1st to 5th August 2022

Roger and I recently stayed at the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory so that we could use it as a base to search southern Kent for several macro-moths that we had not yet photographed.

On arrival an Ant Lion Euroleon nostras was shown to us that had been trapped at light on the previous night. 

This large insect usually has a forewing length of around 30mm, but is sometimes a bit larger. The adults snatch small insects from the top of low vegetation while the larvae have a conical pit in sandy soil where they lie buried at the bottom with just their head and jaws above the sand, waiting for small insects to slide down the side of the pit.

The insect is rare although it has been breeding at Minsmere in Suffolk since 1996, Holkham, Norfolk since 2005 and was first recorded at Sandwich Bay, Kent in 2013.

Over the next couple of nights Roger and I were lucky enough to record 3 more at the Bird Observatory in our own MV trap.

Ant Lion Eurolean nostras Copyright Martin Evans

Ant Lion Euroleon nostras

On the night of the 1st August I was finally able to say I had seen one of the many Striped Hawk-moths Hyles lavornica that have been recorded in Britain this year, but as Roger was happy to point out, this was the 11th Striped Hawk of the year for him as he had recorded 10 in Cornwall in one night during the original influx.

What sparked some interest with this specimen was that it was in pristine condition and was possibly a British bred moth. The larvae feed on bedstraws, willowherbs, docks and in gardens on Fuchsia and snapdragons. The moth has a forewing length of 33 to 42mm.

Striped Hawk-Moth Hyles lavornica  Copyright Martin Evans

Striped Hawk-Moth Hyles lavornica

Throughout the week we encountered many moths that were for us living in the West Country either scarce or rare. One of these was the Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar. We recorded it at four out of the six sites at which we trapped and at one site we recorded 4 moths.

 All of the specimens recorded were males rather than the white female. The moth in the picture is of a pale banded form rather than one of the more usual darker, more brindled forms.

The moth was a resident in the past, then died out to become an immigrant and an adventive. More recently it has naturalised and is becoming locally common in the south-east of England.

The naturalised larvae feed on deciduous trees such as apple, plums and sallows. The extinct native population was known to feed on Creeping Willow and Bog Myrtle.

Male moths usually have a forewing length of 20 to 24mm while the females are larger with a wing length of 31 to 35mm.

Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar  Copyright Martin Evans

Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar

Other moths recorded during the week included Pediasia contaminella (abundant), Portland Ribbon Wave, Rest Harrow, Dusky Hook-tip, Cryptic Fern, Yarrow Pug, Triple-spotted Pug, Angle-barred Pug, Maple Prominent, Langmaid's Yellow Underwing and Cream-bordered Green Pea.

We patted ourselves on the back for making the effort of going to Hayling Island to look for Channel Islands Pug in July, as we never saw even a worn one during our visit to Kent despite there being a local breeding population. It appears that due to the extreme heatwave moths were flying about two weeks earlier than the post 2000 average.

24th July 2022

As our recent trapping had indicated that moths were flying earlier than usual Roger and I decided to travel down to Hayling Island near Portsmouth to try and photograph Channel Islands Pug Eupithecia ultimaria. We had booked to stay at a known site for the moth in Kent  in early August, but thought that they might be in poor condition by then.

We set up two 20W UV compact flourescent bulbs over sheets on the sheltered side of some Tamarisk (the foodplant of the pug).

At first we encountered a number of Double-striped Pugs Gymnoscelis rufifasciata and then some small distinctive moths with a black bar across the forewing. These small moths (5 to 6mm length forewing) were identified as Blastobasis rebeli which is a native of Madiera. The moth was first discovered in Hampshire in 1998. The larvae are thought to feed on plant debris.

Blastobasis rebeli  Copyright Martin Evans

Blastobasis rebeli

Less than an hour after dusk we recorded our first Channel Islands Pug Eupithecia ultimaria. We probably looked at about a dozen before we found two that were in good condition. As we had suspected they had been flying earlier than 'normal'.

The moth has spread along the southern coastal counties from Devon to Kent since it naturalised in  the middle of the 1990's. It is a small moth, the forewing length is between  7 and 10mm. The larvae feed on the flowers and leaves of Tamarisk.

Channel Islands Pug Eupithecia ultimaria   Copyright Martin Evans

Channel Islands Pug Eupithecia ultimaria





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