1st to 5th
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
an Ant Lion Euroleon nostras was shown
to us that had been trapped at light on the previous
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.
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
next couple of nights Roger and I were lucky enough
to record 3 more at the Bird Observatory in our own
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Islands Pug Eupithecia