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saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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Tuesday 30 December 2008


A quick check of my broccoli plant in the garden this morning and there were still at least 20 Large White caterpillars in situ. They are all now in their 3rd instar with many shed skins still visible and in minus temperatures they were moving very slowly and I did find a couple that had died. (Sam Bayley)



Sunday 28 December 2008



16 volunteers came along to help create butterfly habitat in Beckley Woods this morning.  We removed scrubby trees to widen a path and promote ground flora on a superb south-facing bank.  Grizzled Skipper, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary will benefit from the work.  The weather was excellent and high spirits were maintained by mince pies (from Wendy Alexander) and bacon sandwiches (cooked by Stu Cooper).  This valuable work is part of the Beckley Woods ride restoration project funded by BC Sussex Branch, Sussex Moth Group, the High Weald Sustainable Development Fund and Forestry Commission. (Steve Wheatley)


Steven Teale's premature Hebrew Character from 22 December and Bob Brown's Large White caterpillar from 23 December. (below)




Wednesday 24 December 2008


On behalf of the BC Sussex Committee (Clare, Caroline, Karen, Polly, Penny, Linda, Andrew, Bill, Dan, Adrian, Michael and I), our website photo-editor Bob, Regional Officer Dan, South East Woodlands Officer Steve and all recent BC Officers, I would like to wish all of our members and website visitors a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your support throughout 2008 and we hope to see many of you during our exciting programme of events for 2009. (Neil Hulme)



The run of recent warm nights continues to produce early emergent species. Along with the usual Winter Moths (3) last night (23rd), I had a Double-striped Pug. (Steven Teale)


Tuesday 23 December 2008

On visiting the Seaford allotments this morning, I found one small solitary Large White caterpillar happily munching away on cabbage in the very balmy conditions, estimated 50F , dry and no wind. It would be interesting to speculate why he was alone, presumably one of the eggs delayed in hatching (by about a month!) There was absolutely no sign of other caterpillars or of their detritus, nor have I seen an imago in the air since October. (Bob Brown)

Amongst the 10 moths of 4 species last night (22nd) in Newhaven, I was surprised to find a premature Hebrew Character, which I assume thought Spring had come early. The moth overwinters as a pupa with the fully-formed adult inside, so it is perhaps not so surprising that many of the early species that share the same strategy could make an appearance during mild periods such as this. Other moths this morning were Light Brown Apple Moth (5), Winter Moth (2), and Mottled Umber (2). (Steven Teale)

Friday 19 December 2008

Did somebody say December was a quieter time for moths? Last night (18th), between the hours of 17.00 and 07.00, I saw a total of 252 moths - by far my most successful night to date - and in December! Virtually all of these were seen while I was out dusking, when I saw 240 Winter Moth, 4 Northern Winter Moth, 1 Mottled Umber and 1 Dark Chestnut. Then, in the Skinnner Trap this morning I had 1 Light Brown Apple Moth, 3 December Moth, 1 Winter Moth and 1 Mottled Umber. The Winter Moth numbers appeared to be due to a mass emergence event, in which they were climbing from ground level up tree trunks and onto spindly twigs, where many were taking to the wing. Accidental brushes against twigs resulted in small clouds of disturbed moths - something usually enjoyed during summer months! This is clearly a gregarious species and I enjoyed a fascinating insight to their ecology while watching them last night. Anybody suffering with moth-withdrawal symptoms would almost certainly be rewarded if they checked their local hedgerows during the following nights, which are forecast to be mild. Look for spindly growth on Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Cherry-plum and you should find the moth, and possibly a few others. (Steven Teale)

Thursday 18 December 2008

Decided on the off chance to put out the trap last night and was rewarded by four December Moth, these were the first I have trapped here and after checking the records for the species discovered that they were the first recorded at Pagham, may be because no-one has trapped at this time of the year before! (Ivan Lang)

Would you like to take part in the national Garden Moth Scheme (GMS)? This is a rapidly expanding garden moth-recording scheme that measures the fortunes of our common moths - over 150 completed the 2008 recording year and we now have 6 years of records from some gardens! All you have to do is count the numbers of common moths you see in your moth trap, for one night every week from March to November. The list of moths consists of about 200 common species - those that are difficult to identify are intentionally left out. This means that the GMS is open to recorders of all abilities – you don’t have to be an expert, just get yourself a moth trap and field guide and you will be welcome! And to make it even more attractive to recorders the GMS now has its own popular website, chat-site, regular newsletter and annual report. For more info, check out www.gardenmoths.org.uk, or email Dave Grundy on dgcountryside@btinternet.com.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Last night (16th) provided an excellent example of how a decent December night can get the moths moving. I ran my Skinner trap overnight in Newhaven from 16.15 until 07.00. During that time the temperature started at 4C, climbed up to over 10C ahead of a weak band of rain, and then fell to 4C again in the clear skies following the rain. Ahead of the rain, the wind was virtually calm and this, combined with rising temperatures and damp air is perfect mothing weather in my neck of the woods. Before last night I had only ever recorded more than one moth in a December night on two occasions, and each of these were a grand total of two moths. With this in mind I was delighted to count 9 moths in and around the trap this morning: Light Brown Apple Moth (3), December Moth (5), and Winter Moth (1). Nothing spectacular, but a very welcome end to a sparse period. I have recorded 9 different species so far this month, including a Mottled Umber on the night of 13th, and two nocturnal larvae: a Treble Lines, and a plump Large Yellow Underwing larva searching for an overwintering site. (Steven Teale)

Tuesday 16 December 2008

My earliest ever Pale-brindled Beauty at Edburton today (last year earliest was Xmas Day) along with 2 Mottled Umbers and 4 Winter Moths (Tony Wilson)

Friday 12 December 2008

As it’s nearing the end of the year, here is an opportunity to look back at some of the wonderful BC Sussex events that took place in 2008 (Steve Wheatley)

Thursday 11 December 2008

Breaking news from the national Butterfly Conservation HQ: "Thanks to NFU Mutual pledging to match pound for pound money donated to Butterfly Conservation's 40th Anniversary STOP EXTINCTION Appeal, we have just passed the £100,000 target - an excellent result to help Britain's butterflies. Keep an eye on the national website for news of our 2009 Appeal: in conjunction with the Landfill Communities Fund we plan, not just to double your gift, but to multiply the value ten times over!"

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Don't get excited, these weren't taken in Sussex, but as they were taken by a Sussex person (see below), hopefully they might brighten up what looks set to be a grim weather weekend ahead - Webmaster

News for Tues 9 December: A lone Scarce Umber perched on our french windows early yesterday evening and was still present this morning....nothing at all in the trap. But this species is a new one for us. We've just got back from the rainforest in Panama and Costa Rica, seeing some exotic species of butterflies, moths, birds et al  including a Glasswing butterfly (above right), and a Rothschildia Silkmoth (above left) with a 5in wingspan (John Luck).

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Are you feeling the pinch of the credit crunch? Save ££££s this Sunday at the Park Corner Heath work party. Don't waste money heating your house - you'll soon warm up after a few hours working on the reserve. And we'll throw in a free mince pie for everyone who attends. We'll be undertaking a very important task this Sunday which has been three years in the making - one we hope will make a huge difference to the population of Fritillaries at PCH. So come and be a part of history (and get a mince pie) between 8:30 and 13:00 this Sunday. There are plenty of tasks to suit everyone. For more details contact Michael on 01323 423711 or sussexgrayling@aol.com

Monday 8 December 2008

News for Sun 7 Dec: 2 Red Admirals seen in Peacehaven today on a really cold but sunny day, both looking a bit tatty. (Bob Eade).

Sunday 7 December 2008

News for Sat 6 Dec: This is probably not a proper sighting because it was not on the wing, but it is the first December butterfly I have ever seen. During the week I was at my local DIY store in Crawley and noticed a familiar silhouette, incongruously perched on a pile of cement dust. It turned out to be a comatose Peacock which had probably been disturbed from its roost in a nearby pallet. As it was in danger of being crushed or swept away I picked it up and took it home. By the time I put it in my shed it looked lifeless so I laid it in a box and left it alone. When I checked it today it had perked-up considerably and was looking happy. It will now become my indicator of Spring. (Vince Massimo)

News for Thu 4 and Fri 5 Dec: The Avenue, Lewes. Peacock nectaring on the heather, and energetically flying around mid day. Perfect condition. I wonder if it is hibernating somewhere that heats up with sunshine. (Crispin Holloway)

Saturday 6 December 2008

In response to Bob Brown's comments about his Large White caterpillars, I also have seemingly very happy Large White caterpillars feeding on my broccoli in my Warnham garden. Also up until 2 weeks ago I also had Small White caterpillars which must have now pupated as they were much larger than the present Large Whites. Over the whole summer I have had Large and Small White adults egg-laying on this plant with the occasional Long-tailed Tit feasting on the eggs and once hatched into caterpillars the odd Coal Tit has taken the odd one. (Sam Bayley)

Thursday 4 December 2008

Large Red Admiral seen in Fisher Street, Lewes Town Centre, flying low and resting in various shop doorways today 4th December afternoon. (Sarah Akehurst)

News for Weds 3 Dec: A Red Admiral flying quite purposefully past some vegetation in a wild flower bank just outside my workshop window near Herstmonceux. It was very cold and bright and, amazingly, only+4C on the outdoor thermometer nearby! Possibly the coldest day yet that I've seen a butterfly flying anywhere! (Mike Mullis)

Tuesday 2 December 2008

The sad Cabbages and happy Large White caterpillars at Seaford on 19 Nov (Bob Brown)

Things have obviously gone very quiet now on the moth front, but there are a few of the little fellows still fluttering about. I ran the trap last night partly out of interest to see if anything was flying in these low temperatures, but didn't expect anything to visit - the max/min thermometer this morning read 4.7 - 0.1°C. My detrmination was rewarded, though, with a Scarce Umber, which probably goes down as the 'coldest' moth I've recorded to date. Other recent sightings include 21 Winter Moth seen over two days on 29th/30th November, a couple of Common Plume, one further Scarce Umber and a single Yellow-line Quaker. I ran the trap 16 nights during November, recording 82 moths of 21 species - not a bad return considering recent temperatures. (Steven Teale)

Monday 1 December 2008

Philip Bradford's lovely 3rd-polace prize winning Small Tortoiseshell in our young persons' photography competition - not an easy species to find this summer let alone photograph.

Conservation (and bacon) in action at Beckley Woods on 30 Nov (photos Michael Blencowe)

Sadly illness and weather prevented my return to the Seaford allotments until today to check the fate of the Large White caterpillars, when there was weak sunshine and bitter cold. A very few of the caterpillars are still on the cabbages etc., but most have disappeared. One of the neighbouring allotment-holders with a brand new shed and untouched young cabbage plants told me he had seen some caterpillars crossing over to his allotment, and they had got inside his new shed. They had then climbed up to at least 6 feet off the ground, before suspending themselves to prepare to pupate. How do they work that out? He wont give them chance though, they will be squijed in due course! (Bob Brown)

I have received an interesting e-mail from Simon Eade, a former horticulturalist and now gardening writer, who now has a blog worth dipping into called Garden of Eaden. Check out things such as his entry on how to make a butterfly garden - Webmaster


What to look for in December

  • Butterflies: Any record is a good record in December. In 2006, butterflies were seen on the wing on 11 dates, and on 5 dates in 2007, mainly Red Admirals but a Peacock too. With the Met Office predicting a cold December, expect even less this year.

  • Moths: For a very few moth species, such as the revealingly named December Moth, this is prime flying time. But you'll be lucky to get a handful of species.

Sunday 30 November 2008

Travelled across to Beckley Woods today to help Steve Wheatley and his work party in the Rother Woods Project area. We had an enjoyable and productive morning helping to widen a ride in the wood and create a south facing bank which will be an important site for butterflies in 2009. Steve cooked up some veggieburgers and bacon sandwiches to keep our energy levels up. I kept an eye out for Wild Boar - not because I was still hungry - but because this ride is obviously a popular hang-out for them and I'd love to see one. Maybe I'll have better luck at the next work party here on December 28th. (Michael Blencowe)

Saturday 29 November 2008

Recent news: Just Winter Moth (2) and Sprawler (1) visiting the Actinic light last night (28th), but still an improvement on this time last year, when all I recorded from mid-November onwards was the odd Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM). Wednesday night's (26th) effort produced 5 species: LBAM (2 - m&f), Common Plume, Common Marbled Carpet, Winter Moth, and Feathered Thorn (female). (Steven Teale)

Friday 28 November 2008

News for Thurs 27 Nov: More moths here in Edburton overnight - Mottled Umber, 4 Scarce Umbers and 6 Winter Moths (Tony Wilson)

Thursday 27 November 2008

Remember, the first 1st Rother Woods Work Party is this Sunday; all welcome. Use this link to see the wood and get directions. (Steve Wheatley)

In moth trap at RSPB Pulborough Brooks this morning were 4 Mottled Umbers, 1 December Moth and 1 Feathered Thorn. (Pete Hughes)

Wednesday 26 November 2008

News for Tues 25 Nov: I never expected to see any butterflies on 25 November as, although it was quite bright, it was very cold in Brighton & Hove. However, around mid-day my wife pointed out a Red Admiral fluttering above the shoppers and buses in North Street, Brighton. (John A Heys)

Bob Brown asks about late records of the Large White and the insect's caterpillars. While there is evidence that some migrant butterflies do undertake a return southerly flight to the Continent from the UK late on in the year, so far as I am aware the Large White is not amongst them - and during the past 150 years there have certainly not been any Sussex reports of such occurrences. The autumnal arrival of migrating Large Whites on our part of the coast is not unusual, although November flights are.

On the other hand, over the years there have been quite a number of records of the Large White's caterpillars being frozen to death during our winter - the species only successfully passes the cold season in the pupal stage. It is difficult to say exactly what low temperature will be needed to freeze these larvae as this must depend upon the concentration and balance of dissolved salts and minerals, and lipids, in their body fluids, and the efficiency of each of these elements as an anti-freeze; the higher the dissolved concentration, the more the freezing point is depressed. Having said that, as no Large White caterpillars are known to have survived our winter, even along the coast, the temperature can't have to be that low. At a guess, and it is a complete guess, I'm going to estimate it at minus 2 degrees Centigrade.

Bob Brown's determination of the exact fate of these caterpillars will be of some interest. (Colin Pratt)

Tuesday 25 November 2008

I find the response to my report on Large White infestation last week very interesting. I notice there were no comments though about "reverse migration" which I understand does - or did - occur with certain migratory species. A late influx of Large Whites from the continent would seem unusual, as I believe the reverse migrations usually were observed from September onwards. I will try to monitor what happens to the caterpillars which have survived the recent cold snap. Incidentally, how much cold can caterpillars take, before the water in their bodies freezes, and the ice crystals damage their internal organs? (Bob Brown)

Monday 24 November 2008

My thanks to Steve Wheatley for looking after the Sightings page while I was away recently. Now when you send sightings in you could be reaching me, Bob Foreman or Steve, depending on our movements, which will help ensure we have a really sustainable website into the future - Adrian, Webmaster

Plenty of new photos now in the Gardening section courtesy of Susie Milbank - just click on for the yellow flower symbol on this page or the home page.

Recent news: A few moths on my kitchen door in Edburton over the last few days - December Moth, 2 Sprawlers, Feathered Thorn and 4 Winter Moths (Tony Wilson)

Sunday 23 November 2008

News for Sat 22 Nov: 12.00 am, garden, Newhaven - Two egg-laying Red Admirals and five nectaring Large Whites, the latter almost certainly from a 'forced' brood. All surprisingly active in a sheltered hollow. (Dave Harris) I checked with Dave to see what he felt might have 'forced' the caterpillars - human rearing, or caterpillars that had found themselves a warm spot such as a greenhouse. Dave thought it could be either, but suggests that we all lock up our cabbages! - Ed

Saturday 22 November 2008

I'm not running the Skinner Trap during this icy blast of Arctic air, but that's no excuse not to be out there recording new species! Walking the dogs on these dark evenings allows the opportunity to scan the Ivy flowers using a head-torch for the occasional nectaring moth, and tonight I was rewarded with a species I have not previously recorded: The Satellite. A fresh-looking specimen, this had a bright orange kidney on each wing with two prominent 'satellites', the outer-most being the same shade of orange and the inner being plain white. A very pretty Noctuid - hopefully the first of many during these long winter nights. (Steven Teale)

Friday 21 November 2008

Some fascinating responses to Bob Brown's Large White caterpillar questions:

I was interested to hear Bob Brown's account of abundant Large White caterpillars on his local allotments in Seaford. This is really very late for the caterpillars, which are the progeny of a late season influx of immigrant butterflies from the Continent (large numbers were reported from coastal areas, including towns and cities such as Brighton & Hove). This species will happily survive the UK winter as a chrysalis. Whether these caterpillars manage to reach the point of pupation will largely depend on how advanced they currently are, relative to the remaining food supply and weather conditions over the next week or two. The main parasite of the species (the wasp Apanteles glomeratus, which forms the characteristic yellow clusters of its own pupae around the caterpillar corpses) will not have been around to decimate the caterpillar numbers this late in the year. Hence the survival rate will be unusually high for this batch of larvae. (Neil Hulme)

Bob Brown has asked several questions about the recent occurrence of 1,000 Large White larvae at Seaford.

First of all, such high numbers have been occurring in Sussex since at least 1853 and 1854, as at Rottingdean when "many of the gardens in this village have been infested with caterpillars to such an extent that the cabbages have been utterly destroyed". And again in 1868 they "swarmed" at Brighton, "to the destruction of almost every green thing". These days most commercial fields of cabbages and the like are sprayed with insecticide to prevent just such occurrences. The most recent report of similar numbers to those at Seaford concerned an unprotected field of rape at Rye in 1988.

Bob asks, "Why have the caterpillars survived but no predators?". The answer is that they are already carrying the seeds of their own destruction. Although viruses do sometimes cause significant losses, parasites are the most serious regular cause of premature death in the Large White in Sussex and these have been devastating to the population since the earliest of times. But the most prevalent species of parasite recently preying on this butterfly here - the yellow-cocooned Apanteles glomertus, and Compsilura concinnata and Pteromalus puparum - only come to notice when they burst out from their hosts when the larvae is full-grown or freshly pupated. The small number of caterpillars to escape their attentions overwinter in the pupal stage and emerge the following spring. While no doubt the parasite population ebbs and flows, it can be said that very few native larvae of the Large White ever successfully attain adulthood in Sussex due to these attacks - the vast majority of our butterflies come from the continent. The above information has been extracted from "A Revised History of the Butterflies & Moths of Sussex". (Colin Pratt)

Thursday 20 November 2008

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Photo Competition we held this summer for young photographers in Sussex aged 12-16. The First Prize went to Sophie May Lewis (age 16) for her amazing photo of a Brimstone butterfly nectaring at Bramble blossom (below)

Second prize  went to Anya Ormrod-Davis (age 12) for her Comma caterpillar, all spikes and contortions on a nettle leaf (below)


Third was Philip Bradford's (age 14) Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (digital version awaited)


Congratulations to the prize winners for such stunning images and to all those who took part and clearly enjoyed getting up-close-and-personal with some of Sussex's wonderful butterflies and moths.



Bob Foreman has just completed a 'splurge' on the moth galleries, adding another 130 images (the vast majority of which are "clickable" to show bigger versions) of which 15 were new species. Totals now stand at 1369 images of 608 species. Thanks, in no particular order, to: Matthew Sennitt, John Luck, Michael Blencowe, Mike Snelling, Vince Massimo, Anna Allum, Ivan Lang, Steven Teale, Tony Wilson, Sue Robinson, Dave and Pen Green, David Burrows, Jim Steadman, Aubrey King, Bob Eade and Sarah Patton for their contributions - and to Bob for all his hard work.

News for Weds 19 Nov: I was pleasantly surprised with the contents of my Skinner trap from the night of 19th: Light Brown Apple Moth (1), Common Plume (2), Winter Moth (1), Scarce Umber (3), and Feathered Thorn (1). The Winter Moth is a new species to add to my Denton garden list - the 200th recorded species! (Steven Teale)

Recent news: Over the last week I have seen upwards of a thousand butterflies at one single site in Seaford. They are all of one species, Large White, and only in the caterpillar stage. An area of the allotments at Seaford has effectively been ravaged by them. They have attacked cabbages, cauliflowers and curly kale (try saying that quickly!). The worst plants affected were Brussels sprouts - they ate all the leaves but left the sprouts! In all my years as a gardener I have never seen plants so effectively decimated, down to the stalks in many cases. It looks like the biblical plague. My question is: why now? Why have the caterpillars survived but no predators? And what is likely to happen to them? I take it Large Whites cannot overwinter. I always thought frosts or damp killed them off in the chrysalis, but the winters are so mild now it seems possible they could survive in houses or sheds. How long do the adults usually survive? (Bob Brown)

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Seen today on a stroll around Arlington Reservoir in the warm sunshine 2 Red Admiral and 1 Comma (Michael Blencowe & Steve Teale)

There were 5 Red Admiral at the Half Moon PH site in Crawley today. (Vince Massimo)

Monday 17 November 2008

Please note that the last date for receipt of orders for the fantastic 2009 Butterfly Conservation/UK Butterflies Charity Calendar (all profits to BC) is Friday 21 November. Click here to look at the beautiful images selected for each month and for details of how to order. (Neil Hulme) 

I was amazed to find another five Brown Hairstreak eggs today on a blackthorn I put in the garden last winter as a whip as part of a mixed wildlife hedge (Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham).  Just goes to show if you plant the right things the butterflies will use them! (Susie Milbank)

Brown Hairstreak egg on Blackthorn by Susie Milbank Brown Hairstreak egg Close-Up by Susie Milbank

News for Sun 16 Nov:  in my garden at Kingston near Lewes at around lunchtime 1 Hummingbird Hawkmoth passing through fairly briefly sampling various possible nectar sources without satisfaction, It was the one and only HBH I have seen this year. Also 1 Comma and 1 Red Admiral on rotting apples at same time. Brief sunny spells and a slight NW breeze. (John Holloway)

Sunday 16 November 2008

The mild evenings had me (yet again) unpacking the moth trap from its winter home in the shed. Not much in the trap on Friday evening (14th) although a Shoulder-striped Wainscot was of interest. The literature tells us this species flies from late May - late July although individuals of a second brood have occasionally been recorded in Sussex in late Autumn. I moved the trap into the middle of the nearby horsefield on Saturday night (15th) and recorded December Moth 2, Brick 8, Red-green Carpet 5, Dark Sword-grass 1, Yellow-line Quaker 2, Large Yellow Underwing 1 and Setaceous Hebrew Character 1. In Friston Forest today (16th), despite the grey clouds, there was a lone Red Admiral (Michael and Alan Blencowe)

The six species in my Denton trap this morning were: Light Brown Apple Moth (3), Common Plume, Double-striped Pug, Feathered Thorn, Scarce Umber and my first Sprawler of the season. Further afield in recent days I have seen a Small Skipper larva on Yorkshire Fog or similar, another Large Yellow Underwing larva on Sainfoin (both on Friday night) and a Red Admiral on the wing this morning at Brookside Farm between Newhaven and Piddinghoe. (Steven Teale)

There were no fewer than eleven (11) Light Brown Apple Moths in our Worthing light trap when we opened it up this morning. (John & Shena Maskell)

Friday 14 November 2008

The sun came out very briefly in Crawley so I dashed round the corner to my local suntrap just north of the Half Moon PH. Within a distance of 100m were 4 Red Admiral, each identifiable by different amounts of wear or wing damage. At this time of year this little area is at its best between noon and 1pm, and the conditions tend to concentrate any butterflies that happen to be around. The large amounts of ivy on nearby trees also serve as a good roost from which to emerge. (Vince Massimo)

The previous three nights (11th, 12th, 13th) have produced the following species: Light Brown Apple Moth (3), Common Plume (4), Red-green Carpet (1), Common Marbled Carpet (1), November Moth (1 male), Feathered Thorn (1), and Large Wainscot (1). I also saw two Large Yellow Underwing larvae munching on an unidentified plant in the back yard - one early instar and one final instar. The Red-green Carpet was a particularly dark specimen and a nice species to record in mid-November. (Steven Teale)

Thursday 13 November 2008

News for Fri 12 Nov: Fishing with Reg Hinks at Belfrey just north of the Boship roundabout on the A22 saw 3 Red Admirals but neither of us caught any carp! (Roy Neeve)

News for Fri 12 Nov: It was much warmer than the previous evening here in Ringmer, but just 3 macro moths including a Sprawler (below), which was a new one plus Feathered Thorn and Chestnut. Micro moths were represented by a couple of Light-brown Apple Moths. A Hawthorn Shieldbug flew on to the back wall early evening and was still there this morning. (John Luck)

Sprawler by John Luck

Wednesday 12 November 2008

In garden at Kingston near Lewes 2 Red Admirals and 1 Comma on rotting apples under a cloudless sky and light wind with a Chiffchaff in the background. (John Holloway)

In the east of the county 2 Red Admiral in Winchelsea, 2 Red Admiral in Rye and 1 Peacock at Northiam. (David Burrows)

At the Half Moon Public House site in Crawley, were 3 Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood. (Vince Massimo)

A Red Admiral fluttered over the twitten between Gordon Avenue and Nicolson Drive in Shoreham next to Hamm Road Allotments. It came as a great surprise to me to see a large yellow Brimstone fly over the top meadow (north of the upper car park) on Mill Hill. It flew strongly in the direction of New Erringham. Five minutes later a Speckled Wood fluttered amongst the long grass south of the Reservoir on Mill Hill. Two more Red Admirals were seen rising from the vegetation next to the the Pixie Path. (Andy Horton)

News for Tues 11 Dec: Last night was cold with a clear sky so hard to believe any moth would be able to fly in such temperatures but special ones do and the December Moth is very much in this category. One turned up in the evening and perched on the rear wall of our house in Ringmer. It was still there this morning. When I opened the trap I pleased to find 3 Silver Y Moths. (John Luck)

News for Sun 9 Nov: It was a calm, clear morning at Park Corner Heath today and a team of BC volunteers got to work coppicing the remainder of Coppice Area 3. After a few hours, as the last birch in the section was cleared the heavens opened and a hail shower sent us running back to the shed. During the shower we perused David Mortimer's new book 'Sussex Wildlife' in which he lists the Top 20 nature reserves in Sussex. It's good to see our little reserve is in there, taking it's rightful place amongst the county's finest. David calls Park Corner Heath "butterfly heaven" and goes on to detail just some of the species that make our reserve so special. After tea and coffee we ventured back and cleared and stacked the brash. A Red Admiral flew by to inspect our work and we also discovered the scarce micro-moth Acleris cristana, the Tufted Button.
Thanks to Dave, John, Andrew, Roger, Clare, Bert, Roy, Steve, Steve, Caroline, and Nigel for all their help. (Michael Blencowe)

Michael overseeing the work Final result - the bank is cleared

Sunday 9 November 2008

One Red Admiral in Newhaven today feasting on the last flowers of Buddleia. (Dave Harris)

Friday 7 November 2008

2 Red Admiral were seen basking in the sunshine just north of the Half Moon Public House in Crawley. (Vince Massimo)

On a long walk around Littlington/Friston Forest area a total of 6 Red Admirals were seen. The only other insect sighting of note were 2 Common Darters. (Bob Eade)

In the garden this morning at Kingston near Lewes a very faded Speckled Wood. On 4 Nov,  a Red Admiral on rotting apples. (John Holloway)

Thursday 6 November 2008

Good chance to see what the moth-ers have been getting excited about with these new photos.

Top row Michael Blencowe's December Moth and Feathered Thorn from Friston (3 Nov)

Bottom row: John Luck's Dark Chestnut, Green Brindled Crescent, and red-line Quaker, Ringmer, 4 Nov

News for 5 Nov: Moths in Denton amounted to five species and a total of 9 moths. These were Light Brown Apple Moth (2), Common Plume, December Moth, Feathered Thorn and Epirrita species (4), two of which were unidentified females and two were confirmed as male November Moths. (Steven Teale)

News for 5 Nov: Pagham Harbour. Acleris sparsana, Clancy's Rustic, Epirrita species, Lunar Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, Red Line Quaker, Shuttle Shaped Dart, Silver Y, Strawberry Tortrix, Yellow-line Quaker, Scrobipalpa costella, Angle Shades, Bearded Chestnut, Brick, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Large Wainscot, Large Yellow Underwing, Light Brown Apple Moth and Rusty Dot Pearl (Ivan lang)

Wednesday 5 November 2008

News for 4 Nov: Mothing continues to add to the year list with another two making this years total 370 species at Pagham Harbour. Angle Shades, Beaded Chestnut, Black Rustic, Dark Sword-grass, L-Album Wainscot, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Pearly Underwing, Red-Line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker (first for year), Large Wainscot, Lunar Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Feathered Thorn (first for year), Large Yellow Underwing and Rusty Dot Pearl (Ivan Lang)

News for 4 Nov: This week's warmer temperatures attracted a good variety of moths yesterday evening, totalling 32 macros of 12 different species. The main contributor was Feathered Thorn (11) reaching double figures and demonstrating its dead leaf disguise......several, upon release, heading directly to the ground and perching amongst genuine dead leaves. 3 new species were trapped including the eagerly awaited December Moth, displaying its subtle mix of greys and browns, a 2nd generation and possible immigrant Cypress Carpet and Dark Chestnut (2) which appears to be totally new for our area. Other macros were Brick (6), Yellow-line Quaker (5), Red-line Quaker, Green-brindled Crescent, Silver Y, Spruce Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet and November Moth. 3 micros included Light-brown Apple Moth and a couple of Tortrix sp (John Luck).

News for night of 4/5 Nov: 9 moths of 5 species. London Dowd (Blastobasis lacticolella), Light Brown Apple Moth (5), Common Marbled Carpet, November Moth (genitalia ID), Feathered Thorn. (Steven Teale)

News for 3 Nov: I had packed my moth trap away for the winter but last night was so, well, warm, that I snuck out to the shed and set my trap out in the field. As I stood there in my t-shirt it almost felt like a summer's evening but the calls of migrating Redwing high in the night sky and the December Moths in the trap reminded me that winter is just around the corner. This morning I was rather surprised by the number of moth species in the trap - better than some of my August catches! Yellow-line Quaker, Feathered Thorn, Brick, Angle Shades, Rusty-dot Pearl, Rush Veneer, Beaded Chestnut, Dark Sword-grass, Red-green Carpet, Green Brindled Crescent, Common Marbled Carpet, December Moth, Large Yellow Underwing, Pine Carpet, Double-striped Pug and a rather late Barred Red (Michael Blencowe)

Tuesday 4 November 2008

A trap run last night at the visitor centre, Pagham Harbour, was more successful than expected with 36 moths of 12 species two of which were new for the year bringing the total to 368 spp. Highlights were Blair's Shoulder-Knot, Spruce Carpet, Rusty Dot Pearl, Large Wainscot and Red-line Quaker. (Ivan Lang)

Saw a Red Admiral in central Worthing on Sunday afternoon, but more interestingly at about lunch time saw a white crossing the Kingsway at Hove Lagoon heading roughly towards the sea. Too far away to see what sort, but if it was a large white it was quite a small one! (John Heys)

After a few frustrating weeks of bright nights and low temperatures, I finally had a satisfying return in the trap this morning. 3 of the 11 species are new to my garden and two further species are firsts for the season. Catch as follows (11 moths, 11 species): Light Brown Apple Moth, Common Plume, December Moth (new), November Moth, Autumnal Moth (new), Scarce Umber, Willow Beauty, Turnip Moth, Yellow-line Quaker (new), Beaded Chestnut, and Silver Y. I was particularly pleased to be able to confirm 2 Epirrita specimens (the November and Autumnal moths) using my newly-learned identification skills - easy when you know how! (Steven Teale)

Sunday 2 November 2008

Peacock and Red Admiral, both at Ferring Rife on 27 Oct (Tim Freed)

Saturday 1 November 2008

Recent sightings: Sightings from Crawley in the past week have been: Mon 27 Oct: 2 Red Admiral, both around ivy in trees just north of the Half Moon PH; Tue 28 Oct: 2 Speckled Wood, one at the Half Moon site and the other in Broadfield Wood; Wed 29 Oct:- A Speckled Wood at the Half Moon and a Red Admiral on the edge of Broadfield Wood. (Vince Massimo)

What to look for in November

By November, things are very quiet, both for butterflies and for moths. The likeliest butterfly is the Red Admiral, which should be seen on any sunny, still and warm day - this is quite a recent phenomenon, and they now successfully overwinter in good numbers. Any other butterfly species is notable, the most likely this year being Comma. For a very few moth species, such as November Moth and Winter Moth, we are now into their main flight period, but there are sometimes a few late stragglers of other species too, and Plume Moths can still come to house lights.

Friday 31 October 2008

A Red Admiral somehow managing to fly through the chill at RSPB Pulborough Brooks (Adrian Thomas)

Thursday 30 October 2008

News for Weds 29 Oct: At Cissbury Ring there was one Small Copper and three Red Admirals and there was one Red Admiral in Lancing. (Susie Milbank)

Tuesday 28 October 2008

My wife and I took a walk from Birling Gap towards Holywell returning via Whitbread Hollow. We saw several Red Admirals, which do seem to have had a remarkably good season and 2 Large Whites. Lunch at Cow Gap was a must where we were pleased to see a Small Tortoiseshell flying past. On the steep climb up the most southerly part of the Downs to Beachy Head we encountered a Fox Moth caterpillar heading up the hill purposefully in the same direction. Our pace had slowed dramatically by this point so it may well have beaten us to the top. It's the 2nd Fox Moth caterpillar we've come across recently as we found one during scrub-bashing on Crowlink a month ago. The caterpillar is an attractive mix of dark brown and orange with white edging (John Luck).

News for Mon 27 Oct: A mid morning walk around Ferring Rife and East Kingston in glorious sunshine produced 13 Red Admirals, four Peacocks and a solitary Vapourer moth. (Tim Freed)

Monday 27 October 2008

A Large White and a Red Admiral seen in our East Dean garden. A circular walk around Crowlink NT produced two Red Admiral. (David Jode)

Just 2 Red Admiral on Buddleia 'Sungold' at Crawley Down (Jonathan Ruff)

I often report moths attracted to my outside light in Edburton - tonight there was a late Common Wainscot, Common Marbled Carpet and a Chestnut. My only neighbour was away and his house was surrounded by wall lights so I decided to have a look and concluded that I need more lights! His house had attracted Cypress Carpet, L Album Wainscot, Blair's Shoulder Knot, Red Green Carpet, 5 Green-brindled Crescents, 6 November Moths, Black Rustic, 5 Beaded Chestnuts, Chestnut, Sprawler, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Feathered Thorn, Mottled Umber and Common Marbled Carpet! (Tony Wilson)

Sunday 26 October 2008

With winter approaching (fast, according to the forecast), is there anything you'd like to see on these webpages to keep the site 'alive' during the sparse-butterfly-months? For example, would you like to hear what camera equipment people take their excellent photos with? Would you like to hear what visitors to these pages recommend as the best butterfly books to put on your Xmas list? Email the Sightings email address if you'd like to see these or other discussions.

Brick and Yellow-line Quaker, both on 22 Oct, Ringmer (John Luck)

Saturday 25 October 2008

A Small Tortoiseshell in my garden in Edburton on both 24th and 25th Oct and the best of the moths around the garden and outside lights recently have been 3 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Beaded Chestnut, Green-brindled Crescent and Rusty Dot Pearl (Tony Wilson)

Woods Mill today hosted a workshop entitled 'Identifying difficult moths by genitalia'. It was run as part of the National Moth Recording Scheme by Butterfly Conservation's Moths Count project, and was led by Jon Clifton of Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies. Eleven eager students attended and together we learnt some invaluable techniques for identifying moth species that cannot be given a definitive ID without close inspection. These included the Epirrita species, so I was pleased to confirm my Epirrita from the previous night was a November Moth (E. dilutata). The skills taught during this workshop will enable moth recorders to identify species with greater accuracy in future and will help provide a clearer understanding about the distribution and habits of moth species. Many thanks to Jon Clifton and Tony Davis for sharing their expertise and for providing a fascinating and entertaining insight into this field of study. (Steven Teale)

A single Red Admiral (our first of the month) and a trio of spiralling Speckled Woods graced our Worthing garden this morning. (John & Shena Maskell)

Thursday 23 October 2008

Comma, Peacock and Meadow Brown (all 22 Oct) and (below) Clancy's Rustic (23 Oct), all Friston Forest (Michael Blencowe)


I switched the trap on a bit earlier last night to see if anything was on the wing before the temperature plummeted. Within 60 seconds a Red-line Quaker flew in and landed on the back door - a new species for my garden. Nothing else had visited before 11pm but the cloud later in the night lifted temperatures and I found a few other species on the egg trays this morning: Yellow-backed Clothes Moth (Monopis obviella) (1), Common Plume (1), Willow Beauty (1), Beaded Chestnut (1) and Large Wainscot (2). (Steven Teale)

Wednesday 22 October 2008

At Hooe, a Painted Lady. (Roy Wells)

Painted Lady in Newhaven today - only my third for the year (Dave Harris) So that's 8 butterfly species today!

A pair of Speckled Woods were happily spiralling together in the sun over the course of 2 hours in our Worthing garden (John & Shena Maskell)

'Merv's brother (see 13 Oct to find out who - or what - Merv was!) arrived either last night or early this morning. He wasn't quite as smart as Merv as he flew into the moth trap, but at least he wasn't afraid to show himself as he perched at the very top, just under the glass.... unlike those crafty Large Yellow Underwings which hide away in the murky depths. Later he perched on my hand for a picture. Not surprising that Merv was voted the "Most Engaging Moth" by the Sussex Moth Group recently.

Still hitting an excellent strike rate with just the 9 moths, but 7 different species. Two new ones were The Brick, which appears to be a first around this area and Yellow-line Quaker, which displayed its abdomen well for a photo before flying off. The abdomen is strikingly striped black, cream and chestnut with a feathered chestnut tip. I thought this is where the Skinner guidebook would be of particular use, but the pictures were not sufficiently clear to check this out. I'm afraid I use the Waring book for all identification, which is doubtless heresy to traditionalists. However, most books concentrate upon the upper wings and ignore the colours and shape of the abdomen, which does seem rather an oversight. (Doubtless someone will correct me on this point).

Others seen were The Chestnut, demonstrating the large degree of variance in the colour patterns of this species but with the diagnostic rounded leading edge of the forewing, Beaded Chestnut, November Moth and Black Rustic (3).

Two Common Plumes were found perched in the breakfast room (John Luck).


Wow! A 7-species day in late October...unless anyone else saw anything else!

A 'Hike' over the Downs produced at Folkington - 2 Red Admirals, 1 Small Copper & 1 Large White. Windover Hill - 8 Meadow Browns & 2 Small Coppers. Lullinton Heath - 6 Small Coppers, 3 Red Admirals & 1 Large White. (Bob Coleman)

A Speckled Wood (in the nearby woods), 2 Red Admirals and a Large White, all at Nymans Gardens today. (John Heys)

Friston Forest. Took a stroll around the forest this afternoon. There were still a few butterflies out making the most of the sunshine and the dwindling necatar sources. Comma (5), Peacock (1), Red Admiral (1) and Meadow Brown (1). (Michael Blencowe)

Tuesday 21 October 2008

One Speckled Wood enjoying the weak sunshine in my Brighton garden. (Caroline Clarke)

Recent news: Large White in decreasing numbers were seen in our East Dean garden on
Saturday 11th October with a male Common Blue
Sunday 12th October with a Red Admiral
Monday 13th October
Tuesday 14th October
Thursday 16th October with a Red Admiral
Friday 17th October with a Speckled Wood
Saturday 18th October with a Silver Y
Sunday 19th October
and on the last date, a circular walk around Crowlink NT today produced  Red Admiral, 2 Speckled Wood and 1 Meadow Brown. (David Jode)

Monday 20 October 2008

A quick check of a dark corner at Kingstanding (Ashdown Forest) has revealed at least 17 overwintering Peacocks. (Steve Wheatley)

After 2 nights with an empty trap in our Worthing garden it was third time lucky with a stunning 2 specimens (!): Common Marbled Carpet and a Spectacle. (John & Shena Maskell)

Sunday 19 October 2008

News for Saturday 18 October 2008: AGM REPORT - If anyone believes that AGMs are necessarily boring, or at best 'dry', you should have been amongst the 58 that attended the Sussex Branch event at Scaynes Hill yesterday. I came away from this wonderful afternoon, having experienced just about every emotion possible!

Firstly, it was an opportunity for a number of our new committee members to meet for the first time. I will post an introduction to the new team and their roles in the future, but I can assure you we have enlisted the services of some very bright and dedicated people, who I am certain will continue the fantastic achievements of our predecessors. I'm really looking forward to working with them all. They immediately 'gelled' and despite an initial hitch with the projector screen, the afternoon ran smoothly. Thank you to all that helped out with the running of the event, including setting up the hall, providing refreshments and running the raffle.

Many thanks to Dr Caroline Bulman from BC Head Office, for travelling such a long distance to be with us. She gave us a fascinating talk on current, landscape-scale projects for various species of Fritillary. It is always nice for our members to get a flavour of what BC are achieving elsewhere in the country. Caroline is one of the 'bright stars' down at our Manor Yard offices in Lulworth, so we were very fortunate to get her, and I was delighted that she chose to stay with us for the whole event. Michael Blencowe then gave his talk 'A Year in the Life of the Sussex Branch'. It takes a rare talent to deliver a presentation that perfectly summarises the vast quantity of varied work that the Branch has undertaken this year, at the same time as keeping the audience in an almost constant state of laughter. It was a case of 'BC meets Monty Python', and it worked brilliantly.

It then came to the point in the afternoon where it was time to say a fond farewell and 'thank you' to some of our outgoing committee members. They have all made outstanding contributions to the Branch. Framed photographs were presented to David Pyle (former Secretary), Arthur McCulloch (former Field Trip Organiser and Publicity Officer) and David Dancy (former Memberships Officer and Treasurer). But the occasion was very much about Roy Neeve. Roy joined the Society 25 years ago and was a member of the National Council for 17 years. He served as Branch Liaison Officer for 3 years and has been our Chairman for 14 years. A remarkable achievement which is recognised throughout the country. I presented Roy with a photograph of the Silver-spotted Skipper (a species he played a large part in conserving when it was on the point of extinction in Sussex and endangered nationally) and a carp rod (a new hobby of Roy's). A further tribute to Roy was made by his close friend and former Conservation Officer/PCH Reserve Manager Graham Parris, who himself has made a huge contribution over the years. At times during the proceedings I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, and I suspect I was far from the only one in the hall. I would like to think that we gave Roy the send-off that befits his exceptional service to Butterfly Conservation, both within Sussex and nationally. (Neil Hulme)

Below: Arthur McCulloch, David Dancy, David Pyle and Roy Neeve with their framed photos in recognition of all their work for the Branch.

Pevensey Levels: A breezy day (isn't it always here) with sunny spells. 8 Red Admirals flying strongly in the breeze, 1 Small Tortoiseshell nectaring on Michaelmas Daisy in a sheltered spot and 1 Painted Lady basking on the road, a small specimen fluttering weakly and looking exhausted. (Roy Wells)

10 species in the 14 moths caught has to be an impressive conversion rate allowing the trap to be packed away before breakfast and getting on with the rest of the day. None of this poring over id books until mid-day. Now if we can only train the summer moths to behave in such a considerate manner...say just 1 Large Yellow Underwing rather than 150. Perhaps a word with the Moth Union representative would do the trick.

Anyway, back to the species trapped....some good'uns including 1 new one, The Chestnut, a fine autumn colour plus Feathered Ranunculus, November Moth (2), Lunar Underwing, Blair's Shoulder-knot (2), Beaded Chestnut (2), Black Rustic (2), Large Yellow Underwing, Sallow and Setaceous Hebrew Character.

I attended the Sussex Branch AGM yesterday which was most enjoyable - an opportunity to catch up with some old friends and be entertained by the presentations. Now if you are an after-dinner speaker what are the 6 words you least want to hear...... "You are on after Michael Blencowe". What do you say? "Am I? Do you know I believed I'm already booked for that date." Well done, Michael...wall-to-wall entertainment. An impossible act to follow.

If I can say on behalf of the "Dragonfly Lot", the branch are most fortunate to be in the hands of such a young and able bunch of people. No need to mention names as you will all know who they are. And of course the website is in a class of its own. It has certainly inspired me to do a lot more trapping this year (John Luck).

Saturday 18 October 2008

Just 1 Large White, 1 Red Admiral and 1 Comma on buddleia today at Crawley Down (Jonathan Ruff)

In the gardens at the grounds of Chichester Cathedral today there were Peacocks, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and a few Large White enjoying the sunshine. Also I spotted something orange flying at a distance which looked remarkably like a Brown Hairstreak by the jizz but it could have been just about anything really, possibly a disturbed moth. Do they have brown hairstreak in this area? (Susie Milbank) My instinct would be for male Vapourer moth, which in sunshine wander high and low without ever seeming to flag around shrubs and bushes - Webmaster

News for Thurs 16 Oct: Just 6 moths and 5 species was a good hit rate in Thursday night's moth trap in Ringmer with Blair's Shoulder-knot, Beaded Chestnut (2), Black Rustic, Red-line Quaker and Lunar Underwing (John Luck).

Friday 17 October 2008

Despite the pleasant sunshine, just one butterfly in the Brighton Pavilion Gardens this lunchtime, a male Large White. Now one Large White might not normally be exciting enough to report, but we're getting late in the season now, and you never know when the last of the year for each species will be found. Hope to see many of you at the AGM tomorrow afternoon - and, if you're undecided, remember it is much much more enjoyable than the three letters 'AGM' would suggest! (Adrian - webmaster)

Thursday 16 October 2008

Despite catching only 15 moths last night, a Clancy's Rustic made it worthwhile - this made Pagham's year list at the visitor centre 363 species. Other species trapped were Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Lunar Underwing, Red-green Carpet, Red-lined Quaker, Rusty-dot Pearl, White-point, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Beaded Chestnut and Mallow. (Ivan Lang)

News for Weds 15 Oct: Contents of the light trap for the night of 15th included another Clancy's Rustic and a couple of firsts for the year: Green-brindled Crescent and Large Wainscot. The remaining visitors were: Light Brown Apple Moth, Common Plume, Large Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic and Feathered Ranunculus - all one of each. (Steven Teale)

News for Tues 14 Oct: I had one of these Western Conifer Seed Bugs (Leptoglossus occidentalis) on my outside window in Lancing ,West Sussex. It arrived at about 2pm and was still wandering slowly up and down the glass at 6pm. I looked at it with a magnifying glass because it looked so alien (especially as one of its large back legs was missing!).I  was beginning to think I imagined it until I saw the report on your great site. (Gary Lane) In the wake of records as far afield as Kendal, the following message was sent to the UK Moths Yahoo group this week: "If you do come across this handsome bug in traps or otherwise over the coming weeks please drop me a line. An image to support your record would also be greatly appreciated. stuart@hine5.wanadoo.co.uk"

Wednesday 15 October 2008

The rain was a-pouring and the wind was a-blowing but I walked around Park Corner Heath at midday today and added about 40 moth species to the 2008 PCH moth list. My secret weapon was Bob Palmer who knows an awful lot about leaf mines. Many species of micro-moth have larvae which feed inside leaves and are restricted to certain host plants. The shape of the mines (gallery or blotch) and the patterns of the droppings (frass) can be diagnostic and with a bit of practice you can use these patterns to identify which micro caterpillars are munching away inside the leaf. Thanks to Bob for showing me the hidden world of Leaf Miners on the reserve. For an introduction to Leaf Mining come along to the next Sussex Moth Group meeting on Nov. 19th (see Events) when Tony Davies is giving a talk on 'A Beginners guide to Leaf Mines'. (Michael Blencowe)

News for Tues 14 Oct: A huge "thank you" to the Environment Agency staff at the Regional HQ Office in Worthing, for helping out with valuable habitat management work on the Downs near Amberley. Shelley, Jackie, Christine, Rosemary, Gordon, James, Peter and Martin did a great job in pulling invasive Hemp Agrimony from the site, bolstered by a good lunch at the scenic 'Sportsman's Inn'. Thank you to BC member Julie Hinman for organising the event. Unfortunately she couldn't join us after sustaining a pre-work party gardening injury! (Neil Hulme)

News for Sun 12 Oct: Many thanks to Colin Knaggs for taking part in the national Sturmia bella survey. He collected 32 Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars from his local Ferring Rife and bred them through, in order to determine the percentage attacked by this parasitoid tachinid fly. Colin left the healthy pupae in my care, as he was due to be away from home for a while. I will let Colin recount the details of his mini scientific study when he returns and has the results of the parasitoid analysis from the University of Oxford. But this left me with the joy of releasing healthy adults back onto the Rife. Once the adults had emerged from their beautiful, metallic chrysalides, I gave them a pre-hibernation feast of 'five portions' of fruit. (Neil Hulme and Colin Knaggs)

Tuesday 14 October 2008

RSPB Pulborough Brooks moth trap: A couple of rather splendid moths supplemented our regular autumn crowd of Pine, Grey Pine and Red-green Carpets, Chestnuts and Sallows in last night's moth trap. We had beautifully marked Satellite and Spruce Carpet, a battered looking male Four-spotted Footman and a fantastic Dotted Chestnut (below) - my first one and only the third record for the reserve. (Anna Allum and Pete Hughes)

A bit after the Lord Mayor's Show perhaps with just 6 macros, the best being a fine Green-brindled Crescent. Surprising to see a 2nd generation Swallow-tailed Moth and 3rd generation Double-striped Pug. Other macros were November Moth (2), Setaceous Hebrew Character (2) and Lunar Underwing (2). A single Plume Moth species being the only Micro (John Luck)

Recent News: Pagham Harbour sightings:
13 Sept: Angle Shades, Black Rustic, Chestnut, Emmelina mondactyla, Large Wainscot, Large Yellow Underwing, Red Lined Quaker, Silver Y, Spectacle, Strawberry Tortrix, Vine's Rustic, White-point, Barred Sallow, Autumnal Moth, L-Album Wainscot, Sallow, Square-spot Rustic, Green Brindled Crescent, Lunar Underwing, Mallow, Rusty Dot Pearl, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Bearded Chestnut
12 Sept: Acleris sparsana, Cochylimorpha straminea, Common Marbled Carpet, Delicate, Dewick's Plusia, Dusky-lemon Sallow, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, Rosy Rustic, Shuttle Shaped Dart, Silver Y, Strawberry Tortrix, Vine's Rustic, Merveille du Jour, Epirrta spp, Feathered Rannunculus, Mottled Umber, Caloptilia elongella, Black Rustic, Large Wainscot, Straw Dot, White-point, Red Lined Quaker, Light Brown Apple Moth, Mallow, Sallow, Square-spot Rustic, L-Album Wainscot, Lunar Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Bearded Chestnut and Rusty Dot Pearl.
09 Sept: Common Wainscot, Dark Spectacle, Dewick's Plusia, Double-Stripped Pug, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Light Brown Apple Moth, Rhomboid Tortrix, Silver Y, Small Square Spot, Straw Dot, Turnip Moth, White-point, Red Green Carpet, Chestnut, Delicate, Large Wainscot, Pink-barred Sallow, Shuttle Shaped Dart, Vine's Rustic, Angle Shades, Sallow, L-Album Wainscot, Black Rustic, Square-spot Rustic, Mallow, Large Yellow Underwing, Rusty Dot Pearl, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lunar Underwing and Bearded Chestnut.
08 Sept: Delicate, Large Wainscot, Pink-barred Sallow, Silver Y, Turnip Moth, Vine's Rustic, Sallow, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic, Angle Shades, L-Album Wainscot, Large Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, Mallow, Bearded Chestnut and Lunar Underwing
 (Ivan Lang)

News for Sat 11 Oct:You may recall that on the night of 11th October I recorded a Bug of some sort. I have now identified it as a Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis - below). It belongs to the Coreidae family of Hemiptera and is native to North America, where it is a pest of trees such as Lodgepole Pine. It was introduced to Italy in 1999 amongst shipments of timber from North America and has since spread across Europe, arriving in the UK in 2007, where it was recorded at Weymouth College. This first recording was made early in the year, which may lead to suggestions that it is able to overwinter here. At least two other sightings have been made in recent weeks, both in Kent. These sightings are all likely to be migrants. The species is described as a public nuisance that will invade houses in large numbers when searching for suitable overwintering sites, evoking images of the Harlequin Ladybird. However, with the WCSB measuring in at up to 20mm, those Harlequins look the better option! (Steven Teale)

Monday 13 October 2008

Clancy's Rustic, Newhaven (Steven Teale) and Merv, partying and alone, Ringmer (John Luck)

Last night's visitors to the Actinic light in Newhaven included my first Clancy's Rustic and the second Four-spotted Footman in recent nights. I also had my first couple of Epirrita species of the season - a reminder that the recent warm nights will not last forever! The Clancy's Rustic has been reported in recent weeks from Sussex (23rd Sept at Friston), Cornwall (25th Sept), Kent (11th Oct, when four were trapped) and now again in Sussex. For those interested in how species respond to climate change, the Clancy's Rustic would be an interesting study: first recorded in 2002, it is predicted to become a colonist of these shores in future years. (Steven Teale)

It was celebrations all the way this evening with the arrival of "Merv" in last night's trap or to give him his full name Merveille du Jour… our 200th macro moth and in pristine condition. In fact he was too smart to be caught in the trap and waited nearby under the french window-sill. Now there are moths and there are MOTHS and this one is certainly the latter variety if you understand my meaning. A very friendly moth similar to the Buff-tip with remarkable energy. Whereas the Buff-tip is quite happy to sit on your finger, this chap was crawling all over your hand within two seconds. So we told him to chill out for a few hours until the celebrations this evening. Promptly at 6pm, champagne and oysters were served - well that was the least we could do - and Merv just laid there and continued to chill out. It really should have been the Krug, but we appeared to have run out. Anyway perhaps he'll forgive us as it was a very enjoyable evening. Merv was in very good company as he was one of 4 new ones - also present were Feathered Ranunculus (described as Local and mainly coastal), Red-line Quaker and November Moth (4, needs gen id to be sure so placed under the commoner of the species - in a mere 23 macros totalling 14 species: other prime moths were Red Underwing, Barred Sallow, Sallow, Black Rustic (2), Large Yellow Underwing (5), Common Marbled Carpet, Beaded Chestnut, Shuttle-shaped DartSetaceous Hebrew Character (2) and Lunar Underwing. Micros were represented by a single Nomophila noctuella (Rush Veneer) (John Luck)

News for Sun 12 Oct: Crawley Down, two Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Red Admiral and 2 Large White on buddleia. (Jonathan Ruff)

Sunday 12 October 2008

Volunteers hard at work coppicing at Park Corner Heath. (Michael Blencowe)

It was a misty start to the first Work Party of the season at Park Corner Heath today - but when the fog finally cleared it revealed 16 volunteers hard at work coppicing area 3 of our 12 year coppice cycle. With bow-saws and loppers in hand they attacked the dense, dark birch scrub and when the sun finally burnt through the fog at midday it shone down on an area of the reserve that hasn't seen the sunlight since 1996. A big thank you to Dave, Dave, Bert, Bob, Lucas, Nigel, Carol, Mike, Liz, Clare, Keith, Wendy, John, Andrew & Roy. Seen on the reserve today Brimstone, Red Admiral, Comma, Large White, Speckled Wood and Vapourer and Feathered Thorn. The next work party will be on November 9th. (Michael Blencowe) 

Arguably one of the finest days of weather this year brought the butterflies out in numbers again today. On the Downs between Denton (Newhaven) and Norton (Bishopstone) this afternoon I saw: Large White (11), Small White (2), Red Admiral (17), Peacock (2), Comma (4), Speckled Wood (2), Meadow Brown (4) and Small Heath (1). I also saw 2 Silver Y and clouds (many hundreds) of Harlequin Ladybirds on the wing. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of my first Clouded Yellow of the year after the recent report from Pagham, but no luck. Moths visiting the Skinner Trap have been underwhelming of late, but this is not surprising given the clear nights and bright waxing moon. Nothing worth reporting other than a few migrants, including a L-album Wainscot (8th), Silver Y (9th) and an as yet unidentified Capsid Bug last night (11th). (Steven Teale)

Garden butterflies over the weekend of 11/12 Oct here at Edburton were Small Copper, 2 Commas, 5 Red Admirals and 8 Large Whites.  On the subject of Harlequin Ladybirds there were 600 on the south and west facing walls of my house on 12th.  Last year there were 400+ on 14 Oct and in 2006 50 on 29 Oct.  I first recorded them in January 2005 which were some of the first records for Sussex showing how quickly they have increased.  Last year I found a few in northern France around this time so they may well come from there. (Tony Wilson)

Harlequin Ladybird, Edburton, stuck in a spiders web. (Tony Wilson)

News for Sat 11 Oct: Whilst picking blackberries this week (near Cuckfield) I came across these two individuals (below), so intent on their feast that I was able to observe them very closely indeed. Luckily there were plenty of blackberries to go around. (Helen Crabtree)

Left, Commas, Cuckfield, Saturday. (Helen Crabtree) and Right, Wall, Crawley, Saturday, (Vince Massimo)

Saturday 11 October 2008

A Clouded Yellow apparently egg-laying in the clover/grass field adjacent to Bremere Rife, Pagham Harbour, this morning. (per SOS website)

Two Speckled Woods, three Small Heaths, a Small Copper and a few more distant whites at Horseshoe plantation near Birling Gap this morning. Also a lot of keen twitchers looking for a yellow-browed warbler, unless they were having me on! (John A Heys)

News for Fri 10 Oct: 3 Large White (2M, 1F) and a male Small White were attracted to the Buddleia in my Crawley garden. (Vince Massimo)

News for Thurs 9 Oct: A total of 6 species in Crawley today. Broadfield Pond produced 2 Large White, 1 Comma and a Red Admiral. There was also a Red Admiral and 2 Speckled Wood at a nearby site just north of the Half Moon PH. My garden Buddleia is still flowering and attracted 5 Large White males, 2 Comma and a fresh looking male Green-veined White. However the surprise of the day was found fluttering around in my greenhouse. It was a pristine Wall female which looked like it had just hatched. It was the first I had ever seen in this area (Vince Massimo)

Friday 10 October 2008

News for Thurs 9 Oct: At High and Over yesterday was a Wall in pretty good condition. Also a few Large Whites and Speckled Woods flying. (Bob Eade).

At the AGM on Saturday 18 October, we will be allowing some time in the proceedings to show your photographs. If you would like to present your favourite Butterfly and Moth photos of 2008 (maximum of 10 photos) please bring your discs and USB sticks to the AGM and we will load them onto the projector. (Michael Blencowe)

Thursday 9 October 2008

A circular walk around Crowlink N.T. today produced Red Admiral (10), Speckled Wood (9), Large White (7), Comma (4), Small Heath (3), Peacock (1), Meadow Brown (1). (Carole & David Jode)

Surprised to see a Small Tortoiseshell on the buddleia today in Crawley Down, there seems to have been few around here this year. Also 1 Small White and 2 Large White. (Jonathan Ruff)

Holly Blue in Brighton's Pavilion Gardens today (Adrian Thomas)

Kingston Nr Lewes E Sussex: The annual Harlequin Ladybird influx is with us. In 2006 on 29 October hundreds of Harlequin Ladybirds flew in at about 2.00pm and covered most south-facing surfaces on our house, greenhouse, shed and tree trunks. In 2007 on 11, 12 and 13 October large numbers arrived early afternoon, on three successive days. This year, 2008, they arrived on 8 October also at about 2.00pm. Not as many today as in last two years, I counted 35 in the small glazed porch and about 15 in each of three south-facing rooms where fanlight windows had been open. With similar weather forecast for tomorrow it is likely that more will arrive. In each of the three years the weather conditions have been similar, slight S or SW wind, hazy sun. Presumably they are coming up from France. Is anybody recording them there? They seem to search for suitable hibernating sites soon after arriving but become active again on warm days. In 2006 and 2007 a family member's house in Lewes, two miles away, was similarly invaded. This ladybird is a pest species which is increasing year by year. Records of sightings should be sent to: http://www.ladybird-survey.org/ where more details are available. (John Holloway)

Wednesday 8 October 2008

A lunchtime walk today around Poverty Bottom and Mount Pleasant near Denton (Newhaven) produced the following sightings: Large White (8), Green-veined White (1), Red Admiral (4), Painted Lady (1), Comma (6), Meadow Brown (1) and Silver Y (1). The Painted Lady was only the third I have seen this season - all in the same location, interestingly. The Moth trap in recent nights has had some interesting visitors, including some migrants blown in by the southerly winds. Highlights include Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella), Rhomboid Tortrix (Acleris rhombana), Cypress Pug, Four-spotted Footman, White-point, Blair's Shoulder-knot, and Rosy Rustic - all except the Diamond-back Moth being firsts for the year for me. (Steven Teale)

Sunny and warmish today on Duttles Brow near Jevington. Double figure whites and 3 Small Coppers on weedy arable. (Roy Wells)

Walked to Windover Hill on a warm, sunny afternoon. Plenty still about in the valley. Meadow Brown (22), Small Copper (8), Small Heath (6, incl. a mating pair), Brimstone, Large White and Peacock, 1 of each. (Bob Coleman).

There were two really bright Brimstones flying about at Old Lodge (Ashdown Forest) this afternoon. The "what to look out for in October" section on this website doesn't mention this species, so am I doing something wrong, or are the butterflies not reading the website properly? (Helen Crabtree) Minds of their own, these butterflies! Section now changed to accommodate them - Webmaster.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Not quite butterflies, but as many BC members enjoy a bit of dragonflying and damselflying too, it is well worth checking out the latest newsletter from the British Dragonfly Society Sussex Group. Beware - it is 6MB to download, but is a very entertaining read, and much of it penned by the county recorder who is very familiar from these pages, John Luck.

Sunday 5 October 2008

News for Fri 3 and Sat 4 Oct: Just 3 moths in our small Worthing light trap! Angle Shades, Lunar Underwing and a new one for the garden, Blair's Shoulder-knot. On Saturday a single Large White and 2 Speckled Woods were making the most of the morning sunshine. (John & Shena Maskell)

Saturday 04 October 2008

Common Blues Cissbury Ring Saturday. (Susie Milbank)

A quick walk today around Cissbury Ring turned up a few butterfly species. There were still numbers of Small Coppers, Blues, Meadow Browns and one Large White. There were still plenty of crickets chirruping and swallows doing acrobatics overhead. (Susie Milbank)

Large Whites visited my Crawley garden all week on any occasion when the sun poked out despite the wind. Today 3 of them managed to show up before the clouds came across. Also a Red Admiral trying to bask in a sheltered spot but failing miserably. (Vince Massimo)

News for Thursday 02 October:There was the faint bite of an autumn chill in the air on a morning of weak sunshine, and the butterflies did not emerge until near midday. At the northern end of the lower slopes of Mill Hill, three species could be seen resting on Devil's Bit Scabious and only later when the sun came out did many of the butterflies emerge in numbers and fluttered about so much that I could not be sure of the numbers. Meadow Browns were the first seen, counted at least eight, and then I spotted a female Adonis Blue with her wings closed on Devil's Bit Scabious followed by a closed winged Small Copper on the same plant. Then magically as it warmed up slightly, two Meadow Browns began courting, two out of three Small Coppers chased each other all over the bank, more Adonis Blues appeared with at least half a dozen of each gender, the females in good condition and the males mostly ragged and torn. A Large White flew over the straggly hedgerow. In contrast, the Common Blues were ten minutes later to appear, with at least five males, some in fine condition, with at least one brown female identified. The last species on the lower slopes was a surprise Brown Argus, with at least five pristine individuals counted. The scrub and middle slopes on Mill Hill added four Speckled Woods, two Red Admirals, two more Meadow Browns and another Small Copper. A faded Peacock Butterfly flew over the meadows at the top of Mill Hill, followed by another one and a Small Heath Butterfly. There was another Red Admiral on the Pixie Path, plus another one and a Comma Butterfly in the the Butterfly Copse next to the Waterworks Road. Two further Red Admirals were recorded in Shoreham town and the outskirts, with frequent Large Whites. Summary: In the weak sunshine, eleven species of butterfly were recorded from Shoreham and the downs, ten of them on Mill Hill where the lower slopes still hosted enough butterflies for a visit. Most notable was a new batch of Brown Argus (5+). Others were Adonis Blues (12+), Common Blues (6+), Small Copper (4), frequent Large Whites, Small Heath (1), Peacock (2), Red Admirals (4+), Comma (1), Speckled Woods (4), Meadow Browns(8+). (Andy Horton)

Thursday 02 October 2008

Looking for an ideal Christmas present for friends, family or to treat yourself? The Butterfly Conservation 2009 calendar, produced in association with the UK Butterflies website, is now available for purchase via the link www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/index.php. If you want to get in early, before the stampede, then act now! I had a small part to play in this, by helping to select the images (which can be viewed on the UKB site via the link above), and I can assure you they are absolute stunners. All profits go directly to BC, so get a fabulous calendar and help save our butterflies and moths at the same time. I've already grabbed a handful myself, as I want to keep one 'unsoiled' for posterity and the rest will be off to good homes before Christmas. (Neil Hulme)

Wednesday 01 October 2008

Well, I'm sorry to say it folks but that's it - Summer 2008 is behind us - and to be honest I wasn't that impressed. 5 months waiting for that wind to die down. And that bit in early August was particularly awful. So that means it's time to pack away your cameras, field guides and moth traps and come and join us for the Park Corner Heath Work Party Season. Every second Sunday in the month, from now until April, we'll be heading out to our reserve to get the place ready for 2009. There's plenty of jobs to suit everybody - we'll supply the tools - you just bring yourselves, some work gloves and food/drink if required. It's a great chance to get out and get some exercise, learn more about the management of our reserve and make a big difference to the conservation of the butterflies, moths and other animals that live there. This season we'll be moving on to clear section 3 of the coppice cycle, mowing and raking the plateau and paths and building habitat piles along the way. There's a BIG, IMPORTANT job that needs doing too - but I'm saving that until February - more news on that later. We'll be at the reserve from 08:30 on Sunday 12th October until 1pm - feel free to drop by when you want. (Michael Blencowe)
For more information contact Michael on 01323-423711 or sussexgrayling@aol.com

After a fair amount of wind and rain last night we were not expecting too many moths in the trap this morning. In the end there were 16 macro moths of 9 species with 3 Lunar Underwing, 1 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Beaded Chestnut and 1 Cypress Carpet. Probable/possible immigrant moths were represented by a Setaceous Hebrew Character, 3 L-album Wainscot, a Silver Y and our first Dewick's Plusia. (above) (Dave and Pen Green)

What to look for in October

  • Butterflies: Things now really quietening down, with just a few species clinging on. Of the hibernators, only Red Admiral and Comma are likely to be seen regularly, with Brimstone occasionally! Other species still on the wing, especially at the start of the month, can include Speckled Wood, Small Copper, Clouded Yellow, Common Blue, Painted Lady, Wall, Small Heath, but you’ll need warm days to see them!

  • Moths: Amazingly, some species are still just emerging, with others very much in the middle of their flight period. Watch out for species such as Chestnut, Brick, Satellite, Mottled Umber, Yellow-line Quaker, Beaded Chestnut, November Moth, December Moth and Winter Moth. Hummingbird Hawkmoths can still be seen on sunny days too.

Earlier Sightings

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