Archive | March 2017

Another leafhopper…

On the 13th I came across another species of leafhopper (Cicadellidae) whilst inspecting the moth trap, and following my recording of Acericerus heydenii (possibly the first ever record for VC61), I have been keeping an eye out for more of these fascinating little bugs. Eventually I was able to identify the species that I had found on the outside of the Skinner trap as a male Metidiocerus rutilans (with thanks to Tristan Bantock for confirmation), another under-recorded species with perhaps just a single previous record here in the East Riding of Yorkshire (VC61).

The species is primarily associated with Sallows in the southern half of Britain but is known to winter on pines, the most likely source of the species here at Woldgarth as Sallow does not occur within the garden or within the neighbouring woodland. The record was also fairly early for this species, most records coming between April and November, but given the recent, indeed almost April-like weather, the early record is perhaps not that unexpected.

For me one of the great things about moth-trapping is that you never know what else might turn up when you take the time to check the trap thoroughly, the richness of the natural world always bringing something new to admire and enjoy 🙂

…and other invertebrates

The warm and almost April like weather which we enjoyed earlier in the month also brought a host of other insects and other invertebrates to the garden, including the first butterflies of the year and a great diversity of bees and hoverflies. The first butterfly was noted on the 7th, a lovely Comma (Polygonia c-album) sunning itself on the ivy covered south-facing wall having the honour of being the first flutterby of the year, whilst the first Peacock (Aglais io) was recorded on the 15th. Bumblebees have also continued to appear since the first Buff-tailed BB (Bombus terrestris) was recorded back in February, with Tree Bees (B. hypnorum) proving particularly abundant from the 9th onwards. The rise and rise of this relatively new incomer looks set to continue in 2017. Other species seen recently have included at least one White-tailed BB (B. lucorum) and a few male Hairy-footed Flower-bees (Anthophora plumipes), the first confirmed record of both these species coming on the 15th.

Hoverflies have also appeared in great diversity in the past couple of weeks, the two species seen in February (Meliscaeva auricollis & Eristalis tenax) being joined by two more (at least) in the shape and form of Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) and Tapered Dronefly (Eristalis pertinax). On the beetle side of things large numbers of Harlequin Ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) have dominated sightings, indeed I still haven’t found any ‘native’ ladybirds in the garden this spring, whilst a species of Flea Beetle was also seen in large numbers on a few of the garden plants. On the 13th the first Common Flowerbug (Anthocoris nemorum) of the year was encountered on the outside of the Stevenson screen, with a few more observations of this attractive and abundant bug since then.

Finally the Wolf spider species (Lycosidae) which occurs in large numbers in the gravel driveway and around the sun-baked front aspect of the house are now widely apparent when the sun does indeed shine, the excellent eyesight and the turn of speed that this species possesses always making them a challenging photographic subject. This same part of the house has also brought sightings of several, and clearly individually distinct, Zebra Spiders (Salticus scenicus), though interestingly every single specimen I have seen so far has been female. I wonder what the rest of March will bring ?

…this little fellow is also happy to see the invertebrates back again 🙂

Early March Moths

After a slow January and February in which just a handful of moths and a couple of species were recorded, things have really picked up in the past couple of weeks with an early flurry of night-flying lepidoptera here at Woldgarth. Many of these moths have come at our new mothing location in a small neighbouring woodland, the 15W Actinic Skinner utilised at this location at the very least equaling the number of moths drawn to the 125W MV Skinner we currently operate in the walled garden. Indeed I have high hopes for this new trap in the coming weeks and months, and it just goes to show that you can still get excellent results with a relatively low-powered bulb and a trusty old ‘Skinner’ (the utilitarian in me still prefers the basic Skinner design over the expensive and ‘professional’ Robinson).

In total 84 moths of 17 species have been recorded since the beginning of March, three of which have been new additions to the Woldgarth list, whilst a few others have only been recorded in the garden once or twice before. The new additions have included Early Moth (Theria primaria), Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria) and Agonopterix ocellana, whilst other ‘good’ moths have included Pale Pinion (Lithophane socia), Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata), Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) and a very early Pale Mottled Willow (Caradrina clavipalpis). The Agonopterix ocellana (or Red-letter Flat-body) was a particularly interesting observation with just 12 previous records in VC61 (prior to 2012), whilst Pale Pinion has also been recorded fewer than a 100 times here in East Yorkshire. Interestingly I recorded Pale Pinion last spring as well (22.04.16).

TOTAL MOTHS RECORDED (1st-17th March 2017)
29.001 March Tubic (Diurnea fagella) x4
32.007 Red-letter Flat-body (Agonopterix ocellana) x1
32.018 Common Flat-body (Agonopterix heracliana) x1
45.010 Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla) x1
45.044 Common Plume (Emmelina monodactyla) x1
70.066 Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata) x2
70.095 Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) x1
70.245 March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) x3
70.247 Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria) x1
70.255 Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) x1
70.282 Early Moth (Theria primaria) x1
73.069 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) x10
73.095 Pale Mottled Willow (Caradrina clavipalpis) x1
73.201 Pale Pinion (Lithophane socia) x1
73.242 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) x22
73.244 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) x26
73.249 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x7