Rare Moths

Lancashire’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Priority Species Update

Below is an update on the BAP species that occur in Lancashire, detailing recent monitoring efforts and plans for the coming year. Action plans are set out for those species (or habitats) that are most threatened with the aim of aiding recovery.

50.001 Goat Moth Cossus cossus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Fourteen adults were observed between the 25th May and 20th of August 2020, all but one coming to MV light. In thirteen cases they either lay on the sheet under a suspended light or more often within about four meters of the light. This latter point has become a frequent observation over a number of years and care should be exercised when walking around the sheet. Records were from seven different sites, Ainsdale one, Freshfield Dune Heath two and Formby National Trust four. 2020 counts as a success for Goat Moth records.

54.002 The Forester Adscita statices (Linnaeus, 1758)

The public lockdown has stopped the usual crop of Forester records. A total of eight adults were recorded at Ainsdale between the 11th and 24th of August at the moths main site. The food plant, Sheep’s Sorrel, is plentiful and this small colony looks stable, unlike four areas near Formby which have been overgrown with coarse grasses and bramble. Despite regular checks no larvae or adults have been seen as follows Lankhill Field, since 2013, Asparagus Field since 2012, Ainsdale Dune Heath since 2008 and Massam's Slack since 1982. But two reports in 2019 showed adults seen about three hundred meters South from the main Ainsdale site and in 2020 a new site was found within the Montegue triangle.

54.003 Cistus Forester Adscita geryon (Hübner, [1813])

Just low single figures have been noted in recent years which are mainly being picked up during butterfly transects withing their extremely restricted range on the South-facing rocky outcrops of Warton Crag. The hot Summer of 2018 decimated the larval foodplant Helianthemum nummularium (Rock rose) which likely had a negative impact. The last records came in 2019 of just two individuals. Pheromone surveys have been recommended to fully assess the population

63.024 Anania funebris (Ström, 1768)

There were just two records of seven moths in 2020. This is considerably down on the thirteen records in 2019 though Covid restrictions could have been a factor. Surveys are being planned for 2021 and 2022 throughout the Morecambe Bay area. Goldenrod plants were planted out at Myers Allotment in Autumn 2020 and there are plans for more in 2021.

09/05/2020 - Gaitbarrows NNR, (x2)

20/5/2020 - Warton Crag, (x5)

70.088 Netted Carpet Eustroma reticulata ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)

Numbers of this moth at its only known Lancashire site continue to drop and metapopulations are being lost. Only 12 individuals were recorded in 2020 and the annual caterpillar count was cancelled due to Covid restrictions. In an attempt to improve the habitat for the larval foodplant, Impatients noli-tangere Touch-me-not-balsam, volunteers are trailing new management methods in an attempt to increase plant abundance and to create new patches of the plant.

73.132 Sandhill Rustic Luperina nickerlii (Freyer, 1845)

Due to lockdown no visits to the Green Beach at Ainsdale were permitted, so no records during 2020 were sent in. The development of new primary sand dunes with Sand Couch growing in abundance suggest the moth will hold its own. The previous records, a single at each site, both in August 2019 were made by a torch light search on the outer sand dunes at Cabin Hill NNR and MOD Altcar.

70.201 Barred Tooth-striped Trichopterix polycommata ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)

In the last few years our understanding of this species has grown immensely. Targeted pheromone and larval surveys around the Morecambe Bay limestone stronghold between 2017 to 2019 have produced exciting results. The first larva was found on Ash at Warton Crag in 2018 and at multiple other sites throughout its range since. More pheromone surveys are being planned. As part of the new Green Recovery project, Wild privet Ligustrum vulgare is to be grown and planted out to support this species as an alternative to Ash as Hymenoscyphus fraxineus takes hold.

70.250 Belted Beauty Lycia zonaria ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)

Over the last few years counts have been very variable on the saltmarsh south of Potts Corner, its single remaining site in England and Wales. The Annual organised daytime count (involving an average of c25 participants per year) over the last few years produced the following maximum adult counts:

2015 – 30 on 11th April (an individual count a week later produced 93 moths)

2016 – 20 on 17th April

2017 – 366 on 16th April

2018 – 90 on 22nd April

2019 – 86 on 15th April

No surveys were possible in 2020 due to Covid restrictions. If a count becomes possible in April 2021 details will be advertised nearer the time.

73.146 Least Minor Photedes captiuncula (Treitschke, 1825)

Numbers of this predominantly diurnal and relatively unknown species have been extremely low in recent years. It’s small size and rapid flight make it difficult to locate. An organised survey at Warton Crag in 2020 proved unsuccessful. As such, there have been no records from its favoured open limestone sites since 2018, however, there have been limited records from just over the Cumbrian border at Hutton Roof. Further surveys at sites where the larval foodplant Glaucous sedge Carex flacca is found are currently being devised.

J. Patton, R. Walker, S. Palmer, J. Girdley

Species not recorded in Lancashire but worth searching for:

Pyrausta sanguinalis (Scarce Crimson and Gold)

The beautiful little pyralid moth is a species of coastal dune slacks where plenty of the larval foodplant (thyme) occurs. It is present on the Isle of Man and sites such as the St Annes dune nature reserve where patches of thyme occur would be well worth checking for this moth. It flies in sunny conditions in June and again in August but also comes to light. Reference in Barry Goater’s Pyralid book to it occurring in Lancashire were taken from Beirne (1952). It is possible that Beirne was referring to the Wallasey records in Mansbridge (1940), which is in Cheshire , not Lancashire .

Chalk Carpet Scotopteryx bipunctaria

Despite the lack of records from our area, this moth, which is readily disturbed during the day and comes to light, might occur in the limestone areas of north Lancs. The adult is on the wing in July and August and the larva feed on bird’s-foot trefoil.

Dark-bordered Beauty Epione vespertaria

Although a real long-shot, any upland wet and lightly wooded areas where creeping willow still occurs in quantity would be worth a check for this attractive moth. It only occurs at one or two other northern English sites in Yorkshire and Northumberland and a few others in Scotland . Just after sunrise and at dusk in late July and August would be the best time to target this species in suitable habitat.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris tityus

The possibilities of finding this day-flying hawk-moth do seem rather slim, particularly after the many years of searching that have taken place already in areas where devil’s-bit scabious occurs. However, it has colonies across much of Britain and must be worth bearing in mind when out walking in damp flowery meadows or along the wide woodland rides on limestone when the sun is out from mid-May to mid-June.

Rosy Marsh Moth Coenophila subrosea

This species was found in Cumbria (Roudsea Wood NNR) a few years ago and would certainly be worthwhile looking for in the few remaining lowland raised bogs where Bog Myrtle occurs. Searches should concentrate for the larvae in spring and the adult in August.

Northern Dart Xestia alpicola alpina

This is very much a high ground species (above 1500ft – 460m) and is believed to occur as an adult in the Pennines in odd years. The larval foodplant is cowberry and the moth flies from late June to August very late at night but also occasionally in hot sunshine. Any searches should be centred on concentrations of the foodplant.

White-spotted Pinion Cosmia diffinis

There is doubt as to whether this moth has ever been recorded in Lancashire and searches of locations where mature elm still occur have always drawn a blank. Its main flight period is in August should you fancy looking for it. Searches in the past have concentrated in the Roeburndale woods. As an incentive, records of any of this elm feeding group, which includes Lesser-spotted Pinion and Lunar-spotted Pinion would be extremely welcome as neither has been seen for many years in the county.

Please send details of any of the above, as soon as possible after the find, to the relevant county recorder

Existing UK BAP priority species retained

Slender Scotch Burnet

New Forest Burnet

Fiery Clearwing

Basil Thyme Case-bearer Coleophora tricolor

Dingy Mocha

Bright Wave Idaea ochrata

Silky Wave Idaea dilutaria

Chalk Carpet Scotopteryx bipunctaria

Netted Carpet Eustroma reticulata

Barberry Carpet Pareulype berberata

Argent & Sable Rheumaptera hastata

Drab Looper Minoa murinata

Barred Tooth-striped

Netted Mountain Moth Macaria carbonaria

Dark Bordered Beauty Epione vespertaria

Belted Beauty Lycia zonaria britannica

Black-veined Moth Siona lineata

Straw Belle Aspitates gilvaria

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Speckled Footman Coscinia cribraria

Lunar Yellow Underwing Noctua orbona

Cousin German Protolampra sobrina

Northern Dart Xestia alpicola alpina

Ashworth's Rustic Xestia ashworthii

Pale Shining Brown Polia bombycina

Bordered Gothic

White Spot Hadena albimacula

Striped Lychnis Shargacucullia lychnitis

Sword Grass Xylena exsoleta

Orange Upperwing Jodia croceago

Heart Moth Dicycla oo

White-spotted Pinion Cosmia diffinis

Marsh Mallow Moth

Brighton Wainscot Oria musculosa

Marsh Moth Athetis pallustris

Reddish Buff Acosmetia caliginosa

Light Crimson Underwing

Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa

Four-spotted Tyta luctuosa

Common Fan-foot Pechipogo strigilata

Clay Fan-foot Paracolax tristalis

Olive Crescent Trisateles emortualis

New UK BAP priority species added (‘scarce moths’)

Stigmella zelleriella

Lampronia capitella

Nematopogon magna

Nemophora fasciella

Goat Moth Cossus cossus

Forester Adscita statices

Eudarcia richardsoni

Nemapogon picarella

Phyllonorycter scabiosella

Phyllonorycter sagitella

Coleophora hydrolapathella

Coleophora vibicella

Coleophora wockeella

Aplota palpellus

Agonopterix atomella

Agonopterix capreolella

Syncopacma albipalpella

Syncopacma suecicella

Scythris siccella

Celypha woodiana

Grapholita pallifrontana

Epermenia insecurella

Pyrausta sanguinalis

Anania funebris

Agrotera nemoralis

Sciota hostilis

Rest Harrow Aplasta ononaria

Sussex Emerald Thalera fimbrialis

False Mocha Cyclophora porata

Scarce Pug Eupithecia extensaria occidua

Grey Carpet Lithostege griseata

Sloe Carpet Aleucis distinctata

Scarce Vapourer Orgyia recens

Small Dark Yellow Underwing Anarta cordigera

Concolorous Chortodes extrema

White-mantled Wainscot Archanara neurica

Fenn’s Wainscot Chortodes brevilinea

Sandhill Rustic Luperina nickerlii ssp. leechi

Shoulder-striped Clover

+ 69 rapidly declining ‘common and widespread’ species listed for research action only