Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It wasn’t obvious but the weather of earlier in the week was building to a crescendo which broke over head about an hour before what would have been sunset – last night, had the sky not already been black. Yet another electric storm and again pretty much overhead. With wind as well I had no expectations of much insect activity and then all thought of that went from my head. Last night’s dramatics included seriously heavy rain, semi-tropical torrents that the drains were unable to cope with.

Black water bubbled from manhole covers and began to run down the path that leads eventually past my front door. It was knee deep at points, but that, happily wasn’t quite deep enough: the path of least resistance and gravitytook the water around the house and down to the old water-watercourse which is between me and the river, thence to the Crouch and the sea.

This morning the debris is drying, the sky is clear and the wind has dropped. Perhaps, just perhaps, we might be back to business as usual tonight?

PS: have now been out and the smell is really not very nice. And someone else is spraying. The joys of living in the country.

Small beer

The past couple of nights have been very quiet indoors. I spent a while last night watching a Common Emerald bobbing back and forth across the outside of the bathroom window; that was the nearest I came to seeing a macro species inside.

The only two moths to actually come into the house were a Bird-cherry Ermine (yponomeuta evonymella) :

Bird-cherry Ermine (yponomeuta evonymella)

Bird-cherry Ermine (yponomeuta evonymella)

Bird-cherry Ermine (yponomeuta evonymella)

Bird-cherry Ermine (yponomeuta evonymella)

The other small moth was an agapeta hamana, but whereas the Ermine was in lustrous condition this moth looked rather worn and faded.

The night before last was even slower. The only moth, and again it was very, very small was (I think) tinea trinotella; a moth the larvae of which feed off what they can find in birds’ nests. Perhaps another candidate for “icky thing of the moth”?

tinea trinotella

tinea trinotella

Now the only other thing to remark on is the relative absence this year of non-moth insects: in past years I’ve had beetles, bugs, bush-crickets (katydids). All sorts. Well last night for the first time this summer I had a greenlace wing. In the past I’ve looked into determining the species but greenlace wing species are hard to differentiate – way beyond my level of competence. I still like them, they’re quite pretty and relatively harmless.

Green lacewing

Green lacewing

The better bit

I’m in a far, far sunnier mood this morning. Why? The weather is better, we’re in with a shout in the test match and, after yesterday’s tribulations over three small moths, I do have a couple of triumphs to report.

The first is that the moth which I found on my sleeve the night I came in from seeing Harry Potter has been properly identified for me. I was uncertain and suggested a couple of species but someone with far better knowledge as now IDd it as a moth that for about 50 years had been feared extinct and has only fairly recently begun to reappear in Kent (next county south) here in Essex and also, somewhat strangely over on the other side of the island, in Wales. I not only got the species wrong but had placed it in the wrong noctuid family.

The fact that I’d been visited by such an unlikely moth is compensation. The original post complete with my mis-diagnosis is here, or you can just scroll back a couple of days. It is actually the Small Ranunculus (hecatera dysodea); a member of the hadeninae sub-family of noctuids.

The good news is that for a moth returning from the brink of extinction I have found either the same specimen or another one again this morning, found one on a walk I reported a couple of weeks ago and have found a third/fourth specimen among photos I took a couple of years ago. The food plant is the flowers and seeds of cultivated lettuce so I’m now looking carefully over the cut-and-come-again lettuce on the kitchen window-sill.

Small Ranunculus (hecatera dysodea)

Small Ranunculus (hecatera dysodea) 30 June 2009

Small Ranunculus (hecatera dysodea) Bathroom, 11 September 2006

Small Ranunculus (hecatera dysodea) Bathroom, 11 September 2006

Ben has also confirmed that the moth I found in the past week in the kitchen was another Nationally Scarce B list species and that I’d correctly IDd the very tiny moth which is in yesterday’s post. He’s also (so far) stumped by the other two.

I’ve had very little to write up, sadly. There were five moth species in the bathroom last night and two of them, the Clay and phylctaenia coronata have been very regular visitors this summer. The other three moths were obviously micro moths and new to me.

One was not actually that small, probably with a wingspan closer to 30mm than 20mm. But it is a remarkably deep and rich brown colour and I’ve found it impossible to capture a good image of it. Despite working my way through everything I could think of, including the UKMoths website one species at a time, I haven’t got to the point where I’m confident in the species. I’m only nearly certain it is a pyralid and possibly a dark variant. Nothing I’ve seen comes close.

Unidentified (pyralid?)

Unidentified (pyralid?)

The second moth seemed the most likely to be identified. Size-wise it was about half the size of the moth above, but several times larger than the smallest of the three, with quite distinct markings. But whereas I’ve been tempted to name the moth above and actually think I might have nailed the really, really tiny moth this one has completely eluded me. I wouldn’t even like to put it in a family. For what it might be worth, and I don’t imagine that’s much, here it is:

No ID

No ID

The last of the three is so small I might easily have missed it as a shadow on the ceiling or a small trail of cobweb I’d missed (I do this, as you may have already noticed in some previous pics). As it clung stubbornly to the ceiling the angles from which I could get pictures were few, yet I think I might have worked out what this is.

paraswammerdamia albicapitella?

paraswammerdamia albicapitella?

In taxonomy there can be few acts more perverse or even grotesque than lumbering such a petite creature with a name like that (assuming I’m correct). This particular species is on the wing at this time of the year and comes to light as this specimen did. The larva is a blackthorn leaf miner (the sort of grub that creates tracery in foliage). There are no contra-indications and in my long almost tedious slog through the entire UK moths database I found nothing fitted better.

All in all a father disheartening and deflating experience.

Around here, everybody earns their keep.  This freeloader came in with me last night, attaching itself to my sleeve somewhere between the road and the kitchen door and only being noticed when I tried to take my jacket off. After flying about for a short while it landed in a shallow spot of water left at the bottom of the kitchen sink. It let me fish it out and then stayed put for me to take these pics (fortunately the camera was in my jacket pocket).

100_3487

100_3488

100_3494

Even after looking at these pictures a second time this morning I’m not sure what I’ve got here, I’m veering between the Poplar Grey (acronicta megacephala) and Marbled Beauty (cryphia domestica). These are from the same noctuid sub-family; the markings are more akin to those of the Marbled Beauty but I thought last night’s visitor considerably larger than the guideline given in each source I’ve looked at (though by the same token smaller than the size suggested for a Poplar Grey). Species do vary in size, wingspans quoted are only an indicator. I’ll have to wait for someone with better knowledge to come along and help.

In lieu of details of tonight’s new moth let me bring centre stage, just for one night the world’s stroppiest feline and some light reading material.

Morrisey, cat.

Morrissey, cat.

What a bundle of charm. At least when he goes to the RSPCA he’ll have ‘invasion of privacy’ grounds for a divorce.

It is still windy and I wouldn’t dare try to fix the great hole in the roof of the back shed in this so weather. I’m wondering who I can flutter my eyelashes at. The best I can do at the moment is jury rig something from the inside, move stuff out of the way, put down buckets and cross all my fingers and toes that I’ve done enough. At least it wasn’t hit by lightning and set on fire!

Having confidently predicted that it would be (another) poor night for moths I was relatively pleased with any at all. One Riband Wave (idaea aversata) and a mystery tortrix that only came as far as the inside of the window and didn’t photograph very well.

I got another pyralid which I think is a new one for me:

agriphila straminella?

agriphila straminella?

Agriphila straminella is common and widespread enough, so no contra-indications there, but I’m not always getting these similar shaped pyralids right (at least at first) hence the question against this ID.

There was another Clay (mythimna ferrago) in last night. I have recognised now that where this moth was a light orange-buff colour when I first started to see it, perhaps a month ago, the specimens I’m seeing now are much darker. The dark ‘dart’ down the wing couldn’t be seen in earlier visitors, and what before had been a white dot now looks more like a pale piece of ribbon:

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

The Clay (mythimna ferrago)

This is precisely the sort of behaviour that is going to trip me up while I am at this point on what is after all just another learning curve.

There was another moth in last night that I’m not prepared even to suggest an ID for. One minute I think it this, the next I think it that. I’m hoping that someone with more experience and with greater knowledge of the marking variation of certain species will take a look at it and give me a hand.

Unidentified macro

Unidentified macro

Unidentified macro

Unidentified macro

The final moth of the day, and I’ve been unable to take a good picture of it because of the corner into which it has jammed itself is, I think, synaphe punctalis, a pyralid that if I’m correct is another Nationally Scarce B moth. It is not only scarce but restricted to coastal counties. No contra-indications and I can find nothing else to fit in terms of size and markings.

synaphe punctalis?

synaphe punctalis?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.