Wednesday 29 November 2023

Westcott, Bucks

Two actinic lights continued to be employed inside their traps out in the garden until 18th November, but since then I've gone into my usual "winter mode" with just one of the twin-30wt actinic light sets being run on the windowsill in a corner inside our conservatory.  The traps themselves have been retired into storage until at least next March.  The double-glazed windows don't seem to affect the attraction of the lights to insects flying in the garden and, while I do have to check outside every now and again each evening and still need to get up before dawn to pot up whatever has arrived, this is certainly easier than dealing with frosty traps and soggy egg-boxes.  The moths that fly at this time of year do seem to stick around once they've landed so I doubt that I lose much (if anything) by not using the trap, although it can sometimes be a challenge identifying those few which land on the glass of the conservatory roof!   

The following 28 species have visited the garden lights since the night of 16th November:  Caloptilia semifasciaAgonopterix arenellaMompha epilobiellaMompha subbistrigellaBlastobasis lacticolellaAcleris sparsanaAcleris ferrugana/notanaAcleris schallerianaAcleris hastianaEpiphyas postvittanaUdea ferrugalisEmmelina monodactyla, December Moth, Red-green Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Cypress Carpet, Winter Moth, November Moth agg., Feathered Thorn, Mottled Umber, Scarce Umber, Dark Sword-grass, Sprawler, Satellite, Chestnut, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker & Brick.  That seems like quite a reasonable return for the second half of November, producing two more species than in the first half of the month, and a couple of migrants were thrown in for good measure (Udea ferrugalis on 19th & 20th and a rather poorly-marked Dark Sword-grass on the 22nd).

Udea ferrugalis, Westcott 19th November

Dark Sword-grass, Westcott 22nd November

There was, however, a great deal of fluctuation in numbers from night to night.  The 20th provided the best return with 17 species - including eight different micros - while the worst was the 25th which produced the first blank of the winter.  There are still two nights to go before the end of the month but, from the forecast as it currently stands, both of them may well also give nil returns unless something hardy ventures out immediately after it gets dark. 

Caloptilia semifascia, Westcott 20th November

Acleris ferrugana/notana, Westcott 20th November

Cypress Carpet, Westcott 22nd November

Of the moths flying over this period, Feathered Thorn (148), Scarce Umber (27) and Sprawler (175) have all achieved their highest ever seasonal counts here.  Winter Moth hasn't been as regular a visitor as usual yet but the appearance of eight together on the 27th suggests that the recent colder nights may have prompted an emergence.  Two more appeared last night (28th) alongside a pair of Mottled Umbers.

A few ichneumon wasps as well as an assortment of crane-flies and other diptera are also still turning up to the light but more of a surprise on the 20th was the beetle shown below.  I'd got as far as one of the Chrysolina leaf-beetle species but Martin Harvey kindly identified it for me as Chrysolina oricalcia, a Nationally Scarce species which feeds on umbellifers.  There is certainly no shortage of cow parsley and the like hereabouts, even in the garden.  

Chrysolina oricalcia, Westcott 20th November

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks     

Friday 24 November 2023

A rather late Arches

I was surprised to encounter this rather late, and pristine, Dark Arches as the sole occupant of the garden trap in Stoke Goldington last night.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

E-moth Newsletter

 The latest issue of Butterfly Conservation's E-moth Newsletter is available to download at the link here.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Finely feathered

Rather a beautifully patterned and coloured Feathered Thorn came here last night, along with the usual version and a dozy Sprawler.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Thursday 16 November 2023

Westcott, Bucks

The first half of November has been fairly typical here, with catches by the garden actinic trap ranging quite widely between 41 moths of 12 species (on the 3rd) and two moths of a single species (on the 10th when we had our first proper frost of the winter).  Last night (15th) produced 28 moths of 7 species.  There have as yet been no empty traps but the first of those can't be far off now.  Appearances over these 15 nights have been made by the following 26 species:  micros Agonopterix arenellaAmblyptilia acanthadactylaEpiphyas postvittana, Acleris schalleriana & Udea ferrugalis along with macros December Moth, Red-green Carpet, Winter Moth, November Moth agg, Feathered Thorn, Mottled Umber, Scarce Umber, Figure of Eight, Turnip, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, Sprawler, Satellite, Dark Chestnut, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, Brick, Beaded Chestnut, Barred Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow & Angle Shades.     

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Westcott 12th November

December Moth first appeared on the 2nd and a total of 24 have been seen so far, including a female last night, while Feathered Thorn is doing really well (110 counted to date, 121 in 2018 being the total to beat).  Those two species, along with Sprawler, are now providing the majority of each catch alongside occasional appearances by Red-green Carpet, Winter Moth, the Novembers, Mottled Umber & Dark Chestnut.  Scarce Umber made its first visit here last night (15th) with two individuals, both of which had settled on fallen leaves on the lawn a short distance from the trap, and it rounds off the garden year-list as far as expected species are concerned.  Unlike those of its Mottled cousin which will be around well into next year, the males of Scarce Umber have a relatively short flight period and will only be on the wing for the next three or four weeks.
December Moth male, Westcott 2nd November

December Moth female, Westcott 15th November

Feathered Thorns (female left), Westcott 7th November

Scarce Umber, Westcott 15th November

The Sprawler total for this season has now reached 147, currently the second highest count for the garden with only another 8 required to make this its best year ever here.  As Martin pointed out in his post below, they are such a hardy moth!  As usual only a small proportion of the total so far have actually entered the trap and the rest seem quite happy to sit around on the lawn or on nearby dew-soaked vegetation, even if it is raining. 

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks

Monday 13 November 2023

Foggy dew

I thought that something odd and possibly new had arrived last week, above, but it turned out to be a very heavily-dewed Sprawler - you can see the spangling of waterdrops still on its wings below - the bottom left moth - when I moved it to join three relatives in an eggbox. Fascinating that they can put up with this. Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Saturday 11 November 2023

two more 'late' species

Rusty Dot Pearl - which does have a second generation into winter - and a late Lesser Yellow Underwing to mv in Denham 9-11th November.