Monday, 25 July 2022

Moth Encounters during June

 By way of a catch-up, here are some images of moths that I took during June. Most are as a result of  moth trapping but I regularly encounter moths during the daytime when out walking.

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor)

Privet Hawkmoth (Sphinx ligustri) (mating)

(I very rarely venture out without my camera but on this occasion I had to resort to my wife's phone for a picture)

Lobster Moth (Stauropus fagi)

Drinker Moth (Euthrix potatoria) (larva at rest)

Blood-vein (Timandra comae)

Bordered Beauty (Epione repandaria)

Brussels Lace (Cleorodes lichenaria)

Miller (Acronicta leporina)

Dusky Brocade (Apamea remissa)

Phoenix (Eulithis prunata)

Ptycholoma lecheana

(the egg on the same grass blade as the moth is probably that of a Speckled Wood butterfly)

Prochoreutis sehestediana (or P.myllerana)

(this tiny moth is only 5mm. in length and is virtually impossible to follow in flight with the naked eye. No surprise that it is probably under recorded)

Sunday, 10 July 2022

The Silver-washed Fritillary

 The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) is our largest fritillary in Britain and is also one of our most spectacular butterfly species.

 They are powerful flyers along woodland edges and to watch a male courting a female as they fly together at head height along a ride is mesmerising. The male follows the female and then overtakes her by flying underneath her and rising in front of her, wafting pheromones, before then letting her fly on beneath him. This circular courtship is repeated many times before mating occurs.

Form valezina is a lovely olive-green variant that occurs in about 10% of the female population. It does not occur in males. Over the last few decades, paphia has become more common in my local East Sussex woods and consequently the appearance of valezina has become more frequent.

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)



Female, form valezina.

Mating pair with valezina female.

(My thanks to James who was already watching this pair when I arrived on site)

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

The White Admiral Butterfly

 If I was pushed to name my favourite butterfly, it would most likely be the White Admiral (Limenitis camilla). It has an understated beauty and is surely one of our most elegant butterflies. It has an ethereal and nebulous quality as it flits and glides in and out of the canopy and I never tire of watching it and trying to get to know its habits.

I have spent many pleasurable hours observing stages of its life cycle in the wild but I had never before witnessed courtship behaviour leading to mating. In most years, I have tended to see only one or two individuals flying at any one time but this year camilla has emerged in very good numbers in my local woods and I have regularly watched up to five flying together.

 It seemed to be a good year to just stand, watch and wait.

White Admiral (Limenitis camilla)



On 24th. June, I was slowly walking along a ride watching patrolling White Admirals when I saw a female, closely followed by a male, drop into the bracken bed just metres away from me. I peered under the bracken canopy to see the female being courted by the male who was fanning his wings around her.

I dared to hope that I was about to see a mating occur. After about 30 seconds, the female flew out from the bracken and upwards, with the male in close pursuit and they settled about 30 feet up in a birch tree where coupling immediately occurred.

I managed to get a photograph (or two) at the full limit of my cameras capability and watched them for over an hour before aching knees sent me home for breakfast. I was absolutely thrilled.

Mating pair

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Downy Emerald Dragonfly

     The Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) is a fairly localised species and can be quite tricky to get close to. On a lightly overcast day with sunny spells, I spotted this male settled in the bracken and as the sun came back out, it looked up to show its sparkling green eyes and preened itself before taking flight.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) (male)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) (pair in tandem)

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (teneral female)

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (teneral male)

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Scabious Sawfly

When I am busy observing butterflies and dragonflies and trying to get close to them for photographs, I don't often have too much time to look closely at other insect groups.

During the early days of the covid pandemic, when we were restricted by lockdowns to our home areas, I started to take a closer interest in other groups, particularly sawflies.

In 2020, I happened upon an insect resting on a bracken frond, the like of which I had never noticed before. It turned out to be a Blotch-winged Honeysuckle Sawfly and from that day, a curiosity in sawflies was awakened.

Over the last few weeks, I have been seeking out the Scabious Sawfly, a common species that is associated mainly with Devil's-bit Scabious. I have regularly found its larvae feeding in late summer but had never knowingly seen the adult before. 

Scabious Sawfly (Abia sericea)



Blotched-winged Honeysuckle Sawfly (Abia fasciata) (female) (taken in 2020)

Tenthredo mesomela (Sawfly sp.)

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Wealden Meadows and Roadside Verges

 Yesterday was a rather grey day with drizzly showers but I ventured out to a favourite Wealden meadow.

Chimney Sweeper (Odezia atrata)

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)

Mother Shipton (Callistege mi)

A few weeks ago, in a Wealden churchyard, I came across this pleasing little group.

Green-winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio)

The Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum) is a highly endangered plant in the UK and can only be found in a few sites in East Sussex, often in discrete roadside colonies.

Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum)

Monday, 30 May 2022

Some more Moths during May

 Over the last couple of weeks, multiple numbers of Striped Hawkmoths (Hyles livornica) and other migrant species have been turning up in moth-traps across Britain from the near continent, particularly in south western counties.

Ever hopeful, I have been putting my trap out on a regular basis but so far, no unusual visitors have touched down in my garden.

Here are some images of moths that have appeared at my light during the latter half of May.

Privet Hawkmoth (Sphinx ligustri)

Peppered Moth (Biston betularia

Peppered Moth (B. betularia) (form insularia)

Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia)

Sharp-angled Peacock (Macaria alternata)

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)

Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)

Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata)

Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata)

Small Magpie (Anania hortulata)

Marbled Brown (Drymonia dodonaea)

Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica) (form obscura)