Migrant insect summary – mid November to end December 2011
Atropos migrant insect review – mid November to end December 2011
The latter half of November and much of December 2011 experienced unusually mild weather conditions and temperatures often above the seasonal average. This was a stark contrast from the conditions experienced in December 2010.
Mild conditions accounted for some very late Odonata records from the south of England. December records of Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum came from Sculthorpe Moor, Norfolk, on 7th and from Tucker’s Bridge Pond, Hampshire, on the 3rd – incredibly two pairs were seen ovipositing at this site. A Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta was still on the wing at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve, Somerset, on 3rd December.
The final record of 2011 for Vagrant Emperor Anax ephippiger was of one picked up moribund in Keresley, Coventry, Warwickshire, on 25th November. Mark Whittle found the poor insect lying on a pavement whilst out walking his dog. Not surprisingly this is the first County record.
Around twenty December Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta reported included a single in a Warwick garden on 22nd (S. Taylor) (and at least four singletons in Sussex the same day) followed by two at Hayle, Cornwall, on 24th (B. Hocking).
Whilst many people’s thoughts turn to roasting their chestnuts on an open fire at this time of year – moth trappers were catching chestnuts! Following on from the Black-spotted Chestnuts Conistra rubiginosa recorded at Dartford, Kent, in early November mentioned in the previous summary; a further intriguing record from the same county came from Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory on the night of 22nd December (J.Beugg).
A further six late November records of Red-headed Chestnut Conistra erythrocephala amazingly started to appear nightly. Following one at Dunwich, Suffolk, on 20th (C. Moore) singles appeared at light at Landguard, Suffolk, on 21st (N. Odin); Portland, Dorset, on 22nd (M. Cade); East Mersea, Essex, on 23rd (D. Urquhart); Budock Water, Cornwall on 24th (G. Davis) and Little Melton, Norfolk, on 25th (P. Kitchener) – the latter the first ‘modern’ Norfolk record.
Contrary to the comment in the previous summary about the apparent dearth of East Anglian records of Golden Twin-spot Chrysodeixis chalcites this year – one very late example was recorded at Filby, Norfolk, on 19th November (L. Futter).
Typical of autumn 2011 was when you thought it was all over, a further record then materialises! This was certainly the case with Death’s Head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos. Paul Harris’s late record in Dorset was followed by one even later example. One was found dead in pristine condition on a garden lawn at East Dean, East Sussex, on 12th December (D. Jode). A very late Humming-bird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum was trapped well inland in Coventry, Warwickshire, on 1st December.
Small numbers of the regular immigrants continued to arrive late in the season. On the Lizard, Cornwall, six Gem Orthonama obstipata, Vestal Rhodometra sacraria, Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera and a Cosmopolitan Mythimna loreyi arrived on the night of 21st November with a late White-speck Mythimna unipuncta on 1st December (M. Tunmore). Pearly Underwing Peridroma saucia and Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon were recorded on the Isle of Wight at Bonchurch on the night of 3 December (J. Halsey). A few Silver Y Autographa gamma, Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis and Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella were reported including one of the latter way north on Benbecula, Western Isles, on 18th December.
An influx of Palpita vitrealis in the last week of November included three at Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hampshire, on the night of 21st and singles in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
The unseasonable temperatures for the time of the year continued to produce records of the spring species Pale-brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria, Spring Usher Agriopis leucophaearia, Dotted Border A. marginaria, Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica and Common Quaker O. cerasi.
Atropos would like to thank you for your contributions to the Flight Arrivals webpage during 2011. We look forward to hearing about your migrant sightings as well as unseasonal records of resident species, over the quieter winter months of 2012, and would like to wish all our readers and contributors a very happy and prosperous New Year.