Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Moth Trapping 2014

With an improvement in the night time temperatures I decided to take the moth traps out for the first session of the year.

So I met up with Heather Martin and Rod Taylor in Barnes Wood and we managed to identify over forty species of moths on a relatively chilly May night.

The largest moth of the evening was the Pine Hawk-Moth (Hyloicus pinastri)

Pine Hawk Moth

Next, one of my favorites, the Peppered Moth  (Biston betularia)

Peppered Moth
For attractive moths, in my humble opinion,  the Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) was the pick of the evening;
Green Carpet

The the Birch Mocha (Cyclophora albipunctata) takes its name from the port in Yemen (where the Coffee and the soft leather made from sheepskin originate too).

Birch Mocha
Now for a moth with a nice descriptive name, Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata). This is one of the easier ones to remember.

Clouded Border on Rod Taylor's finger
 In general the 'Pugs' are a difficult group of moths to identify, especially if they are faded or worn. However the Lime-speck Pug (Eupithecia centaureata ) is the exception as it is quite distinctive.

Lime-spec Pug
Finally we come to the micro moths, these are not at all easy, so I am extremely grateful to Heather Martin for taking the time to identify them (and to get the IDs confirmed by the County Recorder, Colin Pratt).

The Black-speckled Groundling (Carpatolechia proximella)
Black Speckled Groundling
The Common Twist (Capua vulgaria)
Common Twist
And finally, the star of the evening, Black Piercer (Pammene germmana). This is a locally scarce and declining species.

All photographs by Heather Martin 28/05/2014

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A Nice Walk in the Woods: A Sussex BC Event

The Springtime Skipper walk is one of the first Sussex Butterfly Conservation events of the year. In choosing the first Bank Holiday Weekend in May it was always hoped that enough butterflies, especially Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) and Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus malves) would have emerged to give a reasonable chance of seeing these butterflies.
Grizzled Skipper : Photo John East
Last year was a disaster with no butterflies of any kind being seen during our event, thankfully this year we saw two Grizzled Skippers and three Dingy Skippers, but even so the numbers seen are rather concerning. The count is well down on the excellent year of 2011. The cold spring of 2013 seems to have hit the springtime skippers hard in East Sussex.
Dingy Skipper : Photo John East
We were fortunate enough to see some other butterflies too. The numbers of Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi) seen in woodland are relative high this year. As happens at the start of every season it takes a while to get my eye in as all the white butterflies look very similar especially when at a distance or on the move. This year, when stationary, we were also able to identify a couple of female Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardamines) and a Small White butterfly (Pieris rapae).

Green-veined White: Photo John East
There were a few moths about too. Dave Monk identified a Green Longhorn Moth (Adela reaumurella) and a Marsh Marigold Moth (Micropterix calthella). We saw many Speckled Yellow moths (Pseudopanthera macullaria), a Small White Wave (Asthena abulata) and a Small Purple and Gold moth (Pyrausta aurata). I believe I may have seen a Burnet Companion moth (Euclidia glyphica) but it was gone before I could be really confident of an ID.
Marsh Marigold Moths: Photo Dave Monk
Green Longhorn Moth : Photo Dave Monk

However the highlight of the other species (non-butterflies) of this event was when Dave Monk spotted a female “White Death Crab Spider” (Misumena vatia). The name alone is enough to conjure nightmares.  
White Death Crab Spider: Photo Douglas Neve
On a less sinister note, Robin Harris very kindly made a list of all the birds and bird song we encountered on our walk. The exceptional encounter this year was a Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), very visible at the top of a tree singing in the bright sunshine. For me nothing quite exceeds seeing the first Grizzled Skipper of the year, but the Willow Warbler in song sure came close.

To conclude then some Dock Leaf  Bugs (Coreus marginatus), also known as Shield Bugs, clearly enjoying each others company. More little Shield Bugs on the way!
Dock leaf Shield Bugs:- Photo John East