The Sycamore Moth. Acronicta aceris, (Noctudiae). Confirmed Modern Record for Worcestershire

By Kevin McGee

An adult of this species was photographed towards the base of a roadside Ash tree along Chevington Lane, near to Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 25.6.00. At the time I thought it was probably a Poplar Grey, Acronicta megacephala, a species sometimes found at rest on trunks in Tiddesley Wood. I was actually about to load my camera into the boot of the car, which was parked underneath the Ash tree after a visit to the Mill Meadow reserve. It was then that I noticed the moth so I took it’s portrait, lucky for me that I did!

Acronicta aceris On the return of my slides I double-checked the moth against those illustrated in the ‘Skinner’ guide, it was at once obvious to me that it was the Sycamore, Acronicta aceris. Then I looked in Dr. A.N.B.Simpson’s guide to the status of the macro moths of Worcestershire; the Sycamore is listed in Group D as an extinct species! There are possibly records from Bromsgrove 1980, Chaddesley 1992 and Bewdley 1998. I sent one of my slides to Tony Simpson, both he and Mike Harper agree that it is indeed the Sycamore.

The mystery is what the larval food plant is? Horse Chestnut and Sycamore are the usual host-trees, neither of which are present anywhere near the location I found it at. However, Birch, Field Maple and Oak are mentioned in Porter’s guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles as alternative food-plants, all in abundance in the Mill Meadow area. The larva is well worth looking for; unmistakeable with bright orange tufts all over it. In fact, the photo in Porter’s guide depicts the larva feeding on Oak!

With grateful thanks to Dr.A.N.B.Simpson.



SIMPSON ANB. 1999. A guide to the status of larger moths of Worcestershire. Worcestershire Record. Number 6, April 1999, pages 21-24.
SKINNER, B.1998 second edition. Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Viking
PORTER, J 1997. The colour identification guide to caterpillars of the British Isles. Viking.


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