Insect Group Meetings held in 2007

Nansen Hill – 24th May 2007

Four members met on a pleasant sunny afternoon, and explored this reserve lying above and to the west of the car park for The Landslip at Bonchurch.  The lower slopes have recently been cleared of scrub, and this was a useful opportunity to see what effects this might have had on the wildlife of the area.  There was a wide range of species to observe, but some groups were few and far between, in particular the only butterflies to be found were two Common Blues, whereas we managed to find six moths or their larvae, including a very well camouflaged Silver-y; the attractively marked pyralids, Thistle Ermine, and Pyrausta aurata, and the beautiful bluish green gold and black caterpillars of the Mullein moth, appropriately enough on the plant of the same name.  A number of beetles and hemiptera were identified afterwards with the help of Bill Shepard and David Biggs. The Soldier Beetle, Cantharis rustica, with its black wing cases was easily the commonest species of the day.  There was a great deal of interest in the large black weevil, Otiorhynchus clavipes found drowned in the pools of water at the base of the leaf stems of the teasel on the reserve.  The vivid iridescent green of the metallic green leaf beetle Chryptocephalus aereolus provided a splash of colour, and there were two new sightings for hemiptera in this 10km square.  The first was the attractive Sloe Shield-bug, the individual seen having a pronounced purplish tinge to the wing cases.  The other was a lacehopper Tachycixius pilosus. The visit was made all the more enjoyable because of the wonderful views north-east over Sandown Bay.

Richard Smout


Haseley Manor – 13th June 2007

Twelve members met for this meeting which concentrated on the meadows and ponds between the manor and the River Yar, but also looked at higher drier ground between the house and the main road.  We were accompanied by Anthony and Vivien Roberts, who also supplied us with some very welcome refreshments at the end of the visit, and many thanks are due to them for their hospitality.  We were extremely fortunate with the weather, the rain holding off until shortly after we had departed.  As a result we were able to find and identify a pleasing variety of species helped by the wide range of expertise within the group.

We never managed to confirm whether the larvae that were munching their way through the asparagus bed were indeed examples of the Asparagus Beetle, but that will, no doubt, become evident later in the season.  There were an unusually large number of Seven-spot Ladybirds with a yellow-orange colour rather than the traditional red.  A couple of Harlequin Ladybirds were found, and, among the other beetles the most distinctive was the metallic green Chrysolina menthastri, specific to Water Mint, and found on the pond closest to the house.

Seven species of odonata were seen. The Black-tailed Skimmers were the most obvious species but there were smaller numbers of Emperor Dragonflies, and eggs were being laid by both of these species.  We were given good views of a male Banded Demoiselle, and given advice on how to distinguish between Common Blue and Azure Damselflies in the field.  Both Great Green and Speckled Bush Crickets were found in the longer grass towards the River Yar.  There were few butterflies, (the best being a couple of Large Skippers), but six species of moth were seen, as well as caterpillars of the Common Quaker and one of the Kitten moth.  Cinnabar Moths were the commonest species, but a Five Spot Burnet was seen, new for the reserve, as were White Ermine, Thistle Ermine and the Brown China Mark.  Thirteen insect galls, and evidence of ten other insect species through leaf mines, were recorded, and the distinctively marked hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum was seen by two members of the party.  As ever, there were plenty of species to be seen, other than insects, during the afternoon.  These varied from rust fungi to breeding water birds such as Little Grebe and Tufted Duck.  The reserve continues to develop and it will be interesting to see what new species arrive in the coming years.

Richard Smout


Arreton Down – 5th July 2007

This visit took place on an overcast afternoon and was cut short by rain.  Our efforts were concentrated on the west end of the down, and along the more sheltered south western edge of the reserve.  Few butterflies were seen and the most interesting moths were a Hummingbird Hawk Moth and a Pyrausta cespitalis.  Among the beetles a single Harlequin Ladybird was found among the Seven and Two Spotted Ladybirds, but the highlight was the Leaf Beetle, Cryptocephalus pusillus … only the second record for the Isle of Wight in the last sixty years.  The nymph of a Shield Bug Sehirus luctuosus was found on Forget-me-not, the first record for the Island since 1926.  Of the other species a Great Green Bush Cricket attracted most attention, deep in the grass in anticipation of poor weather to come.

Richard Smout


Haseley Manor – 7th July 2007

A total of 35 species were identified during the course of the evening’s moth-trap, and many thanks are due to the Roberts for their hospitality.  This was a very good evening, with no fewer than three species of Hawk-moth (Pine, Privet, and Elephant), a Garden Tiger and the Leopard Moth, all offering examples of the more spectacular species.  Of other species The Drinker, a number of Peppered Moths, and a couple of species whose ranges are expanding – Webb’s Wainscot, and the European Corn-Borer, were among the highlights.

Richard Smout


Ashwood Barns, Whitwell – 17th August 2007

This was a poorly attended meeting, but we are very grateful to the owner Mr Jolliffe for letting us trap on his property.  The evening was breezy, which reduced the number of species found.  The commonest moth was the Flame Shoulder, but no species was found in double figures.  Among the more attractive species found were Sallow Kitten, four Spectacles, an Iron Prominent and a Willow Beauty both in very good condition, and a Straw Underwing.

Richard Smout

Totland – 14th September 2007

It was a fairly mild and cloudy night when nine of us met for a moth trap meeting at my cottage.  Some of the Autumn moths were seen including the Pink-barred Sallow, the
Centre-barred Sallow and the Square-spot Rustic.  Three migrants were recorded, the Silver T, the Delicate and the Rush Veneer.  Another species of note was the Dark Spectacle.
With wine, tea & coffee a most enjoyable evening was had by all.

Sam Knill-Jones


Rew Down – 25th September 2007

This was a glorious afternoon for a meeting with fine views along the Undercliff.  We approached the reserve from Steephill Down Road.  A single Redstart and a number of Meadow Pipits provided evidence of migration and there was a steady movement of Swallows overhead.  Seven species of butterfly were seen, including three Clouded Yellows, and the moth Udea ferrugalis was also present in good numbers.  Five Dark Bush Crickets were found as well as a fine example of the Long-winged Conehead.  The gall was found of the fly Dasineura sanguisorbae, a new species for the Isle of Wight.

Richard Smout