Travel Notes

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.

70.123 Tissue  Copyright Martin Evans

The Tissue  -  Tintern, Wye Valley

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 23mm.

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.

12th September 2015

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.

73.356 Heath Rustic  Copyright Martin Evans

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 of 14mm.

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 following summer.

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 - male Copyright Martin Evans

Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium - male

Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium - female Copyright Martin Evans

Acorn Weevil Curculio glandium - female




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