Insect Group Meetings held in 2006

Ningwood Common – 15th June 2006

This meeting was held mid-week, and was attended by an elite group of three members. The aim of the meeting was to see how the colony of small pearl-bordered fritillaries was faring this year.

The Cranmore area is the place to see them on the Isle of Wight. Having circumnavigated the local canine population, we headed off into the reserve, and were rewarded by some very good views of at least ten individuals. Some of the individuals looked fresh, which made the colours particularly bright. Eight butterfly species were observed, including a fine Grizzled Skipper, Brimstone, and at least three Painted Ladies.

Migratory moths were in evidence too with a couple of Silver-Ys seen on the reserve, along with a Yellow Shell and a Straw Dot. There was a pair of Beautiful Demoiselle, a couple of Emperor Dragonflies, and a female Broad-bodied Chaser, amongst other odonata seen.

As ever there was plenty to interest outside the specific brief of the Entomological Section. Jay, Chiff-Chaff, Whitethroat and Great-spotted Woodpecker were all in the area, and among the flowers observed and enjoyed was a fine stand of Common Spotted Orchids, Burnet-Rose, and Trailing St John’s Wort.

Richard Smout

St Lawrence Field – 5th July 2006

The day for this visit to the new Wight Wildlife reserve had begun very wet, but by the time the afternoon meeting was due to begin the rain had cleared, leaving the area rather misty. However a spell of torrential rain after the first hour led to the meeting being cut short. Six species of butterfly were recorded including half a dozen Marbled Whites, a Ringlet and a Painted Lady. A couple of Silver-Ys were in the thistles on the field, but the most striking feature of the visit were the number of orthoptera seen: nine Dark, five Speckled and one Great Green Bush-Cricket, and very large numbers of grasshoppers, many of which were Meadow Grasshoppers. Among observations of other insects were two mirid bugs new for this 10km square, Heterotoma merioptera, and Stenotus binotatus, as well as a fungal leaf spot, Ramularia sambucina which was only the second record for the Isle of Wight.

Moth Trap Meeting – 21st July 2006

Ten of us gathered for a moth trap meeting at my cottage, where I ran two mercury traps. It was a warm evening and a good number of moths came to the traps. These included an August Thorn, (Ennomos quercinari), a Fern, (Horisme tersata), a Rosy Minor (Mesoligia literosa) and a Phoenix (Eulithis prunata).

There were a number of the commoner migrants with over one hundred Silver Y (Autographa gamma) and two Vestals (Rhodometra sacraria). Perhaps the most exciting moth seen that evening was the Pyralid, Large Tabby, (Aglossa pinguinalis) which Ian Fletcher managed to box, away from the lights.

With wine, coffee, teas and biscuits and much conversation, a most convivial evening was enjoyed by all present.

Sam Knill-Jones

Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve, Skinners Meadow – 18th August 2006

This was another day that began wet, but fortunately once it dried up, the weather stayed that way, although the atmosphere remained humid, ideal for moth trapping. This event was organised in conjunction with the Wight Nature Fund as part of the Wight Summer programme, and so attracted those from outside the Society, as well as members. It was a productive evening, with twenty seven species of moth being recorded. The commonest species were Flame Shoulders and Common Carpets, but good numbers of Brimstone Moths and Mother of Pearl were also to be seen. A number of species were later than expected, including a Leopard Moth, with its black spots on a white ground, and a very fine Pine Hawk Moth. Other species which attracted comment from those present included a Gold Spot, a couple of Oak Hook-tips, three Sallow Kittens, two Maiden’s Blushes and a Ruby Tiger. This was an enjoyable evening and a chance to attract a wider audience to the mysteries of moth-trapping.

National Moth Night meeting, Medina Valley Centre – 23rd September 2006

This was a windy evening that did not bode well, but produced a number of pleasant surprises. Special thanks are due to Keith Marston and the Medina Valley Centre for the loan of an additional, and more productive trap, and for giving us a warm room in which to study the evening’s finds in comparative comfort. A number of members turned out to support this event, despite the unpromising conditions. Fourteen species were seen, and of the total of 53 individual moths trapped no fewer than 37 were Lunar Underwings. Other individuals included Angle Shades, Willow Beauty and a Dusky Thorn. The two highlights of the evening were a Cypress Carpet, a relative newcomer to these shores, first recorded in mainland Britain in the 1980s, and a Convolvulus Hawk-Moth. This species had a particularly good September, and was so impressed with the naturalists that it encountered that it hitched a lift back home with one of them !