Successful Open Day

Our Open Day on Saturday 8th April together with the Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) was a great success. It was attended by 919 visitors of which 40% were children. DWT filled the garden with stands to do with Wildlife Gardening.

BNSS OPEN DAY - 8.4.2017
BNSS OPEN DAY – 8.4.2017

Income from Sales and Refreshments were gratefully received as were donations. Volunteers manned various stands in the Lecture Hall and throughout the building. The picture below shows those volunteers manning the entrance.


Botany Field Meeting

12 June 2014, Boscombe Overcliff

Leader: Ted Pratt

Map reference: OL22 / SZ 107 912 (East Cliff Road car park)

From the car park we walked east

12 members and 1 non-member attended.

17 species were recorded at Boscombe Overcliff as detailed below:


Avena fatua Wild-oat
Dactylis glomerata Cock’s-foot
Agrostis capillaris Common Bent
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog
Anisantha sterilis Barren Brome
Bromus hordeaceus ssp hordeaceus Common Soft-brome
Anthoxanthum odoratum Sweet Vernal-grass
Festuca rubra Red Fescue
Hordeum murinum Wall Barley
Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-grass
Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dog’s-tail
Aira caryophyllea Silver Hair-grass
Vulpia bromoides Squirreltail Fescue
Briza maxima Greater Quaking-grass
Leymus arenarius Lyme-grass
Agrostis stolonifera Creeping Bent
Cynosurus echinatus Rough Dog’s-tail


12 species were recorded at Tuckton riverside as detailed below:

Glyceria maxima Reed Sweet-grass
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp cespitosa Tufted Hair-grass
Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail
Phleum pratense Timothy
Carex riparia Greater Pond-sedge
Poa annua Annual Meadow-grass
Poa trivialis Rough Meadow-grass
Trisetum flavescens Yellow Oat-grass
Juncus inflexus Hard Rush
Carex hirta Hairy Sedge
Carex otrubae False Fox-sedge
Juncus conglomeratus Compact Rush

Dowloadable PDF

Insect Report 2013


January29th. Some more insects in winter.

A talk by the societies chairman about how many of our local insects spend the winter months, including those that hibernate and others that are very active at this time of year.

February 16th. A simplified introduction to Entomology.

A simple view, of the complex study ,of the many different groups of insects that are in existence.

Looking in some detail at their lives, similarities and differences that make them what they are, a fascinating variety of creatures.

March 5th. Some more Insects at Martin Down.

A second look at some of the huge range of insects that can be found, at what is probably one of the best nature reserves in the country.

April 2nd. A look at some of our beautiful micro moths.

A selection of some of our prettier micro moths, in close up, showing how attractive they can be and what interesting life histories they have.

June 18th. How to rear insects and spiders in captivity.

Mark has reared insects and spiders for about 47 years and this is a talk showing some of the trials, failures and successes he has had throughout this time, keeping these creatures.

June 19th. Entomology study group.

This has now become an annual event during the societies version of the National Insect week, which is a close encounter with whatever livestock Mark has at this time of the year. This year a mixture of Stick insects, a Mantis, several large Spiders and various Lepidoptera.

August 10th. My Life as a Naturalist Part2.

A continuation of the Presidents address given on March 9th. As mark continues his life story as a naturalist from 1982, when he moved south to Dorset, up to the present time.

October 22nd. Interesting Autumnal insects of Dorset.

Another look at some of the insects and their relations that are active from late summer to the start of winter.

From the Holly Blue to the November Moth.


We had a good turn out of 26 people, however season was very late and cold , so very few species of butterfly were seen, Buckthorns were scarcely breaking bud and no sign of Brimstones or there eggs.

We saw enough to keep people happy though and I think everyone enjoyed the day.


Dingy Skipper. -Erynnis tages.

Grizzled Skipper.-Pyrgus malvae.

Small Heath. – Cooenonympha pamphilus.


Garden Tiger young larva. – Arctia caja.

Small Eggar young larvae in cocoon. Eriogaster lanestris.

Scarlet Tiger larvae. Callimorpha dominula.

Small White Wave adult. – Asthena albulata.


Spindle Ermine. – Yponomeuta cagnagella.

Mother of Pearl larva. – Pleuropya ruralis.


Scorpion fly. – Panorpa communis.

Bloody nosed beetle. – Timarcha tenebricosa.

Saint Mark’s Fly. Many. – Bibio marci.

Cardinal beetle. – Pyrochroa coccinea.

Chrysomelid sp. beetle.

14 spot ladybird. – Propylea quattuordecimpunctata.


Common Lizard. – Lacerta vivipara.

Young Slow-worm. – Anguis fragilis.

Adder. – Vipera berus.

Toad tadpoles under cattle grid. – Bufo bufo.

11 Roman Snails. – Helix pomatia.





1. Garden Tiger. – Arctia caja. X1.

2. Common Rustic. – Mesapamea secalis. X9. Many forms/vars.

3. Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. – Noctua janthe. X2.

4. Silver y.- Autographa gamma. X1.

5. Dun-bar. – Cosmia trapezina. X2.

6. Bright-line Brown-eye. – Lacanobia oleracea. X1.

7. Uncertain. – Hoplodrina alsines. X1.

8. Double-striped Pug.- Gymnoscelis rufifasciata. X2.

9. Shuttle-shaped Dart. – Agrotis puta puta. X1.

10. Riband Wave. – Idaea aversata. X1.

11. Large Yellow Underwing. – Noctua pronuba. X9.

12. Dark Arches. – Apamea monoglypha. X4.

13. Svensson’s Copper Underwing.- Amphipyra berbera svenssoni. X1.

14.Grey / Dark Dagger. – Acronicta psi/tridens. X1.

15. Dark Sword-grass. – Agrotis ipsilon. X1.


16. Carcina quercana. X2.

17. Teleoides vulgella. X2.

18. Emmelina monodactyla. X1.

19. Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix. – Pandemis corylana. X1.

20. Blastobasis adustella. X2.

21. Blastobasis lacticolella. X2.

22. Beautiful Plume. -Amblyptilia acanthadactyla. X1.

23.Bryotropha terrella. X1 .

24. Ypsolopha sylvella.

25. Apple Leaf Miner. – Lyonetia clerkella. X3.

26. Variegated Golden Tortrix. – Archips Cartagena. X1.

27. Agriphila geniculea. X1.

Insects Report 2012


January 10th. Insects in winter. Mark Spencer.

February 21st. New forest insects. Paul Brock.

March 31st. Insects of the Sumatran rainforest. Jonathon McGowan.

April 24th. Spiders and their lives. Simon Moore.

June 26th. Some invertebrates of India. Jonathon McGowan.

June 30th. Some insects at Martin Down. Mark Spencer.

August 4th. Insects and their relationships to food plants and environment. Mark Spencer.

September 18th. Some more exotic insects and their life cycles. Mark Spencer.

October 2nd. Insects in Autumn. Mark Spencer.

November 3rd. The Aurelian Legacy. Dr. Michael Salmon.

December 8th. Butterfly and Moth wing patterns. Professor Philip Howse.


May 17th. Martin Down. Joint with Butterfly Conservation. Leaders Arthur Bryant and Mark Spencer.

Quite a large group arrived and optimistically headed over the open down with winter and rainproof clothing against the biting cold of the summer weather ! We saw a grand total of 4 butterflies – 2 Dingy Skippers ,1 Grizzled Skipper and a Small Heath, were all that could be coaxed into some slight activity. One tiny web of Small Eggar moth larvae were found , as well as a few clusters of Lackey moth caterpillars and a number of Spindle Ermine moth webs. A young tiger moth larva, thought to be a possible Wood Tiger but later proved to be a Garden Tiger larva was found feeding on Gorse at base of Rifle range.. The Buckthorns were nearly all still in tight bud, due to the cold season, so unsurprisingly, despite a long search, no signs were found of any Brimstone butterfly eggs or larvae, which are normally common at this site and time of the year.

On the other side of the A354 in Vernditch Chase we did find a few larvae of the Scarlet Tiger moth saw a few Adelid moths flying with their enormous antennae and more Roman snails than ever before 12 in fact ! a small whitish grey micro was seen and photographed by Steve’s wife, identification was difficult as usual but I’m fairly sure it was Cnephasia conspersana, but I’m open to arguement if we have an expert out

there !We also met a Scorpion fly and a bright red and black froghopper , and a very young Slow worm.

We would normally hope to see about 12 to 15 species of butterfly at this site in mid May, but 2012 was to be one of the worst summers I have yet to experience, as far as the weather and butterflies were concerned !

Species of interest seen ;-


Dingy Skipper. – Erynnis tages (Linn.)

Grizzled Skipper. – Pyrgus malvae. (Linn.)

Small Heath. – Coenympha pamphilus. (Linn.)


Lackey. – Malacosoma neustria. (Linn.)

Spindle Ermine. – Yponomeuta cognatella.

Garden Tiger . – Arctia caja. (Linn.)

Small Eggar. – Eriogaster lanestris. (Linn.)

Scarlet Tiger. – Callimorpha dominula. (Linn.)

Longhorn moth. probably – Adela reaumurella.

Micro moth. – Cnephasia conspersana.


Froghopper. – Cercopsis vulnerata.

Scorpion Fly. – Panopa species.

Slow worm. – Anguis fragilis fragilis.

Adder. – Vipera berus berus.

Roman Snail. – Helix pomatia.

June 29th Dunyeats Hill Broadstone. Leaders Keith Clements and Mark Spencer.

This is Keith’s home territory and he has done long term study of the Reptiles here, he is known at the BNSS for his keen interest in Oology or the study of Bird’s eggs, he is also very knowledgeable on Ants and spiders.

This was, as far as I know, the first field trip for the BNSS on this site, certainly that I had been on and yet again the glorious weather nearly caused the cancellation of this event, as it rained quite heavily for a while in the early morning up to half an hour before the meeting time. Still a group of stalwarts ( 8 in all ) turned up and we had a very interesting and successful field trip.

Our first insects were Shield Bugs feeding and mating on a Dock plant in large numbers. A dying Violet Ground beetle was seen on the path, then I netted a small greenish moth, which has proved a challenge to identify, after numerous alternatives were discussed, including vars. of Small Grass Emerald and even a green form of the Barred Red, but it may just be a worn specimen of the Common Emerald, the puzzle continues ! There are many tins and pieces of roof felt on the site for studies of reptiles we of course checked as many as we could find, amongst all 3 snake species, Common Lizards and Slow-worms we also found several ant species, a Dusky Cockroach and a Pill Millepede. one larva of the Beautiful Yellow Underwing was netted from the undergrowth, along with several Grasshoppers. a few Silver Y moths were seen flying and most spectacular of all, a male Clouded Buff moth, many seeing this species for the first time. A July belle proved difficult to photograph as it insisted on sitting with wings over the back, but a male Common Heath proved to be more helpful. we saw many Wood Ant nests and were shown a slave making ant colony or two. We found a female Velvet ant cow killer !! ( a parasitic wasp in fact ) and a number of brown China-mark moths flying a round a pond with a sizeable population of Sundews present, both broad and narrow leaved forms. A few newly emerged Damselflies were seen and captured for close inspection, all seemed to be Common Blue Damsels. As we returned by a roundabout route we found a bagworm moth cocoon and at the back of peoples gardens found a number of Burnet moth caterpillars and cocoons before returning to our cars. All in all a very interesting and successful field trip despite the weather and the shortage of butterflies !


Small Heath. Coenympha pamphilus. (Linn.)


Common Emerald ( perhaps ?) Hemithea aestivaria ?

Clouded Buff. Diacrisia sannio.

Silver Y. Autographa gamma.

Beautiful Yellow Underwing (larva). Anarta myrtilli.

July belle. Scotopteryx luridata

Common Heath. Ematurga atomaria.

Burnet. ( probably 6-spot) larvae/cocoons. Zygaena filipendulae.

Mother of Pearl. Pleuroptya ruralis.

Brown China-mark. Elophilia nymphaeata.

Bagworm cocoon. Psyche caste.


Dock shield bugs. Coreus marginatus.

Tawny cockroach. Ectobius pallidus.

Heath Grasshopper nymphs. Chorthippus vegans.

Violet ground beetle. .Carabus violaceous.

Velvet ant-cow killer . Myrmilla calva

Black Ant. Formica fusca.

Slave making ant. Formica sanguine.

Wood ant. Formica rufa.

Common Blue Damsel fly. Enallagma cyathigerum.

A Giant Cranefly. Tipula maxima.

A metallic green flower beetle. Oedemera nobilis.

Drone fly. Eristalis tenax.

A hoverfly. Xanthogramma ornatum.

A Tree Crab Spider. Thomisidae species.

A Pill Millipede. Glomeris marginata.


Adder. Vipera berus berus.

Smooth Snake. Coronella austriaca austriaca.

Grass Snake. Natrix natrix natrix.

Common Lizard. Lacerta vivipara.

Slow Worm. Angius fragilis fragilis.

Common Toad. Bufo bufo bufo.

Common Frog. Rana temporaria temporaria.


With considerable reluctance , I must admit, I arrived at about 10.55 a.m. it was raining as I arrived and I gave a hopeless shrug to Jonathon as we surveyed yet another potentially ruined field trip. this time only 5 of us braved the August wet, as we decided whether to go back home or to risk a walk, it rained still more heavily ! We sheltered back into our cars and watched sadly as the rain poured yet again. After a few minutes it stopped and we all decided to march on regardless having come so far and see if any wildlife would show itself.

We were certainly glad we were so optimistic, apparently the wildlife was so desperate to use every bit of sunlight to the full, that we saw an awful lot !

Just out of the car Jonathon spotted a moth, a Scarce Footman, then a couple of Gatekeepers and we hadn’t yet left the car park. We headed for Vernditch first, as this would offer some shelter if (or more likely when ) it rained again ! Meadow Browns followed, then some Cinnabar moth caterpillars on Ragwort, as a Ringlet and a Large White floated by as it kept getting better. Jonathon found a bush cricket killed by an Ectopic fungus stuck to a leaf ( normally common in tropical rainforest conditions !) A few glorious Scarlet Tiger moths took to the wing and we found a spectacular, wasp mimicking ,longhorn beetle. We soon saw the first of many Silver Washed fritillaries and just after sheltering from another shower, a lovely White Admiral..

As we checked the Skipper butterflies for identification purposes, a heavily pregnant Common lizard was discovered sunbathing and even a Purple Hairstreak honoured us with a visit to low herbage, albeit briefly.

In the usual area, the inevitable Roman snail showed up, though not as many as our earlier visit.

An Adder was found and closely studied and photographed, a number of Roesel’s Crickets were identified and even the Dark green Fritillary was still on the wing ! Feeling happy, lucky and positive I couldn’t resist searching the Wild Privet sprigs and soon came up with the first of 3 Privet Hawk moth eggs to be found by myself and Jonathon! We went back to our cars for lunch and then did a quick walk over the downland side where we added the Chalkhill Blue and quite a few more Dark Green Fritillaries, for a very enjoyable and successful day, thank goodness for optimism !


Gatekeeper. Pyronia tithonius. (Linn.)

Meadow Brown. Maniola jurtina. (Linn.)

Ringlet. Aphantopus hyperantus. (Linn.)

Small Heath. Coenympha pamphilus. (Linn.)

Essex Skipper. Thymelicus lineola. ( Ochsenheimer. )

Small Skipper. Thymelicus sylvestris. (Poda.)

Large Skipper. Ochlodes venata. (Bremer and Grey.)

Large White. Pieris brassicae. (Linn.)

Green-veined White. Pieris napi. (Linn.)

Marbled White. Melanargia galathea. (Linn.)

Dark Green Fritillary. Argynnis aglaja. (Linn.)

Silver-washed Fritillary. Argynnis paphia. (Linn.)

White Admiral. Ladoga camilla. (Linn.)

Purple Hairstreak. Quercusia quercus.

Chalk-hill Blue. Lysandra coridon. (Poda.)

Speckled Wood. Pararge aegeria. (Linn.)

MOTHS. 7 Species.

Scarlet Tiger. Callimorpha dominula.(Linn.)

Six-spot Burnet. Zygaena filipendulae.

Five-spot Burnet. Zygaena trifolii.

July Belle. Scotopteryx luridata.

Scarce Footman. Eilema complana.

Cinnabar. larvae. Tyria jacobaea.

Privet Hawk. ovae. Sphinx ligustri.


Longhorn Beetle. (Wasp mimic ) Strangalia maculata.

Roesel’s Bush Cricket. Metrioptera roeselii.

Roman Snail. Helix pomatia.

Adder. Viperus berus berus.

Common Lizard. Lacerta viviparia.

STUDY GROUP. Thursday June 28th..

I held one of my,” meet the livestock “study groups which was attended by only 4 other members ( probably due to some mix up with the date in the programme ?!) a good time was had by all as they met with some exotic caterpillars, stick insects and spiders at close quarters. We also had the rare opportunity to see both the adult moth and a well grown larva of the Puss Moth. Cerura vinula at the same time, due to early and late emergence of this species this year.


The year @ the BNSS Entomologically in general, has been a very busy and interesting one.

Martin and Steve have progressed with photographing the collections of set specimens, so that we have digital records of them, hopefully soon to be available on our website that Ben has been very busy with, amongst his many other tasks ! Thanks in particular to Nick, Ian, Jonathon and some others we are getting much more photographic records of the material we discover and study on our field trips and this will also with luck and hard work soon be accessible on our web pages.

Despite problems with our insurance we still managed to put on a good show of live insects for the public at our open days, for which I also thanks Keith and his grandson Andrew for both their help and assistance on the long sessions and for some extra livestock to show !

I can say that without doubt, that 2012 was the worst year for weather (April to August ) I have ever seen in my lifetime and many butterfly species have suffered because of it, one can only hope that they have survived and will recover in 2013, weather permitting ?!? Amazingly despite the weather one can see from the records that we did have some great finds and as always ,the people, the characters, the experiences, the gains in knowledge, the jokes and tales and the wildlife, made it a great year to remember !


Insect Report 2011


I am pleased to report that quite a lot has been achieved with Entomology at the BNSS during the last 12 months.

Ben Limburn has done an immense amount of work to help preserve the large collections, from the ravages of pests such as the Museum Beetle, by tirelessly rotating them into the Society’s deep freezer. He has also been very busy organising and tidying masses of material in the Society’s attic space, trying to prevent this material from never seeing the light of day.

Thanks also to the massive works by both Steve Limburn and Martin Western who have been cataloguing and photographing our collections, so that they can be digitised and thus be preserved in a different and more accessible form for the future.

I have also been busy digitising the best of some of our insect slides, especially those of the late Margaret Brooks.

Hopefully all, or some of this material will soon become accessible to people on our web site and may encourage more of them to come and see the original specimens.


23rd June, 2011. Joint field trip with Ornithology section to Vernditch and Martin Down. 

(same as report for ornithology but with addition of one Light Emerald moth –Campaea margaritata)

30th July, 2011. Joint field trip with the BBCS to Bourne Bottom. 

Main target species: Grayling butterfly.

A small group of us gathered on the heath at the end of Bloxworth Road after a wet morning it was cool and cloudy it did note bode well for butterflies.

However we soon saw our first Grayling, later seeing many more, most of which were males and very fresh, suggesting that they were recently emerged.

Butterflies seen;-

Gatekeeper  – Pyronia tithonus.

Grayling – Hipparchia semele.

Small Skipper – Thymelicus sylvestris.

Small Copper – Lycaena phlaeas.

Large White – Pieris brassicae.

Small White. – Pieris rapae.

Brimstone.- Gonepteryx rhamni.

Comma – Polygonia c-album.

Speckled Wood – Parage aegeria.

It was a very poor day for dragonflies especially as this is a very good site for them , we only saw a single male Blue Tailed Damselfly – Ishnura elegans and a quick glimpse of what I think was an Emperor Dragonfly – Aeshna affinis as we were leaving.

Another insect of note was a dramatic black and yellow species of Sawfly, as yet unidentified.

10th August, 2011. Joint field trip with BBCS to Martin Down.

Target species Silver Spotted Skipper –Hesperia comma.

A large group of us (20 plus) gathered at the village end of the site to search for what is now a quite scarce and local species of butterfly (and somewhat evasive!) We were treated to a lovely day with high numbers of butterflies (mostly “the Browns”) and a good range of species. Several species of Blues testing our identification skills! Most of us were lucky enough to see the Silver Spotted Skipper, though not until sometime after lunch and only 2 to 3 individuals were seen in total.

20 species of butterflies were seen and a few Six -Spot Burnet moths – Zygaena filipendulae were still on the wing and a single Yellow Tailed moth – Euproctis similes at rest on a Hawthorn leaf .

Butterflies seen ;-

Meadow Brown.- Maniola jurtina.

Gatekeeper.- Pyronia tithonus.

Speckled Wood.- Parage aegeria.

Small Heath.- Coenonympha pamphilus.

Large White.-Pieris brassicae.

Small White –Pieris rapae.

Green Veined White – Pieris napi.

Brimstone.- Gonepteryx rhamni.

Red Admiral.- Vanessa atalanta.

Small Tortoiseshell.- Aglais urticae.

Comma.-Polygonia c-album.

Dark Green Fritillary.- Argynnis aglaja.

Common Blue.– Polyommatus icarus.

Adonis blue.-Lysandra bellargus.

Chalk-hill Blue.-Lysandra coridon.

Holly Blue.-Celastrina argiolus.

Brown Argus.-Aricia agestis.

Small copper.-Lycaena phlaeas.

Small Skipper.-Thymelicus sylvestris.

Silver Spotted Skipper.-Hesperia comma.

Throughout the year we have had a range of talks on British and exotic insects, members had another chance to meet my live insects and spiders on June 22nd and again alongside the public on the Open weekend September 10th and 11th. We had the opportunity to see the catch from a live moth trapping thanks to James Fradgeley. Although a poor night for moths, the few of us who bothered to turn up were given a superb personal tour of James’ garden.

Here’s hoping for an even better 2012.