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More moths this morning, around 60 species, but less in the way of rarities, with starry pearl, saltmarsh grass veneer and long-legged tabby the only notable species. I did have a couple of really nice beetles though, neither of them rare but both splendid beasties. Summer chafer is a slightly smaller relative of the cockchafer and like this species has subterranean larvae which feed on the roots of plants. Apparently the adults are usually found around the tops of trees, though they do come to light traps. This individual appeared dead when I found it, but perked up later on and 'buzzed off'.

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in clover

Over the last couple of years, myself and a team of dedicated volunteers have been managing some of the fields on Harbour Farm for bumblebees. Initially this involved spreading 'green hay' (fresh cuttings from fields at Dungeness containing the seeds of red clover, vitally important as a pollen source for some of the rarer bumblebee) and then cutting at the end of the growing season to supress vigorous grasses. This year we have really seen the benefits, with swathes of red clover and narrow-leaved birdsfoot trefoil (the yellow flower in the image below) in full bloom. Now all we need are the bumblebees!



Orange Flies

Nice Plume Chris !. 

I've been bemoaning the general lack of insects lately, and indeed my Fairlight moth trap produced just 14 moths of 12 species this morning. [including the common Beautiful Plume]. However a walk along the military canal beside Pett Level was a bit more like it, with, by 0800, quite a few Meadow Browns and Small Tortoiseshells. I noticed some small flies on the flowerheads of Creeping Thistle, and on inspection found most plants had some of these, so hundreds of them. I didn't recognise these rather elegant, long legged orange flies-can anybody tell me what they are ? [Later identified by Chris Bentley as Kritempis livida.-thanks Chris]


rye harbour moths

What with the balmy evening last night I expected the trap to be brim full of moths this morning, but the wind got up and in the end it was a below average catch, particularly for the macros. Some good micros though, including starry pearl, rosy-striped knot-horn and long-legged tabby, all uncommon species nationally (though regular at Rye Harbour). A major surprise however was a horehound plume which was nestling at the bottom of the trap. This rare moth (which is associated with white horehound) used to occur regularly near the viewpoint but hasn't been seen there for several years and it doesn't appear to have ever turned up in our moth traps before.


Picture-winged fly

One of our volunteers, Alan Kenworthy, sent me this photograph of a knot of flies on a thistle head. I'm pretty sure they are Urophora stylata, a 'picture-winged fly' whose larvae live in the flower heads of various thistles. The larvae cause the head of the thistle to swell, damaging the seeds, and this species is sometimes used as a control agent (see here). The female has a long 'ovipositor' which she uses to insert her eggs into the flower head, and if you look closely you can see this on the largest fly on the right. You can also see that the wings have three dark bands which helps to distuinguish it from closely related species.