Saturday 31 July 2021


Is it  bird? Is it a 'plane? No, it's a Canary-shouldered Thorn, a lovely creature with its bright yellow thorax and olive-grey eyes. It's one of a number of Thorn moths which have made landfall a little earlier than usual; they are normally a harbinger of Autumn. But who's complaining? They brighten up the trap.

The Footman moths are rather a rum family, named it's thought because their rather stiff, folded appearance is like a footman standing to attention in the background while a stately home's family have lunch or dinner. They include some exceptions such as the Muslin Footman mentioned in previous posts this Summer, which looks entirely different; but most conform to the type.

Those shown here are Dingy Footmen, the two at the top the standard grey and yellow type and the third one an example of form stramineola which is only found in the UK. The Common and Scare Footmen are regulars here too and I am looking out for others after reading the exciting headline 'Influx of Hoary Footmen' on the Upper Thames Moths blog. What would non-mothers think?

Some micros from last night now, starting with the unmistakable Endotricha flammealis above. No other micro that I know of has a resting position like that. The nearest match I can find in the Micro Bible to the moth in the next two pictures is Cydia servillana; I will check on Upper Thames Moths to see if I am right. Update: No but nearly. Dave Wilton, UTM's blogmeister, kindly nails this as Cydia splendana which I have had here before.

I realise that I am lamentable at providing a scale for many of my moths but I have managed to get the next two both close-up and in 'eggbox contest' - first the Chequeuerd Fruit-tree Tortrix, Pandemis crylana, and then Acleris forsskaleana, both beautifully-patterned jewel-like moths.

Finally, here is a very worn Gold Triangle, Hypsopygia costalis, a moth which is strikingly purple and gold in its prime.

Oh and very lastly, this Red Twin-spot Carpet is in very good condition, so I thought that I would bung it in as well.

Friday 30 July 2021

Another little newcomer

My total of new arrivals this year has now reached eight with the discovery of this little chap in the eggboxes. He or she is Hedya salicella which as the name implies, feeds on sallows and willows which abound round here. My other seven are the Cypress Carpet and Narrow-banded Bee Hawk among the macro moths and the Crescent and Willow Plumes, Tortricodes alternella, Ethmia dodecia and yponomeuta irorrela among the micros.  Still time for another two to make a nice ten. Update: Dave Wilton of Upper Thames Moths suggests that a micro I posted here as a query ten days ago may be Hedya nubiferana which would be another newcomer.  If we accept that, then it's just one to go.

Otherwise the moths have gone quiet with an abrupt drop in temperatures. It was odd to find the trap very little-populated last night. The main excitement therefore has been Penny's discovery of this vivid turquoise beetle, I think one of the Nettle Weevils, followed by a minute matching fly of some kind in the eggboxes. Update: many thanks to Conehead in Comments for ID-ing this as the leafhopper Cicadella viridis. Very many thanks. I think that I would like to be a leafhopper if I am born again.

Daytime sunshine, however, has brought out the butterflies and I have more to add to my garden sightings this week: a Comma showing the reason for its name, above, as well as its lovely russet topwings, below:

And a Peacock; a very common butterfly but you couldn't ask for a better one. They love sunny walls such as this one alongside some of the metal bits and bobs we've dug up in the garden. They fly off at a terrific rate when you disturb them but if you wait, they usually circle round and return to a spot nearby.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Two new


This little splinter of a micro-moth, above, caught my eye because of its prominent grey smudges which seemed to make it as different from the various common Ermines, as this black-dotted white family is known. Incidentally, they are famous for including species which create enormous webs of silk round whole trees and sometimes parked cars. 

I thought at first that they might be scale damage to the wings but a check in the micro-moth Bible turned up an identical-looking moth, Yponomeuta irrorella. However, it is rare and usually found along the UK's Southern coastline. I naturally consulted the unfailingly excellent Upper Thames Moths blog and Dave Wilton, its maestro, replied: 

"That is indeed Yponomeuta irrorella, quite a rare moth and some way away from its usual south coast haunts - a very nice catch indeed and might even be a first for the county." 

Well hooray for that, especially as the same night - Monday 26th July - brought another newcomer for me, this brightly metallic gree macro moth below.  It's a Tree-lichen beauty, well-named both because it is really lovely and also because tree-lichen is its caterpillar's favourite food.

It had only been recorded in the UK three times until 1991; two from Cheshire in 1859 and one in Hastings in 1873. Then the invasion began.  My first edition of the Moth Bible notes its spread from the first few sightings in Hampshire, West Sussex and Kent as far as Dorset and Hertfordshire, as well as the Channel Islands. The third edition has it reaching as far north as Northumberland, West to Devon, East to Norfolk and finally, in 2015, to Oxfordshire. Six years later, to me! The picture below appropriately shows it with a much-longer-standing, successful immigrant, a Silver Y.

The more green moths the better, so far as I am concerned. The colour ranks second only to blue with me, and moths of both shades are not many, blue in particular. Not that other colours are lacking; I can never post enough pictures of Elephant Hawks, especially when accompanied by a Ruby Tiger's caterpillar as below.

Adult caterpillars are rare in the trap but there are plenty of Ruby Tigers around, lovely creatures that they are. Here are some which have called in the last few days:

And here are some recent Elephant (and Poplar) Hawks, just to show that I meant what I said above.

Moths are pouring in at the moment and here are some of my other recent callers:

A worn Udea lutealis micro, I think

Straw Underwing

Copper or Svennson's Copper Underwing


Scalloped Oak

Small Emerald

Bordered Beauty, yum

Dingy Footman

And again, from above


A very green Marbled Coronet

Common Emerald

Green Pug - a good day for greens, this

Hedya salicella micro, I think

Nut-tree Tussock

September Thorn

And six of the 12 butterflies I saw in the garden on yesterday's sunny afternoon: Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Large White, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper and Brimstone.  The others were Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small White and Green-veined White.

All in all, an excellent night. And day.  Thank you, insects all!

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Heatwave holiday


We were lucky indeed in our choice of holiday week and the coast of Wales near Cardigan/Aberteifi was a wonderful place to spend it. The meadows on top of the spectacular sea cliffs were bright with wildflowers and butterflies - and moths. There were scores of Six-spot Burnets flying about, including the potentially amorous pair above. We emailed the pic to a friend with added speech bubbles for a caption competition. Her daughter's reply: 'Shall we get married?' 'Yes, and then we can have babies' was probably near the mark. Here are some more, busying about:

The meadows were also home to lots of Dark Green fritillaries, a butterfly for which I've had a special place ever since catching the rare Charlotta aberration on similar cliffs at Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall when I was twelve. There is no doubt at all about the family hopes of the pair below which were later joined by a third lusty companion.

Fritillaries are lovely to watch, powerful flyers which seldom stop and are soon off again as you creep clumsily up on them with the iPhone. The mating pair were a fortuitous discovery as their activities slowed them down, but I managed to steal up on the single butterfly below as well. Its underwing is a beautiful sight.

Here is a picture of another efforts which wasn't as successful but happily shows me, if only in shadow form, engaging in one of the things which I most like doing:

We saw Silver-washed Fritillaries too, on a walk inland, but they were always flying or out of photographic reach. But there were plenty of other butterflies around in the non-stop sunshine including those in the composite below.

But it was back to moths in the hottest place we visited, the vast glass dome of the excellent National Botanic Garden of Wales near Carmarthen. Their Californian section - Califfornian in Welsh to avoid a 'v' sound - featured the curious Yucca Moth in giant form with a helpful bilingual placard explaining its fascinating life and pollination role. New fact for me: the Welsh for moth is gwyfyn and moths plural is gwyfynod.  I will research the word's origins further in due course.

Other forms of life we encountered included this fledgling seagull with its supervising Dad on a cousin's roof and plenty of jellyfish including the alarming-looking Compass type, named after the patterns on its canopy, which the lifeguards assured everyone stings no worse than a nettle. We escaped unstung.

And finally a couple of typical coastal pics - beautiful Mwnt Bay, which belongs to the National Trust, and one of the many coves between beaches which can only be reached by boat. It was pleasantly busy but not rammed; if you can find somewhere to stay, I can't think of a lovelier place for a week or a few days' break.