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Galley Hill Moths

On Saturday 13 July some members of the Sussex Moth Group Hastings Branch decided to take a chance with the weather and go on our annual Galley Hill trip to look for Six-belted Clearwing Moth (Bembecia ichneumoniformis). The wind was just right but the sun was hiding away, so it was not an easy task. Luckily however, we managed to find 5 confirmed sightings, including one very surprising female egg laying on the top of the cliffs in an area that was left to grow. Proof again of the benefits of keeping the mowers away. This Nationally scarce species has very specific habitat requirements and it was good to see they are still doing well, and even expanding the range slightly.

Below are two we potted for closer looks, and released together. A Female on left and Male on Right which makes a nice comparison of the two.

We also recorded several other species of moth, including Dichrorampha petiverella, an attractive micro in the Tortrix family in decline in Sussex.

Not too many butterflies to report but there were a few Essex Skipper which were nice.

There were also many species of interesting bees and wasps which Andy Phillips recorded and I'll leave him to share those with us.
It was a very productive day for records for Galley Hill.



Pantaloon bees & small shaggy bees at Castle Rocks

The pantaloon bee Dasypoda hirtipes and small shaggy bee Panurgus calcaratus are on the wing in numbers at Castle Rocks, Hastings at the moment. Both species specialise in collecting pollen from yellow composites and nest in sandy soil mainly on the top slope of Castle Rocks overlooking the entrance to Hastings Castle.

Dasypoda female excavating nest.

The Panurgus calcaratus nesting aggregation is particularly interesting as it seems to be quite an isolated population in East Sussex. Most populations of this species occur on sandy heaths in Sussex. The aggregation at Castle Rocks is quite large and it is possible to see multiple females using shared nest burrow entrances not only in excavated nest entrances but also small cracks in the sandstone.

Male Panurgus calcaratus (note the orange and black antennae).

Andy Phillips

Photos by Ian Phillips


Great Dixter Long-horned Bees

The stunning garden meadows at Great Dixter are reminiscent of a traditional style of agriculture which is now rarely seen in the High Weald. These flower-rich meadows which include green-winged orchids, dyer's greenweed, adder's-tongue fern and corky-fruited water-dropwort, grown under scattered fruit trees, probably originated from small pockets of old unimproved meadow incorporated into the garden design. 

Scattered throughout the meadows are dense patches of meadow vetchling which are very important for the population of long-horned bees Eucera longicornis at Great Dixter. Today we recorded 7 female long-horned bees within Orchard Meadow (below), mostly foraging from meadow vetchling and one record from bush vetch.

Also out in numbers within the meadows and grassland at Great Dixter is the clover blunt-horn bee Melitta leporina (below photo of male). A new record for the site today was the jewel wasp Chrysis viridula, a cleptoparasite and possible parasitoid of the potter wasp Odynerus spinipes.

Andy Phillips


From the Clifftop

During the current spell of warm weather, daily moth trapping has finally got my Fairlight garden year-list to over 200 species [204 today], markedly fewer than last year when I had reached 250  on this date.

However it's quality that counts and today I was very surprised to find the very distinctive micro. Cynaeda dentalis.  resting on the power lead to the bulb. I suspected I wouldn't be able to pot this one and indeed it made off, so this picture is of the only other one I've seen, at Dungeness.

This is a Viper's Bugloss feeder, we have a few plants in our garden, but this was most likely a wanderer from Rye Harbour


Goat Moth

As I had previously posted, we did a night time moth event at St Helens Wood in order to catch some moths to display for the Summer Fayre. We had a fabulous night with 117 species, and probably could have increased that if we had had time to catch and review every micro moth.  What we did have, and I never thought I would personally see, was the Goat Moth (Cossus cossus) at the MV trap. I can now lay down my jealousy I carried at Alan Parker's record from the HCPNR from 2015.

Update to say it was actually 2012 when Alan had the Goat Moth in HCPNR, even longer to carry that Jealousy!