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.
31st October 2016
While at the edge of a wood near
Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, Roger found a male specimen of Typhaeus typhoeus
also known as the Minotaur Beetle.
This is a widely distributed but never very common beetle found in the
southern counties of England and Wales as far north as the Midlands.
About twenty minutes later I found
another large beetle, lacking the three horns of the male Minotaur Beetle. This
was the less spectacular female of the species.
Minotaur Beetle Typhaeus typhoeus
The Minotaur Beetle is a dung beetle
found in short, well drained grassland and heathland, where it feeds mainly at
night on rabbit droppings and other dung. The adults emerge in autumn, then feed
intensely until mature enough to reproduce. This may be in early winter or early
in the following spring. They breed in tunnels, where they deposit dung to
feed the future larvae, then lay their eggs. The
adults live until mid-summer.
The male of our specimens had a total
length of 18mm, the female 16mm.
Minotaur Beetle Typhaeus typhoeus
28th September 2016
Roger and I decided to have a trip over
to Suffolk to photograph Pale-lemon Sallow, which is a scarce species found in
East Anglia and some northern parts of Surrey. The larvae feed on Black Poplar
catkins (and cultivars).
We set up amongst some poplars at a
site just north of Bury St Edmunds in an area where there were previous records.
Despite the high temperature (19C), after about three and a half hours light
trapping and sugaring, and getting very little apart from a couple of Deep-brown
Darts, a Latticed Heath, a Red Admiral and four Acleris emargana, we
decided to pack up and go and investigate the abundant ivy flower in a nearby
This strategy was much more successful
and explained why we had been getting nothing but beetles and millipedes on the
sugar. Although we still did not get the Pale-lemon Sallow, we did at least find
plenty of moths. An Adaina microdactyla, two Emmelina monodactyla,
one Ypsolopha parenthesella, two Common Marbled Carpet,
fifteen Chestnut, one Dark Chestnut, three Dotted Chestnut, four Angle Shades,
two Red-line Quaker, seven Brick, two Autumnal Rustic, a Pale Pinion and a
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.
Brick Agrochola circellaris
The Brick were quite variable,
some had a dark distal edge to the wings almost obscuring the jagged red line,
others were dull so that the markings were indistinct, and then there was the
one in the picture with particularly clear markings. The jagged red terminal
line distinguishes it from other similar species.
This is a common moth throughout most
of Britain at this time of year, although it is more local in Scotland and
Ireland. It flies from September and is occasionally recorded as late as
December. The larvae feed on Wych Elm, poplars, Aspen, Ash, sallows and probably
other shrubs. The moth in the picture had a forewing length of 16mm.
Dotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginea
The Dotted Chestnut is a
Nationally Notable species (scarce) that does come to light, but is just as
easily found at ivy blossom. It usually flies in October and November,
overwinters then flies again in March and April. It is known from the southern
counties of England and Wales, but appears to be moving north towards the
The larvae feed on growing and fallen
leaves of Apple, Plum and Blackthorn and in captivity Dandelion. It may be that
the larvae falls to the ground, then also feed on low-growing plants.
The specimen in the picture had a
forewing length of 15mm.
Autumnal Rustic Eugnorisma glareosa
We had already had an Autumnal
Rustic at the light traps, but it is always a pleasure to see more of these
moths. These specimens had brown and black markings, but in some parts of
Britain these markings may be pink and black. It is common throughout Britain
and Ireland, especially in the north, and flies from August to October.
The overwintering larvae feed on
low-growing plants such as Heather and bedstraws as well as sallows and birch.
It lives in a variety of habitats from moorland and rough downland to sallow
carr. The specimen in the picture had a forewing length of 15mm.
On the 30th July Carolyn and
I arrived at
Inshriach Alpine Nursery near Aviemore in the Highlands of
Scotland, where we were staying in the Garden Cottage for a week. The idea was
that I could photograph the local moths and Carolyn would be able to spend her
time painting the beautiful scenery in that area.
As is usual with our recent holidays in
Scotland and Wales the weather was not at its best for either trapping for moths
or painting, as showers were frequent that week and a few of the overnight
showers were heavy.
Luckily there is a porch on the side of
the cottage that faces out over the marshes and this is where I trapped most of
the time. I used a 125 watt mercury vapour light to attract the moths and
over the week I recorded about 70 species despite the poor weather.
The following are the more interesting
of the moths recorded, with the highest number that were recorded on any night
during the week.
Oblique Carpet 2, Grey Mountain Carpet
1, Chestnut-coloured Carpet 4, Beech-green Carpet 2, Juniper Pug 10,
Tawny-speckled Pug 1, Dotted Carpet 8, Scotch Annulet 1, Gold Spangle 1, Scarce
Silver Y 3, Lempke’s Gold Spot 8, Haworth’s Minor 3, Double Dart 1, Dotted
Clay 10 and Plain Clay 2.
The Tawny-speckled Pug Eupithecia
icterata was of interest to me as it was one of the northern forms with
a reduced area of orange in the forewing. Some forms apparently have no orange
at all. The forms with reduced orange have also been recorded in parts of
Wales, northern England and locally in south-west England.
There is a picture below of the mainly
orange form from Berrow in Somerset.
Tawny-speckled Pug Eupithecia
icterata Highland form
Tawny-speckled Pug Eupithecia
icterata Somerset form
Tawny-speckled Pug is on the wing in July and August in a wide variety of
habitats including woodland, downland and gardens. It is especially common
near the coast.
The larvae feed on the
flowers of Yarrow and Sneezewort. It is a large pug with a forewing
length of 11 to 12mm.
of the species that I was glad to record was Plain Clay Eugnorisma
depuncta, as I had previously recorded them in Lynachlaggan Wood,
which is only about six miles to the south, but it was in late August and
they were not in good enough condition for a photograph, while these were
newly emerged and near perfect.
Plain Clay Eugnorisma depuncta
The Plain Clay is an uncommon, mainly
open woodland species, with a national status of Notable B. It is a northern
species from central and western Scotland, northern England and north Wales,
although there are a few recent records from southern England. It flies from
July until early September.
The larvae feed on a variety of plants
including Cowslip, Primrose, Common Sorrel and Stinging Nettle. They overwinter
while small and resume feeding in early spring. The specimen in the
picture had a forewing length of 16mm, although they can be up to 20mm.
10th July 2016
While in the garden collecting some
Grey Willow Salix cinerea leaves to feed some moth larvae that I was
rearing, I noticed a brown area in the centre of the surface of one of the
wlllow leaves. When I turned the leaf over I saw a small cluster of bright
yellow eggs in the middle of the brown area.
I took the leaf indoors and after
looking at the eggs through a magnifying glass I realised that the eggs were
starting to hatch. I was not sure what they were at this stage, but after
photographing them I realised the emerging larvae were probably those of a
My partner Carolyn suggested that I
reared them to find out what they were. At first this appeared difficult,
as a quick search around the garden did not produce any aphids which I was
guessing the larvae would probably need to eat.
Eventually I found that there were a
few aphids on the back of some of the Hazel Corylus avellana leaves
and these became their staple diet.
Emerging larvae on the underside
of a leaf. Egg cluster 3mm diameter
At 4mm total length I released all
except three of the larvae to make it easier to find enough aphids to feed to them.
The larvae were difficult to
photograph, as once disturbed they would continually move, but even when running
across a leaf they would sometimes stop abruptly. On closer inspection I found
this would be when they had run into an aphid which they immediately stopped and
consumed. It was at this stage that three larvae became two larvae and a dried
up husk. So I then kept these cannibalistic larvae in separate containers.
At 9mm the larvae became fatter and
more lethargic and did not appear to eat. Eventually they just sat under a leaf
and did not move.
At 23 to 24 days old they reached the
final pupal stage. By this time they had shrunk in length to only about 5mm.
At 28 days from the eggs hatching the
two insects emerged as Harlequin Ladybirds Harmonia axyridis.
Although I knew they were extremely variable, it was surprising to me that they were not only different in size, but had
totally different markings despite the larvae looking exactly the same as each
The Harlequin Ladybird first arrived in
the south-east of England in 2004 and has rapidly spread across Britain. It is
an Asian species found in many eastern countries including Siberia, Russia and
China. It was introduced as a greenhouse biological control agent in Europe and North America
where it escaped and spread. The insect not only eats aphids, but also butterfly
and moth larvae and the larvae of many other insects including ladybirds, as I
found out with my three larvae later becoming two.
Although I have had these ladybirds in
my Bristol garden for about 8 or 9 years I do still appear to have the same
number of other ladybirds species as I had when they first appeared, although
each of the other species do seem to be less in number and the Harlequins are now