at first looked like a butterfly flying up and down the hedgerow surrounding the property where we were staying. After a second sighting I realised that it was a male Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus.

I already had a picture of a female, as they regularly come to light (usually as a singleton), but I only had a very old photographic slide of a male from many years ago. I caught this when I noticed what I at first thought were two Small Tortoiseshell butterflies flying up and down the wall of my house near Weston-super-Mare. I went up in to the bedroom to get a closer look and found a female Oak Eggar had emerged in a cage in the bedroom and as the window was slightly open her pheromones were attracting the males. I took her outside, stuck a stick in the lawn, sat her on it, and within a few minutes had captured a male.

Obtaining a fresh male to take a digital photograph was not so easy. It was extremely fast and appeared so quickly that I hardly had  time to lift the net. While waiting for it to return it would appear from behind me and I would again be too slow to catch it. I later realised that it was not the same moth and there were in fact several flying around the hedges and shrubs of the garden. After about twenty minutes I gave up. It was hot in the sun and I had other things to do.

The male Oak Eggars flew in strong sunshine from about 1.30pm until about 5.30pm, with a peak in numbers between 2.00pm and 4.00pm.

That evening I caught a female in the light trap. I thought I would see if I could get her to attract a male as I had done years before, but unfortunately there was a thunderstorm which lasted the whole of the next afternoon, so I was unable to try this out.

The day after that I put the female on a stick in the lawn and waited to see what happened. Unfortunately what was probably an already mated female did not provide any attraction to the males.

I again resorted to trying to net one, and after more than half an hour succeeded.

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus pair  Copyright Martin Evans

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus female (top) and male

Oak Eggar larvae feed on Hawthorn, Blackthorn, oaks, Hazel, Heather and other deciduous trees and shrubs. They are common throughout most of Britain and can be found in most habitats from moorland and downland to woodland edge, hedgerows and sand-dunes.  They are less common in the more intensively farmed areas.

On the northern moorlands the Northern Eggar feeding on Heather has a two year lifecycle rather than one.

The female from Cornwall had a forewing length of 35mm, the male had a forewing length of 33mm.

20th June 2014

As the Scottish weather appeared to be reasonably settled for a change, Roger and I decided to make the trip up to the Kiltarlity area south-west of Inverness to take part in this years Pine Tree Lappet survey organised by Tom Prescott of Butterfly Conservation Scotland.

We met in a pub car park at Kiltarlity during the evening, so that we could work out who was going where with their traps. Unfortunately most of the people that travel around Britain recording/ photographing moths have already visited for the Pine Tree Lappet in previous years, so this year there were only four people with about ten traps.

Rather than explore a new woodland, Roger and I asked to trap at a known site so that we would be more likely to get a moth to photograph.

The nights this far north, at this time of year, are short and not very dark. Even in the darker woodland we did not turn the lights on until gone 11.00pm. Unfortunately as soon as we had found suitable trapping sites and started to get our equipment out of the van, there was a rain shower, which meant that we had to wipe down the traps before we could use them.

Luckily we had not opened the sheets so they were not wet. We then decided to postion the traps under some trees in case it rained again. A good plan as it did, repeatedly.

We recorded 47 species during the night including several fresh Rhyacionia pinivorana, Map-winged Swift, Gold Swift, the beautiful scottish form of Pebbled Hook-tip, Sallow Kitten, Large Emerald, Barred Red, Welsh Wave, Satin Lutestring, Peacock Moth, Brussels Lace, Pine Hawk-moth and  Brown Rustic.

The first Pine Tree Lappet arrived at the trap at about 12.45am followed by two more in the next three quarters of an hour and another at about 2.15am.

Pine Tree Lappet Dendrolimus pini  Copyright Martin Evans

Pine Tree Lappet Dendrolimus pini

The Pine Tree Lappet Dendrolimus pini was considered a rare migrant in the Channel Islands and occasionally southern England, until in 2007 a small colony was discovered in Scotland.

This colony is considered by conservationists as a low density native population that had managed to escape detection until this century. The foresters are concerned that it is an accidental introduction that could turn into a serious pest of Scot's Pine plantations. For this reason Butterfly Conservation and the foresters both carry out regular monitoring.

The moth in the picture above had a forewing length of 33mm.

The following morning we all met up to discuss the results of the previous night, as well as look at  the contents of some of the as yet unopened traps. Only one other Pine Tree Lappet had been caught. Amongst the other species trapped were Pretty Pinion, Dusky Brocade, Dark Brocade and The Saxon.

After the meeting Roger and I travelled over to the Braemar area as we wanted to trap in a different habitat and perhaps find Silvery Arches.

Unfortunately the evening was slightly cooler with a breeze. After we had set up our traps on some heathland we 'sugared' some birch trunks along the edge of a woodland made up almost entirely of young birch.

Again we turned on the lights at about 11.00pm.  The traps did not produce a very good catch with only about 15 species. The best of these were Lead Belle and Light Knotgrass.

The sugar was surprisingly effective. There were at least a dozen moths on it the first time we looked at about 11.15pm. By the end of the night we had recorded about seventy moths on the sugar with nearly fifty Clouded-bordered Brindle of both the normal form and the red form. It also attracted several Dusky Brocade, some beautiful mauve and orange forms of Ingrailed Clay, a Shears and thirteen Saxon. One pair of Saxon even decided to mate while at the sugar patch. Unfortunately we did not get a Silvery Arches.

The Saxon Hyppa rectilinea  Copyright Martin Evans

The Saxon Hyppa rectilinea

The Saxon Hyppa rectilinea is mainly a moorland species, the larvae feeding on a variety of plants including Bilberry, Bearberry, sallows and Raspberry.

It is a northern species distributed locally from Cumbria northwards through the Highlands and west coast to northern Scotland. It flies from May through June and has a National status of Notable B.

The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of 17mm.

 

 

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