Moths In Cheshire Report - 1976 - Part 2

As explained in my 1975 note, the Monks Wood record cards for Cheshire for the years from 1960 show only six 10Km squares with over 200 species recorded. I feel that while any record is of interest and value, an analysis which puts as much emphasis on absence as on presence is not meaningful unless a square is well worked and I have rather arbitrarily started with the assumption that 200 species recorded means that a 10Km square is well worked; the highest number for any square in Cheshire was 291 on the Monk's Wood cards.

In the first place, therefore, I have analysed the records for these six squares only and find:-

  • A total of 381 species have been recorded.
  • Of these 381 species, 123 species have been recorded in each of the six squares.
  • 63 species have been recorded from 5 out of the 6 squares.
    • while there are 47 from 4 squares only.
    • 36 from 3 squares only.
    • 54 from 2 squares only.
    • and 58 from only one of the six squares.
  • There is a relationship between the total number of species recorded in a 10Km square and the number of times that square is the one missed out when a species occurs in 5 out of 6.
    • Square 47 has 213 species and misses out 20 times.
    • Square 78 has 202 species and misses out 19 times.
    • Square 28 has 280 species and misses out 11 times.
    • Square 65 has 277 species and misses out 5 times.
    • Square 87 has 250 species and misses out 5 times.
    • Square 88 has 291 species and misses out 3 times.

Square 28 is coastal and may be expected to be rather different from the others but the rest of the figures suggest very strongly that if we can raise the number of species for the first two squares to 250 or more then we shall have another 30 or so species in all six squares. One immediate objective therefore is to increase the number of species recorded in all these squares (but principally in SJ47 & SJ78) so as to establish a maximum number of species as being generally distributed throughout the six sample squares.

However, 6 10Km squares out of the 30 which make up Cheshire is not a big enough sample. I believe we need at least 10 and preferably 15 well worked squares and that to give a true picture of the county distribution there should remain no square which does not at least adjoin one of the well worked ones.

There are several additional squares for which the total may well be taken past the 200 species mark but not without some effort:-

  • SJ75 - The present score is 143 species but Malcolm Cox has been working a trap regularly and when his records for the last two years are added to the 1974 Monks Wood records the total becomes 193.
  • SJ77 - 183 species to date. John Carter lives in Mobberley and plans to operate a trap in the near future; his results will surely swell the total. The Plumley Limebeds Reserve also falls in this square and the late H.L. Burrows made some fairly extensive records there and it is quite possible that these have not all found their way to Monks Wood, a matter that will be checked.
  • SJ38 - Total = 174 species. Several members of the Lancashire & Cheshire Entomological Society (LCES) have lived in this square in the past and research into their records may make further field work unnecessary at this stage.
  • SJ29 - Total only 65 species so far, but Dr Roger Ainley lives in this square and is preparing a list of moths recorded at his home.
  • SJ46 - The Chester square has virtually no records in it but it is certain that there must be many already available. If Geoff Wotherspoon comes up with results comparable with those he produced for butterflies this will b one of the best recorded squares rather than the worst.
  • SJ57 - The Delamere Forest square has only 30 species recorded. It has been well worked and will repay further work but existing records, if made available, might make this unnecessary.
  • SJ55 - The Outdoor Education Unit is located at Beeston in this square. David Hayns, the warden, has already done some recording and may be able to build this up to produce a representative list.
  • SJ98 - 59 species are on the card but it has just come to my knowledge that Stephen Church lived in this square in 1963/64 and has a list of 180 species that he recorded. There is, of course, much duplication and the combined total is still just below 200 species.

These additional eight squares make the total up to 14 but leave some areas rather neglected, particularly the South West of the County (squares SJ44, 45 & 54) and the North (SJ58, 67 & 68), so we should select one from each of these groups for further study --- Any volunteers ??
Additional relevant information has come from Michael Grice working in square SJ35 just outside the Cheshire boundary but within two or three miles of both squares SJ36 & 45; he has recorded over 200 species and his results certainly have a bearing on the status of species in the South-West of our County.

Whilst it is quite possible for one person to chase around the County recording butterflies in several different squares in the course of a single day, the moths are a very different matter. To get the numbers needed if our results are to be meaningful, night work with a light is essential. Active lepidopterists can easily cover the square in which they live; other squares are more difficult and involve the use of portable traps and generators unless we can find some collaborators, perhaps members of the Cheshire Conservation Trust (now the Cheshire Wildlife Trust), prepared to have a trap operated on their land on an occasional basis. They would not be expected to be responsible for identification and recording.

C.I. Rutherford                                                                                                                                                                     1977
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