Monday 20 June 2016

Bee Orchids & a medley of moths

I may well have been a monosyllabic zombie with all the get up and go of a desiccated slug for the past month, but in my more lucid moments, I have temporarily vacated the sofa. My sorties have been short and sweet but there’s always something interesting to find at this time of year, even if all you do is walk a few metres along an unkept verge. So, without further ado and minimal accompanying words because that would require thought, here are a few bits and pieces from around Hemel & Bovingdon in the last few weeks.

Firstly, a new-to-me moth, found back at the wildflower verge along the A41 Boxmoor/Bourne End exit.

Unfortunately (for all involved) it’s one of those that requires dissection of its nether regions in order to determine exact species. However, I found it on Ox-eye Daisy and didn’t notice any Tansy in the vicinity, so I’m opting for an ID of Broad-blotch Drill (Dichrorampha alpinana) (foodplant: Ox-eye Daisy) rather the alternative Narrow-blotch Drill (Dichrorampha flavidorsana) (foodplant: Tansy). Either way, I liked it.

Next up, 37 Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera), in 3 discrete groups (5 + 21 +11), also at the A41 site. I’d be hard pressed to name another plant that brings me as much pleasure as this little orchid. Aesthetically, it’s perfect. Temperamentally, it’s irresistibly capricious. One year, it’ll arrive in dozens, sometimes hundreds; another year, not a single spike will erupt from the earth at that same location. It’s unpredictable and it's beautiful and that makes the triumph of finding one all the sweeter.

Yesterday, whilst counting the Bee Orchids, my first Marbled White of the year fluttered in to say hello.

Back at the beginning of June, on a sunny afternoon at Dellfield Meadow, Westbrook Hay, I counted 11 Grass Rivulet moths (Perizoma albulata) in the lower quadrant above the carpark. I don’t know its current status in Herts but a couple of years ago, it was considered rare and I was chuffed to find even one in this meadow. I’m so pleased the colony is doing well.

    Marbled White
    Grass Rivulet

Finally, I have a soft spot for the Yellow-barred Longhorn moth (Nemophora degeerella). The larvae feed on leaf litter, and little (or large!) swarms of them seem to be pretty common along woodland paths and, well, in my garden (currently). At the end of last week, there were a couple of clouds at the Brickworks, probably totalling more than 50 moths (only the one female). Of all the Adelidae species, I find these the most fairy-like and enchanting to watch.

Yellow-barred Longhorn moth. Left: male (loooong antennae); Right: female (short antennae)


  1. your blogs keep them coming. My Brother and I went to the a41 site and counted 47 bee orchids and i managed to get a shot of my first small blue. regards derrick

    1. Thanks Derrick and great to hear that your first encounter with a Small Blue was at the A41 colony.

  2. Beautiful bee orchids. Hope you are beginning to feel more human. Your brief sorties out into the world have been well worth it. From ARF.


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