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.
This moth trapping session took place
in one of the many small disused quarries on the Mendips. We used two traps
with twin 20w compact blacklight blue bulbs. The lights were on from 9.10pm.
Our usual experience in late summer is that a few
moths such as Green Carpets and Orange Swifts arrive at dusk, then there is a
lull for up to an hour, then the moths gradually increase in number.
night most of the moths arrived during the first hour and a half, then it was
very quiet with only about half a dozen species arriving in the next hour and a
half, by which time we were getting a bit bored and decided to pack up at about
12.25am. We do not know why this happened, as there was no noticeable wind in the quarry and the temperature did not
We recorded 40 species in total, with
Shaded Broad-bar and Acrobasis suavella being the most
abundant moths at the trap. Other species included Aspilapteryx
tringipennella, Gracillaria syringella, Prays
fraxinella, Monochroa cytisella, Acleris rhombana,
Dusky Thorn and Pale Eggar.
Acrobasis suavella is one
of several similar species in the family Pyralidae. It differs from the usually smaller and
more common Acrobasis advenella in that the dots in the centre of the
forewing are aligned at near right angles to the leading edge of the forewing
rather than sloping backwards, and it lacks the distinct straight broad white bar
at a quarter from the base of the wing.
Acrobasis marmorea is also
similar, but is usually smaller and most of the base of the forewing of that
species is red, rather than just part of the dorsal. The dorsal of A.marmorea
is marked with a broad white bar at about half way along the length, and the dots in the centre of the wing are usually joined.
Acrobasis suavella is
found locally on downland in southern England and even more locally in west
Wales and the east of northern England. It feeds mainly on Blackthorn, but also
on Cotoneaster spp., Hawthorn and perhaps other members of the Rose
family. The moth in the picture had a 10mm forewing.
Two male Pale Eggar
Trichiura crataegi arrived at the trap. This is a common species
throughout most of Britain, although more local in southern Wales, south-west
Scotland and very local in Ireland. It is found in a variety of habitats
including woodland, moorland and even gardens. It flies in August and September,
which is later than most of the other eggars.
The adults show little
variation, unlike the similarly marked, but more variable Lackey. The larvae feed
on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs including Blackthorn, Hawthorn,
birches, Hazel, sallows, Heather and Bilberry. The specimen in the picture had a
forewing length of 13mm.
Pale Eggar Trichiura
The Wye Valley has plenty of ancient
woodland and is known for several rare moths such as Salebriopsis albicilla,
Scarce Hook-tip and Pauper Pug that feed on the Small-leaved Lime. These species
fly earlier in the summer and most of our previous visits have been
around the time when they are flying. We decided to see what we could record at
this time of year as it is obviously a rich habitat.
We trapped from 9.15pm until 1.20am
using the two twin 20w traps. During this time we recorded 72 species of moth, plus a few
other insects such as a Forest Bug, Leiopus nebulosus and two common horseflies which were
The moths included Roeslerstammia
erxlebella, Zelleria hepariella, Batia lunaris, Barred
Hook-tip, Orange Footman, Clouded Magpie, Mocha,
Blomer's Rivulet, Tissue, Lesser-spotted Pinion, Gold Spot
and a rather worn White-line Snout.
The Tissue Triphosa
dubitata is a large moth in the family Geometridae, that is found
locally throughout Britain and Ireland as far north as southern Scotland. The
adults live from August until May, overwintering in caves and dark, disused
buildings, which is usually the only time that they may be found in numbers.
The larvae feed on both Purging
Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn in woodland rides and scrub. Unlike the Scarce
Tissue this moth often has red streaks across the forewing, which has a shiny
(not rough) texture. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of
Leiopus nebulosus is a
not often seen, but common, long-horned beetle that lives in the tree canopy. The
larvae feed under the bark of a variety of deciduous trees, but commonly oaks.
Adults are most often found from May until August. The specimen in the picture
below had a total length of 8mm.
In the West Country it took until
August to get one of those hot humid nights with next to no wind that is
absolutely perfect for moth trapping. This had been a hot day and with such good
conditions Roger and I decided to search out a site on the Mendip hills where
there was calcareous grassland on the edge of mature woodland. This gave us two
good habitats that would bring in a large amount of moths.
Due to access we used our two portable
twin 20w actinic traps, which were set up out of sight of each other, but only
about 50 metres apart. The lights were switched on at 9.20pm and were turned off
at 1.30am by which time it was still very warm, but becoming misty and the grass
was very wet. We attracted 122 species of moth. It was our best trapping night
None of the moths were particularly
rare, but there were many attractive and several locally scarce species.
The list included Monopis
laevigella, Batia lambdella, Caloptilia alchimiella, Recurvaria leucatella,
Brachmia blandella, Grapholita janthinana,
Rosy Veneer Oncocera semirubella, Cryptoblabes bistriga, Gold Triangle
Hypsopygia costalis, Mecyna asinalis, Leopard Moth, Grass Emerald, Small
Yellow Wave, Barred Rivulet, Sandy Carpet, Tawny-speckled Pug, Maidens Blush, Chinese
Character, Slender Brindle, Svensson's Copper Underwing and Rosy Minor.
The most abundant moths were
Blastobasis adustella (80 plus) and Large Yellow Underwing (40 plus), of
which I had been concerned about the low numbers in the previous month.
Although common the Chinese Character
Cilix glaucata is a favourite moth with its unusual shape and markings.
It is surprising that a moth that imitates a bird dropping can look so
attractive. It gets its name from the metallic markings in the centre of the
wing. It is in the family Drepanidae. While resting it is not easy to see the
resemblance to the other hook-tips. Only when it opens its wings to fly does it
become obvious that the wing shape is similar.
The moth flies in two generations, late
April to June and July until September. It is found commonly in most of England,
Wales and Ireland, less frequently in northern England and very locally in the
west of Scotland.
The larvae feed on Blackthorn,
Hawthorn, Apple and other species in the rose family. The moth in the picture
had a forewing length of 12mm.
Chinese Character Cilix glaucata
Not all insects that arrive at light
traps are moths. On this particular night there was also a variety of caddis
flies, lacewings, a few flies and some beetles. Perhaps the most interesting of these
was Odontaeus armiger an 8mm long beetle with three 'horns' on its
head and thorax.
It is associated with dry habitats such
as calcareous grassland and sandy heaths, especially in and around rabbit
burrows. It is thought that it may feed on soil fungi, but the family
The beetle flies in afternoon sunshine
and in the evening when it is hot. It also flies after dark, which is how it got into
This is a not a common beetle. It has a
National Status of Notable A. It is
mainly distributed throughout the south-east of England, but also at least as
far north as Northamptonshire and west as far as Dorset and Somerset. It is
found most frequently in June and July, but there are records from May and as
late as November.
25th July 2012
This moth trapping session was in
coastal South Wales and with some hot weather in the day and warm humid weather
in the evening, it promised to bring in a larger number of moths than we had seen
recently. We were not disappointed, as using two traps each with two 20w compact,
blacklight blue fluorescents, we recorded 84 species between 10.00pm and 2.00am.
The moths included Argolamprotes
micella, Calamatropha palludella, Chilo
phragmitella, Donacaula forficella, Epinotia ramella,
Chevron, Round-winged Muslin, Crescent, Campion, Minor Shoulder-knot, Double Kidney,
Wainscot, Pinion-streaked Snout and Marsh Oblique-barred.
Several of the above species inhabit
reedbeds and this is the case with Chilo phragmitella which is a
fairly large Crambid with sexually dimorphic adults. The female is usually large
(up to 19mm forewing length) and pale, while the males are smaller (12 to 16mm)
and darker with a more squared apex to the forewing.
They are locally widespread in the
larger reedbeds across England and Wales becoming rarer in the north as far as
south-east Scotland. They are found mainly along the east and southern coasts of
Ireland. The females of Donacaula forficella are similar to the females
of this species, but are usually slightly smaller (up to 17mm), with a broad
dark streak the length of the forewing and lack the concave shape to the leading
edge of the wing near the apex. The larvae of both species feed within the stems
and roots of Common Reed and Reed Sweet-grass.
Chilo phragmitella -
Chilo phragmitella - male
The Campion Hadena rivularis
that came to one of the traps was fairly fresh and in this condition can easily
be distinguished from the similar Lychnis Hadena bicruris because it has
a purplish sheen across the forewings which the Lychnis lacks. This colouring
fades with age and eventualy the moth becomes grey-brown like the Lychnis.
The larvae of both of these species
feed in the seed pods of White, Red and Sea Campion. The Lychnis appears to more
commonly use cultivated species such as Sweet William and is therefore more
often found in gardens.
The Campion is a fairly common species
and is found throughout Britain and Ireland including the Hebrides. The adult
flies in May and June then again from late July until September. The one in the
picture had a forewing length of 14mm.
Campion Sideris rivularis
Early in the season Roger and I usually
plan our trips for the year. They are based around the species that we want to
photograph. Unfortunately these plans have not gone well this year due to the
weather, but we have had a few successes.
Back in late May - early June we
searched for the leaf mines of a micro-moth with the rather long name of
Acrocerops brongniardella. This was mainly because we saw a picture of the
moth on the website 'UK Moths' and the species was attractive with a wide
distribution, and yet neither of us had ever seen it. We were unfortunate in
that our searches drew a blank.
A few days later I decided to take a
walk in a Bristol park which is managed by local people as a nature reserve.
There was a brief period of sunshine, but it was rather disappointing as not
much was flying and I had to wade through the mud in some areas due to the heavy
I justified my wasted trip by
collecting a few leaf mines from a sapling oak. I was fortunate that one
produced the Acleris ferrugana in the earlier post (below 26th
June), and some leaves with large blister-like mines produced the moth we had
been looking for Acrocercops brongniardella. It was smaller than I
had expected and without a magnifying glass looked like a brown wood splinter,
but when magnified it was beautifully marked and had bright red eyes.
The moth is closely related to the
Parornix and Caloptilia species and rests on its long legs with the same 'head
up' pose. It feeds on a variety of oaks including the invasive Holm or Evergreen
Oak. It is locally distributed across southern England, becoming scarce in
northern England. It is scarce and perhaps under-recorded in Wales and locally
distributed in Ireland.
The main emergence appears to be in
late July, but this is probably extended into the autumn. It overwinters and is
found occasionally in most months of the year.
As it is difficult to find as an adult
and as it is scarce in light traps, it may be under-recorded. The best way to
find it appears to be a search for the large silvery blister mines which cover
most of the upper surface of the oak leaf by early June.
14th July 2012
From the 7th to the 14th
July, my partner Carolyn and I took a holiday in a woodland cottage in the
Snowdonia National Park in north Wales.
Hafod Cottage is set in a clearing in
mature woodland on a south-facing hillside west of Maentwrog, which is about
half way between Porthmadog and Llan Ffestiniog.
The rain did not stop just because we
were on holiday, but by dodging the showers we did manage to have an enjoyable
week. Luckily from the mothing angle it was not too bad, as it often rained in
the day and cleared up by late evening. I managed to use the moth trap on four
of the nights, usually between 10.00pm and about 1.30 to 1.45am. Due to the
seasons weather, the number of
species was low for such a good habitat, with only about 40 or 50 moths
recorded each night.
Although I did not record any great
rarities, I did attract several moths that are nationally 'Local' or I had not
seen for some time. These included regular visits by several Satin Lutestring,
Triple-spotted Clay, Plain Wave, Barred Straw, Scalloped
Shell and good numbers of Satin Beauty.
We did not find many day-flying moths,
although on two occasions we recorded Incurvaria praelatella on a
woodland path. This is a small brown, metallic micro-moth with a cream bar across
the wing, a cream triangular blotch on the tornus and another opposite on the costa. It
is separated from similar species by a short white mark at the base of the
forewing. The larvae feed on Wild Strawberry. I could not find previous records
of the species in this part of Wales.
Perhaps my favourite moth that I saw
during the week was a Scalloped Shell Rheumaptera undulata. This
is a moth of wetland and damp woodland that is widespread, but local across
Britain and Ireland as far north as southern Scotland. The larvae feed on
sallows, Billberry and Aspen. I did not notice Aspen, but the other
species were frequent in the woodland. This specimen had a forewing length of
Scalloped Shell Rheumaptera
The wet weather this year has affected
the numbers of moths visiting traps, perhaps because they are actually low in
number or perhaps because they are not moving very far within their habitat.
Which ever it is, some species such as Hearts and Darts and many of the yellow
underwing species appear to be less common in our traps.
In a 'normal' year, a dozen or more
Heart and Darts or Large Yellow Underwings would have been recorded during a
trapping session, but this year singles or perhaps two or three are being
There have been some exceptions to
this. We have recorded more Satin Lutestrings this year and Buff-tips seem to be
It is amazing how well the adult
Buff-tip has evolved to imitate a section of broken birch twig. For this reason
I took the following pictures.
Buff-tip Phalera bucephala
Buff-tip Phalera bucephala
The Buff tip Phalera bucephala
was a regular visitor during the week. The larvae feed on a wide variety
of broad-leaved trees including birches, sallows and oaks. It is widespread and
often common throughout Britain and Ireland, but less common in Scotland apart
from the west. It flies throughout the spring and summer, and is very variable in
size, from 22 to 34mm forewing length, with the smaller moths being males.