Chalkhill Blue's Nature Blog

*** ALERT: Sometimes photos of spiders appear in this blog. Just letting you know! ***

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to see any corrections - Chalkhill Blue makes no guarantees as to the accuracy of any of these IDs, and does not accept any responsibility for any harm or damage you may incur by accepting them as gospel!

 

Many thanks, ChB

Sun

14

Oct

2018

Thu 11/10/2018

Back at work now, and this rather nice moth showed up on the warehouse wall. It is relatively large, a couple of inches in wingspan, but the first time I tried to get close enough to photograph it, I managed to spook the moth and it flew off. I watched it fluttering lazily around for a while, during which time it looked remarkably butterfly-like, with creamy underwings and brown forewings, maybe like a faded meadow brown. Then it landed again and I got the shot – this is the mallow moth Larentia clavaria. It is a late moth, with only one flying season from September to November – but according to my field guide, it is seldom seen other than at lights, so I consider this a bit of a coup!

Mallow moth Larentia clavaria
Mallow moth Larentia clavaria
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Sun

14

Oct

2018

Tue 09/10/2018

 

It seems to have been an outstanding years for dragonflies; out at Cliffe Pools, the air was thick with them today. A few large ones, quite a lot of medium-sized, and thousands of small-sized, some of them apparently pretty tiny. The only one that landed within sight of my camera though, was this little brown one with a red stripe down its back. I’m pretty confused about this; there are several small darter species that have red males with the four red spots on their back at the base of the wings. Most of these have brown females. But I can not find any species with a brown abdomen with a red central stripe and the four red spots. They also should all have a couple of black blobs towards the tail, which seem to be completely missing on this specimen, or hopelessly faded. I think it must be a male, but either immature, or perhaps out of breeding colours, it being so late in the season? If anyone has any better info, please shout.

 

Darter dragonfly
Darter dragonfly
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Wed

10

Oct

2018

Fri 04/10/2018

Spider Nigma walcknaeri stuck in another spider’s web …
Spider Nigma walcknaeri stuck in another spider’s web …

 

The creepy-crawly population seems to be reasserting itself down at the factory. I was a bit surprised to notice this small green spider caught in a large orb web. The orb web belongs to a common garden spider, but the little green critter is a Nigma waelckneri, an they usually live on the surface of leaves. There are no leaves within about 30 feet, and even though I occasionally find on one the warehouse wall, it would have had to jump or fly to find itself in this predicament. Strange, although it appears to have got away with it so far.

 

The moth below is a fairly common find down at the factory, on the metal warehouse wall as here. Despite having a good 2-inch wing span it is easily overlooked in the wild, being perfectly bark-camouflaged and almost completely flat!

Willow beauty moth Peribatodes rhomboidaria
Willow beauty moth Peribatodes rhomboidaria
Miscellaneous noctuid moth
Miscellaneous noctuid moth

This relatively small (half an inch) noctuid moth drew my eye and I took a few photos of it, but to be honest it is so incredibly vaguely marked that I can’t be bothered leafing through the moth book page by page in a vain attempt to ID it. It is a nice warm orangey brown, but must remain forever obscure I think.

 

The lacewing below, on the other hand, is a beautiful creature. It has no noticeable blotches on the wings or spots on the head as mentioned in the guides for some of the other common species, so I think this is the most usual green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea.

Green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea
Green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea
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Wed

10

Oct

2018

Wed 03/10/2018

Large yellow underwing moth Noctua pronuba
Large yellow underwing moth Noctua pronuba

At last, a fairly chunky moth on the warehouse wall at the factory. This is the large yellow underwing, with a wingspan of about 3 inches. It is about as pale brown and boring as possible when at rest, but the underwings are a spectacular golden yellow with dark brown borders. Some moths will let you tickle their wings open slightly, but these ones are pretty skittish and fast-flying, and it was almost out of my reach up the warehouse wall, otherwise I might have had a go at getting it on to my hand – but it probably would have flown the coop anyway.

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Wed

10

Oct

2018

Mon 24/09/2018

Found this little Crambid moth on the outside of the warehouse. After a generously moth-filled summer, early autumn has been a bit barren, otherwise I might not have bothered taking a shot of this innocuous little thing. It is spectacularly marked though.

Small Crambid moth – pretty confident this is a Eudonia species; further than that I will not go
Small Crambid moth – pretty confident this is a Eudonia species; further than that I will not go
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Wed

10

Oct

2018

Fri 21/09/2018

This tiny jumping spider appeared on my desk at work today. The light conditions were not exactly conducive to photography, but I had a go. I’m fairly confident this is the common species Euophrys lanigera.

Jumping spider Euophrys lanigera
Jumping spider Euophrys lanigera
Jumping spider Euophrys lanigera
Jumping spider Euophrys lanigera

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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Mon 03/09/2018

Always a pleasure when an emerald moth turns up at my place of work! This one is the light emerald Campaea margaritata.

Light emerald moth Campaea margaritata.
Light emerald moth Campaea margaritata.
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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Fri 28/08/2018

Here’s a moth I didn’t recognise; I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before. This is the wax moth, a couple of centimetres long and with a distinctive bullet shape!

Wax moth Galleria mellonella
Wax moth Galleria mellonella
Not really sure; possibly the rustic moth ...
Not really sure; possibly the rustic moth ...

 

Not totally sure what this one is; there are tons of smallish noctuid moths with very similar but obscure markings. Usually they turn out to be rustic moths, so that is what I am going for with this one …

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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Mon 24/08/2018

 

This attractive moth showed up at the factory; this is the yellow shell Camptogramma bilineata. Below that is something I wasn’t expecting to see at this time of year though – a mayfly, also on the factory wall.

Yellow shell moth Camptogramma bilineata
Yellow shell moth Camptogramma bilineata
Mayfly
Mayfly
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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Tue 14/08/2018

Double-striped pug moth Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
Double-striped pug moth Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
Spotted crane fly, probably Nephrotoma quadriferia
Spotted crane fly, probably Nephrotoma quadriferia

 

Back home now of course. The moth above showed up on the outside of the factory wall at work; it’s only a small one, but I think this is the double-striped pug. They are dead common and range from quite intense brick-red stripes to worn-out and washed-out fawn. This one is more or less halfway between the two.

 

On the left and below is a particularly well-marked crane fly of the genus Nephrotoma, the spotted crane fly. I think the dark smudge on the wings makes this Nephrotoma quadriferia.

Spotted crane fly, probably Nephrotoma quadriferia
Spotted crane fly, probably Nephrotoma quadriferia

 

The spider below, Linyphia triangluata, is quite small at about a centimetre long, but is huge and colourful considering it is actually a money spider, which are usually tiny and black or brown. Another thing they usually do is hang upside-down from hammock webs in bushes or long grass, so to find one in a vertical position on the factory wall is a bit unusual. The swollen pedipalps (the organs on the front of its head) show it up as a male.

 

Spider Linyphia triangulata
Spider Linyphia triangulata
Spider Linyphia triangulata
Spider Linyphia triangulata

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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Tue 07/08/2018

Small tortoiseshell larvae Aglais urticae
Small tortoiseshell larvae Aglais urticae

 

Caterpillars today! Being a fairly rustic location, there was a nettle patch just over the road, and I found a colony of these small tortoiseshell caterpillars, in the mid-stages of their development..

Small tortoiseshell larva Aglais urticae
Small tortoiseshell larva Aglais urticae

Up at Mappleton beach, this spiky fellow was crossing the road. It was actually blown over by the wind at one point! This is the caterpillar of the buff ermine moth Spilosoma luteum.

Buff ermine moth caterpillar Spilosoma luteum
Buff ermine moth caterpillar Spilosoma luteum
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Sat

22

Sep

2018

Mon 06/08/2018

Took a bit of a road trip up to Robin Hood’s Bay near Whitby today, which is a little seaside village on the side of a vertiginously steep hill. Didn’t get very good peacock photos in Aldborough on Saturday, but this one is a bit better …

Peacock butterfly Aglais io, again on buddleia!
Peacock butterfly Aglais io, again on buddleia!
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Wed

05

Sep

2018

Sat 04/08/2018

A couple of houses away from where we were staying, a large buddleia tree was attracting loads of butterflies and other insects. Here is a selection:

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Wed

05

Sep

2018

Fri 03/08/2018

'Mermaid's purse'
'Mermaid's purse'

The first week of August saw us taking a break in south-east Yorkshire. The swifts were still in full flight when we left, but I considered that they would be mostly gone by the time we came back. Be that as it may, today we took a trip down to Spurn Head, a long, lean spit of land that tails off of the Yorkshire coast downwards into the Humber estuary. The spit itself is the result of erosion further up the coast, where silt and mud has been washed away from the cliffs and deposited here at the extreme south-east corner. There is a lighthouse and a coastguard’s station right down at the tip, so the authorities have endeavoured to shore up the road, but it is often buffeted by storms, and one just a couple of years ago washed a great section of the road away and effectively ended any plans to continue the hopeless defense. Still, there is a nice stretch of shingle beach at the landward end, and here I found a mermaid’s purse, empty sadly, but still a nice find. The so-called mermaid’s purse is the egg sac of a dogfish.

'Mermaid's purse'
'Mermaid's purse'
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Tue

04

Sep

2018

Tue 31/07/2018

Cinnabar moth larvae
Cinnabar moth larvae

I took the kids out to Jeskyns on this screamingly bright day and spent some time grubbing about in the undergrowth looking for bugs and stuff. Found several second-generation cinnabar moth caterpillars on a ragwort plant; these critters look to be full-grown. Whether they will have time to pupate this season, or whether they are next year’s batch remains to be seen.

 

I could hear loads of Roesel’s bush crickets around. And was trying to track one down. I did eventually find one but wasn’t able to photograph it; as it happens though, it was right next to not one, but two female wasp spiders in close proximity.

 

 

Not much in the way of unusual butterflies, but there were at least some good poses as they were drawn to the small thistle flowers. Down at the bottom are a common blue and a small heath. 

Wasp spider Argiope bruennichi
Wasp spider Argiope bruennichi
Common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus
Common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus
Small heath butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus
Small heath butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus
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Tue

04

Sep

2018

Thu 26/07/2018

A couple of minor moth entries today – firstly, this photo of a common plume. I have taken dozens of shots of this species in the past; it is one of the commonest moths in this area and is active all year except when it’s literally too cold to move. But for some reason it is very difficult to photograph – in bright light it is too reflective; in dull light on too dark or light a background the light metering gets messed up. But for some reason I thought this one might come out; it is in intermediate light against a background similar in shade to the moth itself, which means the exposure should be just about right. And indeed, for what it’s worth, I think this is my best common plume moth shot yet.

Common plume moth Emmelina monodactyla
Common plume moth Emmelina monodactyla

l also found this razor-thin micromoth flapping about in the car park. This is the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella. Can you see what I mean about the light metering? This moth is on a dark background, so the camera has boosted the light to compensate, and now the moth itself is over-exposed. Ptchah.

Diamondback moth Plutella xylostella
Diamondback moth Plutella xylostella
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Tue

04

Sep

2018

Mon 23/07/2018

Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
Probably a light brown apple moth
Probably a light brown apple moth

There were so many Jersey tiger moths fluttering around in Church Walk on my way home from work today. At one point there were three on a small area of one garden wall, but one took off just as I was about to click the shutter, so here are two on the left! Best shot of an individual one is below:

Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria

I found this little tortrix moth (left) in my house later as well. First thought is that it is a light brown apple moth, although the markings are a bit unfamiliar. Not totally sure what this is really ...

I also racked up my 8th ladybird species of the year with this nice 22-spot. They are smaller than the familiar read-and-black varieties, about the same size and colour as the common 14-spot, but with a different pattern of markings.

22-Spot ladybird Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata (or 22-punctata)
22-Spot ladybird Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata (or 22-punctata)

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Fri

24

Aug

2018

Sat 21/07/2018

A potential queen ant with two male suitors
A potential queen ant with two male suitors

Flying ant season is upon us, and the winged male drones are queuing up to mate with the large females. This trio landed on a piece of furniture in our garden today; there’s obviously some rivalry, as two males are having a go at the same time …

I don’t think this one was very well to be honest …
I don’t think this one was very well to be honest …

More fun was to be had out at Cliffe Pools, when I took the kids on our annual pilgrimage to spot glow worms. There were plenty around too, once it got dark enough to see them. The problem is that, being dark, the camera doesn’t show much – unless you use flash, in which case the green glow from their tails gets wiped out. On the right is a flash-less shot of a glow worm that was lying on th epath in plain view. The faint green glow from the tail is visible. Below are a couple of the better (although not brilliant) shots taken with the aid of flash:

 

Female glow worm Lampyris noctiluca
Female glow worm Lampyris noctiluca
Female glow worm Lampyris noctiluca
Female glow worm Lampyris noctiluca
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Fri

24

Aug

2018

Fri 20/07/2018

Found this half-sized Segestria on the wall outside the front door today. It seemed a bit wiped out, and didn’t stir even when I knocked it off on to the windowsill.

Spider Segestria florentina
Spider Segestria florentina

It shows up one of the interesting features about this species, which hides in crevices in walls and leaps out at passing prey. The back legs are more-or-less incidental; six of the legs point forwards and are used for grasping the prey. Here is the view you would see – briefly – if you were such an unfortunate …

Spider Segestria florentina
Spider Segestria florentina
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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Thu 19/07/2018

Found this lovely one on the outside of the warehouse at the factory today – the brimstone moth Opisthograptis luteolata.

Brimstone moth Opisthograptis luteolata
Brimstone moth Opisthograptis luteolata
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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Wed 18/07/2018

Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar
Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar

A few more moths at home today! This big moth, with a wingspan easily over two inches, has amazing feathery antennae that resemble rabbit’s ears. This is a male gypsy moth Lymantria dispar, a troublesome pest of various trees. It went extinct in Britain in the last century, although still appeared as a migrant – more recently though it has staged a bit of a comeback in the south east. The female is larger and almost white; the Latin name dispar means ‘unequal’, and refers to the dimorphism between the sexes. Lymantria means ‘destroyer’ – make of that what you will.

Twenty-plume moth Alucita hexadactyla
Twenty-plume moth Alucita hexadactyla

This tiny, frail moth  is the Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla, whose wings are so deeply divided that it looks as it it has 20 feathery wings. Bit of a rubbish photo I’m afraid; this was in the kitchen and it was getting dark.

Straw dot moth Rivula sericealis
Straw dot moth Rivula sericealis

Above is another small moth, about a centimetre long. The sharp, triangular shape, prominent dot on each forewing and warm, straw colour give it away as the straw dot Rivula sericealis. Below, at last, I found ‘the other’ common variant of the riband wave Idaea aversata, (compare Fri 13/07/18).

Riband wave moth Idaea aversata
Riband wave moth Idaea aversata

While we are about it – well it was warm if somewhat overcast, so I was sitting in the garden when this huge cloud of gulls started wheeling overhead. Not sure what they were after exactly, but it seemed like a jolly gathering; mostly black-headed gulls I should think.

(Mostly) black-headed gulls
(Mostly) black-headed gulls
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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Tue 17/07/2018

There goes a fox …
There goes a fox …

I was reading in the back garden today when I kept hearing this kind of coughing noise. It took a surprisingly long time, but I eventually found out that there was a fox on top of the shed, snuggled down in the wisteria. It looked at me for a few seconds, then just as I pointed the camera it ran off. Here is a photo of it haring off up the alleyway …

The yellow dragonfly below turned up in our back garden today and stayed around for ages while I took loads of photos. I believe this is a female ruddy darter.

Female ruddy darter dragonflySympetrum sanguineum
Female ruddy darter dragonflySympetrum sanguineum
Female ruddy darter dragonflySympetrum sanguineum
Female ruddy darter dragonflySympetrum sanguineum
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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Mon 16/07/2018

More moths today! The most interesting was this one here, which looks like a riband wave, the same size and straw background colour, but with the dark band smudged around a bit, and some natty lace fitted around the collar. The slightly hooked wing tips are a bit of a difference though. It turns out this is the mocha, a new species to me although not rare by any means. Now the bottom one really is obscure – hardly any markings at all to latch on to!

Mocha moth Cyclophora annularia
Mocha moth Cyclophora annularia
Miscellaneous small moth!
Miscellaneous small moth!
A thorn moth – but which one??
A thorn moth – but which one??

This pretty neat thorn moth almost escaped detection completely, resting a few inches above the ground with its wings folded above its back like a butterfly.

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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Sun 15/07/2018

I took some more shots of the little jumping spider today, seeing as it has been hanging around for a fair while. Here is the best of them, but it is a tiny little creature, 5mm long maybe.

 

Jumping spider Sitticus pubescens
Jumping spider Sitticus pubescens

 

Yesterday there was a bit of a yelp from the conservatory as my wife spotted first, an empty skin that looked as if it might have previously been inhabited by some skinny, gangly spider, and then immediately afterwards spotted a freshly-emerged harvestman on the underside of a shelf right next to her head. 

 

I have to say, this one was full-grown and exhibited a remarkable leg span,

 

Harvestman
Harvestman

but I caught it and threw it into the flowerbeds in the garden. Needless to say, this morning it’s back and sitting, bold as brass, on the conservatory net curtains.

 

This time I made sure it went over the fence.


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Tue

21

Aug

2018

Sat 14/07/2018

Green-veined white butterfly Pieris napi
Green-veined white butterfly Pieris napi

A green-veined white butterfly got into the conservatory today! It looks very fresh and new, with creamy-yellow hind underwings.

 

We were also treated to the tiny jumping spider below, an occasional species in our conservatory!

Above and right:  Jumping spider Sitticus pubescens
Above and right: Jumping spider Sitticus pubescens
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Mon

23

Jul

2018

Fri 13/07/2018

More moths today; I decided to ignore the first riband wave moth I saw as they are pretty common and I photograph them every year; however when I saw the second one, which was a contrasting variant, I photographed it and decided to do the first one on the way back. You’ve guessed it though – the first one had cleared off by then, so I was left with just the second variant. Never mind, it’s a nice medium-sized thing anyway. On the other common variant, the two wavy lines are filled in with grey, making quite a striking wing bar. Which I presume is the actual ‘riband’ (or r’ribbon’) in question. I might get one of those later.

Riband Wave moth Idaea aversata
Riband Wave moth Idaea aversata

This faded and sorry-looking small moth is a single-dotted wave. I hadn’t even bothered trying to look this one up because there just doesn’t seem to be enough to get hold of; I only stumbled across the identification while looking for something else on the internet – even when fresh it is not brightly marked. The bottom one has the distinctive profile that marks it out as a pug moth, but they are usually very small, only a couple of centimetres in wing span. By comparison, this one is prodigious at a good 4cm. Quite common but ‘rarely seen’ according to my book, this is the bordered pug. The body is plump, but the wings are almost as flat to the wall as if they were painted on. Below all that is the first spider to hit this page for ages, on my garden shed.

Single-dotted Wave moth Idaea dimidiata
Single-dotted Wave moth Idaea dimidiata
Bordered pug moth Eupithecia succenturiata
Bordered pug moth Eupithecia succenturiata
This full-grown female Segestria florentina spider is large and nocturnal – this photo was taken in the dark with flash
This full-grown female Segestria florentina spider is large and nocturnal – this photo was taken in the dark with flash
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Mon

23

Jul

2018

Wed 11/07/2018

This morning was moth-mungous! I was cycling into work and stopped to take a quick shot of a little moth I spotted on the outside of the warehouse. But then there was a different species seemingly every few feet. All little ones, some quite similar, but the only ‘swaps’ I found were some least carpet moths, the same as yesterday. Here are the warehouse ones. The first one is a bit faded; it is certainly a pug moth, and I’m pretty sure it is the plain pug Eupithecia simpiciata. The second is a carpet moth I don’t remember ever seeing before, the common carpet – not the garden carpet, which is actually the most common one around these parts: 

Possibly the plain pug moth Eupithecia simpiciata
Possibly the plain pug moth Eupithecia simpiciata
Common carpet moth Epirrhoe alternata
Common carpet moth Epirrhoe alternata

This attractively-marked micromoth is oen of three very similar and somewhat variable species, plus a fourth which is a rare accidental import, so my book advised against identifying it for definite unless I felt like getting the dissecting tools out – and I don’t have any. All I can say for sure then, is that this one is of the genus Oegoconia. The bottom one is the very nice least carpet, which we have already seen on these pages this year. Much smaller than the common carpet on the previous page, the least holds its wings at rest much more like a wave moth than the generally triangular-shaped carpets.

Oegoconia micromoth
Oegoconia micromoth
Least carpet moth Idaea usticata
Least carpet moth Idaea usticata

Below is one of the more common pug moths, and does not usually show as colourfully as this. Generally it gives the impression of being white, with some prominent dark wing patches. The hindwings are completely hidden, giving it a very distinctive outline – this is the lime-speck pug Eupithecia centaureata. Not sure what the ‘centaur’ connection is though. The bottom specimen is one of loads of small, unobtrusive grass moths and others that all look pretty much the same. Ii is from the family Crambidae, but further than that I shall not venture

Lime-speck pug moth Eupithecia centaureata
Lime-speck pug moth Eupithecia centaureata
A pretty unremarkable crambid micromoth
A pretty unremarkable crambid micromoth

The attractively-speckled micromoth below is a different thing again; roughly the same size and shape as the above crambid, this is the bird-cherry ermine Yponomeuta evonymella. The common plume moth below that is present all year round on the warehouse walls.

Bird-cherry ermine moth Yponomeuta evonymella
Bird-cherry ermine moth Yponomeuta evonymella
Common plume moth Emmelina monodactyla
Common plume moth Emmelina monodactyla

Even that wasn't then end of it - there was a brown-tail moth 12 feet up the wall that I couldn't get to, sadly. My final moth for the day is this spectacular Jersey tiger (below left) I found on my way home. Below right is a little beetle, which I’m sure is a ladybird of some kind, and which was loose in the conservatory.

 

Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
Jersey tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
I’m sure this hairy black beetle, about 6mm long, is a ladybird of some kind, but I have not yet been able to identify it
I’m sure this hairy black beetle, about 6mm long, is a ladybird of some kind, but I have not yet been able to identify it

 

This tiny black beetle turned out to be quite exciting, if you’re into that sort of thing. I asked the online Ladybird Survey about it and they came back with the following:

 

From: Peter Brown [mailto:petermjbrown@googlemail.com]

Sent: 05 August 2018 13:22

To: Graeme Stroud

Cc: Ladybird Survey

Subject: Re: FW: New ladybird species

 

Dear Graeme

Thanks for this great record, which is of Rhyzobius forestieri. This is a very interesting record as this is a new species with few British records. It is starting to crop up in various locations. I double-checked the ID with Richard Comont and he agrees. As far as I can see this isn't logged, so please would you log this via iRecord?

Thanks again

Peter

UK Ladybird Survey

 

 

I duly recorded the sighting on their website and racked up my 7th species of the year!

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Mon

23

Jul

2018

Tue 10/07/2018

A lot of these little moths have suddenly appeared, and they are dotted at intervals over the outside of the warehouse and the office block. These two next to each other caught my eye though; I thought it was one larger single moth at first! The little micromoth at the bottom is Agonopterix alstromeriana, from the Elachistidae family of micromoths, whose caterpillars are leaf miners on various grasses.

Least carpet moth Idaea usticata
Least carpet moth Idaea usticata
Micromoth Agonopterix alstromeriana
Micromoth Agonopterix alstromeriana
0 Comments

Mon

23

Jul

2018

Sat 07/07/2018

Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri
Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri

I am finding quite a number of tiny ladybirds these days, either in the kitchen or the conservatory. They are quite active and difficult to photograph, and so small that until I get a decent shot and blow it up on screen, I can’t even tell what I’m looking at. However, most of the tiny species, (in the region of 2mm long), are pretty dully-coloured, either plain brown or black with sombre brown markings. This one turned out to have bright red markings though, more in line with the larger species, and I’m positive I have never seen one before, so I’m pretty excited! I have no way of identifying it other than via the Ladybird Survey, so I have fired off some photos to them, to see what they come back with. As usual, my photos are dreadful on this scale. Helen at the Ladybird Survey suggested Nephus redtenbacheri as a possible ID.

Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri
Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri
Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri
Dwarf ladybird, possibly Nephus redtenbacheri

Unfortunately my feeble photos didn’t supply enough data for even the esteemed Ladybird Survey team to confirm an ID. However, they did supply some clues, as shown below …

 

From: Peter Brown

Sent: Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 11:36 PM

To: Ladybird Survey

Subject: Fwd: FW: New small ladybird species

 

Hi Helen

Do we have any details of location and/or habitat? I would say that this is a variety of Scymnus interruptus and I don't think it's S. suturalis (because of black T shape being too thick, overall appearance too red). But Nephus Redtenbacheri is not a species that I find, so Richard could we ask your opinion?

Thanks

Pete  

 

 

From: Richard Comont

Date: Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 11:22 AM

Subject: Re: FW: New small ladybird species

To: Peter Brown

Cc: Ladybird Survey

 

Hi both,

I'm happy to rule out redtenbacheri - the colours are too bright and the red seems to at least reach the epimeron, which it doesn't in the Nephus. For similar reasons, I don't think it's Scymnus suturalis.  Scymnus interruptus does have colour forms like this (Mark Telfer has found them in East London, though they seem scarce elsewhere compared to the standard form), but S. limbatus is very similar (albeit slightly less red) and I wouldn't be happy splitting those two from these photos - need to see the underside, ideally of a specimen.

Cheers,

Richard

 

 

From: Peter Brown

Sent: 05 August 2018 13:26

To: Graeme Stroud

Cc: Ladybird Survey

Subject: Fwd: FW: New small ladybird species

 

Dear Graeme

We have been consulting on this one and please see the responses below, including one from Richard Comont. So unless you have a specimen this one will have to remain an uncertainty...

Thanks!

Best wishes

Peter

UK Ladybird Survey

 

 

So my ladybird remains officially unidentified! But I shall take it as my 6th species of the year.

This moth got into the conservatory tonight. I thought it was the standard Silver Y, but it turned out to be a similar species, not easily identifiable – dark arches? Clouded brindle maybe?

Not-totally-identified moth
Not-totally-identified moth
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Wed

11

Jul

2018

Fri 06/07/2018

Yesterday one of these moths appeared on the outside wall of the office block at the factory, but it had gone by the time I went down to photograph it. Then this morning I came in and there were two there, including this lovely specimen. This light green species is the small emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria. Chrysoprase, by the way, is a light green semi-precious gem.

Small emerald moth Hemistola chrysoprasaria
Small emerald moth Hemistola chrysoprasaria
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Wed

11

Jul

2018

Wed 04/07/2018

Here is another, similarly small-sized moth on the outside of the shed. I pored long and hard over my various moth books but without gaining any positive ID. I believe it is one of the wave moths.

And yet another unidentified moth! One of the wave moths probably
And yet another unidentified moth! One of the wave moths probably
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Wed

11

Jul

2018

Wed 27/06/2018

Micro-moth Endotricha flammealis
Micro-moth Endotricha flammealis

Found this strange moth on the kitchen wall at home today! Quite small, with a wingspan of a couple of centimetres, it stands virtually upright so that its wings are almost perpendicular to the wall, and its body is sharply curved at the back end. The spines on its legs and the curved body are reminiscent of some of the plume moths, but the broad wings look  more like those of a thorn moth. Eventually tracked it down as the pyralid micro-moth Endotricha flammealis. In my book, there is nothing else that looks anything like it anywhere on the page!

Unidentified moth
Unidentified moth

 

 

This triangular moth was lurking on the kitchen ceiling at the same time. 

 

So far unidentified, sadly.

 

 

 

 

 

The small moth below showed up on the outside of our garden shed too, but I haven’t manage to identify that yet either …

Another unidentified moth
Another unidentified moth
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Tue

26

Jun

2018

Fri 22/06/2018

Female stag beetle Lucanus cervus
Female stag beetle Lucanus cervus

Out for a walk after dark, we came upon this female stage beetle crossing the pavement. Closeup flash shows the subtle reddish-brown coloration well, but bleaches out the pavement! Slightly further away give more natural results, but the beetle appears plain black.

Female stag beetle Lucanus cervus
Female stag beetle Lucanus cervus
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Fri

22

Jun

2018

Wed 20/06/2018

Found this nice dusky yellow moth in the back garden today. With a wingspan of about an inch, this is the yellow shell moth. They are apparently quite variable, but most of the time they look exactly like this …

Yellow shell moth Camptogramma bilineata
Yellow shell moth Camptogramma bilineata
Robber fly
Robber fly

Another find was this totally weird fly in the conservatory. At not much more than a centimetre long, it looks at first like a tiny, tiny damselfly. This is, in fact, a member of the robber flies family. They are predatory and are called robber flies because they catch smaller flies in those powerful, grasping legs and carry them off.

 

After a bit of Googling, I belie this is the Striped Slender Robberfly Leptogaster cylindrica.  (Thanks to www.ukwildlife.net)

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Wed

20

Jun

2018

Mon 18/06/2018

The harlequin ladybirds have all suddenly emerged. In Church Walk I found several, and they are quite representative of the variation this species displays. 

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Thu

14

Jun

2018

Thu 14/05/2018

Groovy wasp in the office at work!

Miscellaneous parasitic wasp
Miscellaneous parasitic wasp
Thick-legged flower beetle. Oedemera nobilis
Thick-legged flower beetle. Oedemera nobilis

 

 

I have to walk past a dog rose in Church Walk on the way home, and today it was alive with thick-legged flower beetles – so called because they like flowers and the male has thick legs, like this.

Large skipper butterfly Ochlodes sylvanus
Large skipper butterfly Ochlodes sylvanus

 

 

This large skipper butterfly was quite obliging to the cameras too – it wouldn’t open its wings fully, but then they rarely do; this strange pose in which the hind wings are slightly more open than the forewings is characteristic of large skippers.

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Thu

14

Jun

2018

Wed 03/06/2018

Cycling in to work this morning, I ran across this buff ermine moth at the base of the warehouse wall. I don’t know what that bash is on its head; looks like it’s been in a fight.

Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea
Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea
Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea
Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea

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Thu

14

Jun

2018

Sat 09/06/2018

My wife spotted this attractive moth in the back garden today; this is the small magpie Anania hortulata.

Small Magpie moth Anania hortulata
Small Magpie moth Anania hortulata
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Thu

14

Jun

2018

Fri 08/06/2018

A bit annoyed today – on my way home I noticed a spectacular caterpillar in a plant I didn’t recognise, right by someone’s garden wall. I got out my camera, but it said the battery needed charging, so I didn’t manage to get a photo. When I looked it up, it was the caterpillar of a mullein moth, fat and maybe 3.5 cm long, speckled sky blue and light grey. The plant, needless to say, was mullein.

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Tue

12

Jun

2018

Fri 08/06/2018

Caught this really neat tiny moth in the bathroom last night!

Oegoconia moth, possibly Oegoconia caradjai
Oegoconia moth, possibly Oegoconia caradjai
Oegoconia moth, possibly Oegoconia caradjai
Oegoconia moth, possibly Oegoconia caradjai

It appears to be a member of the Autostichidae family, one of three very similar species in the genus Oegoconia. Although there is a fair bit of variation and overlap in the markings of the three species, this one looks a dead ringer for the Oegoconia caradjai in my book, so I’m going with that ID. All three are supposed to start their flight season in late June, so it’s a bit early in any case.

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Tue

12

Jun

2018

Sat 02/06/2018

Wandering out the back of the house at dusk to shut up the back door on this very warm evening, I saw a large beetle fly past the far end of our very small garden. I went out to have a look and saw several of them, stag beetles, flying around. Our adolescent offspring also came out to have a look, and we stayed there watching them fly around until it got too dark to see. Again, 20 years in this house, and we have never seen stag beetles in our air-space – although they are common up on nearby Windmill Hill, and I did discover one in the road out the front of the house last year.

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Tue

12

Jun

2018

01/06/2018

Minibeasts were rife in Church Walk as I was strolling home from work this afternoon. First is this dark beetle, which is exactly the right size and shape for a rosemary (or lavender) beetle, but if so, then it should have metallic green and purple stripes. This one appears to be completely black, which is somewhat confusing. In fact I believe this is the leaf beetle Chrysolina Banksi. No common name I’m afraid ...

Leaf beetle Chrysolina Banksi
Leaf beetle Chrysolina Banksi
Leaf beetle Chrysolina Banksi
Leaf beetle Chrysolina Banksi

Other stuff included this neat little 14-spot ladybird, a bronze shield bug, and the two ladybird larvae shown below. When I got home, my wife and daughter said they had been out the back of the house listening to a cuckoo a short distance away. 20 years in this house, and we have never heard a cuckoo nearby!

14-spot ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata (or 14-punctata)
14-spot ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata (or 14-punctata)
Bronze shield bug Eysarcoris fabricii
Bronze shield bug Eysarcoris fabricii

OK, your masterclass in ladybird larva identification starts here …

Ladybird larva - 7-spot
Ladybird larva - 7-spot
Ladybird larva - harlequin
Ladybird larva - harlequin

Not all ladybird larvae look like this, the small species are quite different, but most of the larger black-with-red-spots one are similar. They take the form of a black, agile carnivore with spiky orange markings. The one on the left will metamorphose to become a 7-spot, while the one on the right will be a harlequin.

 

Finally, there were several of these almost translucent green caterpillars wrapped up in nettle leaves. I think this is the larva of the mother-of-pearl moth.

Mother-of-Pearl moth caterpillar Pleurotya ruralis
Mother-of-Pearl moth caterpillar Pleurotya ruralis
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Thu

31

May

2018

Tue 30/05/2018

Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus

Found this fledgling blue tit in the wooded section of Church walk on my way home. It couldn’t fly, although I think it is only a day or two short. It may have tried to fledge just a little too early, or maybe the rain had knocked it out of the nest. There was another storm today with torrential rain, really very spectacular. One of the parents was swooping around, twittering when I found it. Hope it makes it OK.

The rain may also have rousted this spider out of its accustomed lair, and it was huddled in the reveal of our next-door neighbour’s kitchen window. Honestly, this is by far the OhMyGawdWhatTheHellIsThat-est spider I have seen this year, and may even be a contender for biggest one ever. This is a full-grown female house spider Tegenaria domestica. The one on the right is a close-up by the way – it is not that massive!

Two photos of the same house spider Tegenaria domestica
Two photos of the same house spider Tegenaria domestica

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Thu

31

May

2018

Sun 27/05/2018

 

Unusually for a bank holiday weekend, the weather was blue-skied and summer-hot after a spectacular electrical storm over Saturday night. My wife found this neat caterpillar on a lilac tree on the Sunday . . .

 

She was also very aware of green shield bugs on the wing, and found this mating pair while we were gardening. We found several in the garden.

 

Green Shieldbugs Palomena prasina
Green Shieldbugs Palomena prasina

 

The garden encroached into the house as well, as I found this tiny bush cricket nymph on the kitchen ceiling! This is a speckled bush cricket; we usually have one or two every year, quite often inhabiting the conservatory, and sometimes we have a litter of them. This is the only one we have found so far this year.

 

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Fri

25

May

2018

Thu 24/05/2018

The scarlet lily beetle is a spectacular insect, but it’s repellent little larvae will chomp away at your lilies until they disappear. Even Monty Don on Gardener’s World on telly this week advised to “despatch them as you see fit.” Take some photos first though!

Lily beetles Lilioceris lilii
Lily beetles Lilioceris lilii
Marmalade hover Fly Episyrphus balteatus
Marmalade hover Fly Episyrphus balteatus

The marmalade fly (because of its colour, not for any particular predilection for orange preserves), is one of the commonest hover flies, certainly in this area. I don’t really know why this one was posing with one wing outstretched. It stayed that way for a while though.

Running crab spider, Philodromus spp.
Running crab spider, Philodromus spp.

And lastly, let’s have this little running crab spider that has been lurking in the conservatory for the past several days. Running crabs are hunting spiders and they can’t half move when the mood grabs them, although this one seems pretty docile. It’s only a few millimetres long.

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Wed

23

May

2018

Sat 19/05/2018

On this bright, sunny day, this rather damaged holly blue butterfly was hanging around the ceanothus in our back garden for ages. I took loads of photo, but my little compact camera kept focussing on the wrong thing. I eventually coaxed it into focussing on the actual butterfly for this shot, although the direct sunlight has washed out the blue into a bright silver. More importantly though, I have now worked out how to get the camera to focus on whatever I’m pointing at, rather than something away on the side.

Holly blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus
Holly blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus
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Wed

23

May

2018

Fri 18/05/2018

Found this lovely Cardinal beetle in Church Walk (fittingly!) on my way home from work. This is the red-headed species Pyrochroa serraticornis. I think this is only the third time I have spotted one of these, but I have never seen the black-headed variety at all.

Cardinal beetle Pyrochroa serraticornis
Cardinal beetle Pyrochroa serraticornis
14-spot ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata (or 14-punctata)
14-spot ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata (or 14-punctata)

As my fourth documented ladybird species of the year, let’s also have this 14-spot:

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Wed

16

May

2018

Wed 09/05/2018

Ladybird Scymnus interruptus – probably!
Ladybird Scymnus interruptus – probably!

Continuing my search for tiny and obscure ladybirds – I found this little one in the conservatory today. It’s only about 2 mm long, but it still qualifies as a ladybird! From previous identifications, I believe this one to be Scymnus interruptus. It has reddish markings on a black background, and does not have a common name in English.

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Tue

08

May

2018

Mon 07/05/2018

Unexpectedly, after one of the longest, coldest winter in living memory, the May bank holiday weekend was absolutely steaming hot. One week ago there was still some frost around. Today it is summer, and the first three swifts turned up, wheeling and screeching over our back garden. We took a trip to Ashenbank woods, where the bluebells and the butterfly population were the most disappointing I can ever remember – but there were some orange-tip butterflies around, and I saw what I think was a hornet, possibly a queen, my first one ever.

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Tue

08

May

2018

Fri 04/05/2018

Found this 2-inch brown caterpillar crossing the pavement on my way to work this morning. I don’t think it hasn’t had time to get that big this year, so I’m assuming it has been hibernating somewhere. It was walking towards the road, with a brick wall the other side of the far pavement, which didn’t bode well, so I shoved it back on to someone’s garden.

As yet unidentified caterpillar
As yet unidentified caterpillar

Also found this groovy fly at lunchtime today, on the overgrown patch outside the factory perimeter fence. It was resting with its wings outstretched like this, although when it brought them back in, it looked a whole lot more ordinary.

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