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     

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