Tuesday 29 September 2020

Holly Blue larva

 Following on from my previous post I found what is possibly a new Holly Blue larva yesterday and this one also had an attendant Ant with it.

This larva was quite a bit larger than the other one I found and one of the photos also shows an old egg case.  Not long after taking the pictures I saw the larva walk away from this area with the Ant still in attendance.

Holly Blue larva with Ant.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Young Life.

 Having a fascination with insects doesn't stop with just the adult butterfly or moth for me as the immature stages are just as fascinating, particularly as there are fewer people that are interested in these earlier stages.

Nigel too is into these earlier stages and he had found a wonderful Birch Mocha larva feeding on a Birch sapling on one of his walks.  A few days later I joined him for a walk and searching the area where he had found his we both managed to detect a couple more.  The camouflage on these larvae were simply amazing as they tried to avoid detection from the many Shield Bugs on the young trees.

Birch Mocha Larva on Birch.

A few days later in the same woodland I was looking for the beautiful Wasp Spider when I spotted a Vapourer larva feeding on Birch.  It has been several years since I last saw the larva of this species, even though I see the adult male moth regularly flying around. The female of this species is flightless so any Vapourer seen flying will always be a male.

Vapourer Larva.

On another walk in a nearby wood I was lucky to spot a stunning Knot Grass larva.  This one was redder than other Knot Grass larvae I have seen in the past.  An absolute gem of a larva, and with little else seen on the walk it made the walk well worth doing.

Knot Grass Larva.

Much closer to home, in fact, in the garden, I had a look for Holly Blue larvae on the Ivy.  I have looked for these several times over the years but never been successful. However, this time it was only a couple of minutes before I spotted two.  One was quite advanced, whilst another was extremely tiny.  The photo shows the feeding damage done by the larva.

Holly Blue Larva.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Willow Emerald Sussex Invasion.


With large numbers of this species being seen in recent years from East Anglia and Kent it was only a matter of time before this species spread to Sussex in big numbers.

Locally Nigel found a colony on Pevensey Levels just over 2 years ago, and this is where I too have seen them in the local area, however, there was another site where Nigel and I were confident the species would eventually appear at.  As we spent a bit of time though at his site neither of us ventured to this other area at the right time of year. 

Following a search for butterflies in the area I decided just to check the area out in the latter part of August and as I was looking at a particularly smart Migrant Hawker I saw 2 damselflies fly across the Hawker and immediately vanish. As it was unlikely that any other species of damselfly would be flying at that time of year in the area I was confident I had found another colony. I then waited for some time before a Willow Emerald showed itself, followed by another.

One of these also posed extremely well and several shots were taken, by far my best photos of this species over the years. Several further visits followed and some more shots were achieved including some females, which were certainly more elusive.

I also had a couple of visits with Nigel to his site, and although the damselflies there didn't pose so well it was clear the site was more established with higher numbers seen. We also got lucky seeing a pair in tandem that flew out into the over-hanging trees and settled before mating. Too far out in the water to get decent photos, but still some record shots were achieved.

A great start to the Autumn season and good to see this lovely species is spreading further into Sussex. I have since found 2 more colonies in the area.

Male Willow Emerald.

Female Willow Emerald.

Male Willow Emerald.

Female Willow Emerald.

Male Willow Emerald.

Mating Willow Emerald.

Monday 14 September 2020

Hummingbird Hawk-moth.


Most year I get visited by a small number of Hummingbird Hawk-moths as they feed on the Buddleia or the Red Valerian.

This year has been no different with over the past couple of weeks in particular having up to 2 moths showing very regularly.

A couple of quick attempts with the camera have surprisingly given me a few half decent images. The following were all captured in less than 10 minutes of shooting time.  It actually took longer to process the images as well as writing this blog!!

Hummingbird Hawk-moth in the garden.

Saturday 12 September 2020

Around The Reservoir.

Over the past couple of weeks I've had a few trips to the local reservoir looking for butterflies and dragonflies that use the area for feeding.  With the Fleabane in full bloom a large number of insects nectar on this flower and the dragonflies hunt those smaller insects.

Several Clouded Yellow have been seen during this time and Small Copper have also been very evident. Some of the larger butterflies have also been taking advantage of the abundant Blackberries ripening on the Bramble bushes.

Clouded Yellow.

Common Darter.

Comma Under-side.


Female Migrant Hawker.


Male Migrant Hawker.

Male Southern Hawker.

Female Wasp Spider.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

More Summer Moths.

Dusky Thorn.


On the few occasions the moth trap has been out there have been a few new species for the garden including the beautiful and delicate Palpita vitrealis, which is a migrant micro moth.  How this incredible insect manages to fly across the Channel, along with many other species always amazes.

Several other species this year are worthy of showing here, and as we enter the Autumn one hopes for a rarity or two.

Dusky Thorn.

Female Oak Eggar.

Palpita vitrealis.

Brimstone Moth.

Caloptilia alchimiella.

Small Emerald.

Plumed Fan-foot.


Blair's Mocha.


Wednesday 2 September 2020

Summer Moths.


In the few nights that I have put out the moth trap this Summer I have managed to catch a few moths of interest, in fact too many for one post, so another post in a few days will also have a few more of these.

Most of the moths have come from my trap, but with a Drinker from Mike Mullis and a few more from Clare's trap of species that I miss out of in my garden. Thanks to both for letting me get a few shots of those.

The Jersey Tiger (pictured above) has been very evident this Summer with several multiple catches, although Clare is well ahead with a top count of 48 Jersey Tiger in one night for her!!

In total contrast we have only had one Garden Tiger between us with this beautiful example below.

Garden Tiger. 

Swallow Prominent. 

Pebble Prominent.

Black Arches. 


Burnished Brass.


Golden Twin-spot.

Female Clouded Buff.