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saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Tuesday 30 September 2008

2008 Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadows LNR butterfly transect 2008 out-turn.
Reading many of the postings this year one might be forgiven for thinking that this has been a dreadful year for butterflies, and yet in this part of Mid-Sussex total numbers recorded have in fact increased compared with 2007 and I have been pleased to note one new addition to the reserve - a small colony of Grizzled Skippers. Total counts for the year have been, with last years totals in brackets:
Small Skipper 48 (30), Large Skipper 72 (58), Grizzled Skipper 4 (0), Clouded Yellow 0 (1), Brimstone 4 (8), Large White 56 (33), Small White 52 (60), Green-veined White 13 (7), Orange-tip 14 (27), Purple Hairstreak 3 (13), Small Copper 36 (31), Common Blue 50 (79), Holly Blue 13 (28), White Admiral 0 (1), Red Admiral 7 (21), Painted Lady 0 (4), Small Tortoiseshell 7 (3), Peacock 20 (15), Comma 19 (14), Silver-washed Fritillary 2 (1), Speckled Wood 69 (43), Marbled White 24 (19), Gatekeeper 558 (509), Meadow Brown 3819 (2634) and Ringlet 454 (179), making a total of 5344 (3818).
We are blessed with a co-operative coucil, which agreed to implement my request that the meadows be cut as late as possible - they were only cut only last week and this augers well for next year's flora, as more wild flowers have set their seeds and so there should be even more foodplants for our butterflies.
In the meantime the moth hotel here in Haywards Heath has now recorded a total of 193 species since I started mothing in mid-April last year. (Paul Lister)


Monday 29 September 2008

Mating pair of Mallow, Downs behind Denton, (Steven Teale)

The Mallow (Larentia clavaria) is not an uncommon species, but it seldom visits light and so is not regularly seen. So last night (22.30 - 23.15) I set out to inspect a Mallow plant (Malva) on the edge of the Downs behind Denton that hosted adults last year. I was not disappointed: 6 individuals were seen, two of which were mating and one of which was pumping and drying its newly-emerged wings. Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the plant in question is very small and badly battered by passing walkers and animals, yet it still hosted several individuals - and probably more have emerged on previous nights. Previous observations suggest the adults do not stray too far from the 'mother' plant, but more research is required! Established plants are likely to host established micro-populations. If readers find any Common or Dwarf Mallow on their travels that can be safely accessed in the dark, it is well worth taking a look - especially any bigger, older plants. Other species were seen feeding on ripe Blackberries, including Square-spot Rustic (2), Beaded Chestnut (1), Angle Shades (1) and Herald (1). Notable species in the trap this morning were Red-green Carpet (1), Feathered Brindle (1), Ruby Tiger (1) and, strangely enough, a Mallow! (Steven Teale)

When it comes to playing dead, the Mottled Umber is world champion. Flopping to the bottom of the pot, apparently totally lifeless. Then when I went to place him on the table, I suddenly realised that he was holding on to my finger. I'd have been quite happy for him to be No. 200, but he'll have to be content with 199. Total species were just 11 with Lunar Underwing (30) still cranking up big numbers plus Beaded Chestnut, Sallow, Black Rustic (3), Large Yellow Underwing (12), Setaceous Hebrew Character (8), Garden Carpet, Light Emerald, Lesser Yellow Underwing and Square-spot Rustic (John Luck)


Sunday 28 September 2008

In our light trap this morning, a single L-album Wainscot was a new garden moth species for us in Shoreham. Meanwhile at least 4 Speckled Woods are currently daily companions. (John & Shena Maskell)

Still twelve species on the wing this afternoon at Kingley Vale. Red Admiral, Comma, Green-veined White, Large White, Small White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Common Blue and Chalkhill Blue. Several of the numerous Small Copper were the aberrant form caeruleopunctata (blue-studded hind wings - below), including the female I photographed while she took a break from egg-laying. (Neil Hulme)

Prior to hitting the sack, I checked the trap to see what was around, identifying whatever I could see in case it had disappeared by the following morning. I found 3 Dusky Thorns… one was perched on the French windows, one was on top of the trap alongside the light and one was in the trap. And when I came down this morning, they were in exactly the same positions. Maybe not surprising, as it was a typical chilly Autumn morning. I did a bit of homework recently re the species to be expected over the next couple of months and was particularly looking forward to seeing the ones displaying actual Autumn colours. And I wasn't disappointed. Having closely perused all the Lunar Underwings for the past two weeks, when I finally located a Beaded Chestnut it was a rich russet… a superb insect. Then I found another one, this time a lighter more subdued brown, but still very satisfying. Initially, I thought I had a 3rd one, but eventually it was added to the Lunar Underwing total (31), the dark smudge rather than dots near the tip of the leading edge being the final determining factor. The 2nd new one was a Pink-barred Sallow in a total of 14 species. Of especial interest was a pristine Flame Shoulder with an unusual tear-shaped oval marking. Other macros were Common Marbled Carpet (2), Angle Shades, Black Rustic (7), Sallow (2, including a lemon yellow version), Setaceous Hebrew Character (13), Garden Carpet (2), Burnished Brass, Large Yellow (5) and Square-spot Rustic. So now the Garden Total is 198. It will be interesting to greet the 200th species and then out with the champagne… any excuse (John Luck)

In the garden today, 4 Red Admiral on Buddleia Sungold, (a plant they were ignoring a week ago) and occasionally Sedum. 5 Large White on Buddleia Beijing. The Commas that were so active on the Sedum in garden last weekend are largely gone, but one seen resting briefly on ivy. (Jonathan Ruff)

Well it seems like Summer is finally here - unfortunately it appears that the butterflies are getting ready for the winter. I found a Peacock basking in the sun at midday and followed it as it fluttered around my neighbours house and disappeared down the steps into a dark basement. I grabbed my torch and followed it and found five more Peacock hanging in the cold and dark, prepared for the months ahead. (Michael Blencowe)


Saturday 27 September 2008

Clifden Nonpareil, Beckley Woods, (David Burrows)

It's been a very satisfying day for both moths and butterflies. Emptying the trap this morning I counted eleven species of moth: Common Plume, Pale Eggar, Willow Beauty (2), LYU (2), Setaceous HC, White-point, Common Wainscot (4), Feathered Brindle, Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing (21) and a fresh Burnished Brass. Then a lunchtime walk in perfect conditions around Norton (Bishopstone) and Poverty Bottom gave me the chance to see high numbers of butterflies, especially enjoying the newly-flowering Ivy. Very high numbers of Whites (I counted at least 170 - too many to identify whether they were Large or Small most of the time) were flying en masse wherever I looked. On a few occasions I saw a 'cloud' of up to a dozen whirling around each other - presumably one female being mobbed by males. I also counted Red Admiral (11), Peacock (2), Comma (11), Speckled Wood (7), Meadow Brown (8), Small Heath (2), a Square-spot Rustic and a Knot Grass larva. I was disappointed not to see the Clouded Yellow I was hoping for, but I can't complain. (Steven Teale)

Despite a clear, cold night there was still plenty of activity around the moth trap at Friston Lunar Underwing (66), Light Emerald (41), Large Yellow Underwing (23), Setaceous Hebrew Character (14), Angle Shades (8), Four-spotted Footman (Female, 1), Dark Sword Grass (1), L-album Wainscot (3), Centre-barred Sallow (2), Beaded Chestnut (3), Small Square-spot (2), Lesser Yellow Underwing (3), Square-spot Rustic (8), Brimstone (2), Straw Dot (1), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2), Herald (1), Dusky Thorn (3), Burnished Brass (1), Clay Triple Lines (1), Feathered Ranunculous (1), Scarce Footman (1), Frosted Orange (1), Deep-brown Dart (1), Barred Red (1), Common Wainscot (1), Common Marbled Carpet (1), Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana (1) and Ash Bud Moth Prays fraxinella (1). However the real excitement was in the far east of the county where David Burrows has recorded the beautiful CLIFDEN NONPAREIL, a rare immigrant species, over the past two nights at two separate locations. On both occasions the moth was not found in the mothtrap (one was on a garage wall, the other under a sheet hanging nearby) - so it's worth looking around your mothtraps and outside lights over the coming nights. (Michael Blencowe)

Red Admiral, Arundel and Comma, Downs at Amberley 27 Sep and Small Tortoiseshell, 20 Sep, Downs at Amberley (Neil Hulme)

What a difference a week makes. Today, despite warm and sunny conditions, there was a very noticeable reduction in the number of pre-hibernator butterflies on the Downs near Amberley. Last Saturday (20th) there were large numbers of Comma, Red Admiral and a few Small Tortoiseshell, all eagerly fuelling up for the long winter ahead. But today only a couple of Comma remained. All week I've been noticing butterflies disappearing into wood piles (left from habitat management work), outbuildings and fluttering around the eaves of houses, all looking for a cosy corner to 'hang up' in. I reckon a large number have gone for a lengthy kip in the last few days, although many of the Red Admiral will head South. Two of them were nectaring on the ivy behind my house as I pulled into the drive. I performed a thorough Risk Assessment (very dangerous) and climbed onto the roof of my rickety garden shed to get a shot. (Neil Hulme)


Friday 26 September 2008

Last night's session (8 species; 36 moths) was once again dominated by the Lunar Underwings (25), but I also had Oak Lutestring (1), Mallow (1), Large Yellow Underwing (4), Setaceous Hebrew Character (1), Square-spot Rustic (1), Common Wainscot (2), and what I'm fairly satisfied was a Rustic (Hoplodrina blanda). The Oak Lutestring was a first for me and is another example of species associated with Oak in an Oak-free area (there are mainly Elm, Ash and Sycamore in Denton and on the surrounding Downs). Finally, I also had a Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) visit the trap, but I didn't realise until it stung me on the foot! (Steven Teale)

Hummingbird Hawk Moth visited our garden again briefly this afternoon in North East Seaford. (Bob Eade)

I can't compete with Michael's Friston Forest numbers but we did have a couple of attractive new ones - Barred Sallow (2) (below left) and The Sallow (below right). Lunar Underwing (31) and Setaceous Hebrew Character (17) still dominate the trap with Large Yellow Underwing falling to 8. Other macros were Light Emerald (7), Black Rustic (6), Square-spot Rustic, Dusky Thorn, Snout (2), Willow Beauty (2), Garden Carpet, Rosy Rustic, Common Wainscot and Brimstone. (John Luck)

With some weak sunshine, I decided it would be a rare autumn day to miss a trip to Mill Hill, Old Shoreham. Twelve species were seen: Peacock (1), Speckled Wood (FREQ), Red Admiral (OCC), Comma (OCC), Green-veined White (OCC), Small Heath (OCC), Large White (OCC), Small Copper (2), Adonis Blue (11), Meadow Brown (8), Common Blue (1), Wall Brown (2). (FREQ= Frequent 12-50 OCC = Occasional 5-12) (Andy Horton)


Thursday 25 September 2008

The mild, calm and cloudy weather in Friston added up to make a great night of Autumn mothing. Over 300 moths of 34 species: Light Emerald (90), Lunar Underwing (65), Large Yellow Underwing (41), Setaceous Hebrew Character (33), Square-spot Rustic (25), Green Silver-lines (1), Brimstone (3), Barred Hook-tip (1), White-point (4), Oak Hook-tip (1), Four-spotted Footman (1), Angle Shades (3), Clay Triple-lines (2) Black Rustic (2), Barred Red (1), Copper Underwing (1), Straw Dot (1), Dusky Thorn (2), L-album Wainscot (1), Frosted Orange (2), Common Wainscot (1), Feathered Brindle (1) Snout (5), Hedge Rustic (2), Centre-barred Sallow (5), Lesser Yellow Underwing (2), Sallow (6), Flame Shoulder (1), Uncertain (1), Burnished Brass (1), Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (4), Barred Sallow (1), Common Marbled Carpet (1), Beaded Chestnut (2). (Michael Blencowe)

Last night's haul totalled 53 moths of 17 species as follows: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana (1), Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla (2), Garden Carpet (3), Mallow (2), Grey Pine Carpet (1), Yellow-barred Brindle (1), Dusky Thorn (2), Willow Beauty (4), Large Yellow Underwing (4), Setaceous Hebrew Character (3), Square-spot Rustic (2), Common Wainscot (1) Beaded Chestnut (1), Lunar Underwing (22), Flounced Rustic (2), Pale Mottled Willow (1), and Snout (1). The Grey Pine Carpet was a new one for the garden. I also had 3 Dung Beetles (Aphodius rufipes) - a night-flying species quite common at this time of year. (Steven Teale)


Wednesday 24 September 2008

A friend, Alan Wingrove, who recently moved to Southboune pointed out to me tonight that of the 100 Large Whites he checked out in the last 2 weeks in Surrey and Sussex, all were males! What is the experience of other Sussex members? (Tom Dunbar, Buckinghamshire). Certainly in the Brighton Pavilion Gardens, although there were more males, there were some females and several seemed very very eager to mate. Anyone else made any observations? - Webmaster


Tuesday 23 September 2008


It goes to show the difference the weather conditions have on moth-ing. On Friday night the sky was clear, the moon was shining, the temperature was low and my trap attracted 10 moths of 4 different species. Pitiful. Last night was cloudy and milder and the moth trap, in the same location, produced almost 250 moths of 35 species. Lurking in the trap was a moth which I spent an hour trying to identify using the Waring/Townsend fieldguide. Luckily Bob Foreman and Sarah Patton helped me out - a Clancy's Rustic. And the reason I couldn't find its picture in the book is that it isn't in there! This moth was unknown in Britain until 2002 but since then has occurred regularly as a migrant in the country. (Michael Blencowe)

After a reluctant, yet unavoidable, three month moth-trapping hiatus my twin 30W actinic Skinner is once again lighting up the skies of Denton. My first session back produced 41 moths of 12 species, mainly Lunar Underwing (14) and Large Yellow Underwing (13), but also Light Brown Apple Moth, Common Plume, White-spotted Pug, Brimstone, Garden Carpet, Dusky Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic (2), Flounced Rustic (2), and Mallow (3) seen fluttering around a Mallow plant outside the garden. Butterflies: nothing spectacular on the Downs behind Denton in recent days. Many Small and Large White, low numbers of Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Small Copper. (Steven Teale)


Monday 22 September 2008


News for Sun 21 Sep: Lullington Heath. Large Whites and Speckled Woods just into double figures and one each of Brimstone, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Small Copper. (Roy Wells)

News for Sat 20 Sep: Held a moth trap at the sand dunes at East Head. Low numbers with 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 1 Pearly Underwing and the saving grace for the evening 4 Shore Wainscots. (Ivan Lang). Shore Wainscot is a National Scarce (B category) moth, eating Marram grass as a caterpillar and found along the coast of mainly southern UK


Sunday 21 September 2008


Small Heath and Comma, Birling Gap and Park Corner Heath respectively (Polly Mair), and Comma and Small Copper, RSPB Pulborough Brooks (Colin Knaggs)



At RSPB Pulborough Brooks there were more than 10 Commas in the afternoon sun, including one just hatched with its wings still filling out; most of them were enjoying the very sweet blackberries with my wife. There was also a Small Copper happily flitting around. There were a few whites around, and we also saw an Adder to my wife’s consternation. (Colin Knaggs)

It was warm but rather breezy at Birling Gap this morning. Large and Small Whites seemed to be all over the place, too numerous to count! Small Heath (10), Red Admiral (5), Common Blue (6), Comma (1), Meadow Brown (12), Speckled Wood (5) and Small Copper (3). (Polly Mair)

It's been a hard summer! Battered male Adonis Blue at Castle Hill today (Adrian Thomas)



Castle Hill, Woodingdean. After a bruising summer there were plenty of battered-looking butterflies, but they were certainly enjoying the sunshine, with 100+ Meadow Brown, 25+ Common Blue, 5 Large White, 5 Comma, 4 Small Heath, 4 Adonis Blue, 3 Brown Argus, 2 Red Admiral (heading determinedly north), 2 Chalkhill Blue, 1 Small White, 1 Small Copper and 1 Peacock (Adrian Thomas)

News for Sat 20 Sep: Friston Forest: A single, and very 'fresh' looking, Painted Lady was busy nectaring on The Gallops area this afternoon. (Michael Blencowe)




Saturday 20 September 2008


News for Fri 19 Sep: I was visiting a colleague at her home and saw a Brown Hairstreak in her garden, near Slinfold. It was a female, not in great condition with a bit missing from one wing. She appeared to be nectaring on goldenrod and had her wings open for several seconds. (Ken Noble)


Hummingbird Hawkmoth visited honeysuckle in the Seaford garden this afternoon. Only the 2nd I've seen this year. (Bob Eade).


News for Fri 19 Sep: Portland Road is very much within the urban area of Brighton & Hove, but by the electricity offices at the west end there is a spot with quite a lot of shrubs, ivy and some flowers. In previous years I've seen Holly Blues, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks and whites there. Yesterday (19/9/08) there were some whites and to my surprise a blue. Normally I'd have expected it to be a Holly Blue and it was behaving rather like one, but as it's not really the right time I made sure to have a good look at it. It was a very smart male Common Blue. Unusually we also had a Common Blue in our garden in Hove two days running in late July, so as far as we are concerned it's been a good year for urban Common Blues. Not so good for Small Tortoiseshells of course - we've seen none in our garden or round the city at all, although we did see two on Cissbury Ring last Sunday, nectaring along with between 30 and 40 Red Admirals, a Peacock, three Commas and some whites all in the same little sheltered area. The only other Small Tortoiseshells we've seen this year were far away from Sussex - 2 at Mumbles Head in April and one outside the Scottish Parliament building in August. (John Heys)

News for Fri 19 Sep: It is surprising how certain species prefer certain plants. In mid afternoon, there were 3 Red Admiral, 4 Large White and 1 Small White on Buddleia Beijing, while 4 Commas were feasting on Sedum spectabile. (Jonathan Ruff)


News for Sat 13 Sep: Ringer moth trap: There were a couple of much smaller Wainscot sp in our trap of Sept 13th - 13mm and 14mm, the larger a Common Wainscot and the smaller a Cosmopolitan.  If you recall we did in fact catch a normal size (16-17mm) Cosmopolitan in that trap, thus this much smaller moth had been part of the same migration (John Luck)



Friday 19 September 2008


Dry sunny weekend coming up - look forward to seeing how many butterfly species you can all find out there clinging on!


Following Adrian Thomas' report of the Whites in Pavilion Gardens yesterday (18/9) I passed by, mid morning, nearby Steyne Gardens and there must have been double that number attracted by the masses of Verbena Bonariensis. I was on a bus but they looked spectacular. (Peter Whitcomb)


Ringmer moth trap: After a warm, sunny day admittedly with a North-easterly wind, I'd rather hoped for some interesting migrants. One Nationally Scarce L-album Wainscot did arrive, but there was a dramatic drop in overall numbers apart from Lunar Underwing which increased to 26. A mere 6 macros in all with Setaceous Hebrew Character (10), Black Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing (2) and Square-spot Rustic (2) (John Luck).


News for Thurs 18 Sep: A very worn female Brown Hairstreak nectaring on Evening Primrose in the garden at Warnham LNR (Sam Bayley)


News for 17 Sep: A CLIFDEN NONPAREIL in St Leonards On the factory wall where I work - unfortunately I didn't realise what it was initially and thought it was going to be a red underwing spp despite its grey forewings - whilst showing a colleague the red that gives it its name I saw the blue and black barring just before it took off and flew to the factory roof never to be seen again hence no photo. A salutory tale to never jump to conclusions - always pot first look later and carry a net even in the office! Regards to all (Chris Ball)



Recent news: The temperature has been dropping over the past few nights - and so have the number of moths in the Friston moth trap - but there's still something of interest underneath the eggboxes most evenings. Over the last 10 nights the following migrant-moth species suggest that some movement is taking place in the area - although I'm still waiting for my Convolvulus Hawkmoth to show up.

8 Sep: Cosmopolitan (1), White-point (3), Dark Sword-grass (1), L-album Wainscot (1)

10 Sep: Four-spotted Footman (1), Rush Veneer (1), Hummingbird Hawkmoth (1), Silver-Y (5)

11 Sep: European Corn Borer (1)

15 Sep: Silver-Y (15)

16 Sep: Four-spotted Footman (1), Silver-Y (5), White Point (1)

17 Sep: Dewick's Plusia (1), Four-spotted Footman (1), Dark Sword-grass (1), Silver-Y (4) (Michael Blencowe)



Thursday 18 September 2008

Pavilion Gardens in Brighton was awash with whites today in the sunshine, like confetti everywhere. In total I estimated about 40 Large Whites and 10 Small Whites, with 14 on one patch of Aster alone, with others feeding on (White) Red Valerian and Lythrum cultivar, and yet more high-flying whites way away from suitable vegetation over Brighton station and London Road. With no other butterflies present, I'm learning to love the humble 'cabbage white' (Adrian Thomas)

Ringmer moth trap: Our 2nd Red Underwing within 10 days, arrived in the early evening, occupying a significant part of one of our large egg-trays and was later joined by 2 new macros - Black Rustic and Grey Pine Carpet - and 1 new micro - Twenty-plume Moth in an overall total of 20 macros and 2 micros. In the main event, Setaceous Hebrew Character (24) built an unassailable lead in the early stages to finally beat Large Yellow Underwing (17), whose usual sprint finish (cunningly achieved by hiding large numbers at the bottom of the trap) was too late to be effective. Indeed, being nearly pipped by Lunar Underwing (16) who more than doubled their previous tally. Other competitors were Square-spot Rustic (13), Light Emerald (4), Common Wainscot (3), Brimstone (2), Dusky Thorn, Burnished Brass (juncta), Centre-barred Sallow, Angle Shades (2), Small Square-spot, White-point (2), Dark Spectacle, Snout (2), Lesser Yellow Underwing and a 3rd gen Double-striped Pug (John Luck).


Wednesday 17 September 2008

News for Sun 14 Sep: Just read the weekend’s sightings. Since no one else has commented on large numbers of Speckled Woods (see now Michaal Blencowe's report just in too), I thought I would add that during a 2 hour sunny walk in Friston Forest on Sunday 14th, they were everywhere, many looking very fresh – I would guess I saw at least 50. Also lots of Large Whites, fewer Small Whites, several Red Admirals, a couple of Commas. A few days earlier I had come across a small group of quite fresh looking Gatekeepers, but I saw no sign of them on Sunday. (Susan Suleski)

While I was down Ferring Rife this afternoon in the “sun” collecting some Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars for the OU parasite study, I bumped into a Painted Lady and a pristine Comma. There were hundreds of whites everywhere and the occasional Speckled Wood. (Colin Knaggs)

Revised Rother Woods page with updates now available here or off the Homepage


We're into the period where we would expect many of the last records of various species for the year. Keep a look out for the last sightings of (with 2007 last sightings in brackets): Chalkhill Blue (23 Sep), Small Heath (30 Sep), Gatekeeper (3 Oct), Adonis Blue (5 Oct), Large White (27 Oct), Holly Blue (21 Oct), Meadow Brown (23 Oct), Green-veined White (30 Oct), Comma (31 Oct)  Small White and Small Tortoiseshell (1 Nov), Wall (2 Nov), Brown Argus (3 Nov), Small Copper and Common Blue (4 Nov), Painted lady (6 Nov).


I haven't been able to get out for a few weeks but took a short stroll around Friston Forest this afternoon. There were Speckled Wood everywhere along the rides - I must have seen nearly 100 along my route - by far the commonest butterfly. Plenty of Silver-Y were busily nectaring - this was the commonest moth in my trap on Monday night. Some very fresh Comma and Small Copper were also about and Large White were abundant. Elsewhere Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Red Admiral, and Small White were also seen. And an Osprey flew over too. (Michael Blencowe)



Monday 15 September 2008


Apologies to the contributors whose entries are being submitted late which unfortunately got 'gobbled' by my over-efficient spam filter - Webmaster


Clockwise from top left: Lesser Treble-bar, Beeding, 14 Sep (Jim Steedman); Indian Moon Moth, Friston, 8 sep (Michael Blencowe); Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Beeding, 9 Sep (Jim Steedman); Common Blues mating, Beachy Head, 30 Aug (Paul Marten); Brown Hairstreak, Warnham, 31 Aug (Su Reed); Comma, Cissbury, 15 Sep (Jim Steedman). Of the Common Blues, Paul writes, "Some careless reversing at Beachy Head, resulted in what looks to me, like minor damage to an indicator and a brake light."



And finally the caeruleopunctata version of Small Copper at Cissbury Ring on Saturday - note the little blue dots in the black on the hindwing (Jim Steedman)



In garden in Crawley Down, 5 Large White, 2 Small White and 3 Red Admiral on Buddleia Beijing, which is now in full bloom. 1 Comma on Buddleia Sungold, 1 Large White on Buddleia Lochinch, which has almost finished flowering. Also a Speckled Wood resting on windowsill. (Jonathan Ruff)


News for Sat 13 Sep: Cissbury Ring: we recorded 15 butterfly species, which is pretty good going for mid-September. One highlight was the large number of Large Whites in pristine condition, and there were so many around that we gave up trying to count them: they are really beautiful butterflies when looked at closely. Also several Small Whites, plus Red Admiral (7), Small Heath (11, including 3 mating pairs), Meadow Brown (50+), Brimstone (3), Common Blue (16), Adonis Blue (4), Brown Argus (3), and single Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue (3rd Generation?). Of the 3 Commas, the one photographed shows the dull metallic green markings on the underside particularly well. But principal highlight was the 25 Small Coppers (the largest number I can ever recall seeing in a single day), mostly looking brand new. The one I photographed is ssp. caeruleopunctata, having a row of blue spots on the hindwing. Had quite a good week with the moth trap too, with a Convolvulus Hawkmoth on Wednesday night (10th). (Jim Steedman)


News for Fri 12 Sep: Cissbury Transect today: Adonis Blue 5; Common Blue 3 (1 female); Chalkhill Blue 1; Brown Argus 1; Large White over 100; Small White 14; Brimstone 4; Red Admiral 1; Comma 1; Meadow Brown 38; Small Copper 13; Small Heath 16; Speckled Wood 6. Also a Pale Tussock caterpillar - I've never seen one before and it was beautiful. (Peter Atkinson)


News for Fri 12 Sep: Transect Details Bedelands Farm 12th Sept. After last weeks washout a lovely sunny day brought the following: Large White 6, Small White 10, Common Blue 6, Red Admiral 7, Comma 6, Speckled Wood 25, Meadow Brown 1, Brown Hairstreak 1. Total 62 butterflies, 8 species The Brown Hairstreak was recorded at a different area of the Transect than before and it is probable that the butterfly occurs all over the reserve where its food plant is present. (David Pyle)



Sunday 14 September 2008


(Clockwise from top left)
Speckled Wood on honeysuckle berries, Lindfield, (Bob Foreman), Green-veined White and Small Tortoiseshell, Ashurst Wood, (Polly Mair) Frosted Orange and Cosmopolitan, Ringmer, (John Luck)



Over a 14k walk on the Downs behind Shoreham this afternoon we encountered 1 Small Copper, 1 very tatty Common Blue, a Meadow Brown, a Small White and roughly 40 Large White! Back in our garden at Mill Hill we have had maximums of 9 Red Admiral, 8 Large White, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and single Small White and Comma on our Buddleia over the weekend and last nights moth trap was very quiet with only 39 moths of 14 species with Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square Spot Rustic and Large Yellow Underwing leading the way. (Dave and Pen Green)


Ashurst Wood: I spent the day enjoying the sun whilst gardening at home today and was surprised to see so many different butterflies (11 species): Painted Lady (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Red Admiral (1), male Brimstone (1), Comma (2), Small Copper (1), Large White (8), Small White (7), Green-veined White (2), Holly Blue (1) and Meadow Brown (1). Not a bad tally for the middle of September in the north of the county. (Polly Mair)


Lindfield: A fair few Small and Large Whites in the garden this afternoon as well as a Comma and a Red Admiral but what intrigued me most was the sight of a couple of Speckled Woods stupefying themselves by gorging on very ripe honeysuckle berries - not something I've seen this species do before. (Bob Foreman)


The number of species is dropping (18 macros, 2 micros), but the quality certainly isn't with 2 new species for us, one of which is totally new for our area… a Cosmopolitan, described as a Scarce Immigrant with Habitat of grassy coastal areas. Well we are 10 miles or so inland so maybe there are quite a few to be found nearer the coast. Our 2nd new one was a Frosted Orange… a really attractive insect. Just a good old-fashioned rarity - none of your Bornean endemics over here, which smacks of exhibitionism to me (only kidding, Michael. Hope you're soon recovered from the leg injury. Heaven knows what you'll find if you actually break anything). Another moth of particular interest was the nigricans form of Silver Y. Yet again winning our version of the Madison (if you remember the frenetic cycle chase from the Olympics) was Large Yellow Underwing (21) easily holding off Setaceous Hebrew Character (15) whose threatened take-over from last week didn't materialise. Other contenders were Lunar Underwing (7) with an impressive increase from last week, Common Wainscot (3), Square-spot Rustic (8), Dusky Thorn, Burnished Brass (2) with both juncta and aurea forms present, Willow Beauty, Small Square-spot (2), Garden Carpet, Flounced Rustic (2), White-point, Vine's Rustic (2nd gen), Lesser Yellow Underwing (2) and Uncertain. Just a short addendum re the Cosmopolitan… if anyone wishes to come over and see this moth please get in touch with me via email. It will be released tomorrow evening. (John Luck)


News for Sat 13 Sep: Today the fleabane patch held 4 Small Coppers, 3 Male Common Blue, 2 Female Common Blue, and a single Brown Argus, as well as numerous Whites. In the Garden, the late flowering Buddleia attracted 3 Red Admirals, 2 Commas and a single fresh Small Tortoiseshell. Also seen a Speckled Wood. (Graham Parris)


News for Fri 12 and Sat 13 Sep:On the 12th there was Red Admiral, Comma, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Large White, Small White and Green-veined White. On the 13th the Small Copper didn't appear but all the rest were present and also a Speckled Wood. Approx 10 days ago there was a single Painted Lady (only my second for the year). (Martin Kalaher - Storrington)



Saturday 13 September 2008


Kingston Near Lewes E Sussex: Plenty of sun today interrupted at times by large slow moving clouds. Ivy flowers are early this year and are at their peak now. They are the strongest attractant to nectaring butterflies and are humming with bees and flies. We have quite a lot of Sedum and it used to attract considerable numbers of Nymphalid species but during the last few years it seems to have lost it's pull. Has anybody else been aware of this. Today though I was pleased to see a mint Small Tortoiseshell on it and this was only the second one I have seen this year, last year I saw one only all year. Other species on the Ivy today were, 8 Red Admiral, 4 Comma and one Speckled Wood. Elsewhere in the garden were two male Common Blue, one ancient and one very modern, 3 or 4 Meadow Brown, several Large White and a few Small White. Yesterday there were three Small Copper but no sign today. (John Holloway)


News for Fri 12 Sep: Comma Steyning Rifle Range (Neil Hulme)



A visit to Steyning Rifle Range in good weather conditions failed, for the first time this season, to turn up any Brown Hairstreaks, suggesting that they are all but over for the year. Butterfly numbers have plummeted here, although several Red Admiral were seen nectaring on ivy flowers, and a few Comma were feeding up on blackberries. A switch to Mill Hill at Shoreham finally produced a 'pocket' of late season butterflies, with over 30 Adonis Blue, a couple of Small Copper and the first 'third brood' Wall (single male) being the best of the bunch. (Neil Hulme and Alexander Henderson)



Thursday 11 September 2008


On behalf of Butterfly Conservation Sussex I would like to thank the Duke of Norfolk's Estate for allowing habitat management, primarily for the benefit of the endangered Duke of Burgundy butterfly, in woods near Arundel. The Estate has not only co-operated fully in the launch of this project, it has provided a great deal of assistance 'on the ground', providing both machinery and manpower. Immediate action was required to save a recently discovered colony, as the habitat was so overgrown that no food plant could be found! As the area regenerates (under future management), other species likely to benefit include the rare Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Drab Looper moth. In particular I would like to personally thank Mark Aldridge and Tony Hart of the Estate for their efforts, in often appalling weather conditions. Thanks also to those that turned out today to help at a work party. South Downs Joint Committee staff and volunteers were joined by BC helpers including Simon, Brian, Alan, Roger, Alexander and Eric. With assistance like this even our rarest species still stand a chance. (Neil Hulme)


(Clockwise from top left)
1. Before: A mass of impenetrable scrub, swamping out the food plant and threatening survival of 'the Duke'.
2. After: A strip cleared to allow the re-establishment of cowslips - note that only part of the site is cleared this year.
3. Mature Thuja (conifer) has been cleared, transforming a dense, dark area of woodland into new habitat, and providing a corridor to other suitable areas.
4. Today's work party in action.



We ran our moth trap last night in what appeared to be good conditions and we were not disappointed. We caught our first Four-spotted Footman, a male (photo below), and other migrant moths included Angle Shades (5) and Silver Y (5). Additionally we had 24 Setaceous Hebrew Character and we wonder if some of these could have been immigrants as well? Other moths caught were Canary-shouldered Thorn, Large Thorn (2), 2nd Gen Light Emerald (4), Garden Carpet (3), Cabbage Moth, Lime-spec Pug (5), Cypress Pug (7), Willow Beauty (6), Mother of Pearl, Lesser Yellow Underwing (7), Large Yellow Underwing (18), Dark Spectacles (2), Flounced Rustic (4), Square Spot Rustic (6), Vine's Rustic (4), Common Rustic, Campion, L-Album Wainscot, Snout, Pale Mottled Willow, Small Dusty Wave and our first Lunar Underwing of the year. Of interest, all the Lime-spec Pugs, Light Emeralds, Cabbage Moth and Canary-shouldered Thorn were seen around the trap at 2:00am this morning when we checked it but none were in or around the trap this at daylight, it makes you think what gets away each night! Finally, the most unexpected inhabitant of the trap and a first for us was a Red Admiral that was warming itself by the light this morning. (Dave and Pen Green)




Wednesday 10 September 2008


If you were wondering what Michael Blencowe's Indian Moon Moth looked like, and how large your egg boxes needed to be to fit one in, here's the answer! You couldn't make these things up, could you?!



Check out the new event for the Rother Woods project on the Events page for the tail-end of the year.

About a dozen Green-veined Whites were on the Coastal Link Cyclepath with half a dozen Large Whites, at least one Red Admiral, one Peacock, one Small Tortoiseshell and one Comma on ripe Blackberries on an overcast day. On the southern (north-facing) slopes of Anchor Bottom, I recorded one male Adonis Blue and a female Common Blue, as well as two Meadow Browns. (Andy Horton)

News for Tues 9 Sep: It was still much too overcast, with spots of rain, for butterflies to be out and about if they had survived the atrocious weather. A quick check on the Privet-inundated lower slopes of Mill Hill produced seven male Adonis Blues, ten Meadow Browns and a Small Heath. The scrub added a Speckled Wood, and the upper area of Mill Hill another Meadow Brown and another Small Heath. Large Whites, Small Whites and a Green-veined White were on the Pixie Path. There was one Red Admiral in the Butterfly Copse next to the Waterworks Road. (Andy Horton)

News for Mon 8 Sep: Large and heavily marked Large White were frequent, especially around the Sea Kale on Lancing Beach. There were occasional Red Admirals on the Ivy on the the Coastal Link Cyclepath south of Old Shoreham, and in the Butterfly Copse next to the Waterworks Road. A Speckled Wood was in Lancing town near Brooklands. (Andy Horton)

Essential Viewing: As it seems we are already well into winter, given the horrendous weather, I'm sure I'm not the only one already dreaming of a long, hot summer in 2009! And the butterfly I dream of most is the Purple Emperor. For the benefit of both those already bitten by the bug, and future 'Emperor obsessives', be sure to watch the piece to be shown on BBC1 South's 'Inside Out' programme at 7.30 pm on 17th September. This was filmed in Alice Holt Forest on 3rd July and is presented by Matthew Oates. My only criticism is that it is only 8 minutes long! (Neil Hulme)



Tuesday 9 September 2008

My local patch of Fleabane had one Common Blue male and two mint condition Small Coppers this morning. Apart from that, I note that as soon as the rain stops, the garden is wall to wall Small and Large Whites; how do they do it? (Graham Parris)

It's not my normal practice, but I decided to run the trap on a second consecutive evening in order to compare results. The figures were unsurprisingly very similar with an overall count of 27 macros, 1 less than Sept 7th but with 2 new species (a 3rd generation Engrailed and a 2nd generation Dark Spectacle) 1 more than previously. However, what was remarkable was the number of different species: 12 on the 27th and 11 last night with just 16 species the same: over the 2 evenings that would have resulted in an overall total of 39 species. Large Yellow Underwing reproduced the previous day's figure of 38 which was equalled by Setaceous Hebrew Character (previously 34). I haven't made much of a point of it before as it is not uncommon around these parts, but White-point happens to be Nationally Scarce and again appeared with just the 1 specimen against 4 yesterday. Other visitors were 3 different Thorns (Dusky (2), Canary-shouldered and a 2nd generation Early Thorn), the highly variable Common Marbled Carpet which proved even more elusive to catch than a normal carpet, Centre-barred Sallow (2), Cypress Pug (3), Willow Beauty, Brimstone (4), Light Emerald (3), Snout (7), Chinese Character, Square-spot Rustic (22), Burnished Brass (2), Lunar Underwing, Common Wainscot (7), Small Square-spot (15), Flounced Rustic (3), Lesser Yellow Underwing (6), Vine's Rustic (2), Flame Shoulder, Gold Spot (2nd generation) and Double-striped Pug (John Luck).

Addendum: Sorry, forgot to mention admission price for Pulborough Brooks event: 3 Adults, 2 Children, 6 Family...but RSPB and BC members half-price.


News for Mon 8 Sep: Friston. Sure, as Adrian mentioned (below) mothing can sometimes be all about staring at little brown moths in the early hours of the day - but then on other occasions..... I recently had an accident that has left me out of action and stuck indoors - last night Clare kindly set up a moth trap in the field behind the house, next to Friston Forest. I couldn't resist hobbling out to check on the trap at midnight last night - and through the mercury-vapour haze of the misty evening I saw before me a sight that made me think that I should cut back on the painkillers! A giant green moth the size of my moth field guide was fluttering around my Robinson trap. I quickly woke Clare and, to paraphrase a line from Jaws, said "We're gonna need a bigger trap". Armed with nets and a saucepan we both bravely ventured back out and caught the monster - an INDIAN MOON MOTH!! Despite trying to convince myself that Borneo isn't that far away and, well, it has been rather windy lately -this moth had obviously escaped from a private collection. Still, a beautiful creature - and it reminded me of why I find mothing so addictive - you never know what's going to be hiding under those eggboxes! (Michael Blencowe & Clare Jeffers)


Call for Assistance: If you are able to help out at a work party in West Sussex on Thursday 11 September, starting at 10:00 hrs, your help would be most appreciated. Following a postponement last week due to atrocious weather we are a little short of 'muscle', as the South Downs Joint Committee volunteers available then, cannot make the rescheduled date. This is a very important project, aimed at saving a colony of one of our most endangered species, recently discovered in woods near Arundel. For those that can make it, full details of the project and what we hope to achieve will be given on site. If you can spare even a couple of hours, you will be making a very significant contribution to our regional conservation efforts. Interested parties can contact me for further details at nh@nhulme.eclipse.co.uk (Neil Hulme)



Monday 8 September 2008


New event on the events page: Sat 20 Sep: Moth Night, RSPB Pulborough Brooks. The RSPB, with help from BC, will be running several traps and everyone is welcome to come. There will be experts on hand to help you identify the moths and answer your questions. But be warned, ‘mothing’ can be addictive and before long you’ll find yourself building your own light trap and subjecting yourself to late nights and early mornings trying to decide whether a little brown moth is a Rustic or an Uncertain… You don’t need to book, just come along between 6.30 pm and 9 pm on Saturday 20 September (moth traps unlikely to get busy until around 9pm, but moths from previous night on show prior to that if 9pm is beyond bedtimes). Families very welcome. 3 Adults, 2 Children, 6 Family...but RSPB and BC members half-price.


I did my transect at Malling Down, Lewes, East Sussex today, conditions were not perfect but I was pleasantly surprised at what was still about following the horrendous weather over the last week. Silver-spotted Skippers appear to have all finished, still a good number of Adonis Blues about. The Peacock I saw was in perfect condition - a second brood? The year's totals so far show that Adonis Blue have had their best year since 1997. Peacocks have had their best year since 2002. Worst year for Small Heath. Small/Essex Skippers have had a really poor year as have Large, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers. Below are the transect results with the previous weeks totals in brackets to compare:

0 Silver-spotted Skippers (4), 0 Brimstone (3), 7 Large White (5), 13 Small White (33), 1 Small Copper (3), 4 Brown Argus (2), 3 Common Blue (m) (7), 7 Common Blue (f) (5), 29 Adonis Blue (m) ( 102), 12 Adonis Blue (f) (45), 0 Chalkhill Blue (m) (3), 0 Chalkhill Blue (f) (1), 1 Red Admiral (0), 1 Peacock (0), 2 Speckled Wood (0), 0 Gatekeeper (1), 94 Meadow Brown (228), 2 Small Heath (3). (Crispin Holloway)

News for Sun 7 Sep: Ringmer moth trapping: Our very first Red Underwing which is supposedly common but what a stunning insect and certainly the first one we've had. Other new ones for the year were Centre-barred Sallow, Rosy Rustic and Lunar Underwing (2) plus our 2nd Nationally Scarce L-album Wainscot in a total of 28 macros and 3 micros. Fortunately the Large Yellow Underwing numbers are going .... this time a mere 38, but Setaceous Hebrew Characters are on the increase with 34...others seen Willow Beauty (2), Lime-speck Pug, Common Rustic (3), Square-spot Rustic (13), White-point (4), Common Waistcot (2), Burnished Brass (3), Uncertain (5), Flame Shoulder, Garden Carpet (3), Vine's Rustic (4), Small Square-spot (9), Copper Underwing (2), Light Emerald, Early Thorn, Angle Shades (2), Lesser Yellow Underwing (5), Cabbage Moth, Silver Y, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (John Luck).


Saturday 6 September 2008


20 Meadow Browns, 4 Large Whites, 3 Speckled Woods, 1 Small Heath, 1 Small Copper and 1 Holly Blue at Cissbury Ring today - maybe not show-stopping but at least given the dire weather they were butterflies! (Adrian Thomas)



Friday 5 September 2008

Recent news: The following moths trapped in garden in Portslade over the last week or so: Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic, Willow Beauty, Small Emerald, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing, Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing, Flame Shoulder, Flounced Rustic, Cypress Pug, Garden Carpet, Double Striped Pug, Common Wainscot, Brimstone, Common Rustic, Vine's Rustic, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Large Thorn. However the most interesting record was a very late freshly emerged Buff Ermine trapped on 31st August (definitely not a White Ermine!) maybe signs of a partial second generation? (Darryl Perry)


Wednesday 3 September 2008


News for Sun 31 August: Still plenty of moths in my Edburton garden in my evening wanders including a Large Thorn, Yellow Belle, Barred Yellow, Hedge Rustic, Gold Spot, Dark Spectacle, Whitepoint, Double-striped Pug, Small Square Spot, Engrailed + the usual other rustics etc. Best of the butterflies were a couple of Chalkhill Blues on Edburton Hill + Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone in the garden. A Hornet has been killing large numbers of bumble bees on the buddleia (Tony Wilson)



Tuesday 2 September 2008

News for Mon 1 Sep: Only my third Painted Lady of the year in good condition settled in front of me adjacent to the Middle Road Allotments, Shoreham. (Andy Horton)


Monday 1 September 2008


News for Sat 30 August: Ten people turned up at Steyning Rifle Range to have a look at the Brown Hairstreaks here, with some hoping for their first sighting of this species. The hairstreaks appeared at the ever-reliable 'start-up' time of 11:30 hrs and put on a good show. Seven females were seen before I left the site at 13:00 hrs, with four being recognisable as different insects based on 'wear and tear'. There could have been anywhere between four and seven individuals here. I later moved up to the Round Hill about half a mile away and saw a further three Brown Hairstreaks almost immediately, including a fresh looking female. A Hornet took a Small Tortoiseshell off the Hemp Agrimony and there are still a few Wall up here. Two very impressive fly-pasts - firstly the 'Battle of Britain Memorial Flight', then a female Goshawk. (Neil and Eric Hulme)




What to look for in September

  • Butterflies - September - or at least the first couple of weeks - can sometimes be pretty darn good for butterflies, although after this wet and cloudy summer things are likely to be much quieter than normal. Nevertheless, with all sorts of species hanging on from the summer brood, 12 species still possible in a day, and there are still some second or third broods of several species emerging or yet to emerge, such as Common Blues, Wall, Speckled Wood and Small Heath. By the end of the month, numbers of most species should be well on the wane, however.

  • Moths -in contrast to the butterflies, there are still plenty of species to make their first appearance of the year. Common species in traps include Lunar Underwing and Beaded Chestnut, and there are several other moths in the chestnut and sallow families whose flight season starts now, as well as many late migrants still to be found.



Sunday 31 August 2008


News for Sat 30 Aug: Star of the show this week in my Ringmer trap was an immigrant Dewick's Plusia plus 4 other new macros for the garden - a very Old Lady, a Small Dusty Wave, Pale Mottled Willow and Double-striped Pug - in the total of 38 macros and 8+ micros. Other macros were Brimstone (14), Common Wainscot (22), Knot Grass, Large Yellow Underwing (92), Cypress Pug, Straw Dot, Square-spot Rustic (40), Garden Carpet (7), Willow Beauty, Setaceous Hebrew Character (57), Flame Shoulder (8), Angle Shades (4), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (7), Vine's Rustic (13), Light Emerald (2), Dusky Thorn (3), Silver Y, White-point (11), Burnished Brass (6) equally divided between juncta and aurea, Gold Spot, Common Carpet (2), Common Rustic (5),Small Square Spot (28), Canary-shouldered Thorn, Maple Pug, Sharp-angled Peacock, Green Carpet, Uncertain, Copper Underwing, Chinese Character, Lime-speck Pug and Turnip (John Luck).


News for Sat 30 Aug: As Johnny Cash once sang "I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when" - I know how he felt! , so yesterday it was an exciting experience to emerge from my house, blinking as my eyes were dazzled by a lovely sunny August day. A quick tour of local Buddleia showed that it wasn't just me that was pleased the sun was out. Over 30 Red Admirals were seen on a short stroll around Friston, but Peacock (2) and Comma (2) have dropped in numbers over the past few weeks. I hoped to find some Painted Ladies or Clouded Yellows and took a drive to Beachy Head - but did not find any.

On the transect walk at Butts Brow the high winds made butterfly watching tricky but I recorded 330 Meadow Brown, 2 Small Copper, 35 Common Blue, 1 Peacock, 1 Small Skipper, 1 Speckled Wood, 13 Small Heath, 6 Chalkhill Blue, 1 Small White and 11 Silver-spotted Skipper.

In the moth trap at Friston last night some signs of immigration; 3 Dark Sword Grass and an Olive-tree Pearl Palpita vitrealis a micro-moth which is widespread in Southern Europe (Michael Blencowe)


News for Sat 30 Aug: Brown Hairstreak egg laying in our garden (near Broadbridge Heath). Also, 3 Small Tortoiseshell on buddleia in a garden in Amberley. (David Bridges)


News for sat 30 Aug: Transect at Malling Down, Lewes. 4 Silver-spotted Skippers, 3 Brimstone, 5 Large White, 33 Small White, 3 Small Copper, 2 Brown Argus, 7 Common Blue (m), 5 Common Blue (f), 102 Adonis Blue (m), 45 Adonis Blue (f), 3 Chalkhill Blue (m), 1 Chalkhill Blue (f), 1 Gatekeeper, 228 Meadow Brown, 3 Small Heath. 12 species & 445 sightings. (Crispin Holloway)

News for Sat 30 Aug: The sun came out for the first time this week in Crawley. Joining the regular Small and Large Whites in my garden were 2 male Brimstone, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Meadow Brown and a Speckled Wood. All but the last was attracted to my various Buddleia plants. (Vince Massimo)

News for Sat 30 Aug: After the last dreadful week it was sunny and I was hoping there might be good numbers taking advantage of a decent day but it was still breezy today on Pevensey Levels and so not many. 4 Green-veined White, 2 Small White, 3 unidentified small whites, 3 Common Blues,1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Comma, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Clouded Yellow - my first this year,1 Speckled Wood. (Roy Wells)


Saturday 30 August 2008


At last, a chance to sit in the sun with butterflies all around! Ok, so it was still a bit windy too, but Castle Hill (Woodingdean) was alive with 200+ Meadow Browns, 50+ Common Blues, 30 Adonis Blues, 30 Chalkhill Blues, 10 Brown Argus, 10 Silver-spotted Skippers, 5 Small Heath, 3 Small Copper, 2 Peacock, 2 Large White and a Red Admiral. It followed my largest moth trap of the year at Peacehaven - nothing spectacular in it, but good to get well over 100 moths in a night. (Adrian Thomas)



Friday 29 August 2008

For the first time on the Bedelands Farm (Burgess Hill) transect walked today, walked for over 10 years, a sighting of a Brown Hairstreak, female, at eye height. This follows on from the discovery of 8 eggs found at this spot early on this year. It has been recorded at various sites in the Burgess Hill area this year and last year. Also Large White 17, Small White 3, Small Copper 3, Common Blue 8, Holly Blue 1, Comma 1, Speckled Wood 20, Meadow Brown 14. Total 68 butterflies. Recording of the Brown Hairstreak is undoubtedly the highlight of an otherwise very poor year with no sightings of Green Hairstreaks, Marbled Whites, White Admirals, Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladies at all. (David Pyle)


Thursday 28 August 2008


News for 18 Aug: A CAMBERWELL BEAUTY in Newhaven. I work in Newhaven and had just left work and had a good close view as it flew along a hedge and then headed into a dense bush presumably to roost for the night. (Mark Senior)



Tuesday 26 August 2008


Recent news: Over the past few weeks have had Brown Hairstreaks in my Broadbridge Heath garden and the local area. I was pleased to see on Saturday that there are Brown Hairstreak eggs on the Blackthorn in my garden. (Susie Milbank)



Monday 25 August 2008


News for Sat 23 Aug: A few of us took the rare opportunity of good weather to visit Steyning Rifle Range, with most hoping for their first sighting of the beautiful Brown Hairstreak. Yet again this 'in form' venue came up with the goods. At one point two females (one quite fresh, one pristine) were only a couple of feet apart, egg-laying in the same blackthorn sucker. Polly Mair also confirmed the location of the Master Tree here, by spotting a male doing what they do best - nothing! Fiona and Max of 'BirdGuides' came along to film the species and got some great footage. The butterflies of Sussex have performed very well in front of the cameras this year and will feature in their next release. (Neil Hulme with Polly, Fiona, Max, Chris, Sally and Pete)


Recent news: Over the bank holiday weekend our Mill Hill moth trap has caught a total of 293 moths of 57 species. Most surprising of these was a pristine Elephant Hawkmoth, presumably a second generation individual as the last one we had was on the 16th July and they were all in a very battered state leading up to that date. Early in the season we had caught Elephant Hawkmoths in every trap we ran between 30th May and 16th July. Another second generation moth was our first ever Peach Blossom, and other new moths for our garden have included Large Thorn, Dusky Thorn, Chequered Fruit-tree Totrix, Sharp-angled Peacock, Shaded Broad-bar and Tawny Speckled Pug.

On a completely separate note we have been experimenting with thermal imaging on some of the moths we have caught. These images are particularly interesting when viewing some of the large more powerfully flying moths as, when they start to vibrate their wings to warm up, their core temperature changes very quickly. Below are a couple of photos showing a Large Yellow Underwing, the ambient temperature around it is 17 degrees but within a couple of minutes or so of starting to vibrate it’s core temperature had already risen to 26 degrees, at which point it was evidently warm enough to fly off as that is exactly what it did! Presumably the heat is generated by the large flight muscles being used so quickly and it then conducts to other areas of the moth?

Finally, on a butterfly note, we have had 3 Large White, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Red Admiral in the garden over the weekend. (Dave and Pen Green)



Just for interest members may be interested in an image Matt came across last night which shows the size of the Convolvulus Hawk Moth when compared with a Willow Warbler!!! Click on www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk and go on latest news, scroll down to 23rd August. (Bob Eade).

The e-book "One Purple Summer" has been uploaded to www.thepurpleempire.com for Purple Emperor fans. It's a collection of photographs and observations from around the country, many of them from Sussex, over the last two months. Go to the what's new page and download from there. It's totally free, and if anyone has any observations they'd like to see included, I'll be preparing a "second edition' in a couple of weeks time. (Derek Longhurst)

Recent news: More Brown Hairstreak sightings in my Storrington garden for the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and the 24th. Once again feeding on Hemp Agrimony and affording very close views. The same male on all four dates (a notch out of both forewings makes this a distinctive butterfly). One female on the 22nd and 23rd but not the past two days. Yesterday I spent the whole day in the garden and checked for Brown Hairstreak every half an hour or so. The male 'appeared' at 11.30am and was still feeding at 5.30pm. I didn't see it at every check but I suspect it didn't leave the Hemp Agrimony for all that time. Also Brown Argus (making it 16 species in the garden for the month of August). (Martin Kalaher)



Sunday 24 August 2008


Our Ringmer trap from last night rather matched the weather with a mere 16 species of macros and 5 micros. There was no doubt of the winner this week with Large Yellow Underwing (64) taking the gold medal by a margin equivalent to Usain Bolt leaving Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (22) well beaten. Cypress Pug showed well and other competitors were White-point, Brimstone (5), Gold Spot (4), Flame Shoulder (14), Setaceous Hebrew Character (15), Common Carpet (2), Willow Beauty, Uncertain (7), Small Square-spot (10), Vine's Rustic (4), Common Rustic (9), Heart & Dart and Bright-line Brown-eye (John Luck).


News for Sat 23 Aug: Paid another visit from Essex today with Graham Ryland. We spent the morning at Malling Down where had up to at least 40 Silver-spotted Skippers and 10+ Adonis Blues. Others here: Brimstone 2, Small Copper 1, Meadow Brown several hundred, Gatekeeper 2, Common Blue 15+, Chalkhill Blue 3, Large Skipper 1, Speckled Wood 1, Large White 10, Small White 1. Wasn't all Butterflies with 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Whinchats, a Redstart, Bullfinch and Chiffchaff all present. At RSPB Pulborough Brooks 2 female Brown Hairstreaks were seen, one low down on Brambles. Speckled Wood 10+, Meadow Browns, Common Blues, Red Admiral 1. (Steve Arlow)


News for Fri 22 Aug: Rye Harbour Nature Reserve- Many Whites, plus Common Blue 30+, Meadow Brown 20+, Red Admiral (2), Small Tortoiseshell (5) - all pristine (Rob Thomas)


News for Thurs 21 Aug: I have seen very few Painted Ladies this year. 1 seen today at Camber Castle nectaring on Vipers Bugloss in the shelter of bushes on a very windy day. (Roy Wells)


News for Thurs 21 Aug: I'm a Kent member living in Tunbridge Wells (in a part of TW that used to be in Sussex!). I went down to visit my mother in law in Little Common (Bexhill) today. On the Buddleia davidii at the back of her garden I found 2 Small Tortoiseshell (both in good condition). Such an unusual event this year it seemed well worth reporting and gives some small hope for the future. Nothing else noted except the usual Large and Small Whites. (Rob Thomas)



Saturday 23 August 2008


Some images from the Michelham Priory event on 20th - Brimstone by Nick Linazasoro, Clare's storytelling, and Neil's entourage:



Of the six Comma caterpillars on my Peacehaven hop, two pupated in the last two days, including watching one caterpillar dangle itself upside-down by evening and be a hardened pupa by the next morning. I seem to remember finding pupa in my childhood, but I apparently stopped finding them once I exceeded 4 feet tall, so I admit to finding it all quite exciting! (Adrian Thomas)


Paid a visit to Windover Hill today with Becky Quine - a university student from Cambridge who is studying the valley for her dissertation. Despite what constitutes great August weather these days - mildly windy, sunny with some cloud we did not see one butterfly until we reached the top of Windover Hill twenty minutes after leaving the car park. I've never been so happy to see a Meadow Brown. The Grayling are still flying but their numbers seemed to have dropped over the past week - 7 were seen today but Silver-spotted Skipper seemed to be doing very well. (Michael Blencowe & Becky Quine)


Essential viewing: All next week BBC1's One Show (7pm) will feature 5 minute pieces on various butterflies, presented by Miranda Krestovnikoff with contributions by the legendary Matthew Oates. (Neil Hulme)

News for Fri 22 Aug - Broadfield Pond, Crawley 15 Speckled Wood, 10 Gatekeeper, 3 Small White, 3 Large White, 5 Green-veined White, 2 Brimstone, 8 Common Blue, 1 Small Copper, 2 Comma, 1 Red Admiral, and my first Sussex Painted Lady of the year, which looked very fresh. (Vince Massimo)

Is anyone able to put a name to this caterpillar that arrived on a Sage plant bought by David Norris at Wadhurst. Your webmaster is plumping for Bright-line Brown-eye given the tiny white dots, larger black dots, and yellowy stripe down the side, but over to the experts out there....



Friday 22 August 2008

A Painted Lady between Sidlesham Ferry and Church Norton today. First I've seen this year! Also last Friday (15 Aug) I saw a Silver-spotted Skipper at Combe Down near Clayton (TQ3113). This is my first record for the site. Would be interested to know if anyone else has recorded them there? (Paul James)


Thursday 21 August 2008


Despite the breeze and often overcast conditions, there were still several butterflies out today during a mid-day walk. A Brown Hairstreak was nectaring on Hemp-agrimony on the shallow path from the NT car park towards the East Gate. I saw 2 Wall and 5 Adonis Blues and 18 oher species. Brown Argus, Small Heath, Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues were numerous and there were still a few Small/Essex Skippers about. (Mike Snelling)


Recent news: A single female Brown Hairstreak feeding on the Hemp Agrimony in my Storrington garden on the 19th and 20th. The 14th was a red letter day with my first record for this species in the garden. The first was a male at approx 11am, which was followed by two different females in the early to mid afternoon. All were feeding on the Hemp Agrimony. I pruned my Blackthorn more sympathetically last year and it would not surprise me if these three butterflies emerged from the garden hedge (well over 100 metres of 'natural hedge, including quite a lot of Blackthorn). Other garden species on the 14th were Red Admiral, Comma, Small White, Large White, Brimstone, Common Blue, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. The following day I added Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. Earlier this month (approx 2 weeks ago) I had a Painted Lady for just one day. 14 species for the garden this August (so far). 26 species over a three year period. (Dr Martin Kalaher)



Wednesday 20 August 2008


Three years ago I planted Hop in my tiny Peacehaven garden. Today it reaped the rewards I was seeking - at least four well-grown Comma caterpillars (Adrian Thomas)


The last outdoor event for 2008 was aimed at future Butterfly Conservationists with Sussex BC members running a children's event at Michelham Priory. I needed some moths to show the children so I enlisted the help of some Sussex Moth Group members who joined me on a wet and windy night in the priory grounds to run some traps. Despite being warned that the priory is haunted no ghosts (or Ghost Moths) were seen but trapping beside the medieval moat produced Bulrush Wainscot and a variety of China-mark species. The China-mark moths are unusual in that their larvae are entirely aquatic, feeding on water plants. Despite the weather over 50 species were recorded. Thanks to Steve Wheatley, David Burrows, Wendy Alexander, Keith Alexander (who was stung by a hornet) and Sam Bayley - who trumped Keith's hornet sting by swerving to avoid a deer on the A23 on his way home, his jeep somersaulting over the crash barrier through a road sign and ending up on its roof in a hedge. Thankfully (and amazingly!) Sam was shaken but unhurt - but broke his moth trap.

On the day of the event we were blessed with some sunshine. Neil Hulme gallantly lead two walks for the children and their parents taking 50 keen naturalists on a butterfly safari around the Priory grounds. Clare Jeffers held a story session and read a tale about a butterfly to a captivated group of children who seemed to know more about the lepidopteral life cycle than me. Throughout the day many children visited our stall and took part in some butterfly drawing and colouring. There weren't many big or colourful moths in the trap which I opened in front of the children in the morning but their delight as a Large Yellow Underwing took off to reveal its hidden colours and their excitement when Neil showed them the Large White caterpillars munching on the Priory's broccoli reminded me why we have braved the hornets, rain, deer and high winds for this event - and indeed all the other events throughout 2008's rather breezy butterfly season.

Everyone at Sussex BC would like to thank all our members - both old and new - who have helped and attended at our events throughout the year and have made it another memorable season - we look forward to seeing you all at our AGM on October 18th (Michael Blencowe).


A walk along the length of Frog Firle today produced a good variety of butterflies. 2 Superb Small Tortoiseshells, several Brown Argus, 5 Wall, lots of Common Blues, Chalkhill Blues and Silver-spotted Skippers were less prolific but still in quite good numbers. Also Small Copper and Small Heath as well as the usual Meadow Browns and Large Whites. Speckled Woods were also in good numbers. (Bob Eade).


News for Sun 17 Aug: On a walk around Marlpit Woods and Beckley Furnace were spotted a Silver-washed Fritillary, several Large Whites, 2 Commas, quite a number of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, 3 Red Admirals and 4 Speckled Woods. (Bill Daniel.)



Tuesday 19 August 2008

For anyone heading up north: After several years of lacking a web site, I am pleased to inform you that once again the North East England Branch of Butterfly Conservation has a web site - www.northeast-butterflies.org.uk. (Jonathan Wallace)

Sweat-free butterflying: For anyone else like me, who isn't inclined to yomp up hill and down dale to see Silver-spotted Skippers, there is a far easier way to see them. Park at Horseshoe Plantation, Beachy Head, walk through Belle Tout wood and look at them on the flat cropped turf between the path and the road...........there are loads. Once you've had a look, take the 1 minute walk back to your car, and drive to Weir Wood Reservoir. From the dam end walk the nice flat Millennium Path and look for the Brown Hairstreaks........there are quite a few there, most being around the corner of the dam and the line of Ash and Blackthorn going up to the woods. The hardest part is getting a windless day.....does anyone remember those? (Paul Marten)



Monday 18 August 2008


Female Brown Hairstreak at Pulborough RSPB this morning showing quite well and looking good despite the windy conditions again. (Bob and Matt Eade)


News for Sat 16 Aug: Ten people joined me for the BC outing to Kithurst/Chantry Hill on Saturday. The weather was quite reasonable in 2008 terms, but the early sunshine soon gave way to overcast skies. The strong SSE wind kept the butterflies grounded in all but the most sheltered pockets, but as is often the case, determination paid rewards in the end! After an exhaustive search we eventually located our main target - a fresh, female Silver-spotted Skipper. This was encouraging news for this 'embryonic' colony, as the only sightings made so far this year have been of single males. It was also very pleasing to see a female Wall (my first for this site), although she was whisked away on the wind before most got to see her. Other species included Chalkhill Blue, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Gatekeeper and Large White. Moths included Pyrausta purpuralis, Galium Carpet and Dusky Sallow. Roesel's Bush Cricket continues its headlong charge across the South of England - they were everywhere! We briefly 'potted' one so that all could see its characteristic, greenish-yellow 'inverted crescent' markings. Perhaps the thing that impressed me most on the day, was Heather's determination to complete the course. It might be impolite to mention a ladies' age, but apparently she was still 'bagging' Munros (3000'+) as she passed the octogenarian milepost - quite remarkable! Thanks to all that came along. (Neil Hulme)


News for Thurs 14 and Fri 15 Aug: The newly discovered site for Brown Hairstreak at Steyning Rifle Range has proven to be a reliable 'producer'. Following on from recent sightings, I returned to see 3 on the 14th and a further, very obliging butterfly on the 15th. Having watched this female laying eggs, sometimes the usual 'singles' but occasionally in pairs, I went on to RSPB Pulborough Brooks and spotted a male in the ash beside the path to 'Nettleys'. Good numbers of Wall (10 and 17) were still flying on the Steyning site. (Neil Hulme)



Sunday 17 August 2008


Had a rare sighting at today's Windover Hill event - some sunshine in August! I lead a walk up to the top of the downs joining up with members from the Kent Branch of Butterfly Conservation. Silver-spotted Skippers were abundant along the route - even being seen in the car park. The target species, Grayling, put on a great show and posed for the cameras. In Kent this species is found in low numbers and confined to coastal areas in the east of the county. At the end of the walk we were treated to a fly-past by the Red Arrows flying low over the valley on their way to the Airbourne event. (Michael Blencowe)


On Mill Hill in fairly windy conditions there were good numbers of Common Blue and a single Comma at Anchor Bottom, and at both sites the Autumn Lady's-tresses are already in flower in good numbers. (Dave and Pen Green)


News for Sat 16 Aug: I spent a couple hours wandering in Friston Forest. Saw 20-30 Red Admirals in various places, mostly on hemp agrimony, and a couple of Peacocks with them (but no Small tortoiseshells or Painted ladies, which I have seen the past couple of years). Also about 10 Speckled Woods looking very fresh 'chocolate and cream' in a group together. Lots of Meadow Browns and several Gatekeepers. As I returned to the car park down the gallop slopes I was very pleased to see that there are still hundreds of Chalkhill Blues, despite the torrential rain, and several 'very blue butterflies', one at least was an Adonis. (Susan Suleski)


News for Fri 15 Aug: On Friday evening our trap caught only 21 species of macro moth including our first Yellow-barred Brindle. Other moths included Marbled Green 2, Marbled Beauty 2, Cabbage Moth, Turnip Moth, Straw Underwing, Straw Dot, Flame Shoulder 4, Double-striped Pug 2, Lime-speck Pug, Willow Beauty 9 and one Buff Ermine. We also caught our first Pyralis Farinalis and other micros included 2 Mother of Pearl and a Garden Pebble. (Dave and Pen Green)


More news for Fri 15 Aug: Friday afternoon I decided to go up to Butts Brow/Coombe Hill to watch the airshow. At the Grayling event, Butts Brow had been mentioned as a possible Grayling sight, so while I waited for the Red Arrows, I criss-crossed the area looking for them - sadly, no luck. However, I did see one Silver-spotted Skipper, which I had learned how to identify at the Grayling hunt last week. It was in an area where a couple of weeks ago I saw many (10-20?) 'orange skippers' so I now wonder if they might also have been Silver-spotted Skippers. They were on the slopes facing Willingdon, near the old quarry. Also saw lots of Meadow Browns and about 5 each Common Blue and Gatekeepers. (Susan Suleski)



Saturday 16 August 2008


Not much to report on the Sussex butterfly front. I have made three visits to Ifield and have yet to see a Brown Hairstreak. However on 8th August my Crawley porch light was visited by a Marbled Beauty. (Vince Massimo)


News for Fri 15 Aug: Good to see a Small Tortoiseshell, together with a Speckled Wood, Male and Female Common Blue and numerous Small and Large Whites in my Seaford garden. (Roy Neeve)



Wednesday 13 August 2008


It really shouldn't be like this! In between two of todays biblical downpours I managed to go for half an hour walk along the 'Camberwell Alley' area of Friston Forest - dodging falling branches as I went. I was curious to see what butterflies actually do in these adverse conditions. The 20+ Meadow Browns I saw were trying to warm-up in the sun in the more sheltered spots in the ride. A stroll through the long grass disturbed 2 Gatekeepers, a Rush Veneer and 2 Common Blues and a surprisingly fresh-looking Dark Green Fritillary which settled on the sheltering underside of a leaf high in a sycamore. It wasn't long until I found out what it was hiding from - yet another heavy downpour which sent me running back home. I'm starting to have fond memories of the summer of 2007 - at least it wasn't this windy. (Michael Blencowe)


News for Weds 6 Aug: Plant hunting at Long Down and Wigden's Bottom near Eastbourne. Not really counting butterflies but hundreds of Common Blue, at one point there were so many on the herbage my companion and I thought at first they were plants with blue flowers in full bloom. Hundreds of Meadow Brown, Gatekeepers. Two Small Tortoiseshell. No Grayling though I did keep an eye out for them. (Roy Wells)



Tuesday 12 August 2008


Last night's moth trap in Ringmer necessitated early rising as heavy rain arrived at 3.40 am. There were 26 macros and 10 micros with Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (42) dominating plus White-point (3), Clay (2), Pale Prominent, Orange Swift, Ear Moth, Small Square Spot (3), Dot Moth, Brimstone (6), Willow Beauty (2), Large Yellow Underwing (5), Common Rustic (13), Straw Dot (3), Flame Shoulder (6), Spectacle (4), Shuttle-shaped Dart (3), Set Heb Ch (4), Single-dotted Wave, Common Footman,Purple Clay, Small Waved Umber, Common Carpet, Knot Grass, Coxcomb Prominent, Common Pug and Maple Pug. Micros included Endotricha flammealis, Pyrausta aurata, Ostrinia nubilalis and Evergestis forficalis. (John Luck)


Sarah Patton sends in some more information about Langmaid's Yellow Underwing: "They became established as a breeding 'species' on the south coast for a while but seem to have become rarer again. Bad news is, that it is probably not a true species, but a subspecies of Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing."

Recent news: On 4 August, my neighbour and I had a Dark Green Fritillary land on the path by our feet at home in Battle. On 11 August at a friend's caravan at Rye Nature Reserve, we had a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the geraniums. (Bernard Humphrey)

News for 6,10 and Tuesday 12 Aug: Thanks to Pete and Sally Varkala for alerting me to the belated emergence of Wall at Steyning Rifle Range. Although most chalk grassland species are struggling here, this species is having a good year, as it is elsewhere in Sussex. On the 6th I recorded 14 (plus a Painted Lady) and despite relatively poor weather, we saw 'double figures' when I returned with visiting family members on the 10th. My nephew Tomas was particularly good at spotting the Wasp Spiders (Argiope bruennichi), which are very common here. This relatively recent 'invader' from the continent is now beginning to increase its geographical range, regularly feeding on the Roesel's Bush Cricket (which is spreading even faster!). But the most exciting news is the sighting of Brown Hairstreaks. I found a good number of eggs at this previously unknown site on the 1st January, so it was particularly rewarding to return and spot the adults. The first I saw, a pristine female, was sunbathing with her wings flat open, but just as I was about to get a very nice shot, the high winds blew her from her perch. I later photographed a second female showing off her beautiful orange spots, but this one was suffering a little 'wear and tear'. This morning (12 August) my brother and nephew returned and saw a male Brown Hairstreak at low level. (Neil, Tomas & Mark Hulme)



Monday 11 August 2008


News for Sun 10 Aug: Managed to see 2 Painted Ladies yesterday at Pagham Harbour near the Ferry channel, the one photographed was fairly washed out and tatty, the other fairly fresh, still numerous Gatekeepers on path to Church Norton, but looking very lethargic, Speckled Woods and Red Admirals were around also (Nick Bond) This is only the third and fourth Painted Ladies of August in what is a poor year for them so far - Ed

News for Thurs 7 Aug: Pagham Harbour: Trapped the reserve's first LANGMAID'S YELLOW UNDERWING (confirmed T. Freed) (Ivan Lang) Langmaid's Yellow Underwing is a rare immigrant from the continent, the first record coming in 2001, and people then getting their eye in and a number of records having been seen on the south coast since, often in July or August - Ed


Sunday 10 August 2008


Went to see the good numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers at Malling Down on the northern slopes, as per Crispin's transect records on 4 Aug, and it was great to see them spread so widely across the site, with many nectaring on Marjoram, sometimes two to a head. Perhaps 25 in total in just an hour walk. It was a fierce wind however, and cold when the sun went in, and noticeable by their absence was almost everything else, with the Skippers the third most numerous species after Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. (Adrian Thomas)

News for Sat 9 Aug: Our Shoreham moth trap contained 54 moths of 35 species including single Lime-speck Pug, Mullein Wave, Gold Spot, Garden Tiger, Silver-y, Straw Underwing, Early Thorn, Dark Swordgrass and Dingy Footman and 4 very battered Dun-bar. (Dave and Pen Green)

Recent news: The combination of outside light, rotten fruit and buddleia produced the following moths in my garden in Edburton over the last few days: Black Arches (which narrowly escaped being caught by a Spotted Flycatcher on release), Old Lady, Clouded Border, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Garden Carpet, Peach Blossom, Flame Shoulder, Orange Swift, Mullein Wave, Ruby Tiger, Willow Beauty, Large Yellow Underwing, Riband Wave, Nut Tree Tussock, Scarce Footman, Dingy Footman, Single Dotted Wave, Shuttle Shaped Dart, Straw Underwing, Common Rustic, Straw Dot, Mother of Pearl and Small Magpie + daytime Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Also in the field next to the house a few Walls, Brown Argus and the last of the Dark Green Fritillaries + 4 species of cricket in the garden (Roesels, Dark and Speckled Bush Crickets and Long-winged Conehead) and the first Wasp Spiders of the year (Tony Wilson)


Saturday 9 August 2008

Just managed to run a trap before heading off to the Grayling Festival on Windover Hill....resulting in 38 macros and 9 micros. Macros included one new one for us, Marbled Beauty (2) plus White-point (2), Campion, Brimstone (20), Gold Spot (2), Flame Shoulder (20), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (40), Dark/Grey Dagger, Ruby Tiger (2), Buff Ermine (3), Dark Arches (2), Chinese Character, Straw Dot (7), Dusky Thorn (2), Pebble Prominent, Burnished Brass (2), Common Rustic (15), Spectacle (4), Setaceous Hebrew Character (9), Nut-tree Tussock, Dusky Sallow, Sharp-angled Peacock, Willow Beauty, Magpie (2), Scalloped Oak (4), Orange Swift (2), Swallow Prominent, Common Wainscot, Purple Clay (2), Common Carpet (2), Early Thorn, Ear Moth (2), Garden Carpet. Micros included Mother of Pearl (9), Double-striped Tabby, Pyrausta aurata, Small China-mark, Garden Pebble and Light Brown Apple Moth (4). (John Luck)

Team Grayling out on Windover Hill today (Clare Jeffers)



For a species that flies mainly in August you'd think the Grayling would have the pick of the best of the years weather - but today the 'unsettled' weather conditions continued after a week which has seen lightning storms, flash flooding, golfball-sized hailstorms and a tornado warning issued to the Newhaven area. Despite the weather 23 members attended the East Sussex Grayling Festival event at Windover Hill today. After the customary illustrated Grayling lecture we headed up the chalk track to the hill - once there the team were carefully positioned around the valley for a meticulously choreographed survey of the area. Unfortunately anything flying today was being snatched up by the wind as soon as it poked it's antennae above the grass making identification rather tricky. Despite this an impressive 27 Grayling were seen - many allowing good views by doing what Grayling do best - sitting there in the belief they are invisible. Everyone had a good chance to become acquainted with this wonderful butterfly - and Susan Suleski was eventually able to find and identify her very own Grayling. Also seen today Wall, Silver-spotted Skipper, Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Small Blue and many Ochreous Pearl Mecyna flavalis moths. But at the end of the walk the rain started - and from our viewpoint on the summit of the hill we could see that it wasn't going to end any time soon - so we scurried back to the car park and all headed of to the Plough & Harrow in Litlington for drinks and conversation until 3. Thanks to everyone who came for their help and for making this another enjoyable outing despite the weather. (Michael Blencowe)




Friday 8 August 2008


Its been pretty quiet on the whole on the moth front in my Hailsham garden this year (nowhere near as bad as last year though!) - but at last this morning a new species for the garden in the form of a Webb's Wainscot. (Chris Ball)


News for Thurs 7 August: They've made it! A brief visit to the earthworks between Chantry and Kithurst Hills produced a male Silver-spotted Skipper, suggesting that the 'Parfitt/Hughes colony' has taken hold on this part of the Downs. This is where Alice and Pete discovered the species last year, after it had made a giant leap of 18 kms along the escarpment, from Newtimber Hill. Plenty of other lovely butterflies here, including a pristine Painted Lady. (Neil Hulme)

News for Weds 6 Aug: Trapping in my Warnham garden through the thunder and lightning storm turned out to be highly productive with 819 moths of 108 species. Highlights included 2 Mocha, 1 Leopard, 2 August Thorn, 1 Hoary Footman, 4 Straw Underwing, 1 Lime-speck Pug, 2 Double Kidney, 1 Dusky Sallow, 4 Maple Pug, 1 Diamond-back Moth, 1 Small Scallop, 1 Wormwood Pug, 1 Bordered Pug, 1 Pied Smudge (Ypsolopha sequella), 2 Chequered Pearl (Evergestis pallidata), 1 Pale Straw Pearl (Udea lutealis), a Bulrush Wainscot and the commonest moth was Straw Dot of which I had 166! (Sam Bayley)

Thursday 7 August 2008


A recommendation from Neil Hulme - if you got into Purple Emperors this year, then check out www.thepurpleempire.com for a slightly bonkers look at this most amazing species from some of the country's most dedicated Emperor devotees - Ed

News for Weds 6 Aug: I took four children up to Park Corner Heath to look for butterflies and snakes. It was a very warm and still afternoon and it was great to see loads of butterflies feeding on the tall thistles and bramble beside the track - species seen here: Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Comma, Silver-washed Fritillary (mostly very faded), Brimstone, Peacock, Large White. On the reserve proper were Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Small White. Five adders under one mat (children transfixed!), one grass snake and two slow worms. Lots of snake activity on the reserve at the moment. I get everyone to wear long trousers and proper shoes / boots (no open-toe sandals or flip-flops) and look where they're putting their feet! (Caroline Clarke)

News for Weds 6 Aug: With the weather conditions ameliorated enough to make a trip to Mill Hill, Shoreham, worthwhile, it seemed as though I have missed the main emergence of Chalkhill Blue for 2008 as the very poor showing of 43 (with one female) on the 1.2 acre transect on the lower slopes indicated. The maximum count in 30 minutes this year was 81, the lowest ever recorded since counts began in 2003. The highest count was in 2003 with a conservative estimated 375 but probably more like 750 in an acre. There were nearly as many fresh male Adonis Blues with 37 noted on the lower slopes. A fresh brood and frequent occurrence of Speckled Woods was noted in Buckingham Park, Shoreham. Sixteen species of butterfly were identified on an overcast day. www.glaucus.org.uk (Andy Horton)

Recent news: From the Pagham Harbour moth trap: Weds 6 Aug: 521 moths of 110 spp highlights included: Cydia splendana, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Delicate, Fen Wainscot, Marbled Green, Rosy Footman, Rosy Rustic, Ypsolopha scabrella, Bulrush Wainscot, Garden Tiger, Black Arches, Calamotropha paludella, Webb's Wainscot, Straw Underwing, Ingrailed Clay, Synaphe punctalis, Sitochroa palealis, Coronet, Dark Spinach, Dark Swordgrass, Maiden's Blush, Oak Eggar, Poplar Hawkmoth, Dewick's Plusia, Pearly Underwing, Rusty Dot Pearl, Rush Venneer and Silver Y. Tues 5 Aug: 221 moths of 70spp highlights included: Canary Shouldered Thorn, Channel Island Pug, Cloaked Minor, Cochylis flaviciana, Cydia splendana, Dark Swordgrass, European Corn-borer, Phycitodes binaeveia, Pyrausta aurata, Rosy Footman, Rush Venneer, Rusty Dot Pearl, Sharp Angled Peacock, Wormwood Pug, Shaded Broad-bar, Peacock, Orange Swift, Rosy Rustic, Poplar Kitten and Oak Hook-tip. The List for this year for the Visitor Centre Stands at 304 spp (Ivan Lang

Recent news: We have been trying to put our moth trap out two or three times a week throughout this year (weather allowing) and we are still catching one or two new species for our Shoreham-by-Sea garden most nights. Last night we caught 46 moths of 25 species including new for us single Marbled Beauty, Mullein Wave and Cypress Pug. We also had Marbled Green (2), Leopard Moth, Ruby Tiger, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Double-striped Pug and our second ever Phoenix. Recent additions to our garden list over the last couple of weeks have included Toadflax Brocade, Dingy Footman, Scarce Footman, Rosy Footman, Beautiful Hook-tip, Lime-speck Pug and Yelllow Shell. We seem to catch more moths whenever there is a little rain overnight and we are already up to 130 species of macro moths this year from our small suburban garden, far more species than we expected. (Dave and Pen Green)



Wednesday 6 August 2008

Holly Blue seen flying south along Sidney Street in the heart of Brighton’s North Laines today. (Steve Wheatley)

Halfway between High and Over and Bo Peep, the last steep path down the valley opposite the path from Seaford there was a fresh emergence of Brown Argus. At least 12 in a small area. Also on the same bank there were 10 Wall. 6 Wall also seen on the way to the bank so today's Wall total for the Frog Firle area was approaching 30. (Bob Eade).


The search for the Grayling continues....Today, armed with just a Chicken Balti pasty, I scaled the steep slopes of Mount Caburn near Lewes. Dodging paragliders I searched what looks like suitable Grayling habitat but none were to be found. The many sheltered valleys beyond Caburn looked even more promising and I weaved my way around every piece of bare ground and rabbit hole I could find. Plenty of Meadow Browns pretending to be Grayling - but none were the real thing. On the plus side good numbers of commoner butterflies accompanied me along my route and 10 Wall were seen. (Michael Blencowe)


A great morning around Frog Firle with very good numbers of Chalkhill Blues, Silver-spotted Skippers, Common Blues, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Also at least 12 Wall seen despite not visiting the best part of Frog Firle for these. Small Heath and Small White also seen as well as Peacock and Red Admiral. Lots of mating going on with several species. Female Silver-spotted Skipper seen egg laying. Also 1 Chalkhill Blue feeding on bramble. In the bottom corner of Frog Firle there were probably around 30 Common Blues including mating pairs. All in all a very productive morning. (Bob Eade).



Tuesday 5 August 2008

Remarkably, just a few days after our first Garden Tiger here in Ringmer, a 2nd one visited our trap yesterday evening. Total species were 39 macros and 4+ micros: White-point (2), Oak Eggar (female), Coronet, Pebble Hook-tip, Coxcomb Prominent, Copper Underwing, Iron Prominent, Rosy Footman, Nutmeg, Brimstone (6), Ruby Tiger, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (33), Dark Arches (17), Flame Shoulder (15), Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2 females), Magpie (2), Riband Wave (3), Knot Grass (3), Common Footman (4), Shuttle-shaped Dart (2), Spectacle (6), Common Rustic (13), Small Waved Umber, Gold Spot, Uncertain (6), Scalloped Oak, Dusky Sallow (2), Straw Dot (3), Buff Ermine (2), Red Twin-spot Carpet, Lime-speck Pug, Willow Beauty (3), Setaceous Hebrew Character (3), Large Yellow Underwing (2), Nut-tree Tussock, Turnip, Common Carpet and a potential Lesser Common Rustic (black with chalky-white kidney mark). Micros included Mother of Pearl, Small China-mark, Garden Pebble and Light Brown Apple Moth. (John Luck)

News for Mon 4 Aug: Also seen at Copsale yesterday but missed off original report was a Purple Hairstreak. (Bob and Matt Eade).


Monday 4 August 2008


At Windover Hill today (Mon 4 Aug), a single sweep on the ridge of the valley produced 13 Graylings. Subsequent sweeps put total at 20 to 30 but most may have been repeat sightings. Also seen, 5 Silver-Spotted Skippers and an Adonis Blue (M), among 12 other species. (Bob Coleman)

2 (and my first) Brown Hairstreaks at Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve - the first one was unfortunately caught by a Spotted Flycatcher about 30 seconds after I first saw it! Purple Hairstreaks also present. I also had great views of a couple of Graylings (also my first) during a brief visit to Windover Hill (both found on the South Downs Way approx 200 yards east from the Car Park on Wilmington Street). I can see why Michael Blencowe is so keen on this beautiful butterfly! (Darryl Perry)

It is the peak of the butterfly season when I expect to see the greatest range of species and sightings. Compared to last week at Malling Down, there has been a very noticeable increase in Silver-spotted Skippers, Common Blue and Chalkhill Blues. Adonis Blues just starting, no females yet. Loads of Meadow Brown. Big drop in the number of Marbled Whites this week, No Red Admirals.

Malling Down transect totals for (week 18) 4/8/08 and previous weeks totals in brackets:

1 Small/Essex Skipper (0), 19 Silver-spotted Skipper (1), 2 Large White (6), 4 Small White (4), 4 Small Copper (4), 4 Brown Argus (6), 34 Common Blue m (17), 4 Common Blue f (6), 73 Chalkhill Blue m (32), 5 Chalkhill Blue f (4), 4 Adonis Blue m (0), 2 Peacock (2), 1 Painted Lady (0), 2 Speckled Wood (0), 1 Wall (0), 3 Marbled White (22), 47 Gatekeeper (32), 455 Meadow Brown (217), 2 b (1),

Week 18 total 4/8/08: 676 sightings, 17 species. Week 17 total 25/7/08: 357 sightings, 14 species. Week 16 total 21/7/08: 214 sightings, 17 species Week 15 total 13/7/08: 124 sightings, 10 species



1 female and 1 male Brown Hairstreaks seen near Copsale this morning. The female appeared to be egg laying whilst the male was happy feeding on bramble!! Also seen were large numbers of Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. A Holly Blue was also seen. Before we left home this morning there was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden in Seaford feeding on lavender. (Bob and Matt Eade).


Second brood Wall seem to be doing reasonably well on Pevensey Levels. 21 seen today on the old A259. (Roy Wells)



Sunday 3 August 2008


It takes more than low level cloud and two angry bovines to deter Grayling Festival attendees. As Adrian mentioned I was joined by 17 others for this years Grayling hunt in the Wild West of Sussex. After an introductory lesson in Graylingology we headed out under threatening skies to Weavers Down & Black Down. There were no Grayling to be seen today but plenty of other interesting species such as Beautiful Yellow Underwing, Dartford Warbler and Bog Bush Cricket put in an appearance. But who needs Grayling when you have such a variety of cake! (Thanks to Clare, Helen, Hilary, Christine, Anna & Lesley). Also thanks need to go out to Alan, Pete and John who saved the rest of the team from the two most aggressive bullocks in West Sussex (while Neil and myself cowered behind a fence). The day ended up on the top of Sussex - at it's highest point; Black Down - an impressive area of heathland where, the warden reports, Grayling are taking advantage of recent habitat management - and where we took advantage of a plentiful crop of wild bilberries. Thanks to everyone who attended and made a grey Sunday such an enjoyable day out (Michael Blencowe)


Cake, Graylingers, and 'The Beast' (the camera angle makes it look much smaller than it actually was)



Well, what a grizzly, drizzly weekend, but congratulations to the 18 people who turned up for Michael's Grayling Festival on the very western fringes of Sussex looking to establish whether Grayling's still have a toehold here. In the wind and cloud, no Graylings unfortunately, and only a smattering of commoner species, and 14 Wood Lark, but wonderful camaraderie, heroic picnic catering from Michael and Clare, an interesting introduction to some of our lesser known sites (Weaver's Down and Black Down), and astonishing mountains of cake. I can only but recommend that you give next weekend's East Sussex Grayling Fest a try (Adrian Thomas)



Saturday 2 August 2008


A female Brown Hairstreak on the lower slopes of Cissbury Ring today - my first for the year. (Neil Hulme)



Friday 1 August 2008


RSPB Pulborough Brooks: Our first sightings of Brown Hairstreak for the year around the usual ash tree on the turn off towards Nettley's Hide. Two individuals spotted one of which was definitely male. One Purple Hairstreak and 2 Small Coppers in the same location. Numerous Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown butterflies around the nature trail and a handful of Common Blues. (Anna Allum)


News for Tues 29 and Weds 30 Jul: On Tuesday I visited Cissbury Ring to try and see a Brown Hairstreak, a species seen here by Mike Snelling the previous day. Congratulations Mike - I believe this is the first adult seen on a site previously only known from ova discovered early last year. Although it was probably too late (and windy) for me to have any joy, I was pleased to see 6 Wall. This butterfly seems to be having quite a good year on some sites. Dark Green Fritillaries are still here in good numbers, although looking rather tired now. Moth interest was provided by a fresh looking Oak Eggar. On Wednesday I returned to Newtimber Hill, with Pauline Richards from Hampshire. Pauline found a nice colony of Wall (5), although we didn't manage to work out where the females were! She also spotted a Silver-washed Fritillary, bringing the species count for this venue to 30 in two visits! (Pauline Richards and Neil Hulme)

News for Tues 29 Jul: A Dusky Thorn was recorded at a moth trap in chestnut coppice in Rother Woods. This first of the year was just one of many thorns recorded on the night – also Purple Thorn, Early Thorn, Canary-shouldered Thorn and September Thorn. Footman species were also extremely abundant. Clay Fan-foot was recorded on the night and has been recorded in all Rother Woods surveyed for moths in July. (Steve Wheatley)


What to look for in August

  • Butterflies: By the time July is over, every resident species has emerged at some stage already this year. However, what we have to look forward to is the second or third brood of many species. Reaching their peak in August will be Adonis Blue second brood, Brown Hairstreak, Brown Argus second brood, and burgeoning populations of whites. We also say goodbye to several species such as White-letter Hairstreak, Small Blue, Essex Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver-studded Blue and Ringlet .

  • Moths: Unlike the butterflies, there are many moth species still to emerge for the first time. Common garden species making their first appearance of the year include Lunar Underwing and Red Underwing, while Orange Swift, Shuttle-shaped Dart and Setaceous Hebrew Character begin to pick up in numbers and, by the end of the month, traps are beginning to be dominated by Large Yellow Underwings.


Earlier Sightings

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