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.