This year has been all about Dusky Clearwing, of course, with plenty more records from new sites since I blogged about seeing the species in June. One of those records was Norfolk's first, barely a kilometre away as the wasp-mimic buzzes, caught by Laura King (who lives in great habitat and simply cannot stop catching new moths for the county). I've had no luck catching Dusky Clearwing at home, of course, but the TAB lure has brought many mini-heart pumps, attracting plenty of Yellow-legged and Red-tipped Clearwings (see photos above), plus one Red-belted.
Intriguingly, my 2km square appears to have the easternmost records of O-TC ever in Norfolk, and my brace appear to be the only ones caught around Norwich this year. So perhaps these were simply wanderers - and I struck it lucky - rather than representing an undiscovered population. Roll on next year to find out!
On the plus side, using other lures in targeted fashion, I have learnt that two new species of clearwing occur sufficiently close to the garden to be caught there. Four years ago, I was astonished when Justin Farthing caught Six-belted Clearwing in central Norwich. He has done so several times since, as have many others - and I still can't find the bird's-foot trefoil from which they presumably hail. Perhaps the River Yare-side individuals come from the UEA/hospital area, where this yellow-flowered plant grows; and perhaps those nearer the River Wensum come from a chalky hillside. Anyhow, I caught a few between 10h-13h00 on three mornings in early July - and observation of the trap revealed that other individuals were buzzing around without going in.
Whereas I don't think I had tried for a garden Six-belter before this summer, I certainly tried last July for Orange-tailed Clearwing, without success. One afternoon in late June this year, however, and following many inadvertently caught Yellow-legged Clearwings, I was happy to find two in the trap, attracted with AND.
When done in habitat, pheromone luring for clearwings is quite an active business demanding sharp eyes and quick reactions - as well as oodles of patience to while away the hours at an apparently clearwing-free site. Done sensitively and astutely, it routinely provides new distributional information. Using lures in one's garden can provide some useful information (if the clearwings are present locally, as is often the case with Red-belted, Yellow-legged and Currant, for example) but the skill involved is next-to-nothing: whack a lure in a pheromone trap, head back inside to work, then check it every 15 minutes or so. It can be easy and eminently rewarding mothing.