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.
19th November 2015
Although there a lot fewer moths flying
at this time of the year, light trapping can often be rewarding as some of
these species are under-recorded due to the lack of people getting out with
their lights because of the cold weather.
Roger and I took a trip over to Tintern
in the Wye Valley in the hope of recording Scarce Umber and Northern Winter
Moth. Both of these moths have been recorded there in the past, but
unfortunately did not visit our lights this time.
During the winter we do not bother with
the traps, but use a 20w compact fluorescent bulb standing upright in the centre
of a white sheet surrounded with egg boxes. As there are fewer moths and we stay
with the traps, it is unlikely that we will miss many moths as most
settle amongst the egg boxes. That is if we have not already netted them as they flew
towards the light. Not using the traps makes it quicker to set up and perhaps
more importantly, pack up when the rain arrives.
On this occasion we turned on the
lights at 4.45pm (sunset was around 4.25pm) and then trapped for about two and a
half hours. By this time we had not had a different species for nearly an hour
and we would have to admit to a touch of boredom overcoming us. The temperature
was a rather mild 10C dropping to 9C. It was overcast with only a slight breeze,
but it started to clear later.
The moths recorded were 1x Red-green
Carpet, 1x Tissue, 1x Winter Moth, 1x Epirrata sp.,
a rather worn Orange Sallow, 5x Chestnut, 2x Yellow-line
Quaker, 2 x Brick and 1x December Moth.
The Tissue - Tintern, Wye
For us the most interesting moth was
the Tissue Triphosa dubitata as we usually only record one or two
a year, and this one was in good condition. Its flight period is normally from
August to October when it goes into hibernation to re-emerge in April and May.
This one was probably still flying due to the unusually mild November that we
have experienced in southern Britain this year. Although it comes to light in
small numbers, it may be found in much larger numbers during its hibernation when
it can be found in caves, old bunkers and disused buildings.
Its larvae feed on Buckthorn and
Alder Buckthorn from May until early July. This moth had a forewing length of
The only species that is really likely
to be confused with this species is the Scarce Tissue which has larvae that feed
on Barberry Berberis spp. That species is not found in the autumn and
winter, but has a flight period that spans April, May and June. It has slightly
narrower more pointed wings, the cross bars are closer together, and it has more
ochreous rather than pink markings.
While on a weekend trip to St.Just near
Penzance, Cornwall to visit friends, I decided to do some dusking on a nearby
heathland around one of the disused tin mines. I hoped to find Heath Rustic as I
did not have pictures of any perfect specimens.
The weather forecast had been for
strong winds and almost continuous rain, but after an initial downpour on the
Friday night the weather was mostly fine and the winds were not much more than a
breeze when away from the coast.
The moths flying at dusk over the
heather were mainly Square-spot Rustics, but as it became dark I started
to find moths on the Heather and heath blossom. Amongst these were a Large
Yellow Underwing, a Setaceous Hebrew Character, more Square-spot
Rustics, several Chevron and two Parsnip Moths Depressaria
radiella. I also netted a Pink-barred Sallow. After nearly two
hours I thought that my search for Heath Rustic
was in vain, but it was then that I found one on a
head of Heather flowers. On approaching it the light from my head torch caused
it to back down the Heather stem. I thought it was going to disappear, but I
managed to get a pot under it and catch it, so that I could later get the
picture below before releasing it.
Heath Rustic -
St. Just Cornwall
The Heath Rustic Xestia agathina
is widespread, but local, throughout Britain. It is found on heathland with
mature Heather on which its larvae feed. It flies from late August until the end
of September. It varies in colour from grey-brown to reddish brown although some
specimens in the north are grey. The specimen photographed had a forewing length
12th August 2015
When light trapping we catch many
insects other than moths, including caddis, lacewings, bugs, flies and beetles.
Of the beetles, two of the strangest looking are the Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium
and Nut Weevil Curculio nucum with their extremely long mouth parts
(known as a rostrum).
As suggested by their names the Acorn
Weevil is found on oak trees and the Nut Weevil on Hazel. The male has a long
rostrum, but the females rostrum is even longer and near the same length as the rest
of the body. The female uses it to bore into the young green acorn or nut
(depending on species) where she inserts an egg that develops into a larva that
feeds on the kernel.
The larva feed for a month or more then
leave the foodplant to burrow into the ground where they hibernate. The adults
can be found from the end of May until late August and feed on the leaves and
buds of the foodplant. Some adults do not emerge, but overwinter again until the
The difference between the two species
is subtle. The Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium has narrower joints and
terminal segments to the antennae, and the inner hairs on these joints are
adpressed rather than spreading as they are in the Nut Weevil Curculio nucum.
The specimens in the pictures below
were recorded in my garden. They probably travelled from the small remnant
of ancient woodland not far from where I live. The female had a total length of 11mm including the mouth parts and the male had a total length of 8.5mm.
Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium -
Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium -