Tuesday 14 May 2024

A Spring Walk on Pevensey Levels

 Spring seemed to be a long time arriving on Pevensey Levels. April was frustratingly cool, wet and blustery but it was good to get a couple of walks in during the warmer days of early May and see some butterflies and damselflies on the wing.

Wall (Lasiommata megera) (mating)

This species doesn't appear on the levels until at least a week after they are first seen on the downs and these were my first of the year. I had already walked past them before my wife spotted them deep in the grass.

The female of this pair has suffered a pigment deformity on her left forewing. This has occurred during her development in the pupa and has resulted in faded markings on the outer edge and almost the complete loss of the fringe.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (male)

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) (females)

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male)

Long-horned Nomad Bee (Nomada hirtipes) (female)

This rare species has a very restricted distribution in England.

Sunday 5 May 2024

Orange-tip Courtship and Mating

 Courtship in some butterfly species is impressive to watch such as the amazing courtship flights of the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia). However, in most species, courtship is a brief affair and consists mainly of mesmerising wing flapping and wafting of pheromones by the male towards the female.

Earlier this week, I was walking beside a roadside verge lush with prolific garlic mustard growth and there were several Orange-tip males on patrol. When I happened upon a very fresh female nectaring on the flower heads, she was very quickly found by one of the males.

Courtship to mating took no longer than 30 seconds and the following sequence of images illustrate the event.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

Courtship and mating.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (female)

A few days earlier in the same location, this female napi was resting between bouts of egg laying.

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)

Whilst photographing the mating Orange-tips, this rubi settled nearby and provided an irresistible diversion.

Bluebells in a Wealden wood.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Some Moths during April

 April turned out to be a very disappointing month for moth-trapping. The overnight weather conditions were invariably cool, damp and blustery and when I did manage to get the trap set up, conditions were marginal and catches low in moth numbers.

Here are some photographs of species that came to the trap. The last three images are of day-flying moths that I came across on my woodland walks.

Great Prominent (Peridea anceps)

Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)

Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)

Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria)

Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)

Grey Pine Carpet (Thera obeliscata)

Small Bluebell Beauty (Hysterophora maculosana)

Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata)

Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia)

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Spring Butterflies Emerge

 Lepidopterists are always eager to see their first butterflies of the year and the very early species to appear are those that have hibernated as adults. However, by late March the true harbingers of Spring start to emerge from their chrysalises.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male)

Small White (Pieris rapae) (female)

Large White (Pieris brassicae) (male)

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) (female)

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) (male)

Phasia hemiptera (mating)

This is a parasitic tachinid fly and as its specific name suggests, it preys on bugs, mainly Green and Red-legged Shieldbugs. This species is sexually dimorphic and the male has rather attractive wings with metallic blue flashes.

Saturday 6 April 2024

Some Moths during March

 The changeable weather in March allowed for a few nights which were suitable for moth trapping. Moth numbers in my garden have been low but the number of different species is slowly increasing, with the promise of better things to come in April.

Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) (male)

Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) (male)

Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)

Bridled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)

Early Tooth-striped (Trichopteryx carpinata)

Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)

Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)