Four recent Nottinghamshire arrivals
Its been well documented through a variety of different media sources, that many of our larger (macro) moths are in decline and have been for a number of years. But amid this somewhat depressing and on-going state of affairs, there have been some recent success stories.

In Nottinghamshire, several species been recorded for the first time in the county, and four in particular, have arrived, successfully colonised and continued to do well since 2003.

Grey Shoulder-knot was the first of the four species to appear in Nottinghamshire, being recorded from Sutton-on-Trent in March 2003. This was followed by Pale Pinion at Lound Wood, Eakring in April 2006, Chocolate Tip at Stanton-in-the-Wolds in May 2007 and finally, Small Ranunculus in June 2009.
Other recent increases/expansions of their Nottinghamshire range, have been shown by the Privet Hawk-moth and more recently Black Arches. A host of other moths, have also recently been recorded in the county for the first time in a good number of years, so maybe more species are expanding their range, or on the brink of making a comeback?

Privet Hawk-moth and Black Arches

The Privet Hawk-moth is still on the increase in Nottinghamshire, following a gradual north-westerly spread from south-east of the county and the Newark area over the past 20 years or so. Now regularly attracted to MV lights at many sites, the strikingly large larvae can often be quite easy to find on roadside hedgerows containing Privet anywhere east of Ollerton.

Right: Full grown Small Ranunculus larva, photographed on Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) Market Warsop, August 19th 2013.

The apparent range expansion of Black Arches may be a different matter altogether. One attracted to MV light at Lound Wood, Eakring on July 31st 2007, was the first Nottinghamshire record since 1970 and came just a day before another was also taken at light in a Ravenshead garden. Further moths were taken from Lound Wood over the following nights and then again in 2008, when it was also recorded for the first time from the Sherwood Forest NNR .
  Now regularly recorded from many deciduous woodland sites running in a line from Sherwood Forest north-east to Retford, the reappearance of Black Arches in Nottinghamshire and after a period of 37 years, is perhaps more interesting than it would at first appear to be.

Grey Shoulder-knot, Chocolate Tip and Small Ranunculus, all showed the typical north-westerly spread through the county usually expected by any species undergoing an expansion of their range. Pale Pinion and Black Arches though, both first appeared in the central north of Nottinghamshire.

Four Pale Pinion were attracted to light traps run at Eakring, Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest, with the exception being one recorded from Nuthall in the south-west.

Left: Chocolate Tip, photographed at Treswell Wood, May 3rd 2014.

Black Arches did pretty much the same, although there were no records from south Nottinghamshire and as far as we are aware of, there still have'nt been any. But was it possible for such an obvious and distinctive moth to have remained present in the county (but restricted) during those 37 years?

Its doubtful, especially given that Lound Wood had been trapped regularly since 2003, with no sign of Black Arches there in the years preceding 2007. By 2008 it was well established at Sherwood Forest and by 2009 was in Eaton, Gamston and then Treswell Woods near Retford, before reaching Misterton Soss in the extreme north of Nottinghamshire by 2012. The Ravenshead Black Arches record of 2007 remains an isolated one.

The four recent colonising moths

We have summarised the four featured species below, complete with distribution maps based on records published in the annual Nottinghamshire macro moth reports 2003-2013, produced by Sheila Wright, the Nottinghamshire county recorder.

71.027 .... B&F 2019 .... Chocolate Tip Clostera curtula (Linnaeus, 1758)
First Nottinghamshire record .... Recorded from a garden MV light at Stanton-on-the-Wolds (Sumbler, M.) in June 2007.

Nottinghamshire status .... Has become widespread and generally common at many sites with Poplars, but presently remains absent from north-western parts of the county. Recorded from a total of 17 sites by the end of 2013.

Distribution .... After the 2007 record, there were further records in 2009 from Stanton-on-the-Wolds, Scarrington, Langar and Keyworth, reaching as far as Southwell.

Since 2009, this moth has further colonised the county and by 2014 it had reached as far north as Bevercotes Pit Wood and Retford, being found at Eaton, Gamston (six to MV light on May 17th) and Treswell Woods.

Flight period .... There are two broods a year, which has probably speeded up the spread and colonisation of this moth. Flies from April to May, then again from August to September.

73.201 .... B&F 2236 .... Pale Pinion Lithophane socia (Clerck, 1759) .... Formerly known as Lithophane hepatica
First Nottinghamshire record ..... One recorded at MV light from Lound Wood, Eakring in April 2006, narrowly preceded records from three other sites later the same month.

Nottinghamshire status ..... The multiple records from April 2006, of a moth recorded as being new to the county, was extremely unusual. Pale Pinion has been recorded annually since and by the end of 2013, had been recorded from a total of 22 sites.

Distribution ..... Now widespread across most parts of Nottinghamshire, but not common.

Flight period .....Flies from October to November, then again after overwintering from March to May.

73.202 .... B&F 2237 .... Grey Shoulder-knot Lithophane ornitopus (Dadd, 1911)
First Nottinghamshire record .... Sutton-on-Trent in March 2003 (Kennewell, M.) where it was attracted to MV light.

Nottinghamshire status .... Now very firmly established and widespread in Nottinghamshire and probably still increasing. Recorded from a total of 43 sites by the end of 2013.

Distribution..... Interestingly seemed to have colonised Nottinghamshire from the east. Following the initial 2003 record, second and third county records came from Eakring in September 2003. It was recorded twice more at Eakring in 2004 (including one on the trunk of a tree present from November 27th to December 31st 2004) with another record coming from Eakring in March 2005.

Flight period .....Regularly encountered on tree trunks during the Autumn months, but flies from September to April, overwintering as an adult.

73.280 .... B&F 2165 .... Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
First Nottinghamshire record ..... The first county record was from Beeston Rylands (Harris, G.) in June 2009.

Nottinghamshire status ..... Small Ranunculus has recently colonised Nottinghamshire, after previously becoming extinct from the UK in 1939. It has rapidly spread northwards since 1997and is now common.

Distribution ..... Has become an increasingly common moth of urban sites since 2011, but appears to be absent from more rural locations. In 2013, it had reached Worksop and Market Warsop, where it is now regularly attracted to the flowers of Valerian in our garden. The larvae were an easy find on Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) in July 2013.

Now recorded from gardens in most large urban areas of Nottinghamshire, although we have no news on whether it has reached Retford or Newark, but it almost certainly has.

Flight period .....Generally flies from late May through to early August. In 2014, there was a later second brood, with moths recorded at Market Warsop well into September.