Another week another collection of moths. This week the Robinsons trap was examined around midday on the 24th July 2019. Having only mothed twice at this reserve I am unsure if the weather has any effect on the current status of moths, however the trap was filled with over 45 different species of moths and the 32 degree peak heat during the day seemed to really wake up the moths in the trap. There was seemingly a whole family of small elephant hawk moths, 8 of them spread out within the trap. There were 4 garden tiger moths, 3 buff tips and even another lappet that visited. Roger, our resident expert, has told us that lappets are quite rare and that we may never see one again in our lifetime which makes me almost blessed to have seen two in two weeks! He is also to thank for the speedy identification of our moths, as without him I’d still be flipping through our moth books now!

Some of the moths we identified include: small magpie, pale shouldered brocade, ruby tiger, drinker, large yellow underwing, pebble prominent, rosy footman, barred hook-tip, mother of pearl, brown tail, canary shouldered thorn, cloaked miner, shoulder striped wainscot, smoky wainscot, cloaked minor, lesser spotted pinion, rose tortrix and rosy rustic.

Moths like most animals are more interesting to see than to read names off a page so below are some of my favourite moths of the week. 

  Lappet, Gastropacha quercifolia. Marie Ingledew, photography credits.

  Garden tiger moth, Arctia caja. Marie Ingledew, photography credits.

 Buff tip, Phalera bucephala. Marie Ingledew, photography credits.

 Small elephant hawk moth, Deilephila porcellus, Dave Saunders, photography credits.

In other finds, we were visited by two rare great silver water beetle, Hydrophilus piceus, who were scuffling around in the bottom of the trap. A visiting surveyor to the reserve, Alan Whittaker, also reported the very rare Musk Beetle, Aromia moschata, which was identified by Grant Hazelhurst, at the base of a small thistle near some felled logs, on the 24th July 2019.

 Great silver water beetle. Dave Saunders, photography credits.

 Musk beetle on a daisy. Alan Whittaker, photography credits.

 Musk beetle attempting flight. John Phillips, photography credits.

The dragonflies on the reserve are out en masse. Most recently captured on camera includes the rare vagrant female southern migrant hawker, Aeshna affinis, by Alan Whittaker on the 28thJune 2019 and the female migrant hawker, Aeshna mixta, by me, Marie Ingledew on the 25th July 2019.

 Female southern migrant hawker. Alan Whittaker, photography credits.

 Female migrant hawker. Marie Ingledew, photography credits.

Also doing well are the butterflies of Northward Hill. Previously we were overwhelmed with meadow browns and marbled whites. However, overtaken them these past few weeks are gatekeepers and peacock butterflies. Silver washed fritillary sometimes grace us with their presence during butterfly surveys, but not for long as they dart off between trees, elusive as ever. Again, the heat of this most recent week, 26-37 degrees, may have had an effect on the abundance and dispersal of the butterflies but there are still many fluttering about on the reserve in the tall grasses and meadow field margins.

The insects seem to be abundant as ever and hopefully the upcoming temperatures aim to help and not hinder the wonderful diversity present at the Northward Hill reserve.

Guest blogger: Marie Ingledew


  • Very well done to Marie for an excellent blog, sorry it's you're last day tomorrow on the reserve and I wish you all the very best for the future. It's been a pleasure getting to know you over the last few weeks