Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Kent Foray in May 2021

 Most years, Bob and I go on a day-trip into Kent to have a wander around some semi-ancient woodlands that abound with natural gems.

 On 20th May 2021, we set off from East Sussex in dull, cool conditions but were hopeful that a few spells of sunshine would assist us during the day. However, the weather conditions remained overcast and chilly all day.

It was no surprise that we had the sites to ourselves for the day but all was not lost.

Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) (male) 

(freshly emerged and still drying its wings)

Misumena vatia (Crab Spider sp.)

Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)

(typical form)

var. ochroleuca

Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia)

Back in East Sussex during the Autumn, Bob, David and I came across this rather lovely plant, as we searched for the elusive Devil's Fingers Fungus.

Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe)

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Some Moths during December and a Sleeping Beauty

Opportunities to set the moth-trap up during December can be few and far between but there were several mild nights in the lead up to Christmas which enabled me to put the trap out.

At this time of year, the moths attracted to the light are either winter specialists or hibernators that have been woken by mild conditions.

December Moth (Poecilocampa populi) (male) 

Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria) (male)

Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria) (male)

The next two species are micro-moths that hibernate in the adult stage and I regularly see them on mild days during the winter, when I am working in the woods.

Agonopterix arenella

Agonopterix ocellana

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) (pupa)

This pupa was found laying on a pavement and had clearly been dislodged from its winter quarters in a nearby flower-bed by the scratchings of a cat or dog.

Peacock (Aglais io) (hibernating)

With its rich maroon ground colour and with each wing bearing a metallic eye, I think that the Peacock is arguably our most beautiful butterfly in Britain. It is one of a few species in the UK that hibernates as an adult and the almost black underside markings are perfect camouflage for hibernating in dark corners. I found this one in my garage on Christmas Eve.



Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Autumn Moth Collection

 As autumn progresses towards winter, the moth trap catches have become greatly reduced. There will still be a few species to come that are winter specialists and so I may yet put the trap out again if we are blessed with a few mild nights during the coming months.

Here is a selection of autumn species that I have attracted to the garden over the last couple of months, mainly common residents and occasional migrants. 

The first four images are of species that were recorded in my garden for the first time.

Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera)

Boxworm (Cydalima perspectalis)

Tree-lichen Beauty (Cryphia algae)

Cryptic Fern (Horisme radicana)

Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago)

Green-brindled Crescent (Allophyes oxyacanthae)

Oak Nycteoline (Nycteola revayana)

Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra)

Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)

Delicate (Mythimna vitellina)

L-album Wainscot (Mythimna l-album)

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)

Sprawler (Asteroscopus sphinx)

Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)

Palpita vitrealis

November Moth (Epirrita dilutata

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Devil's Fingers

 Devil's Fingers (Clathrus archeri), also known as the Octopus Stinkhorn, is a very striking fungus. The species was an accidental import from Australasia during the First World War and is still a rare find in Britain.

David, Bob and I have met up a few times over the last couple of years to search for specimens in locations where it is known to occur but it has proved to be a difficult species to find.

After another search earlier this month, Bob and I were on the point of calling it a day when David calmly announced that he had found one.

Devil's Fingers (Clathrus archeri)

The next day, I returned to the site to see whether the "tentacles" had opened out into a classic star formation but alas it had been attacked by slugs overnight.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

On the Caterpillar Trail

 As the season comes to an end and butterfly and dragonfly numbers decline, my attention turns to seeking out caterpillars. 

The months of September and October are a good time to look for larvae and once you get your eye in, they are pretty easy to find.

 At this time of year, many larvae of moth and sawfly species will be feeding up for either pupation or hibernation.

Scalloped Hook-tip (Falcaria lacertinaria) (larva on birch)

Birch Mocha (Cyclophora albipunctata) (larva on birch)

(note silken thread that larva uses to maintain position)

Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) (larvae on bramble and birch)

Drinker (Euthrix potatoria

(young larva basking on bramble prior to hibernation)

Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis)

 (pale and dark form larvae on bramble)

Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum) (larva on willow)

Nematus latipes (Sawfly sp.) (larvae on birch)