Tiverton rare moth find

An extremely rare immigrant moth, Diplopseustis perieresalis, was found by Andrew Cunningham in his garden at Tiverton on Sunday night (2 Sept 2012). It is thought to be only the 17th ever record for Britain, the second ever for Devon and is a new species for North Devon (Vice-county 4).

Diplopseustis periersalis (Andrew Cunningham)

Diplopseustis perieresalis (Andrew Cunningham)

This pyralid moth is found widely across eastern asia, Australia and New Zealand, where it is thought that the larvae feed on rushes. In western Europe, the first sighting was in the year 2000 in Portugal, and the species has first occured in the UK (on the Isles of Scilly) in 2001. Further British sightings followed. The first mainland record was from Exeter, when Graham and Jean Jarvis found one in their garden trap in November 2007.

It is not clear how this moth managed to spread from the far east to western Europe, but it seems that it is established somewhere in the region and further immigration into Britain is likely in the future.

Migrants around!

Despite, or perhaps because of, the poor summer and succession of weather fronts sweeping in from the south-west, there are quite a lot of immigrant moths around at the moment. Many people have been catching good numbers of common migrants such as Silver Y, Udea ferrugalis and Nomophila noctuella, but there are more exciting immigrants around too.

Mike Braid recently caught a Beautiful Marbled near Chittlehampton in North Devon (VC4) (see image below), Richard Billington had a Striped Hawk-moth at Wembury, near Plymouth and Oliver Woodland recorded a Delicate and a Cosmopolitan at Membury, near Axminster. There have also been a number of Cydia amplana caught in the County.

Beautiful Marbled (Mike Braid)2

Beautiful Marbled (Mike Braid) caught in North Devon on night of 23 Aug 2012

Rare migrants in early spring

A warm spell of weather at the end of February and beginning of March following a mild winter has resulted in some very interesting records.

Red-headed Chestnut moth (Conistra erythrocephala)

Red-headed Chestnut

On 24 February, Barry Henwood was amazed to catch a Conistra erythrocephala Red-headed Chestnut in his garden trap in Abbotskerswell. This is a rare immigrant to Britain and represents only the third ever Devon record, previous ones being in 2004 and 1856! Although it is impossible to know for sure, it is likely that this moth arrived from continental Europe during the major moth immigration last autumn and managed to survive the mild winter.

This amazing sighting was followed, just a few days later, by another extraordinary record: Xylena exsoleta Sword-grass at Membury on 28 February by Oliver Woodland. Again, this is a rare immigrant in Devon (although it does live in northern Britain), with the last sighting in 1994, and also probably arrived last autumn.