Macro-moths 2008

by Melissa & Andy Banthorpe


Overall 2008 was a better year than 2007 but still poor in comparison with other recent years. Some recorders reported that the number of species seen in a year was about average but numbers of moths caught was lower than would be expected.

Despite this, during the year we ran lights in the field on 12 occasions and at the following places - Carthagena Golf Course near Sutton, Duck End NR, Flitton Moor, Flitwick Moor, The Lodge (RSPB Sandy), Marston Vale CP, Maulden Wood and Stockgrove CP. The Duck End NR event on 30th May was for Badger Hill Scouts, who meet in Maulden, and followed on from a talk by ourselves on moths at one of their evening meetings. The two visits to The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 10th May and 2nd August were in support of ‘Creatures of The Night’ events at that site organised by the RSPB.

A National Moth Night (NMN) event was held at Maulden Wood on 7th June, this was a BNHS event and about 20 people attended. The RSPB also held a NMN event at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) which was well supported.

The single new species for the county this year was a Double Kidney which came to Tony Lawrence’s trap in Eaton Ford. This addition brings the county list to 584 species (amended from 2007 count due to checking work in 2008) of which 391 were seen in 2008.

We are assisted in recording by a network of people regularly running light traps in their gardens. These are at Ampthill, Bedford (two sites), Biggleswade (two sites), Bromham (two sites), Carlton, Clifton (two sites), Eaton Ford, Haynes, Kempston, Lower Stondon, Sandy, Stotfold, Studham, Turvey and Wilden. At least four individuals also run portable traps in good habitat in their own locality which adds to the coverage. In addition, with the kind assistance of Ian Woiwod, we have access to the records from the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) traps in the county. These are situated at Cockayne Hatley and Eaton Bray.

We have continued working on checking and transcribing the records held at Bedford Museum and most had been entered by the end of the year. The maps were checked against Arnold et al and what remains is adding some further old records from the folders that Vic Arnold used to write the macro-moth species text in this book. There are also some other old records included in early Bedfordshire Naturalists that need adding to the database. We are keen to hear of any other records old or new that may not appear in the data collected so far.

A short note with respect to county boundaries and recording jurisdiction: County Moth Recorders around the United Kingdom use the Watsonian Vice-county boundaries to record, Bedfordshire being VC30. These boundaries remain static and will never change. With the digitisation of maps it is now much easier to ascertain where the VC30 boundary departs from the Bedfordshire administrative boundary than it was at the time that Arnold et al (1997) was written. Hence as Recorders we will be concentrating on recording within the VC30 boundary though we will be very happy to receive all records from within Bedfordshire, passing on those that fall outside the VC30 boundary to the relevant recorder, whilst retaining a copy on the county database. An article detailing the differences between the VC30 and Bedfordshire administrative boundaries will appear in next year’s Bedfordshire Naturalist.

No significant records from outside the VC30 boundary but within Bedfordshire administrative were sent to us this year.


The following list includes species of interest recorded in VC30 during 2008 but it should be noted that we are keen to receive records for all species including those regarded as very common as without these records the dataset is incomplete.

A list of the macro-moths of VC30 with their current status is on the Beds Moth Group website www.vc30moths.org.uk or available from the Recorders on request. This is amended at least once a year and often more frequently.

18 Map-winged Swift Hepialus fusconebulosa (DeG.)
One came to light on NMN, which was also a BNHS field meeting, at Maulden Wood on 7th June (AMB & MGB). This is only the third record of this species since 1992.


370 Hornet Moth Sesia apiformis (Cl.) [Nb]

One newly-emerged adult seen in Marston Vale CP near the railway on 28th June (CBa). Also recorded as emergence holes at Barton-le Clay on 28th Mar and Wootton on 17th Mar (AMB) and Maulden on 18th June, Priory CP on 20th Apr, and Tempsford on 29th June (AMB & MGB).

371 Lunar Hornet Moth
Sesia bembeciformis (Hb.)

Recorded as larval feeding signs in recently cut sallow stumps at Priory CP on 20th Apr (AMB & MGB).

374 Yellow-legged Clearwing
Synanthedon vespiformis (L.) [Nb]

One to a pheromone lure in a Clifton garden on 4th July (ARO).

378 Orange-tailed Clearwing
Synanthedon andrenaeformis (Lasp.) [Nb]

One to a pheromone lure in a Clifton garden on 4th July (ARO).

379 Red-belted Clearwing
Synanthedon myopaeformis (Borkh.) [Nb]

One found on a windowsill in Putnoe, Bedford on 22nd June (CTo).

382 Six-belted Clearwing
Bembecia ichneumoniformis ([D. & S.]) [Nb]

One to a pheromone lure at Pix Brook NR, Arlesey and also near Stotfold on 23rd July (AMB).



1631 December Moth Poecilocampa populi (L.)

There were five records - one was seen on the wall at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 13th Nov (NDW), one came to MV light at Turvey Abbey on 2nd Nov (JM), and there were singles in the RIS trap at Cockayne Hatley on 11th and 27th Nov and 13th Dec (IW). This species is probably under recorded in the county as very little light trapping is done in the winter when this moth is on the wing.

1637 Oak Eggar
Lasiocampa quercus (L.)

There were two larval records of this species - Cooper’s Hill on 21st Apr (AMB & MGB) and Fox Covert on 20th May (KBa) - and one adult to actinic light at Sandy on 27th July (DD & MLl).



1643 Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia (L.)

Larvae were recorded at two different areas on Cooper’s Hill. They were first seen on 17th June when five were recorded (KBa), then the Recorders checked this sighting on 18th June and found seven. A singleton was then seen at a different part of the reserve on 13th July (CC). A virgin female was used successfully to attract a male at Southill on 22nd Apr (PD) and this was the only adult moth recorded during the year.



1647 Barred Hook-tip Watsonalla cultraria (Fabr.)

One record to MV at Southill on 6th Aug (PD).



1661 Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias (L.)

Two flying around Silver Birch at Flitwick Moor on 30th Mar (AMB & MGB).

1666 Large Emerald
Geometra papilionaria L.

One seen on a wall at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 25th July (NDW).

Chalk Carpet Scotopteryx bipunctaria ([D. & S.]) [Nb]

There were two records of this species both at Totternhoe with one recorded in the Old Quarry on 27th July (ET) and two at the Knolls on 28th July (CC).

1749 Dark Spinach
Pelurga comitata (L.)

A singleton was seen flying during the day at Totternhoe Old Quarry on 27th July (DW, det by ET).

1766 Blue-bordered Carpet
Plemyria rubiginata ([D. & S.])

Only two records this year of this smart species, at Great Hayes Wood, Podington on 30th June (HAS) and Turvey Abbey on 2nd July (JM). There are usually a few records of this each year but it is never common.

1771 Juniper Carpet
Thera juniperata juniperata (L.)

One at Bromham on 4th Nov (PA) was the only record this year with only two records in 2007. The bulk of the records of this species were in the late 1980s and early 1990s but whether this was a feature of recording effort we do not know. Certainly there are plenty of people running garden light traps in the county now but how many run them regularly in the colder months of the year?

1773 Broken-barred Carpet
Electrophaes corylata (Thunb.)

This species can be confused with some examples of the Small Phoenix Ecliptoptera silaceata or Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata but the undersides of each are quite different.

There were two records this year, on NMN at Maulden Wood on 7th June (AMB & MGB) and two on the same night at Studham (CBa). Nine of the last 14 records, i.e. from 2004 onwards, have been from the same garden trap in Studham.

1778 May Highflyer
Hydriomena impluviata ([D. & S.])

A singleton of this Alder feeding species came to the sheet on NMN at Maulden Wood on 7th June (AMB & MGB). Most recent records of this came from a garden trap in Potton from 1997 to 2004 (JCh) and a garden in Clophill in 2004 (LJH). Both have reasonable amounts of the foodplant nearby.

1782 Fern
Horisme tersata ([D. & S.])

Although really regarded as a species of calcareous soils, its distribution in the county does not wholly reflect this. There are records from the south on the chalk and a cluster on the Oolite and Cornbrash in the north-west but there is also a band of records that follows the Greensand Ridge, However, the foodplant, Traveller’s Joy, also has a similar distribution in the county when you look at the published map (Dony, 1976) and this agrees with the current distribution (CBo pers comm).

There were three records this year all from garden traps - Lower Stondon on 22nd June (AMB & MGB), Bromham 23rd June (PA), and Haynes on 22nd July (SKn).

1784 Pretty Chalk Carpet
Melanthia procellata ([D. & S.])

There was only a single record of this species in 2008, in a garden trap at Lower Stondon on 26th July (AMB & MGB). With only 11 other records since 1995 it is probably under recorded in the county.

1790 Tissue
Triphosa dubitata (L.)

A single record this year at Eaton Ford on 26th Apr (AL), the first since 2006.

1807 Grass Rivulet
Perizoma albulata albulata ([D. & S.])

The only record came from Bromham LNR on 8th June (PA), the third year running that it has been found here. Although there are six recent records from light traps this is usually found in grassland areas in the daytime. Typical sites where it has been recorded since 1995, other than Bromham LNR, have been Marston Thrift, Pegsdon Hills NR, Sewell, Totternhoe Knolls and Warden Hill.

Pug spp.

The Recorders are frequently sent photographs of members of this species group to identify. They are usually poorly marked, melanistic or well worn and we cannot do anything with them. If sent the actual specimen a dissection will result in a correct identification and often an unexpected answer!

1841 Yarrow Pug
Eupithecia millefoliata Rössler [Nb]

The seventh county record, and the fifth of an adult, was in a garden light trap in Lower Stondon on 5th Aug (AMB & MGB). It was a male and only identifiable by dissection as it was so badly worn.

1876 Small Yellow Wave
Hydrelia flammeolaria (Hufn.)

There are only ever a few records of this each year and 2008 was no exception with one in the RIS trap at Cockayne Hatley on 1st July (IW) and one at Turvey Abbey on 2nd July (JM).

1907 Bordered Beauty
Epione repandaria (Hufn.)

This is another species that is relatively scarcely recorded in the county. There were two this year - at Potton Wood on 30th June (DD) and Sandy on 28th Aug (DD & MLl).

1910 Lilac Beauty
Apeira syringaria (L.)

Only a single record of this honeysuckle and privet feeder in 2008, at Clifton on 21st June (JE).

1911 Large Thorn
Ennomos autumnaria (Werneb.) [Nb]

Out of the 61 county records of this species the vast majority are from the RIS trap at Cockayne Hatley. However, the last of these was in 2003 and since 2001 the species has occurred sporadically at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) with records in 2001 and 2005 (2). In 2008 the only record was on the wall at the same site on 23rd Sept (NDW et al).

1912 August Thorn
Ennomos quercinaria (Hufn.)

Records of this species have much declined in the recent past and there have only been six individuals since the mid 1990s. These were from Turvey Abbey on 2nd Aug and 7th Sept 2005 (JM), the Eaton Bray RIS trap on 13th and 20th Aug 2006 (GBu), and two at Clifton on 14th Aug 2008 (ARO).



1972 Convolvulus Hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli (L.) [Migrant]

This was a surprise find on the wall of The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 26th Sept (CF). It was photographed by several people including the Recorders.

1984 Humming-bird Hawk-moth
Macroglossum stellatarum (L.) [Migrant]

Just ten records of this species were sent to the Recorders in 2008. The first was in a Luton garden on 5th June (HG) and the last in an Upper Stondon garden on 29th Sept (JSta & PSta).



2029 Brown Tail Euproctis chrysorrhoea (L.) [probable migrant]

There were six records of this species in 2008, most from either The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) or just off the reserve in Stratford Lane (DD & MLl). It seems likely that there is a small resident population close by.



2057 Garden Tiger Arctia caja (L.)

With only a single record this year it seems likely that we will soon have at least one blank year. The record was from Turvey Abbey on 31st July (JM) and the species had not been caught at this site since 1996. We may still be holding onto a population in rural north Bedfordshire but with few regular moth-trappers here we simply do not know.



2091 Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon (Hufn.) [Migrant]

There were four records of this migrant; from the Cockayne Hatley RIS trap on 18th Aug (IW), Carlton on 21st Aug (HAS), Great Hayes Wood Podington on 22nd Aug (HAS), and Southill on 23rd Aug (PD).

2117 Autumnal Rustic
Eugnorisma glareosa (Esp.)

Apart from a few outliers all recent records of this species are from the Greensand Ridge, especially around Sandy and Potton. This year was no exception as the species was caught at Stratford Road Sandy on 11th and 27th Sept (DD & MLl), The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 12th (3) (DD & MLl), Potton on 20th (JD), and in the Cockayne Hatley RIS trap on 7th Oct (IW).

2137 Great Brocade
Eurois occulta (L.) [Nb] [Migrant in Beds]

A single record at Great Hayes Wood Podington on 30th June (HAS), the 12th for county.

2163 Broom Moth
Melanchra pisi (L.)

Though formerly more common, this species has only been recorded seven times in the last ten years with 2008’s record at Clifton on 1st July (JE) being the first for three years.

2158 Pale Shouldered Brocade
Lacanobia thalassina (Hufn.)

There was only a single record in 2008 of this scarce moth, at Southill on 11th June (PD).

2167 Tawny Shears
Hadena perplexa perplexa ([D. & S.])

There were two records this year of a species that is recorded across the county but in not commonly. These were at Southill on 7th June (PD) and Kempston on 5th Aug (MJP).

2171 Marbled Coronet
Hadena confusa (Hufn.)

This is quite a rare moth in the county and there have only been five records in the last ten years. The single 2008 record was at Bromham on 30th May (PA).

2176 Antler Moth
Cerapteryx graminis (L.)

Only recorded from three sites in the last ten years, this species is probably under recorded in recent times most likely due to a lack of field trapping in suitable habitat. The single record this year was from The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 26th July (DD & MLl).

2177 Hedge Rustic
Tholera cespitis ([D. & S.])

This is another moth that is more commonly found by field trapping than in garden traps. The single 2008 record was on the wall of The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 14th Aug (NDW).

2189 Twin-spotted Quaker
Orthosia munda ([D. & S.])

Surprisingly there was only a single record in 2008, in Studham on 3rd Apr (CBa), as usually there are many more. In 2007 there were six records, seven in 2006, 25 in 2005 and 19 in 2004.

2197 Southern Wainscot
Mythimna straminea (Treit.)

Eight came to an MV light placed next to a reedbed containing phragmites spp. at Marston Vale CP on 8th Aug (AMB & MGB).

2225 Minor Shoulder-knot
Brachylomia viminalis (Fabr.)

One record from Potton Wood on 2nd July (DD).

2260 Dotted Chestnut
Conistra rubiginea ([D. & S.]) [Nb]

Following the first county record in 2007 a singleton came to a garden trap in Southill on 13th Mar (PD).

2273 Pink-barred Sallow
Xanthia togata (Esp.)

There was only one record of this attractive species, at Sandy on 25th Sept (DD & MLl).

2275 Dusky-lemon Sallow
Xanthia gilvago ([D. & S.])

A single record at Turvey Abbey on 6th Oct (JM).

2276 Pale-lemon Sallow
Xanthia ocellaris (Borkh.) [Na]

With only six records all-time this is a rare species in the county. One to light at Eaton Ford on 6th Oct (AL, checked AMB & MGB) was the first since a larva found at Clifton on 25th Mar 2005 was bred to adult (JCha) and the first adult record since one in the RIS trap at Cockayne Hatley on 1st Oct 1986 (IW).

2298 Svensson’s Copper Underwing
Amphipyra berbera Rungs ssp. svenssoni Fletch.

There were no records of this species in 2008. It is important to note that records will only be accepted where the pattern on the underside of the hindwing has been checked. Some years ago a method of separating the two Copper Underwing species by the colour of the palps was published but this has been discredited.

2311 Double Kidney
Ipimorpha retusa (L.)

The first county record at Eaton Ford on 4th Aug (AL checked AMB & MGB) was a complete surprise. This species is very similar to the Olive Ipimorpha subtusa but the angle of the cross-lines is different.

2268 Suspected
Parastichtis suspecta (Hb.)

Of the 14 records of this species in the county ten are from The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) and three are from Flitwick Moor. The other site (not mentioned in Arnold et al) was at King’s Wood Heath and Reach where 24 came to sugar on 13th July 1945 by R F Bretherton. The single record in 2008 was of two at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 28th June (DD & MLl, checked AMB & MGB).

2317 White-spotted Pinion
Cosmia diffinis (L.)

Along with one of the ground staff of Carthagena Golf Course, the Recorders visited the known Bedfordshire site adjacent to the course near Potton and Sutton where two came to an MV light run amongst the stand of elms here on 10th Aug (AMB & MGB).

2318 Dun-bar
Cosmia trapezina (L.)

There were plenty of records of this common moth again this year but amongst six caught at Halsey Wood on 11th Aug (HAS) one was of the form badiofasciata Teich that has an all black central band.

2323 Reddish Light Arches
Apamea sublustris (Esp.)

Surprisingly a singleton of this species turned up in the Cockayne Hatley RIS trap on 6th June (IW confirmed PGo). This is normally a chalk downland species though there are two records from Sharnbrook in 1977 and one from Bedford in 1957.

Double Lobed
Apamea ophiogramma (Esp.)

Only a single record this year at Clifton on 21st July (ARO). There are now 18 records of this species from 2000 onwards with only 22 previous to that. However, in past years we often only have a note of it being recorded in the year rather than a number of specific dates.

Ear Moth
Amphipoea oculea (L.)

This species was recorded at The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 2nd August (AMB & MGB, det AMB) with two males being dissected to prove the identification. A further six also came to the same light but are recorded as the aggregate species. It is important to take a sample of this species to prove the identification where possible as Saltern Ear Amphipoea fucosa has been recorded nearby with single recent records in both VC20 (Hertfordshire) and VC31 (Huntingdonshire).

2368 C
Celaena leucostigma (Hb.)

This is a rare moth in the county and in 2008 a single record of this was recorded from Eaton Ford on 24th July (AL) following on from singles at the same site in 2004 and 2006.

2369 Bulrush Wainscot
Nonagria typhae (Thunb.)

There were four records this year of this species. Near Turvey on 4th Aug (HAS), at Haynes on 6th Aug (SKn), Lower Stondon on 27th Aug (AMB & MGB), and Clifton on 28th Aug (ARO). This species has definitely become more common in recent years with, for example, nine records in 2006, three in 2005 and seven in 2003. This frequency is following a trend noted in Webb’s Wainscot Archanara sparganii.

2370 Twin-spotted Wainscot
Archanara geminipuncta (Haw.)

Five came to MV light at a Beds Moth Group meeting at Marston Vale CP on 8th Aug (AMB & MGB). This is not surprising considering the amount of phragmites planted here but as the plants were believed to have come from Norfolk some moths may have arrived with them. The species over winters as an egg.

2373 Webb’s Wainscot
Archanara spargannii (Esp.) [Nb]

With seven records this year this species is increasing its presence in the county. Records came from Southill on 2nd Aug (PD), Lower Stondon on 6th Aug and again on the late date of 28th Sept (AMB & MGB), Marston Vale CP on 8th Aug (AMB & MGB), The Lodge (RSPB Sandy) on 15th Aug (NDW), Haynes on 29th Aug (SKn), Kempston on 1st Sept (MJP).

2375 Large Wainscot
Rhizedra lutosa (Hb)

This species continues to be expected occasionally in light traps in the autumn and there were three records this year. However, of note one was on the early date of 1st Aug at Bromham (PA).

2377 Fen Wainscot
Arenostola phramitidis (Hb.)

Always a rare species in the county with only 14 known records, a singleton came to an MV trap at Kempston on 8th Aug (MJP). This was confirmed from photographs seen by the Recorders.

2379 Small Rufous
Coenobia rufa (Haw.)

For the second year running the Recorders caught this species in their garden trap at Lower Stondon on 26th July (AMB & MGB).

2397 Small Yellow Underwing
Panemeria tenebrata (Scop.)

This species, though not often seen, is usually recorded as a day-flier and this year was no exception with a single record at Duck End NR on 10th May (DW).

2418 Cream-bordered Green Pea
Earias clorana (L.) [Nb]

There were just two records of this in 2008 with one found at Coronation ClP on 29th May (SRP, conf AMB & MGB) and one to light at Priory CP on 13th June (AMB & MGB).

2441 Silver Y
Autographa gamma (L.) [Migrant]

The first record was in the Yelnow Farm area on 4th June (HAS) and the last in a Biggleswade light trap on 15th Nov (PMc). The wings of nine were found under a Brown Long-eared Bat feeding roost at Maulden on 6th Sept (DD & MLl) with 16 being found there on 7th Oct. The detritus from this site is only collected occasionally so the dates are of collection and not the date the bat/s caught the moth.

2465 Four-spotted
Tyta luctuosa ([D.&S.]) [Na]

Only one record of three individuals seen at its usual site near Odell on 10th June (HAS & DVM).

2475 Waved Black
Parascotia fuliginaria (L.) [Nb]

One came to light at Studham on 27th July (CBa, checked by AMB & MGB). This is a rare moth in Bedfordshire, with only three previous records, the last being seen in 2004.


Migrant records are forwarded to the appropriate editor for inclusion in the Immigration of Lepidoptera to the British Isles Report for the Entomologists Record and Journal of Variation.

All records are held by the Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Recording and Monitoring Centre and updated regularly.


Records and support gratefully acknowledged from the following : V.Addy, P.Almond (PA), V.W.Arnold, Mr Amner, C.R.B.Baker (CBa), P.Baker, K.Balmer (KBa), A.M.Banthorpe (AMB), M.G.Banthorpe (MGB), Beds Bat Group, A.Bone, C.Boon (CBo), M.Boyd, G.Buss (GBu), C.Calvert, C.Carpenter (CC), G.Castle , J.Chainey (JCha), J.Childs (JCh), L.Clark, A.Clarke, E.Clarke, J.Clifton, A.Culshaw, J.Day, D.Dench (DD), B.Dickerson, P.Donald (PD), J.England (JE), J.Falconer, C.Farrar (CF), M.Fediw, Forestry Commission, B.Goodey, P.Gould (PGo), M.Green, Greensand Trust, H.J.Griffiths (HG), I.Hayward, G.E.Higgs, L.J.Hill (LJH), T.S.Hollingworth, D.Howdon, L.Jackson, S.Knight (SKn), A.A.Lawrence (AL), M.Lloyd (MLl), D.V.Manning (DVM), Br J.Mayhead (JM), R.McGregor, P.McMullen (PMc), L.Millbank, Natural England, D.Oakley-Martin, H.Oliver, A.R.Outen (ARO), M.J.Palmer (MJP), A. & R. Paynter, A.Pearson, J.Pitts, C.W.Plant, S.R.Plummer (SRP), RSPB, A.Schaffer, P.Scott, D.Sedgley, Mrs Shapland, J.T.R.Sharrock, H.A.Smith (HAS), P.Smith, B.Squires, J.Stafford (JSta), P.Stafford (PSta), A.Strutt, S.Thomson, C.Tomalin (CTo), E.Turner (ET), M.Ward, P.Waring, The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough, B. Williams, S.Williams, N.D.Willits (NDW), D.T.Withers (DW), I.P.Woiwod (IW), A.Yates, and T.Yates.



Arnold, V.W., Baker, C.R.B., Manning, D.V. & Woiwod, I.P., 1997. The Butterflies and Moths of Bedfordshire Bedfordshire Natural History Society.

Bradley, J.D., 2000. Checklist of Lepidoptera recorded from the British Isles. Second Edition (revised).

Dony, J.G., 1976. Bedfordshire Plant Atlas Borough of Luton Museum and Art Gallery

Plant, C. W., 2008. The Moths of Hertfordshire Hertfordshire Natural History Society.

Andy and Melissa Banthorpe are the Society’s joint Recorders of Macro-moths, a position they have held in an honorary capacity since late 2006.