Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day-flying Adela

To further the theme of day-flying moths, here my account on a few day-flying micros which are about at the moment. I'm talking about the Adela species, which are sometimes referred to as 'fairy longhorns' due to the ridiculously oversized antennae of the male. These are part of the large group of micros which are undoubtedly under-recorded as they are never seen at light traps. There are 5 species of Adela in the UK: A. reaumurella, rufimitrella, cuprella, fibulella and croesella. Care should probably taken with ID as some of the Nemophora species can be quite similar though.

Adela reaumurella is a very common species over most of the UK and is almost certainly overlooked here in Montgomeryshire. The adults can be seen flying around on sunny days; as larvae they feed on leaf litter. The males of species also sometimes swarm - often around oak trees, a sight I've yet to see!
Adela rufimitrella on cuckoo flower

Adela rufimitrella, is similar to the above species but can be separated by it's yellow crown, smaller size and brassy-coloured forewings. This species is fairly common across the UK and can be found flying near cuckoo flower or garlic mustard on sunny days. This species is also probably overlooked; I recently found the third county record, the first for 12 years, after less than a minute searching!

Adela cuprella is third of the genus which look fairly similar. This species has yet to be recorded in Montgomeryshire, probably due to its secretive lifestyle, spending most of the time at the tops of sallow trees.

The other two species are Adela fibulella and Adela croesella; the former has only been recorded in the county on a handful of occasions, so one to look out for. The latter has not been recorded here before. Both are quite distinctive.

Just a few more species to look out for when you're out and about!



  1. Thanks for that imformative piece Douglas, it just goes to show what can be found, with very little searching.


  2. Hi Douglas, interesting article, however I have to say that on 1st May I had one a.reaumurella in my Robinson trap at Cors Dyfi, so they do like to prove us wrong sometimes! I always tell people that 'animals don't read books' and therefore they don't follow what we humans set out as 'rules' for them and always end up surprising us by behaving in a way which we just wouldn't expect. Maria.

  3. Yes, good point; I suppose before now I have had butterflies in the trap!

    But still, much easier record them during they day, when they're going to be more numberous.

    Just been out now, recorded about 8 species; stunning weather at the moment.