Thursday 2 December 2021

2021 Garden Moth review: Jan-Jun.

Think it's safe to say it's been a funny ol' year but one silver-lining is that the garden Mothing has gone on uninterupted through it all. That's as close to the subject of the 'C-word' as this post will get, I promise!

The Mothing year started quietly here (and elsewhere) and seemed to take forever to kick off but looking back at it now, on the whole, I can't complain.

I started 2021 with my life list on 1003 species and finished it on 1069, whilst the garden list started the year on 711 and finished on 756. We've lived here 5yrs this Month, and am blown away every year by the amount I've caught here. A little about the area: small village. Mid-Norfolk. Rural but with Litcham Common barely a km away and the huge, well established garden of Litcham Hall across the road, so no doubt these are factors in a lot that I've trapped here. 

You may have seen me tweet about our 'small paved garden' but it is exactly that. Just about 10yds from back door to back fence and a lot narrower:

I made a conscious effort this year to keep note of as many of the notables as possible and a lot of the below will be common as muck to a lot of you fellow Moth-ers but one mans treasure and all that.. 

(Any of the grade 4 species mentioned below have been confirmed by genitalia dissection, by myself).

January was poor and a couple of species got the ball slowly moving but it was toward the end of February when a pinch of variety would appear, by way of a Buttoned Snout on the 22nd. I'd end up knocking the garden tally of Buttoned Snout up to 11 by the end of the year but as a 'Nationally Scarce B' species, thought it worthy of a mention.

Buttoned Snout (Hypena rostralis)

Buttoned Snout (Hypena rostralis)


The night of February 23rd was a funny one. It was a VERY windy night and 9 times out of 10, completely pointless to even try, but I came out in the morning to a single Moth in the trap - a gorgeous, Small Eggar - that would turn out to be the new earliest County record by 9 days. At the time, it'd be the 3rd Small Eggar for the garden but the first two were back in 2019 so I'll take it!

Small Eggar (Eriogaster lanestris)

February teased with those two, like a carrot on a stick but then it all dropped off again. One of what felt like a 100 'false starts' to the Mothing year, until a little over a month later when Groundhog day struck. Checking the trap before bed I was pleased to see another Small Eggar, the 4th for the garden and 2nd of the year after its previous absence. It was calm and it was settled in for the night alongside the Common and Small Quakers, Early Greys and Hebrew Characters - I'll leave it be for the night pot it in the morning, I thought. Bad move... Shuffling over to the trap come morning, with bleary eyes, I was stopped in my traps as my brain was catching up with what my eyes had just logged and couldn't believe it - a Brown Long-eared Bat! Just chilling on one of the egg boxes, not agitated, not noticeably bothered. I gently lifted the Bats bed from the trap and a matter of seconds later, it took off, skimmed my head and was off. It hadn't gone hungry though. It had snacked on just one Moth in the trap and I bet you can't guess which one that was!..

The following night it was nice to see some decent micro action, with Caloptilia falconipennella gracing the trap. Only the 2nd for garden, exactly 4yrs and 15days after the first!

Caloptilia falconipennella

The next day I dusted off some lures and chanced my arm with the lure for Grapholita lobarzewskii. I've been lucky with it once before but a repeat wasn't to be. The pheromone trap wasn't empty though, it'd attracted 4x Pammene giganteana males, the first here for 3yrs.

Pammene giganteana

April was then quiet again, dropping off with nothing of note and the species list ticking over painfully slowly. May decided enough was enough and on the 2nd, as I inspected fence panels in desperation, I potted a Moth that's been high on my want list for a long time. The stunning little peppermint gem that is Acleris literana. Boy oh boy was I a happy bunny! Not one of the more contrasty looking individuals, but worth the wait, without doubt.

Acleris literana

Acleris literana

Acleris literana

May 9th: I particularly enjoy the micros and it gets no better than a nice, shiney new Phyllonorycter - Phyllonorycter platani to be precise. A new species for the garden, the 10ksq and for me. The foodplant is London Plane but I'm still yet notice one anywhere around me!

not the best photo but they are pretty small :)

May 10th: a big highlight and first for me, a cracking example of a bilateral gynandromorph. It was a Shuttle-shaped Dart and fresh as a daisy. Never seen anything like it! A gynandromorph is an organism made of both female and male parts. Bilateral as in a straight split, right down the middle. Rather rare and wouldn't be surprised if I never see another. Fascinating to look at and up close with an eye piece, I could see that even the genitalia was half and half split to match the antennae and paintwork. 

left side male, right side female!

slightly feathered antenna on male side

simple antenna on female side

head on shows size difference on either side

Into June now and the 'notables' started gathering some pace. On the night of the 2nd I had another Buttoned Snout, alongside a Tawny Shears (3rd for garden) and Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella (2nd for garden).

Tawny Shears


June 3rd: a bloody brilliant micro record and one I remember well, Tinagma ocnerostomella. To throw some stats out there on this one, less than 10 County adult records since 1874 (with a few larval records as well). New for garden, 10ksq and me. A little silvery thing with mesmerising red eyes, it was awesome.

Pseudococcyx posticana. Only the 2nd for garden and a right beaut of a micro.

Tinagma ocnerostomella

Tinagma ocnerostomella

Pseudococcyx posticana

Pseudococcyx posticana

June 5th: another Buttoned Snout and a Bird's Wing. Not particularly rare, nor do I go without here but I think they're great so adding it in.

Bird's Wing


June 6th: Alder Moth. Again, not mega-rare but seemed to have a bit of lull here in the last couple of years, with obvious peaks and troughs over the 5yrs:

2017 = 3

2018 = 3

2019 = 0

2020 = 1

2021 = 4

Alder Moth - SMART!

June 7th: Pine Beauty - my latest ever and only one other was later than this in Norfolk, by 6 days. My favourite Spring Moth but wasn't expecting to see one 'til next year, at this point. 

Netted Pug. Do I need to say any more?! Coorrrr, what a Pug! Remarkably, the 3rd for the garden, after 1 in 2018 & 2020. All 3 have been within the same 2 week corridor.

Lathronympha strigana. Not a first anywhere but can count on one hand how many garden records. Besides which, it's a stunner!

Pine Beauty

Netted Pug

Netted Pug

Lathronympha strigana

Lathronympha strigana

June 8th: Cream Wave. Only ever had 2 before, in 2017 & 2018. Nice to see one back again.

Bucculatrix bechsteinella. New for garden and lifer for me. 

Cream Wave

Bucculatrix bechsteinella

June 9th: Nationally common but local in Norfolk, this was only my 2nd Small Clouded Brindle here, the first back in 2017.

Small Clouded Brindle

June 10th: Ectoedemia occultella. New for garden and first adult confirmed for the 10ksq, next to a couple of mine records. Also new for me.


June 11th: Alder Moth strikes again and Cydia ulicetana was an addition to the garden list. I also want to mention Small Elephant Hawk-moth about now, it's been an exceptional year for me here, for this species. To put it simply:

2017 = 0

2018 = 3

2019 = 3

2020 = 9

2021 = 53!!

Did anyone else find the same this year?

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

June 12th: Shears. Another common Noctuid but only ever had 2 here (2017 & 2019) before then trapping 3 this year. This next one completely threw me off at first but soon realised it was 'just' a Marbled Brown but the nigrescens form. Nice to see the different variants though.

Homoeosoma nebulella added to garden list and also new for 10ksq.


Marbled Brown (form nigrescen)
Homoeosoma nebulella

June 14th: Thisanotia chrysonuchella. A Moth-ers Moth. One of the less glamorous Crambids, or 'Grass-veneers'. A group I quite like actually. New for garden and right on the edge of its usual Breckland haunt.

Dark Dagger. 3rd for garden but consistant with 1 record a year. This one on exactly the same night as the 2020 record.

Thisanotia chrysonuchella

Dark Dagger

June 16th. All hell broke loose for notables! That one night produced:

- Tinea pellionella (3rd for garden).

- Alder Kitten (7th for garden but other 6 from 2017/18).

- Ancylis mitterbacheriana (new for garden and contender for looker of the year, surely?!).

- Blastodacna hellerella (4th for garden but consistant with 1 a year since 2018).

- Glyphipterix fuscoviridella (new for garden and 10ksq. Would see 2 more over the summer)

- Haworth's Pug (only had 2 garden records before this one but would catch 5 in all this year!)

- Opostega salaciella (garden 2nd and just 2 days earlier than the first, the previous year)

- Pammene regiana (new for garden & 10ksq)

- Cydia cosmophorana (new for garden, 10ksq & me. 14th county record since 1884)

- May Highflyer (2nd for garden, after the first in 2017)

- Gypsonoma sociana (new for garden and 10ksq. Would be the first of 3 records this year)

Ancylis mitterbacheriana

Blastodacna hellerella

Glyphipterix fuscoviridella

Opostega salaciella

Pammene regiana

Cydia cosmophorana

June 23rd: Triaxomera parasitella. Only the 2nd for the garden and an impressive Tineid in both size and pattern.

Triaxomera parasitella


June 24th: Donacaula forficella. Another new species for the garden and 10ksq. I think I have a neighbours well established pond to thank for a lot of my records of the more aquatic foodplant liking species.

Coleophora vestianella. New for garden & 10ksq, a Nationally Scarce A species and one of the 23 species of Coleophora now recorded in my garden.

Donacaula forficella

Coleophora vestianella


June 28th: Lesser Cream Wave. Only 1 previous record (2018) but again, would log a third garden record after this individual. 

Lesser Cream Wave

For your sanity, I'll cut that off there at the half way ("thank god!" I hear you cry!). Part 2 will follow soon and cover the rest of the year, from July - December.

If you're still with me - I'm surprised, impressed and grateful! :)

1 comment:

  1. Quite a June, Keith! Fascinating. Your neighbour Tom