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Recording the ‘difficult’ macro-moth species in VC10/11/12 (Hampshire & Isle of Wight)

Confusion species

Below are details of the species that require dissection or other close examination for certain identification, sometimes referred to as ‘critical species’. If you are not able to do so yourself, it should always be possible find someone willing to check a specimen out for you: if you choose not to keep a specimen at all, the moth can still be recorded as an ‘aggregate’ species, although this is of less value scientifically.

1361 Pyrausta aurata / 1362 Pyrausta purpuralis

The latter is probably the most commonly misidentified micro possibly not helped by the fact that there is only one picture of each in Barry Goater’s British Pyralid Moths. There is however great variation and P. purpuralis is much scarcer than P. aurata in Hampshire. Note the difference in the hindwing pattern. See also the various websites that contain an increasing number of photographs though more good photos of purpuralis are certainly required.

1724 Xanthorhoe spadicearia Red Twin-spot Carpet / 1725 Xanthorhoe ferrugata Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet

The red form of Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet is exceedingly rare in Hampshire, if it occurs at all. No claims of this form should be made unless backed up by a specimen. Large, dark (blackish) specimens with a paler, cleaner area outside the central band can be safely recorded as Dark-barred, and obviously red individuals are safe to be recorded as Red Twin-spot. Intermediate forms need to be retained. Please note that published identification characters from wing markings are unreliable – if in doubt. record as 'Xanthorhoe spadicearia/ferrugata (Red/Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet)' unless identified from genitalia (but could add a comment e.g. “wing markings suggested Red Twin-spot”)

With the kind permission of Jon Baker (Carmarthenshire moth recorder), click here to see a paper on the separation of these two species (published in the Moths of Ireland Newsletter No. 3) (Acrobat Reader will be required to open the file, available from the Adobe website www.adobe.com)

1795 Epirrita dilutata November Moth / 1796 Epirrita christyi Pale November Moth / 1797 Epirrita autumnata Autumnal Moth

Record as 'Epirrita dilutata agg. (November Moth agg.)' unless identified from genitalia.
On Mapmate please DO NOT USE Epirrita sp. Epirrita species.

1867 Aplocera plagiata Treble-bar / 1868 Aplocera efformata Lesser Treble-bar

These can be done with care, and for males, the shape of the tip of the abdomen is diagnostic: use the text and sketches on pages 125 and 126 of Waring, Townsend & Lewington.

2258 Conistra vaccinii Chestnut / 2259 Conistra ligula Dark Chestnut

Both species are quite variable and determination can be difficult. Dark Chestnut in Hampshire tends to be an oily, dark brown (nearly black), and shows a distinctly concave termen with a falcate ('hooked') apex (wing-tip). Records of the latter should be supported by photographs.

2283 Acronicta tridens Dark Dagger / 2284 Acronicta psi Grey Dagger

Record as 'Acronicta tridens/psi (Dark / Grey Dagger)' unless identified from genitalia (note that dissection of males isn’t required to do this, it is possible on an anaesthetised moth with care – details are in Waring et al).

2297 Amphipyra pyramidea Copper Underwing / 2298 Amphipyra berbera Svensson's Copper Underwing

Use 'Amphipyra pyramidea agg. (Copper Underwings)' unless the exact species has been identified; the best characters for identification seem to be the markings on the palps, and the colours of the underside of the hindwing (need to have the hindwing held open to see this). Click here to see the paper by Winter on the diagnostic features of these two species. Note also that picture 3 in Plate 36 of Skinner is incorrectly labelled. It is in fact a Svensson’s.

2337 Oligia strigilis Marbled Minor / 2338 Oligia versicolor Rufous Minor / 2339 Oligia latruncula Tawny Marbled Minor

Wing markings are unreliable and cannot be used to determine this group down to species - record as 'Oligia strigilis agg. (Marbled Minor agg.)' unless identified from genitalia. Rufous Minor is by far the scarcer of the three.
On Mapmate, please DO NOT USE Oligia sp. .

2343 Mesapamea secalis Common Rustic / 2343a Mesapamea didyma Lesser Common Rustic / 2343b Mesapamea remmi Remm's Rustic

Record as 'Mesapamea secalis agg. (Common Rustic agg.)' unless identified from genitalia.
On Mapmate, please DO NOT USE Mesapamea sp. Mesapamea species for the Common Rustic group.

2357 Amphipoea lucens Large Ear / 2358 Amphipoea fucosa Saltern Ear / 2359 Amphipoea crinanensis Crinan Ear / 2360 Amphipoea oculea Ear Moth

Record as 'Amphipoea oculea agg. (Ear Moth agg.)' unless identified from genitalia – A. oculea is the only “Ear Moth” that is known to occur in the two counties regularly, but the others can turn up as vagrants, so it is safest to record the aggregate unless certain.
On Mapmate please DO NOT USE Amphipoea sp. Amphipoea sp.

Difficult species

Below are a list of species that are known to cause confusion, either through identification errors or through simply getting entered under the wrong name where there are species with similar names:

0170 Zygaena trifolii Five-spot Burnet

Often recorded in error for Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet - there are few recent records in Hampshire and Isle of Wight of true Five-spot Burnet, and a voucher specimen or other supporting evidence is required.

1715 Idaea straminata Plain Wave

Easily confused with Riband Wave, photograph or specimen required unless the recorder has experience of the species.

1739 Epirrhoe rivata Wood Carpet

Scarce in the two counties and easily confused with Common Carpet – photograph or specimen required unless the recorder has experience of the species.

2051 Lithosia quadra Four-spotted Footman

Resident in the New Forest but otherwise a scarce migrant, sometimes recorded as a data entry error for the fairly common resident Cybosia mesomella (Four-dotted Footman).

2082 Euxoa nigricans Garden Dart

This species is quite variable, and increasingly rare. Some forms of the much commoner Turnip Agrotis segetum can closely resemble it. All records should be backed up with specimens or good quality photographs.

2108 Noctua orbona Lunar Yellow Underwing

Very rare and possibly extinct in the two counties, and easily confused with Lesser Yellow Underwing or Large Yellow Underwing – a voucher specimen or good quality photograph showing hindwings is required.

2317 Cosmia diffinis White-spotted Pinion

Sometimes recorded as a data entry error for White-pinion Spotted - there are no recent records for White-spotted Pinion, and a photo or other supporting evidence is required

2381 Hoplodrina alsines Uncertain

Please compare carefully with Hoplodrina blanda (Rustic).

2382 Hoplodrina blanda Rustic

Please compare carefully with Hoplodrina alsines (Uncertain).

2488 Pechipogo strigilata Common Fan-foot

A rare species which is sometimes recorded as a data entry error for The Fanfoot - voucher specimen or other supporting evidence required.

Remember that if you have found something unusual it is always best to get as much supporting evidence as you can to confirm the record. Such evidence might include:

  • Keeping a specimen of the moth (‘voucher specimen’) to pass on to the county moth recorder (a live specimen may do the job if it can be passed on quickly).
  • Getting a good photo (preferably several photos from different angles)
  • Please ensure that size (wingspan, body length) is recorded and provided to anyone reviewing a photo of the moth
  • Getting a second opinion from other experienced moth recorders.