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Moths at Hardwick Estate – 1 June 2019

This year’s moth trapping excursion took place on the night of 1st – 2nd June at the Hardwick Estate, which runs from the Chiltern chalk escarpment down to the north bank of the Thames east of Whitchurch-on-Thames and west of Mapledurham.  The venue had been suggested by Sandra Parkinson, who lives at nearby Chalkhills (Boze Down), where we have held previous RDNHS moth trapping evenings.  The Hardwick Estate is owned by Sir Julian Rose, a strong advocate of organic farming, who has two organic farmers as tenants.  We were the guests of one of them, Iain Tolhurst, who has three fields on which he grows organic vegetables for sale on site, see   Two of the fields, known locally as Lower Bec and Upper Knight, lie north and south of the Hardwick Road at the west gates of the estate, which is where Paul Black, Roy Dobson, Ian Esland and myself (Norman Hall) ran our MV mothing lights, either as bare lamps over white sheets or as moth traps. Iain’s other field is a walled garden further east, near Hardwick House.

The other tenant farmer on the estate, James Norman, had given us permission, for which we were very grateful, to go into parts of his land adjacent to Iain’s.  I was able to run one light trap on a field of his, known locally as Bec Tythe which is chalk downland (though the flora improved considerably higher up than my cable could reach) in addition to my two lights in Iain’s field.  Jan & Laurie Haseler put lights in a species rich meadow of James’s known as ‘The Park’, entering at the walled garden.

It was a surprisingly successful night, and very interesting because we had never trapped anywhere remotely similar. In Iain’s two fields at the west gates we recorded 114 species of the larger moths (macrolepidoptera), together with 13 pyralid moths and 18 micros.  Only 2 additional macrolepidoptera, Mouse Moth & Fern, were seen in James’s fields, together with 3 more pyralid moths, a plume moth and 4 more micros, bringng the grand total to 155 species. I consider the number of macrolepidoptera species recorded on a single night to be a good indication of the overall biodiversity of a site and anywhere where more than 100 can be found on a single night (especially early in June before numbers peak) is very good indeed.  [The number of microlepidoptera recorded is less useful because micros are much more difficult to identify, and totals depend much more on the skills and experience of the observers than the numbers actually present.]  The high number of macrolepidoptera recorded may have been exceptional because of the weather conditions, which were ideal.  The temperature had risen to 25°C (in Reading) in the day on June 1st, was still 17°C at midnight, and then had only come down to 13°C by 06.00 next morning. Conditions the night before and the night after were much less favourable, so we were very lucky.

At least one example of each of the macrolepidoptera species was kept for the benefit of the 8 RDNHS members who came to see and photograph the catch on the Sunday morning. We were also able to show Iain Tolhurst a few of the moths after he had finished some early morning ploughing. Altogether a very successful event. Records of particular interest to me included:

Buttoned Snout (2), which feed on hop, and I see very infrequently.

Netted Pug (3), which I had never seen in Berkshire or Oxfordshire. The larvae feed on Campions (Silene spp.) which are numerous in the ‘beetle banks’ (see below).

Pauper Pug (1), new to me, pointed out and verified by Martin Townsend, who visited us around midnight.

Sandy Carpet (3), where there was a dark example. I had previously only seen pale forms.

Obscure Wainscot (1), a reedbed speciality, always nice to see.

…and a possible Phtheochroa schreibersiana, which will need dissecting to confirm.  This is a Cochylid moth (Torticidae).

High numbers of the following were also of interest:

Grass Rivulet, 139. Normally quite scarce. Jan Haseler thought there could have been thousands in ‘The Park’, judging by the numbers she saw and the considerable area of the field

Small Elephant Hawk Moth, 52 were seen in all, compared with just 1 [Large] Elephant Hawk Moth

Reddish Light Arches, 19 on Lower Bec north side. A local concentration. Others elsewhere but nowhere near as many.

Shears, 26 in Bec Tythe.  Only 6 others elsewhere.

Beetle banks, green manure and hedgerows. Notes on the habitat

Apart from the vegetables in Iain’s fields, there are strips of mixtures of Phacelia tenacetifolia (Boraginaceae) and Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnatum which are used as a ‘green manure’ to plough back into the soil.  There are also ‘beetle banks’, which are not actually banks but strips planted with mixtures of tussock grasses and flowering plants such as Silene spp., Centaurea (Cornflowers) and Aster (Daisies) that encourage beneficial insects and spiders, thus helping to reduce pest numbers. The number of moths caught or seen nectaring near these ‘beetle banks’ was impressive.

Both of Iain’s fields at the estate gates are surrounded by hedges which are either natural species-rich ancient hedges or hedges that that have been augmented by imaginative plantings of native trees such as oak, sallow, maple and alder. Many of the surrounding hedges have been (deliberately) left to grow much higher than is usual. Fields the other side of all these hedges are of species-rich grassland or downland that have been grazed by cows, but not over-grazed.  The east side of the northern field (Lower Bec) is bordered by a high hedge, then a lane (Path Hill), then woodland. In the NE corner, the hedge is lower and there is a gate into James Norman’s field (Bec Tythe) to the north. Near the gate is a flattish area grazed by cows, where the only interesting plant to be seen was Cynoglossum (Hound’s Tongue), but further north the ground rises steeply, becoming too steep for the cows, and here the downland flora is much richer. There is also a tongue of partly ancient woodland on the east side along Path Hill.   The upper slopes at least certainly warrant further study.

Iain’s Walled Garden was, of course, bordered more by walls than by hedges, which is why we thought it best concentrate our attention on his other two fields, so for the time being the potential of the walled garden is untested. The biodiversity of the whole estate warrants further study through moth trapping, if we are encouraged to do so – and can find the time.

Report by Norman Hall

Pictures by Rob Stallard and Norman Hall

TaxonEnglish NameNational StatusNumber
Korscheltellus lupulinaCommon SwiftCommon108
Nemophora degeerella Common1
Nematopogon schwarziellus Common1
Tinea trinotella Common1
Monopis obviella Common1
Glyphipterix thrasonella Common1
Hofmannophila pseudospretellaBrown House-mothCommon2
Adaina microdactylaHemp-agrimony PlumeCommon1
Archips podanaLarge Fruit-tree TortrixCommon1
Pandemis cinnamomeana Common3
Pandemis cerasanaBarred Fruit-tree TortrixCommon1
Syndemis musculana Common1
Cnephasia stephensiana Common1
Pseudargyrotoza conwagana Common25
Phtheochroa schreibersiana pRDB11
Agapeta hamana Common1
Aethes smeathmanniana Common4
Cochylis atricapitana Common1
Hedya prunianaPlum TortrixCommon10
Celypha lacunana Common5
Notocelia cynosbatella Common4
Notocelia uddmannianaBramble Shoot MothCommon1
Notocelia trimaculana Common3
Lathronympha strigana Common1
Aphomia sociellaBee MothCommon1
Nephopterix angustella Local1
Assara terebrella Notable A1
Homoeosoma sinuella Common2
Ephestia unicolorella Local1
Anania fuscalis Local5
Anania hortulataSmall MagpieCommon6
Udea olivalis Common6
Pleuroptya ruralisMother of PearlCommon1
Evergestis forficalisGarden PebbleCommon2
Scoparia pyralella Common9
Eudonia lacustrata Common2
Eudonia pallida Local6
Crambus lathoniellus Common14
Acentria ephemerellaWater VeneerCommon15
Parapoynx stratiotataRinged China-markCommon1
Watsonalla binariaOak Hook-tipCommon6
Cilix glaucataChinese CharacterCommon2
Thyatira batisPeach BlossomCommon1
Tethea ocularisFigure of EightyCommon8
Smerinthus ocellataEyed Hawk-mothCommon1
Laothoe populiPoplar Hawk-mothCommon4
Sphinx ligustriPrivet Hawk-mothCommon4
Deilephila elpenorElephant Hawk-mothCommon1
Deilephila porcellusSmall Elephant Hawk-mothLocal61
Idaea seriataSmall Dusty WaveCommon2
Idaea trigeminataTreble Brown SpotLocal7
Idaea aversataRiband WaveCommon1
Timandra comaeBlood-veinCommon2
Cyclophora annulariaMochaNotable B1
Cyclophora punctariaMaiden’s BlushLocal2
Cyclophora lineariaClay Triple-linesLocal3
Xanthorhoe fluctuataGarden CarpetCommon2
Xanthorhoe spadiceariaRed Twin-spot CarpetCommon2
Xanthorhoe designataFlame CarpetCommon1
Xanthorhoe montanataSilver-ground CarpetCommon5
Camptogramma bilineataYellow ShellCommon2
Epirrhoe alternataCommon CarpetCommon2
Hydriomena impluviataMay HighflierCommon1
Electrophaes corylataBroken-barred CarpetCommon10
Cosmorhoe ocellataPurple BarCommon3
Eustroma reticulataNetted CarpetRDB1
Dysstroma truncataCommon Marbled CarpetCommon9
Colostygia pectinatariaGreen CarpetCommon15
Horisme vitalbataSmall Waved UmberCommon3
Horisme tersataFernCommon1
Melanthia procellataPretty Chalk CarpetCommon5
Perizoma albulataGrass RivuletLocal139
Perizoma flavofasciataSandy CarpetCommon3
Pasiphila rectangulataGreen PugCommon3
Eupithecia pulchellataFoxglove PugCommon1
Eupithecia venosataNetted PugLocal3
Eupithecia tantillariaDwarf PugCommon1
Eupithecia egenariaPauper PugRDB1
Eupithecia centaureataLime-speck PugCommon1
Eupithecia assimilataCurrant PugCommon1
Eupithecia vulgataCommon PugCommon1
Eupithecia exiguataMottled PugCommon10
Eupithecia subumbrataShaded PugLocal3
Eupithecia subfuscataGrey PugCommon2
Pterapherapteryx sexalataSmall SeraphimLocal4
Lomaspilis marginataClouded BorderCommon2
Ligdia adustataScorched CarpetLocal7
Macaria alternataSharp-angled PeacockLocal1
Macaria liturataTawny-barred AngleCommon2
Petrophora chlorosataBrown Silver-lineCommon5
Plagodis dolabrariaScorched WingLocal6
Opisthograptis luteolataBrimstone MothCommon16
Odontopera bidentataScalloped HazelCommon1
Biston betulariaPeppered MothCommon3
Menophra abruptariaWaved UmberCommon2
Peribatodes rhomboidariaWillow BeautyCommon10
Alcis repandataMottled BeautyCommon1
Cabera pusariaCommon White WaveCommon2
Lomographa bimaculataWhite-pinion SpottedCommon2
Lomographa temerataClouded SilverCommon22
Campaea margaritariaLight EmeraldCommon29
Drymonia dodonaeaMarbled BrownCommon2
Notodonta ziczacPebble ProminentCommon1
Pterostoma palpinaPale ProminentCommon6
Ptilodon capucinaCoxcomb ProminentCommon1
Phalera bucephalaBuff-tipCommon7
Rivula sericealisStraw DotCommon29
Hypena proboscidalisSnoutCommon7
Hypena rostralisButtoned SnoutNotable B3
Calliteara pudibundaPale TussockCommon18
Spilosoma luteaBuff ErmineCommon8
Spilosoma lubricipedaWhite ErmineCommon36
Callimorpha dominulaScarlet TigerLocal2
Tyria jacobaeaeCinnabarCommon6
Eilema sororculaOrange FootmanLocal6
Euclidia miMother ShiptonCommon1
Abrostola tripartitaSpectacleCommon1
Diachrysia chrysitisBurnished BrassCommon6
Autographa gammaSilver YImmigrant2
Autographa pulchrinaBeautiful Golden YCommon1
Plusia festucaeGold SpotCommon2
Colocasia coryliNut-tree TussockCommon1
Acronicta alniAlder MothLocal1
Acronicta rumicisKnot GrassCommon2
Craniophora ligustriCoronetLocal3
Cucullia umbraticaSharkCommon1
Amphipyra tragopoginisMouse MothCommon1
Caradrina morpheusMottled RusticCommon1
Hoplodrina ambiguaVine’s RusticCommon6
Charanyca trigrammicaTreble LinesCommon311
Rusina ferrugineaBrown RusticCommon1
Apamea remissaDusky BrocadeCommon1
Apamea epomidionClouded BrindleCommon1
Apamea ancepsLarge NutmegLocal1
Apamea sordensRustic Shoulder-knotCommon17
Apamea monoglyphaDark ArchesCommon38
Apamea sublustrisReddish Light ArchesLocal37
Oligia strigilis agg.Marbled Minor agg 84
Oligia fasciunculaMiddle-barred MinorCommon93
Lacanobia w-latinumLight BrocadeLocal16
Lacanobia oleraceaBright-line Brown-eyeCommon2
Hada plebejaShearsCommon34
Mythimna pallensCommon WainscotCommon47
Mythimna albipunctaWhite-pointImmigrant, recent colonist24
Leucania commaShoulder-striped WainscotCommon15
Leucania obsoletaObscure WainscotLocal1
Agrotis exclamationisHeart & DartCommon115
Agrotis segetumTurnip MothCommon10
Agrotis putaShuttle-shaped DartCommon7
Ochropleura plectaFlame ShoulderCommon23
Diarsia mendicaIngrailed ClayCommon11
Noctua pronubaLarge Yellow UnderwingCommon3
Xestia c-nigrumSetaceous Hebrew CharacterCommon36
Nola confusalisLeast Black ArchesLocal3
Pseudoips prasinanaGreen Silver-linesCommon1