Every year, as the new season gets underway, insect activity moves on apace and the life of the amateur naturalist can become very busy. I take many more photographs than ever appear on my blog posts and the winter months offer a good opportunity for me to look back at some of the images that missed the final cut.
Dark Crimson Underwing (Catocala sponsa)
Back in May 2017, Carol and I were walking in a mature mixed woodland in West Sussex when I spotted a large moth larva at rest on a stem of pendulous sedge. I could hazard a guess as to the family of moths to which it belonged but I didn't arrive at a proper identification until I got home and consulted my books. I was pretty certain that I had found the mature larva of a Dark Crimson Underwing (C.sponsa), a red data species that is now restricted to the New Forest as a breeding species in the UK. Singletons (generally regarded as migrants) are occasionally attracted to moth traps in Sussex but this is the first record of a larva found in the wild in the county since 1857.
(Reference; "A Complete History of the Butterflies and Moths of Sussex" vol. 3, by Colin R. Pratt)
Spiked Rampion (Phyteuma spicatum)
Also during May 2017, Bob and I decided to seek out the rare and endangered Spiked Rampion (P.spicatum) which only survives in the UK at just a few sites in East Sussex. It turned out that one of the sites is only about three miles from where I live.
Ctenophora flaveolata (Cranefly sp.)
In May 2017, as in most years, Bob and I headed off to the ancient woodlands of Kent to connect with the Duke of Burgundy (butterfly) but these woods are also rich in other rare insects as well as wild orchids. On this occasion we happened upon an impressive and rare species of Cranefly (Ctenophora flaveolata) that can only be found in a few scattered ancient woodland sites in southern England. I shall certainly be on the lookout for it in 2018 and to try and get some better photographs.
Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius)
In June 2017, on Pevensey Levels, I took this photograph of a female Fen Raft Spider (D.plantarius) tending her egg sac. It wasn't until I got home later in the day that I noticed that her second leg was deformed, possibly caused during a skin-shed.
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) (female, ab.arete)
In July 2017, whilst on holiday in Cumbria, I photographed this ab. arete, (where the normal ringlet eyespots are reduced to white dots). I have always found arete hard to come by in the woods of East Sussex but in this particular Cumbrian colony I found that up to 5% of the population were so affected.
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (male)
In August 2017, I came across this Brimstone (G.rhamni) oddity in one of my local woods. The strange markings are pathological in origin and are caused by leakage from damaged veins into the wing membrane. I have included a photograph of a normally marked male for comparison.