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current posts

Wed 31st August 2011 19:26 by William Langdon
The Sallow Kitten Larvae are continuing their rapid growth and have all now moulted into their 2nd instar, they all behave differently, some choosing to spend the daylight hours resting others not. The 'resters' all adopt different positions, some with heads up, tails down and together and others, head down, curled into the body.

1997 Sallow Kitten 2nd Instar Larva

Tue 30th August 2011 19:58 by John Bebbington
Chard, 28 August
Bob Box reports an Elephant Hawkmoth larva on his Fuchsia in a Chard garden. These spectacular larvae are or will soon be fully grown and are worth looking out for - they feed on Willowherbs, Fuchsia and Bedstraws,

Elephant Hawkmoth 5th instar larva

Elephant Hawkmoth 5th instar larva © Bob Box 2011
Sun 28th August 2011 10:28 by John Bebbington
Langport, VC6, 27 August 2011
Another poor night, temperature down to 8˚C, but there was one Silver Y and my first Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella of the year.
Sun 28th August 2011 00:08 by John Connolly
Manor Road, Taunton
A wet night last night kept the number of species down to 14 but I did get my first Old Lady and Orange Swift for the garden. Large Yellow Underwings are on the increase with 61 last night out of a total of 123 moths.
Wed 24th August 2011 12:45 by Peter Tennant
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe

August has proved to be rather a dull month here moth wise but in the last few days we have had Hedge Rustics, Feathered Gothic and Dark Spectacle.  Also the Broad-bordered Yellow Under-wings have reappeared after their usual period of aestivation.

Tue 23rd August 2011 10:06 by John Bebbington
Langport, 23 August
Trapping here is pretty dire at the moment; the only good point seems to be a big increase in the number of Jersey Tiger which seems to be spreading and increasing.

Caterpillars are proving much more interesting. We have two Hummingbird Hawkmoth larvae on our garden Lady's Bedstraw which is surrounded by nectar plants.
Fourth instar Hummingbird Hawkmoth larva
Fourth instar Hummingbird Hawkmoth larva

It's worth looking at patches of Lady's or Hedge Bedstraw on south-facing banks for these larvae - and for Bedstraw Hawk larvae (spectacular beasts!), following the reports from Peter Tennant and from Portland. I found two in North Wales in 1973, a year when they spread right up to NW Scotland.
Bedstraw Hawkmoth (Hyles galii) larvae
Bedstraw Hawkmoth (Hyles galii) 5th instar larvae, Morfa Harlech NNR, Wales, August 1973

Looking at William's image of the Sallow Kitten larva reminded me that the 'tails' of this group are actually modified hind prolegs (when they defaecate the 'tails' are lowered). It's worth looking out for mature Puss Moth larvae - there are still a few around.
Puss Moth larva threat display
Puss Moth larva threat display

Also, this morning, I had a 'phone call from Geoffrey Rose in Wrantage about a colony of Buff-tip larvae in his garden. He found them on an ornamental cherry tree, about to moult. In order to reduce damage to the cherry he transferred half of them to an ornamental willow (Kilmarnock Willow, a weeping cultivar of Goat Willow). The transferred larvae are feeding and interestingly when he measured them this morning those on the original foodplant averaged 4cm long while those on the willow tree averaged 6cm long. This is the opposite of what I would have expected!
Mature Buff-tip larvae
Mature Buff-tip larvae

Sun 21st August 2011 10:29 by William Langdon
The Sallow Kitten Which I had in the trap on the 16th layed several eggs on the trays and the trap's box. These have now hatched and are feeding happily on grey willow. They are charming little creatures and have an interesting threat display when disturbed - even when by another larva, they move their elongated tails up and down and flick their heads from side to side this lasts for about 10 - 15 seconds, I particularly like their little yellow prolegs which contrast with the brown of their bodies.

1997 Sallow kitten 1st Instar Larva

Sun 21st August 2011 09:57 by Mark Yeates
Picture Upload Sizes
Just to let you know that the 'house' picture size is now increased to 720 pixels (was 360) so much bigger images can be used - with increased detail.

See Picture Upload Guidelines for the new rules.

Fri 19th August 2011 18:05 by Paul Newman
East Lydford 18/8/11
A Humming-bird Hawkmoth on Verbena bonariensis (a real butterfly/bee-magnet flower if ever there was one) the other day (only my fourth record here) and this morning a Bordered Beauty in the window which must have come into the house last evening (only my third record here). Otherwise not a lot to report, as I haven't done very much trapping for the last week or so.
Thu 18th August 2011 19:13 by John Day
Cypress Carpet on 17th August in garden trap (Yeovil)
Tue 16th August 2011 18:16 by William Langdon
like others I have noticed numbers in the trap have been tailing off recently, but firsts for the year recently were sallow kitten, common marbled carpet, Orange Swift, Common Wave and Magpie as well as an abberant (orchard?) ermine. Also of note have been records of moths from taunton with both scarlet and jersey tigers straying onto the outfield at the county cricket ground.
Sun 14th August 2011 18:22 by Doug Miller
On a visit to Steart N.N.R. last evening a Large Tabby was found in one of the bird hides, this is some way from the habitat indicated in the guide book for Pyralid moths and a little bit late in the year.
Fri 12th August 2011 20:16 by Ian Mathieson
Despite a couple of promising nights moth numbers have dried up here. It's just possible we are in a bit of a temporary dip with several common moths having peaked and still waiting for the large numbers of Flame Shoulders, Setacious Hebrew Characters and Large Yellow Underwings to come on the wing. What I am missing here is Wainscot Moths. I don't think I have yet got into double figures for either Common or Smokey.
Recent firsts for the year include Oak Eggar, Black Arches and Dogs Tooth.
Tue 9th August 2011 22:05 by John Connolly
Jersey Tiger - newly emerged?
I found this Jersey Tiger in my garden this morning perched near the base of a fern. It's the first one I've ever seen perched with the wings up like a butterfly and I wondered if it was newly emerged. Later it was sitting with the wings flat as is the norm. I found a caterpillar of Jersey Tiger earlier in the year so they do breed here.

Sat 6th August 2011 11:04 by William Langdon
What appeared at first to be a poor night due to the cool temperature and attentions of the Local Blackbirds despite my early start was saved by 2 firsts for the year, tawny speckled pug and one of my favourite moths - a Garden Tiger a much awaited first for the garden in the adult form - I found a larva a few years ago.

2057 Garden Tiger WL 3 2057 Garden Tiger WL 2

2057 Garden Tiger WL

Fri 5th August 2011 20:43 by Ian Mathieson
To add to the comments about campsite loos I am glad that I'm not the only one who looks for moths there when the occasion arises. I saw my only ever Lace Border at the toilet block at Burton Bradstock beach about 10 years ago and at about the same time was impressed bby the number of Rosy and Muslin Footmen in the loos at Bossington. I have since been told by Robin Clatworthy that the last Somerset Buttoned Snout was found in the same block.
I was slightly disappointed by numbers last week. The weather never really seemed to be as humid and overcast here as elsewhere in the country. I am still catching lots of the most common moths with Dark |Arches and Common Rustic having their best ever years but I do seem a bit short of numbers on some of the less common moths especially the Geometridae.
Fri 5th August 2011 00:13 by Chris Iles
Ian's post on campsites encourages me to mention that I have found many caravan parks to be somewhere between tolerant of and enthusiastic about moth-trapping (at least with actinics - MV would probably be another matter).

Nothing rare to the garden trap recently though Dark Arches seems to have had a particularly good year.  Another species to be doing well is Shaded Broad-bar which I am disturbing by day in unusual numbers.

Fri 5th August 2011 00:07 by Chris Iles
Dragonflies - a plea for records
The British Dragonfly Society is currently in the middle of the recording phase for a new national atlas, finishing after the 2012 flight season.  I've recently taken over as recorder for VC5 (yes, I know I live well into VC6...).  Unfortunately, we have very few records away from the Levels (Langport/West Sedgemoor area) and I would very much appreciate records from BDS members - especially from the Blackdowns, Exmoor and the Yeovil area.  Please send them to me at kifill22"at" (replace "at" with @). 

These are interesting times for dragonflies in Somerset.  Probably as a result of rising temperatures, species are spreading into and across the county from east to west.  Brown Hawker and Scarce Chaser are recent arrivals in VC5 and the former, especially, seems to be spreading rapidly.

Thu 4th August 2011 13:01 by Ian Draycott
Frome and ablution blocks
Hi, 3rd Aug was a good moth night for my Frome garden with first site records of Tissue, Dusky sallow, Cloaked minor and Brussels lace. Also last weekend was good for campsite ablution blocks with Small Scallop, Black Arches and Garden Tiger near Spaxton and Chevron, Grass Emerald amongst other near Winsford. But you can only do so much creeping around toilet blocks with digital cameras without looking very suspicious!!! Regards Ian Draycott
Thu 4th August 2011 10:43 by Paul Bowyer
Oxyptilus laetus
Oxyptilus laetus

Oxyptilus laetus

On the night of 1st August I caught a rather interesting little plume in the garden here in Weston identified as Oxyptilus laetus. This rare migrant turned up in the country about 4 weeks ago being recorded in the West and in Ireland with a second wave coming through in the last few days where 3 were recorded at Portland and 1 taken by day in the Forest of Dean in addition to my record. According to literature the moth flies in several successive generations until October so it's worth keeping an eye out.

Wed 3rd August 2011 20:36 by John Day
Just had two new species confirmed by Bill and James: Silky Wainscot on 12.07.11 and Sclerocona acutellus on 28.07.11 (3rd Somerset record)
Tue 2nd August 2011 16:26 by Peter Tennant
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe

Yesterday afternoon we were delighted to see a Jersey Tiger resting on our house wall. Recently we have had a number of firsts for the year - Copper Underwing, Oak Nycteoline, Oak Hook-tip, Tawny-speckled Pug, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Poplar Grey, Straw Underwing and two lifetime first for me Double Lobed and Triple-spotted Clay. The garden trap has been very full with 60 to 80 species a night.


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