Crimson Speckled Utetheisa pulchella – a new Moth for Worcestershire
Autumn can often be an exciting time for ‘moth-ers’: there is always a chance of a few migrant species turning up in your light trap when conditions are favourable. 2013 had proved fairly good for such occurrences, though the majority I had seen during September were of commoner species such as Silver Y, with the bonus of one or two Hummingbird Hawkmoths, a Dark Sword Grass and a couple of Dusky Lemon Sallows: the latter presumed to be of migrant origin as they are nowhere near an annual occurrence here.
However, nothing prepared me for the moment I lifted the lid of my very well used polystyrene ‘funnel trap’ on the morning of 3rd October 2013. On the top egg tray there was an immediately identifiable Crimson Speckled – a species typically found in the old world sub-tropics!! I could barely believe my eyes, despite having heard that a few had been seen in the preceding days. This species was certainly not on my ‘radar’ as being a possible migrant so far inland! My elation however almost instantly turned to dread as the moth lifted off with the sudden flood of daylight surrounding it and I really feared that would be it and I’d see it sailing away over the nearest hedgerow never to be seen again (and possibly never to be believed by others!). It was with great relief that it chose to only move a few inches and land again on the side of the box. Within a few seconds it was safely resting inside a pot, with the first County record and one of only a very few inland occurrences of the species secured! Some people have likened opening and looking through your moth trap in the morning to unwrapping a birthday present and after this experience I now understand why!
I’d seen Crimson Speckled overseas previously, though at the time had probably not really appreciated its true beauty due to the distractions of masses of other wildlife. It has been an occasional though by no means annual migrant to the UK since first being recorded in the 19th Century, but normally with only a handful of sightings in a good year. 2013 turned out to be particularly strong for the species with upwards of 30 eventually being recorded by the end of the autumn, though virtually all the other sightings were along the south and east coasts.
It just goes to prove that you never can be sure what will turn up and where in the natural world!
01. Crimson Speckled moth Worcestershire 2013. Gavin Peplow.
02. Crimson Speckled moth Worcestershire 2013. Gavin Peplow.
03. Crimson Speckled moth Worcestershire 2013. Gavin Peplow