Back to the Newsletter Contents and Home page

Entomological Report

by Andrew Grayson

Thankfully, insects are considerably more frequent than my R. N. H. S. entomological reports, the previous one of which was published in the 2000 Newsletter. Thanks are due to Michael Thompson for sending his records for 1999 and 2000; these comprise numerous species from several entomological orders, but mainly an impressive list of moths light-trapped at Slingsby. One of the beetles included in Michael’s lists is Staphylinus olens from Sutton Bank on 17.6.2000. S. olens is an impressively large (22-32 mm in length) pitch-black rove beetle commonly known as the Devil’s Coach-horse. It is often illustrated in general natural history books, and is one of the few beetles that are large enough to arouse the interest of the general naturalist. S. olens is considered to be a common species nationally, and there is little doubt that it is common in Ryedale. Within the R. N. H. S. area, I have noted S. olens at Ashdale Quarry, Helmsley, 2.4.1990, Wombleton Grange, 31.8.1993, Ryedale Laundry, Kirkbymoorside, 9.9.1993, Newbridge, Pickering, 18.9.1993, and Castlegate, Malton, 16.8.1996.

The pond in Michael Thompson’s garden at Slingsby has certainly proved to be attractive to Odonata. Michael recorded Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly) on 15.6.1999, Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly) on 15.6.1999, Ischnura elegans (Blue-tailed Damselfly) on 15.6.1999 and 18.6.2000, Sympetrum striolatum (Common Darter) on 31.7.1999, 4.9.1999, 1.8.2000 and 16.9.2000, Aeshna cyanea (Southern Hawker) on 4.9.1999 and 14.9.2000, Aeshna juncea (Common Hawker) on 4.9.1999, and Coenagrion puella (Azure Damselfly) on 22.5.2000. This haul of seven species is quite impressive for a garden pond in Slingsby. Two dragonflies to look out for in future years are Aeshna mixta (Migrant Hawker) and Anax imperator (Emperor Dragonfly) both of which have spread northwards in Britain in the last few years, and could possibly soon be seen in Ryedale. At present, both these species are fairly well established in the southern half of Yorkshire.

Gill Smith contributed a list of butterflies seen during 2000, including Polygonia c-album (Comma), Gonepteryx rhamni (Brimstone) and Cynthia cardui (Painted Lady), all seen in Gilling. The first two species continue to do well in Ryedale and are now commonly seen everywhere, particularly in and around woodlands. C. cardui has been a common migrant in Ryedale during recent years, and once again in 2003, there has been a large influx. I noticed that Melanargia galathea (Marbled White) was very abundant at Ellerburn Bank during 2003; this is just one of several successful colonisations away from the Yorkshire Wolds since the species dramatically spread several years ago. On the downside for butterflies in Ryedale, I am concerned that two sedentary species, Hamearis lucina (Duke of Burgundy Fritillary) and Boloria euphrosyne (Pearl-bordered Fritillary), are at severe risk of extinction. Until a few years ago, H. lucina was locally common at a site near Rievaulx, as was B. euphrosyne at a site near Kirkbymoorside, but I have not seen either of these species at these sites in recent years, and they have apparently disappeared from virtually all the other known sites in our area.

Credit is due to Don Smith for producing, amongst other things, a list of insects that occur in the Ryedale area, which I found out about in a rather roundabout way: John Coldwell from Barnsley downloaded it from the Internet, and took it into account in his Yorkshire Diptera list, which he sent to me during early 2003. Inevitably, given the size and complexity of the task of abstracting data from numerous sources, some of the resultant records of which I know to be doubtful or erroneous, there are a few errors in the preliminary Ryedale list compiled by Don, but this does not detract from the fact that his list is a superb basis, and so far as the Diptera are concerned, several species listed by Don are additional to the Yorkshire list. Most of these species new to Yorkshire result from Geoff King’s studies around Fylingdales. I am sure everyone in R. N. H. S. appreciates the work that Don has put into producing his list; he continues to be a great servant to the study of natural history in Ryedale, and we were lucky to get him on a free transfer from Hull!

Copyright ©Andrew Grayson 2004

Back to the Newsletter Contents and Home page