Migrant insect summary - mid June 2012
So much for flaming June; the weather during the first half of the month was awful! Rather unsettled and unusually cold weather prevailed, even with some severe gales and torrential rain thrown in causing structural damage and flooding. After the unprecedented level of rainfall in recent months the authorities saw sense and lifted the hosepipe bans. Many entomologists reported very low numbers of butterflies and Odonata. Dismal catches from moth traps included widespread reports of blank results. This has also had an adverse affect on birds and other wildlife, with many species struggling to find food and nests being flooded out.
Odonata sightings in June revolved around the Southern European Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii with reports from Shropshire, Hampshire, Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. This species has been spreading northwards in recent years and some of these records may relate to progeny from last year. However the reports from Lincolnshire suggest a recent arrival.
The other exciting Odonata news was of a Norfolk Hawker Aeshna isosceles seen at Reculver, Kent, on 13 June (M. Heath) – only about the third individual ever seen in Kent and probably an immigrant. Much suitable habitat for this species exists nearby at Stodmarsh NNR in the Stour Valley so future colonisation is a possibility. This species has been extending it's East Anglian range in recent years (even since the Atropos paper of August 1999) further south into Suffolk where it is now quite widespread along the coast - Minsmere RSPB being a notable site.
Norfolk Hawker (Marc Heath)
A few widespread reports of Clouded Yellow Colias croceus, Painted Lady Vanessa cardui and Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta sightings were received but generally very low numbers. New residents on the wing included Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus in Sussex on 10 June, High Brown Fritillary Argynnis adippe in Devon the following day and Mountain Ringlet Erebia epiphron in Cumbria on 14 June.
Some belated moth news included another Loxostege sticticalis – this time at St. Margaret’s at Cliffe, Kent (T. Morris) on 31 May and at the opposite end of the country to the recent record from Renfrewshire. A Blair’s Mocha Cyclophora puppillaria also on 31 May was a garden first for Paul Harris at Broadwey, Dorset. News surfaced of a Death’s Head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos found way back on 25 March during some of the hottest weather of the year so far at Dromreagh, Durrus, Co. Cork – the moth was found dead inside an empty cottage and had presumably arrived last autumn.
Death's Head Hawk-moth (Clare Heardman)
Immigrant moth highlights during the first half of June have included Golden Twin-spot Chrysodeixis chalcites on the Lizard, Cornwall (M. Tunmore) on 2 June; much to the chagrin of David Brown who after more than 40 years of trying, has still not managed to catch one despite his best efforts!
Golden Twin-spot (Mark Tunmore)
Following on from the two May captures of Striped Hawk-moth Hyles livornica, two further moths appeared – singles at Budock Water, Cornwall on 7 June and at Hollesley, Suffolk, on 10 June. The latter individual, caught by Raymond Watson, was just nine months after catching a Silver-striped Hawk-moth Hippotion celerio in his garden. Raymond still requires Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae for his garden list.
Striped Hawk-moth (Raymond Watson)
Other scarce immigrant moths included a single Cosmopolitan Mythimna loreyi at Ballinamorragh, Co. Wexford, on 9 June with a further two on Alderney, Channel Islands, on 15 June. Small Mottled Willow Spodoptera exigua appeared for the first time this year with one at Wyke Regis, Dorset, on 2 June followed by singles at Maiden Newton in the same county on the nights of 12 and 14 June. The first Delicate Mythimna vitellina of the season was light-trapped at Cury, Cornwall on 14 June. Bordered Straw Heliothis peltigera records came from Lizard, Cornwall, where one was seen by day on 4 June and from Bwlch-y-Groes, above Lake Bala, Gwynedd, on 6 June – the highest public road mountain pass in Wales with a summit of 1,788 feet.
A sprinkling of Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella, Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon and Silver Y Autographa gamma were reported with a slight increase in the latter. There was a noticeable increase in Humming-bird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum sightings with three by day at Rosemullion Head, Cornwall, on 9 June. About seven Pearly Underwings Peridroma saucia were recorded in Cornwall, Dorset and West Sussex.
It has been quite a different June to those of recent years and one notable absentee has been the Rannoch Looper Itame brunneata – we have become accustomed to seeing immigrant examples in the last three years but this year none have been reported so far.
As we enter the second half of June we can only hope that summer does eventually arrive and that we see an upturn in insect numbers. A reminder that Moth Night 2012 takes place over three nights this year (Thursday 21 – Saturday 23 June) and we look forward to some exciting results. Atropos thanks you for your contributions and we look forward to receiving your migrant sightings on Flight Arrivals.