Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Splendid Moth!

A week ago I caught a moth that I didn't recognise, and it turned out to be a Splendid Brocade.

Splendid Brocade (Lacanobia splendens)

This species is normally found in Central and Southern Europe and was first identified in the UK from one found at Portland, in Dorset on July 1st 2003. When Martin Cade caught one in the garden of Portland Bird Observatory he realised that it might be a new species for Britain, and sent a photograph of it to Martin Honey in the Natural History Museum. Within minutes the answer came back and Lacanobia splendens joined the British list. When the photograph was published it turned out that it had been caught several times in the previous few weeks at a range of southern sites, but had gone unidentified. In addition there had been two records in 2001 in the Channel Islands. It was given the English name, Splendid Brocade, fairly obvious from it's scientific name, and the honour of first for Britain went to J Owen, at Dymchurch Kent, on 14th June 2003

I don't know how many there have been in subsequent years, as I haven't yet checked Sean Clancy's excellent annual reviews of migrants that appear annually in Atropos. I'm sure that this year will prove to be the best year so far, with good numbers reported from the Dungeness area and several other sites in Kent, including eight reported on Planet Thanet.

I failed to get any decent pictures of the first one I caught, a it quite suddenly took wing as I was focusing and went straight out of the narrow gap as I'd left the door ajar to left some air in the conservatory. I was more cautious this time and did manage a few pictures of the unusual species. It will be interesting to see if it continues to be regularly recorded in numbers or if it returns to being a more scarce migrant. In 2003 I caught five Scarce Bordered Straws, two in 2004, four in 200, then 163 in 2006, but only one in 2007, none in 2008 and one in 2009. Several bird species also have years when there are large irruptions, but then no subsequent change in status. On the other hand some moths have arrived as rare immigrants and are now regular and I presume breed locally. Langmaid's Yellow Underwing, Clancy's Rustic and Evergestis Limbata are examples of moths that were once rarities, that are now regular in the area. Only time will tell in the case of this splendid first for the garden.


Bennyboymothman said...

Really must start double-checking those Bright-line Brown-eyes!

Well done.

Tony Morris said...

To me they look more like Scarce Bordered Straws when they are tucked away in a corner of the trap

John Young said...

Hi Tony, nice post, makes me think I need to check my trap a little more carefully. Cheers John