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Great Dixter Moths

We are carrying out a series of moth evenings at Great Dixter this year to record moths and other nocturnal insects. Last night we were joined by Crystal, Pete and Roger from the Hastings Moth Group and Claire Williamson so we were able to have two MV lamps and an actinic running in different parts of the garden.

It wasn't the best night for moths but we did get 40+ species including a few new species for the gardens including at least three of these stunning lunar thorns

Lunar thorn (photo: Ian Phillips)

We also recorded scorched carpet, orange footman, alder moth, and poplar lutestring amongst a suite of prominents. Crystals trap was visited by three impressive queen hornets and we were all bombarded by numerous cockchafers during the evening. Still have a few Trichoptera and ichneumonid wasps to identify from last night which will all be new species recorded for Great Dixter.

Andy Phillips


Morning, bee

Out on a breeding bird survey this morning I came across this little beauty on the flowers of green alkanet. This is common mourning bee (Melecta albifrons) a nest parasite of hairy-footed flower bee (see here). This one was recorded just off the reserve by the Narrow Pits, but I had one yesterday at Castle Water that I didn't manage to photograph so it was nice to get a second chance. These records double the total on our database, with the only previous records 2008 in Peasmarsh and 2011 in Rye Harbour Village (it's a bit like the old joke about buses). The same plant also had both spring bumblebee and tree bumblebee feeding on it, my first records of the year for these species, common carder bee, red admiral and an oak eggar caterpillar. I usually ignore green alkanet as uninteresting, so perhaps I should pay it more attention in the future!


From the Clifftop

Still a bit too clear and cold at night for good moth trapping, but one unusual one this morning was a spring Red-green Carpet, a common late autumn species which overwinters-I've never caught one in spring before.

After that I walked along the clifftop to Place Farm, sometimes through mist. Further surprises were provided by a Cuckoo and a singing Nightingale [bottom of Warren Glen], I have to go back ten years to 2008 for my last records of either  of these in HCPNR, in both cases they were autumn migrants though.


Great Dixter Gardens Biodiversity Audit

The Great Dixter Gardens Biodiversity Audit is in full swing now with botanical surveys, breeding bird surveys and dormice surveys in progress.

The invertebrate survey we carried out last year was exceptional with nearly 700 species recorded. The pollinator assemblage was outstanding with over 60% of all species recorded in the main gardens associated with diverse nectar & pollen resources. 154 aculeates (bees, wasps & ants) were recorded, 20% of which had a conservation status. 90 bee species were found within just one survey season including 5 UKBAP and 2 nationally endangered species. The most significant species recorded included the white-bellied mining bee (Andrena gravida), the oak mining bee (Andrena ferox), the rough-backed blood bee (Sphecodes scabricollis) and the long-horned bee (Eucera longicornis). We also recorded the blue mint beetle (Chrysolina coerulans), a first for Sussex. In total 12 nationally rare and 47 nationally scarce invertebrates were found within the gardens, meadows and woodland.

Blue mint beetle - Chrysolina coerulans (Photo:Ian Phillips)

Great Dixter Gardens has proven that horticulture has a very important role to play in the conservation of rich pollinator assemblages and the surveys have validated the conservation led policies the head gardener, Fergus Garrett and famous garden designer, the late Christopher Lloyd, have implemented within this internationally acclaimed garden over many years.

We are now implementing detailed pollinator monitoring within the gardens and studying poorly known but ecologically very important invertebrate groups such as ichneumonids, braconids and micro-hymenoptera.

Andy Phillips

Consultant Ecologist, Entomologist & Arachnologist.


Website back online

Sorry for the short interruption in service, the website is now back online.