Tuesday, 27 September 2016

An Autumnal Feel

The weekend before last, Carol and I spent an enjoyable time with friends in Lymington, Hampshire and then last week we met up with our son and his friend for a short camping trip to Cumbria. With a schedule of walking planned for both trips, there were plenty of opportunities to scan the hedgerows and fells for wildlife. On our return to Sussex I was keen to check up on my regular haunts and in the last week or so, the air has definitely taken on an autumnal feel.
Before our trips away, we went to Bodiam for a walk along the banks of the Rother. Red Admirals and Small Whites were numerous but my attention was drawn to a small moth flying about in the long grass and eventually settling in a nettle patch. The Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria) is a regular migrant to Britain but is unable to survive our winters.
The Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria)

Whilst walking along the Solent shoreline at Lepe, Hampshire, this Red Admiral posed nicely for the camera.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

During the trip to Cumbria, I was keen to see the Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea), a species of dragonfly that does not occur in the south-east. I did see one male but the only species of dragonfly that settled for a photograph was a Black Darter on a rather dingy day at Meathop Moss.
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) (male)

The only insect of note in the moth-trap yesterday morning was this handsome Hornet.

Hornet (Vespa crabro)

Although rather overcast and breezy, a midday walk on Pevensey Levels produced good numbers of Red Admirals, gathering to feed up mainly on blackberry juice before moving south, although a small number may well see out the winter in the UK.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

In evolutionary terms, Caddis Flies are closely related to moths and butterflies but unlike that group, they do not have scaled wings. Their similarity to a small moth is clear to see. 
Caddis Fly sp. (Limnephilus flavicornis)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Agony and Ecstasy

I have been moth trapping for twenty years and I have a mental list of various species I dream of finding at the light in the morning.
As I walked out of my back door at 1030hrs on 13th September, a huge moth took off right in front of me from my shed door and flew over my garage, across the road and over the roof of the house opposite. Its large size, pale grey appearance and hint of blue on the hindwings left no doubt as to its identity; a Blue Underwing (Catocala fraxini). Early in the morning my eyes and brain take a while to get going and when I checked the moth-trap at 0630hrs, I just didn't notice it.
Whilst it was undoubtedly a WOW! moment, it was also most definitely one of those frustrating AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!! moments.
Here is a selection of the more usual fair that has arrived at the light over the last week or so. The first three are regular migrant species and the last two are common resident species.
Udea ferrugalis

Nomophila noctuella

White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)

Lime-speck Pug (Eupithecia centaureata)
Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Seeing The Light & Another Clouded Yellow

Whenever I put the moth-trap out overnight it is always with the anticipation of attracting moths that I have not seen before. At this time of year the hope is for unusual migrants arriving from the near continent. However, other insect groups are also attracted to light and I often find caddis flies, bugs, beetles and other species represented amongst the mornings catch. Often, the only time you see some species of beetle is when they come to light.

The other day I put the trap out in its usual place, completely forgetting about a wasp nest that was under the nearby hedge; the following morning there were about 200 wasps in the bin!
Arhopalus rusticus
(a large Longhorn species that I have never seen before)

Nicrophorus interruptus
(a species of Sexton or Burying Beetle)

Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)

Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon)
(a regular migrant species)

During the last couple of weeks I have noticed an increase in Painted Lady numbers, feeding on the buddleia in my garden and also at fleabane on Pevensey Levels.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

A friend of mine has recently holidayed in Cornwall and brought back a selection of local beers. My eye was immediately drawn to this bottle label and I very much enjoyed the contents within, courtesy of St. Austell Brewery.