Clearwing Moths at Sherwood Forest
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The discovery of the Welsh Clearwing at Sherwood Forest Country Park in 2008, led to both a renewed interest in Clearwing (Sesiidae) moths and a great increase in the number of records being sent to the county recorder.

The continued use of pheremone lures to attract the Welsh Clearwing continues, but Sherwood Forest is also home to two other scarce Clearwings - the Yellow-legged Clearwing and Large Red-belted Clearwing.

So following some recent requests for the best sites to try to see all three species at Sherwood Forest, we have recently (June 2015) updated this page with the latest records and information we have.

The use of pheremone lures

 
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Nine species of Clearwing have been recorded in Nottinghamshire and seeing the adult of any of the nine is often purely down to luck. The best way to see them is to attract them with pheremone lures.

Available from many entomological suppliers, pheremone lures offer the only real option when wanting to see the adult moth of any species. They keep for several years in the freezer and can be used time and again, so do offer good value for money. However, do not over-use them at any one site and don't use them daily in the same spot. If no moths have been attracted after half an hour, its usually best to try somewhere else.

Pheremones are not the only practical way of recording Clearwings, as the pupal case (exuvia) remains in the exit hole after the moth emerges. The problem of identifying pupal exuvia to species level at Sherwood Forest can be difficult, as the larvae of both Welsh and Large Red-belted Clearwing develop in Birch (Betula pendula). Yellow-legged Clearwing is easier as the larva feeds on Oak (Quercus), but we have never yet found the exuvia of this moth.

Welsh Clearwing females show distinct preferences when selecting an egg-laying site and there are at least two Birches riddled with Clearwing exit holes within the Country Park and Budby South Forest area. Searching the lower part of mature Birches with rugged, deep creviced bark in June, will usually pay off when searching for the exuvia. Welsh Clearwing always lay on living trees, but Large Red-belted Clearwing prefer cut Birch stumps.

A note on the Red-belted Clearwing at Sherwood Forest

Some four species of Clearwings have been recorded from Sherwood Forest and only three of these are still present. There is a historical record of Red-belted Clearwing Synanthedon myopaeformis, on an unknown date and recorded by Sterland, that has to be mentioned in the context of us being thorough. But the reliability of Sterland's record is questionable, as many of his lepidoptera records were thought dubious by J.W. Carr in his book "The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire" published in 1916. We personally consider it extremely unlikely, that Red-belted Clearwing occurs anywhere within the Sherwood Forest NNR area, or indeed ever did.

     
Yellow-legged Clearwing Synanthedon vespiformis (Linnaeus, 1761)
 
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Nottinghamshire status and distribution: Scarce in the UK with Nationally notable B status and having Grade 1 status in Nottinghamshire (see bottom of page for further information). In Nottinghamshire, Yellow-legged Clearwing is largely confined to the Sherwood Forest area and Clumber Park, but not totally restricted to ancient Oak woodland.

Recent Sherwood Forest/Nottinghamshire records: The use of pheremone lures has led to an increase in the number of records over recent years, with the renewed interest in recording Clearwings. Prior to 2008, there had been only a single historical record for Sherwood Forest dating to 1877, but a second record (of larvae on Budby South Forest in 1997) held in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society database, has recently been made available to us. There are post-2000 records from Hungerhill Allotments at Nottingham in 2002 and Oxton Bogs in 2010 (Wright, S.).

Flight period: June to August, with a clear peak in records coming during July. Yellow-legged Clearwing is usually an easy species to attract to pheremone lure on warm days, but can take a while to appear. Try the central areas of the Sherwood Forest CP for best chance of success.

 
Welsh Clearwing Synanthedon scoliaeformis (Borkhausen, 1789)
 
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Nottinghamshire status and distribution: Nationally has RDB3 status and attributed Grade 1 status in Nottinghamshire. The first county record was a male found on a Birch trunk in July 2008 (Joynt, G.). Further records of males attracted to pheremone lures at the location of the original sighting followed in 2009, 2010 and later years.
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Moving away from purely luring Welsh Clearwing moths for the fun of it, Gary Joynt (the original finder of Nottinghamshire's first Welsh Clearwing) began a capture, mark and release scheme in 2011, to try and record the flight range and life expectancy of individual males across much of the NNR.

The moths were netted and colour marked in the cells near the wing tip, where marking consists of either a single colour, or a combination of colours. Unfortunately, the scheme was short-lived, but interestingly proved that the population was larger than expected, as there were no recaptures of any marked Welsh Clearwings.

Pheremone lures proved that the moth is widespread where there are mature Birch throughout the Sherwood Forest NNR. Known sites are the Sherwood Forest Country Park, Budby South Forest, Clipstone Old Quarter and Sherwood Heath. It is surprisingly absent from Clumber Park.

 
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There are at least two, very well used Birches, which are riddled with larval exit holes. Both are known to site management, so they should remain intact. The tree shown in the right hand photograph, lies on the western boundary of Budby South Forest at SK 60528 69001 and the other is located just inside the Country Park near the B6034 Swinecote Road at SK 62692 68363.

Recent Sherwood Forest/Nottinghamshire records: The moth is still regularly recorded in the Sherwood Forest Country Park area.

Flight period: Flies from June to July, with the majority of records coming in June. Males come easily to lure on favourable days (warm and dry) with the best sites to try being Sherwood Heath and Sherwood Forest Country Park.

     
Large Red-belted Clearwing Synanthedon culiciformis (Linnaeus, 1758)
 
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Nottinghamshire status and distribution: Scarce in the UK with Nationally notable B status, currently with Grade 1 status in Nottinghamshire and found only in the Sherwood Forest NNR. However, even here, it is an uncommon and localised moth. The continuation of Birch thinning and removal on areas of heathland, should provide this moth with ideal breeding conditions for the next few years at least.

Recent Sherwood Forest/Nottinghamshire records: All of the recent Nottinghamshire records have come from Budby South Forest and the heathland sections of the adjacent Sherwood Forest Country Park. Large Red-belted Clearwing was once described as being common on Budby South Forest and pupal exuviae were regularly found on Birch stumps. It seems far from common in recent years and may remain undetected in small numbers over the wider Sherwood Forest NNR and Clumber Park areas.

Flight period: May and June. Red-belted Clearwing is a difficult moth to attract to pheremone lure and we have personally had no success at attracting this moth. Heathland sites where Birch stumps remain would be the place to try for this moth, but rewards may be little.

 
Clearwing records from the Sherwood Forest NNR

The following list of records have been sent directly to us, or are taken from the Nottinghamshire macro moth report, Wright, S. 2003-2014.

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Yellow-legged Clearwing Synanthedon vespiformis (Linnaeus, 1761)
No location given .. 1877 .. NA .. Dennis, G. and Simmons, C.W.
Budby South Forest .. 26/03/97 .. NA .. Larvae in Oak stump. Elliott, B.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 02/06/09 .. 2 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Woodward, R.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Budby South Forest .. 13/06/09 .. 4 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 13/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Woodward, R.
Budby South Forest .. 14/06/09 .. 2 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 16/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Budby South Forest .. 12/06/10 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 09/06/11 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 30/07/11 .. 29 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T. et al
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/07/12 .. 1 .. Adults to pheremone lure. McGeever, D.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 14/07/12 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
 
Welsh Clearwing Synanthedon scoliaeformis (Borkhausen, 1789)
Sherwood Forest CP .. 13/07/08 .. 1 .. Adult by day on Birch trunk. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 02/06/09 .. 3 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Woodward, R. (earliest ever UK record) ...
Sherwood Forest CP .. 02/06/09 .. NA .. Pupal exuvia found 1m above ground level on Birch trunk. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 05/06/09 .. 3 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/06/09 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Hursthouse, D.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/06/09 .. 1 .. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 13/06/09 .. 4 .. Woodward, R.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 13/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Budby South Forest .. 14/06/09 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 16/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Grey, M.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 23/06/09 .. 7 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pyke, M. and Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 23/06/09 .. 11 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Grey, M.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 26/06/09 .. 3 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Green, D. et al
Sherwood Forest CP .. 28/06/09 .. 6 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 28/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 04/07/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 02/06/10 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 05/06/10 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 09/06/10 .. NA .. Pupal exuvia found 0.5m above ground level on Birch trunk. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/06/10 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 13/06/10 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 15/06/10 .. NA .. Pupal exuvia found 0.25m above ground level on Birch trunk. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 20/06/10 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Heath .. 26/06/10 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 03/06/11 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Clipstone Old Quarter .. 04/06/11 .. 5 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 04/06/11 .. 5 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 06/06/11 .. 7 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Joynt, G.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 09/06/11 .. 2 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T. Five pupal exuviae on single Birch.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 05/07/12 .. 3 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. Pendleton, D.T. and Brothers, P.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 08/07/12 .. 3 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Wetton, O. and Everett, N.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 30/06/13 .. 6 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Heath .. 13/07/13 .. 4 .. Adults to pheremone lure. Woodward, R.
 
Large Red-belted Clearwing Synanthedon culiciformis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Budby South Forest .. 1983 .. NA .. Braddock, A.
Budby South Forest .. 26/03/97 .. NA .. Elliott, B.
Budby South Forest .. 1998 .. 8 .. ..
Budby South Forest .. 1999 .. NA .. ..
Budby South Forest .. 07/05/03 .. 2 .. Two adults and numerous pupal exuvia on Birch stumps. Wright, S. and Lewis, N. ..............
Sherwood Forest CP .. 04/06/08 .. NA .. Pupal exuvia found 0.2m above ground level on Birch stump. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 12/06/09 .. 1 .. Adult to pheremone lure. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 27/05/10 .. NA .. Pupal exuvia found 0.15m above ground level on Birch trunk. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Sherwood Forest CP .. 31/05/10 .. 1 .. Adult found nectaring on Umbellifer flowers. Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.
Budby South Forest .. 19/07/13 .. NA .. Larval frass in stumps of cut Birch. Wright, S. and Lewis, N.
 
A note on the conservation status of Nottinghamshire moths

Resident species are assigned a Grade 1, 2, 3 conservation status in the county, or left ungraded, according to a combination of their national status and the frequency of their known occurrence within Nottinghamshire, by the county recorder. Frequency is determined by the number of 10km squares in the county from which they have been recorded since 1990.

Grade 1 (the only Grade applicable to the Clearwings list on this page) includes all Red Data Book and Nationally Notable Group A species recorded in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Notable Group B species recorded from five or fewer 10km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990.

 
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