Thursday, 4 November 2010

Two new moths for Shetland

Every year, the small band of moth-trappers in Shetland catch a few moths that they are unable to readily identify, and by October have a fridge-full of deceased moths in pots. They are then magically sent away south to be identified by Jon Clifton of Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies ( The results from 2010 have just come back, and have revealed two firsts for Shetland.

Sandy Carpet (Perizoma flavofasciata)
A moribund individual was trapped on 21st June 2010 by Rob Fray in his garden at Virkie. It was not photographed, but a photo of the species can be seen here.

This moth, which usually inhabits open woodlands, mature hedgerows, calcareous grassland and sand-dunes, is fairly common and widely distributed in England, Wales and southern Scotland. It flies during June and July, although does not come to light very often. It would appear to be spreading north, as it is not mentioned in the books on Orkney Lepidoptera which summarised records until the mid-1990s, but there are now widespread records on Orkney Mainland according to this map.

Splendid Brocade (Lacanobia splendens)
This was trapped by Paul Harvey in his garden at Virkie on 19th July 2010. Again, the specimen wasn ot photographed, but a photo of the species can be seen here.

This central and southern European species was first identified in Britain from a specimen captured at Portland, Dorset),on 1st July 2003, although earlier specimens which had been overlooked have been located since. Since then it has been recorded in the UK on a number of occasions, usually in southern England. It flies in June and July and typically frequents damp woodland and forests in its native range. Not only was this a first for Shetland, it was the first record of Splendid Brocade in Scotland.

On behalf of all who trap and record moths in Shetland, thanks to Paul Harvey and the Shetland Biological Records Centre for providing us with an easy facility to get our moths identified, and Jon Clifton for patiently wading through loads of common moths and locating these occasional little gems.