Insect Mapping In Cheshire Report - 1983

Butterflies - 1983:

This was a memorable year on three counts. First the weather which gave us a good ten-week summer starting in late June and finishing with the gales on the 1st September, the Spring and Autumn were appalling for butterflies. Secondly, it turned out to be the first good year for Clouded Yellows since our mapping scheme began in 1961, and thirdly the results of all our work over the last eight years or so were summarised in a booklet "Butterflies in Cheshire 1961 to 1982" published by the LCES and marketed by the Cheshire Conservation Trust.

These three factors together gave rise to a remarkable increase in the number of new records received - so much for my past references to the "Law of Diminishing Returns"! I have received over 30 new records this year, about half of these were of Clouded Yellows which were so common in parts of Cheshire in August that it seems reasonable to assume that they were seen in every square though I have so far had confirmation of sightings from 20 of the 30 squares, with a butterfly of such nomadic habits there is little significance in its apparent absence from certain squares.

Most of the other new records were for species that fly in July and August, exceptions being the Green Hairstreak in early June at Tegg's Nose in SJ97 (G.Pierce) and the Brimstone in March at Hamton near Malpas in SJ44 (R.Wynne).

In July Alan Blears was sitting in his Stockport garden in SJ99 when a Common Blue settled on a flower beside him, this simple sighting fills the only gap in our records for this species but we have yet to find a locality in SJ99 where it is know to breed. The most important record for the year was for the Purple Hairstreak in August when numbers were seen, both in Brotheron Park in SJ38 (confirming an earlier sighting of one specimen at Bromborough) and at Barnston Dale in SJ28.

Other new records during the summer were:

  • Small Skipper in SJ38, 67 and 76,
  • Brimstone in SJ67,
  • White-letter Hairstreak in SJ99
  • Holly Blue in SJ68 and 69,
  • Dark Green Fritillary in SJ78,
  • Speckled Wood in SJ29,
  • Gatekeeper in SJ38, 68 and 76,
  • Small Heath in SJ86.

Some of these records are known to have come to me as a result of the publication of the maps which have made several observers more conscious of the importance of their observations.

Sadly, efforts to find the Ringlet were again unsuccessful, no search was made for the Grizzled Skipper as the weather at the end of May was so poor.

Moths - 1983:

The contrasting weather of 1983 had as much effect on the night-flying insects as on the day flying ones. This was clearly illustrated by the fact that until the last week of June my garden trap had recorded only 60 species, one of the lowest totals I've had at this stage, but by the end of August I had passed 210 and finished the year with 232, one of the highest totals I've had in a single year. Several of the commoner Spring and Autumn species were not seen at all while in July and August I had nine species not seen in this garden before and four of these were new to SJ87 (White Satin, Triple-spotted Clay, Grey Rustic and Leopard).

None of the four were new to Cheshire but we did have three additions to the (post 1960) County List. Dr Paul Griffiths recorded the Red-Green Carpet at Broomhall (SJ64) which is the next square to SJ74 where Brian Holdsworth has taken it at Woore, but this is in Shropshire. Tony Broome took the Red Carpet at Hazel Grove (SK98(, it was a female from which eggs were obtained and larvae reared and was presumably a wanderer from the Derbyshire hills where it is known to occur. Thirdly, Eric Rudge took the White-speck Wainscot at Woolston Eyes (SJ68) on the 16th September 1983, this is a well known migrant but it is not often seen away from the South Coast of England.

The majority of this year's records have come from five 10km squares, none of them in the original ten on which the ABCD lists were based so there is no revision to these lists this year, the number of 'promotions' being minimal.

C.I. Rutherford - (01625-583683)                                                                                                                                                                 February 1984
Macclesfield Road
Alderley Edge












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