Macro-Moths In Cheshire Report - 2002

The year 2000 was a relatively poor one for macro-moths in Cheshire. Records of 306 species have been received which is well down on previous year's totals. This is probably a reflection of a lack of submitted records rather than a reflection of a decline in the county's fauna. If you have records for 2000 (or any other year!) which you have not yet submitted, please send them in to the new Cheshire Moth Group Data Officer, Shane Farrell, 15 Westover, Romiley, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 3ER. With the current plans to publish an atlas of lepidoptera in Cheshire, your records really do count and really are appreciated. Hopefully, with your help, the 2001 report on can provide a far more complete picture of the county's macro-moths.

Early Season Moths:

We have relatively few records of even quite common early season moths. Yellow Horned, Achlya flavicornis, and Spring Usher, Agriopis leucophaeria, were both recorded at only two sites - Mouldsworth (IEL) and Mere (SB). This is due to a lack of recording effort at the relevant time of the year; Spring Usher regularly emerges in mid January, and hence is easily missed. Other early season records of note include a single observation of Tawny Pinion, Lithophane semibrunnea, at Styal in March (AWG) and an Orange Underwing, Archiearis parthenias, at Congleton Edge in April (JHS). April also saw the only report of Belted Beauty, Lycia zonaria, from its stronghold on the Wirral (AW).

The Summer Months:

May, as usual, saw the first emergence of a number of summer moths, including a Beautiful Yellow Underwing, Anarta myrtilli, at Heswall on the Wirral (SJM). Mother Shipton, Callistege mi, was reported at Ashton's Flash (AWG), and a single example of the notable B Alder Kitten, Furcula bicuspis, appeared at Mere (SB). In June, a single Poplar Kitten, Furcula bifida, appeared in Stockport (EK), our only record for the current year. The month saw a number of other good records including a Tawny Shears, Hadena perplexa, on the Wirral (ES), and a number of the notable B Grass Wave, Perconia strigillaria, reported from their stronghold at Little Budworth Country Park (AW). Two records of the local Netted Pug, Eupithecia venosata, one each in Warrington (DS) and Stockport (SF) were also interesting records. The month also saw the first arrival of migrants including Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, at Willington (RW) and the first of 149 records of Silver Y, Autographa gamma. This specie continued to be seen regularly into September.

In July a further Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, appeared at Congleton (JHS), and a Cheshire Moth Group event at Haystack Lodge resulted in the capture of a single Dark Sword-grass, Agrotis ipsilon. This meeting also produced our only record of Six-spot Burnet, Zygaena filipendulae. Two examples of the Leopard Moth, Zeuzera pyrina, were caught, one at Mere (SB) and the second in Stockport (EK). A single Blackneck, Lygephila pastinum, was also seen in this latter area (SF). This is the second VC58 record following on from the first in 1986. Mere continued to attract good moths with two examples of The Olive, Ipimorpha subtusa, (SB). A single Scarce Silver-lines, Bena prasinana, graced a Cheshire Moth Group event at Little Budworth (AW). The month also saw a single Scarce Footman, Eilema complana, the second VC58 record, in a garden trap in Weaverham (AW). The first record was a single in Prestbury in 1976. A single Brown-line Bright-eye, Mythimna conigera, was seen on the Wirral (ES) and a Gold Spangle, Autographa bractea, appeared in Stockport (SF).

After the excitement of July, with two second records for the county, good moths continued to be reported in August. A single Blue-bordered Carpet, Plemyria rubiginata, was seen at Styal (AWG). A Barred Chestnut, Diarsia dahlii, appeared at Mere (SB) and a migrant Vestal, Rhodometra sacraria, was seen in Birkenhead (GJ). Sandhill Rustics, Leperina nickerlii gueneei, were reported from the species' only VC58 site on the Wirral on two occasions (GJ,AW), and observers searching for this moth also recorded Vestal, Rhodometra sacraria, (GJ,AW), Oblique Carpet, Orthonama vittata, Haworth's Minor, Celaena haworthii, (both GJ) and Archer's Dart, Agrotis vestigialis, (AW). While Archer's Dart, Agrotis vestigialis, was expected at a coastal site, the record of Haworth's Minor, Celaena haworthii, more usually associated with upland moors is very interesting and suggestive of a possible migrant.

Autumn and Winter:

In September a Pinion-streaked Snout, Schrankia costaestrigalis, appeared at Mere (SB). This small macro may easily be overlooked as a micro by observers unfamiliar with the specie. The month also saw our only record for the period of Garden Dart, Euxoa nigricans, at Alderley Edge (CR). Strangely we have also only received two reports of Merveille du Jour, Dichonia aprilina, (Mere (SB) and Stockport (SF)) and a single record of Frosted Orange, Gortyna flavago, (found in a toilet block at the Daresbury Laboratory (AW)). These records were in September. October saw reports of two unusual carpets, a Pine Carpet, Thera firmata, at Mere and the notable B Juniper Carpet, Thera juniperata, at Styal (AWG) and Stockport (SF). Records of early season moths were dominated by reports from Mouldsworth (IEL) and Mere (SB). This proved equally true of late season moths, with these two sites yielding most of our records for 2000 of December Moth, Poecilocampa populi, although this specie also appeared in Stockport (SF). Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata, records proved far more wide spread, perhaps because of this insect's attraction for lighted windows!

Clearly, 2000 was an exciting year for macro-moths in the county despite the low numbers of records received. The report highlights a number of significant records, including two second records for VC58. If you have records that can help us to complete the picture of the macro-moths of Cheshire in 2000, please let us know. Hopefully all recorders will let us have their records for 2001 a.s.a.p. so that the next report can be as comprehensive and complete as possible.

Records highlighted in the text were received from: AW - A Wander, AWG - AW Gradwell, CR - C Rutherford, DS - D Spencer, EK - E Kearns, ES - E Samuels, GJ - G Jones, IEL - IE Landucci, JHS - JH Swan, RW - R Wye, SB - S Blamire, SF - S Farrell, SJM - SJ McWilliam.

Adrian Wander, CMG Newsletter Editor and
Steve McWilliam, County Macro-Moth Recorder












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