Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Newhaven's Butterflies and Moths: May 2016

Butterflies and moths recorded during May 2016 


Vine's Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua)

There has in recent posts been a burgeoning use of the word average. May was, until the 29th, an average month. That is how it felt anyway. Average when compared with the records I have collected in all the months of May since I began recording moths and butterflies at home and in the field. The start of May 2016 was nice and warm but a northerly airflow dominated after this and temperatures were generally cool - dare I say below average.

So let's take a look at some Maytime averages, starting at the moth trap. Over the years I have operated my trap 21 nights of the month on average - on about two out of every three nights. This year I ran my moth trap every night during May.

I have recorded a total of 345 butterfly and moth species during previous May-times, with an average of 133 species each year and 1356 individuals. This May I saw a slightly above average 150 species and 1613 individuals. Thirteen of the species recorded had not previously been seen during May-time. Of the ten most abundant species seen this year, some were on a par with the previous ten years' average: Heart and Dart (110), Dingy Skipper (51), Shuttle-shaped Dart (42) and Small White (42); but three of the remaining species were significantly more numerous this May than in the past: Diamond-back Moth (202) (average 9), Light Brown Apple Moth (119) (average 38) and White-shouldered House Moth (43) (average 6).

There are good reasons why the Diamond-back and White-shouldered House Moth were so much more abundant this year: the first is currently undergoing a mass immigration from the continent - probably the greatest example in the Sussex record (the total of 202 was the thin end of the wedge, the tip of the iceberg, the i of the idiom)  - and the second was more numerous because adults were emerging from either a sack of grass clippings which was being stored in my shed or from a mouse nest beneath the shed which I have been tolerating (I like mice). Part of my evening ritual each night was to pot up fresh adults (moths, not mice) from the inside of the shed window and release them into the garden - many of whom eschewed the moth trap light and flew elsewhere, never to be seen again. One interesting observation made of these moths was the dimorphism between individuals (see the photograph below for an example). The third species which was much more numerous than its average number, the Light Brown Apple Moth, an adventive species accidentally introduced to the UK from Australia in the 1950s and now a pest of orchards, is less easy to explain. One assumes it has benefitted from the mild winter. It has had an above average year.

An example of dimorphism in the White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)

Amongst the four migrant species seen, the Diamond-back and Red Admiral were much more numerous than usual, whereas the Silver Y and White-point were seen very much in average numbers.

Five-spot Ermel (Ethmia terminella)
The nationally scarce species of moths and butterflies I saw were few. The Duke of Burgundy and Adonis Blue were seen away from Newhaven at Heyshott and Mill Hill respectively. Of the three moths, Ethmia terminella was by far the most welcome and only the second individual I have ever seen. Aethes williana and Platyedra subcinerea are always a welcome sight, but Newhaven is blessed with established colonies and their appearance each year.

There is one final point to make about averages, and that is that I put in an above average effort this May. I ran the trap each night, walked two transect routes at Castle Hill LNR, surveyed four other locations around Newhaven and enjoyed guided walks at Heyshott, Shoreham's Mill Hill and Newhaven's Bollen's Bush. It's hardly work though, is it?

As a postscript regarding the Diamond-back Moth immigration, I have during the first week of June seen more than 11,000 individuals, 4500 of which have been counted in my moth trap. I can predict with some confidence, therefore, that June is looking decidedly above average.

Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)

The full list for May 2016

Butterflies (20 species)

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)  51
Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae)  14
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)  11
Large White (Pieris brassicae)  10
Small White (Pieris rapae)  42
Green-veined White (Pieris napi)  10
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)  36
Wall (Lasiommata megera)  8
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)  17
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)  6
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)  39
Peacock (Aglais io)  7
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)  12
Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina)  46 – seen away from Newhaven at Heyshott Down near Midhurst
Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)  30
Small Blue (Cupido minimus)  1
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)  14
Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)  1
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)  5
Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus)  1

Moths (130 species)

Buff Long-horn (Nematopogon metaxella)  4

Green Long-horn (Adela reaumurella)  11

Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii)  2

Skin Moth (Monopis laevigella)  1

Yellow-backed Clothes (Monopis obviella)  6

Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)  1

Common Slender (Caloptilia syringella)  9

Common Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana)  14

Apple Leaf Skeletoniser (Choreutis pariana)  1

Cocksfoot Moth (Glyphipterix simpliciella)  20

Cypress-tip Moth (Argyresthia cupressella)  1

Hawthorn Ermel (Paraswammerdamia nebulella)  4

Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  202

Gorse Case-bearer (Coleophora albicosta)  1

Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)  6

White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  43

Sulphur Tubic (Esperia sulphurella)  10

Common Tubic (Alabonia geoffrella)  3

Parsnip Moth (Depressaria heraclei)  2

Small Purple Flat-body (Agonopterix purpurea)  1

Ruddy Flat-body (Agonopterix subpropinquella) 1

Brown-spot Flat-body (Agonopterix alstromeriana)  4

Five-spot Ermel (Ethmia terminella)  1

Dark Groundling (Bryotropha affinis)  2

Mallow Groundling (Platyedra subcinerea)  1

Vetch Sober (Aproaerema anthyllidella)  1

Garden  Cosmet (Mompha subbistrigella)  6

Common Cosmet (Mompha epilobiella)  1

Violet Cosmet (Pancalia leuwenhoekella)  1

Rough-winged Conch (Phtheochroa rugosana)  1

Common Yellow Conch (Agapeta hamana)  1

Silver Carrot Conch (Aethes williana)  3

Yarrow Conch (Aethes smeathmanniana)  2

Red-fringed Conch (Falseuncaria ruficiliana)  13

Black-headed Conch (Cochylis atricapitana)  6

Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  119

Red-barred Tortrix (Ditula angustiorana)  1

Yellow-spot Twist (Pseudargyrotoza conwagana)  4

Common Marble (Celypha lacunana)  3

Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana)  1

Teasel Marble (Endothenia gentianaeana)  1

Smoky-barred Marble (Lobesia abscisana)  2

Yellow-faced Bell (Epiblema cynosbatella)  12

Thistle Bell / Knapweed Bell agg. (Epiblema cirsiana/scutulana)  3

Fruitlet Mining Tortrix (Pammene rhediella)  2

Grey Gorse Piercer (Cydia ulicetana)  62

Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)  2

Lead-coloured Drill or Obscure Drill (Dichrorampha plumbana / aeratana ) 116

Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla)  2

Meadow Grey (Scoparia pyralella)  2

Narrow-winged Grey (Eudonia angustea)  20

Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis)  5

Small Purple & Gold (Pyrausta aurata)  6

Common Purple & Gold (Pyrausta purpuralis)  2

Straw-barred Pearl (Pyrausta despicata)  3

Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata)  11

Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata)  2

Common Plume (Emmelina monodactyla)  3

Lackey (Malacosoma neustria)  2 larvae

Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus)  1 larva

Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia)  7

Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata)  1

Clay Triple-lines (Cyclophora linearia)  2

Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia)  2

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)  3

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  13

Streamer (Anticlea derivata)  2

Purple Bar (Cosmorhoe ocellata)  2

Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  1

Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  8

Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata)  3

Lime-speck Pug (Eupithecia centaureata)  3

Freyer's Pug (Eupithecia intricata)  1

Currant Pug (Eupithecia assimilata)  4

Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  4

White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria)  7

Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)  1

Dwarf Pug (Eupithecia tantillaria)  1

V-Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata)  3

Green Pug (Pasiphila rectangulata)  2

Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  23

Lesser Treble-bar (Aplocera efformata)  3

Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  23

Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1

Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  1

Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria)  9

Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)  1

Yellow Belle (Semiaspilates ochrearia)  2

Privet Hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri)  1

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)  3

Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus)  2

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)  1

Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)  1

Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  1

Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula)  2

Brown-tail (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)  1 larval tent – having a poor season

Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula)  3

White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)  4

Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum)  3

Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)  3

Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)  2

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)  6

Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)  7

Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  110

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  42

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  8

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  8

Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)  3

Shears (Hada plebeja)  23

Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae)  2

Light Brocade (Lacanobia w-latinum)  9

Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)  11

Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis)  1

Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  6

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  11

White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)  1

Mullein (Shargacucullia verbasci)  5

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  2

Grey Dagger / Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  1

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)  10

Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)  3

Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  3

Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica)  1

Vine's Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua)  23

Oak Nycteoline (Nycteola revayana)  1
Silver Y (Autographa gamma)  12
Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)  5
Mother Shipton (Callistege mi)  1
Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)  2

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