Insect Mapping In Cheshire Report - 1985

Butterflies - 1985:

For butterflies and those of us who look for them, 1985 was as bad as 1984 had been good. The lack of sunshine particularly in August and September, robbed us of some records we hoped to get, particularly of some of the common Vanessids in the 'peripheral squares' in the South.

Most of the significant records received confirmed the spread towards the North-east of the Small Skipper, Speckled Wood and Gatekeeper. Although only one of the Small Skipper records was new (SJ87 by J.Rayner) it had not been seen for many years in SJ88 and was also confirmed for SJ98. The Brimstone was seen both in Spring and Autumn when I.Thompson's sighting on Carrington Moss (SJ79) was a new record. Paul Griffiths has recorded Purple Hairstreak in SJ64 which fits in well with last years records for SJ65 and 74, suggesting that it is fairly well established in the South of the County. Two records from Jonathon Guest for an earlier year should have been included in an earlier note: Holly Blue in SJ86 and Green Hairstreak in SJ96. The Comma seems to have had a fair season with new records for SJ58, 75 and 79. A single Dark Green Fritillary was seen in SJ55 by Eric Addison in late July. Among the 'Browns' Speckled Wood again appeared at Jodrell Bank (SJ87) and was recorded for the first time in SJ75 (J.&R. Davidson), SJ98 (S.Hind) and SJ99 (K.Darwin) and several Gatekeepers were seen at Swettenham in SJ86, also a new record.

More work was done on the peripheral squares, SJ69, 74, 79, 85 and 96, and we now have records for all thirteen species known from all the original 30 squares from all these 5 squares EXCEPT that we have neither Peacock nor Red Admiral from SJ85 and neither Red Admiral nor Painted Lady from SJ74.

The present project seems to be running out of steam and I therefore welcome the offer from Digby Wood of the BBCS to take it over and change the emphasis to more detailed recording of the more important species together with an attempt to distinguish between 'birds of passage' and breeding sites; just as Richard Gabb and Stephen Hind are doing for the Dragonflies. I shall give Mr Wood the names and addresses of all who have contributed but for those who wish to contact him direct, here are the necessary particulars: Mr Digby Wood, 5 Sandiway, Bramhall, Cheshire - Tel.: 0161-439-8834.

Moths - 1985:

Paul Griffiths summed up his 1985 results as "Some surprising omissions but in general a good year with a couple of highlights"; this admirably describes my own season and I think that of several other recorders. For me the real highlight has been the total number of new records received from a large number of recorders all over the County.

Pride of place must go to the addition of six species to our post 1960 list of macros. Roger and Joan Davidson operated a trap in their garden at Shavington (SJ75) for the first time and they had beginner's luck with Chocolate-tip and Square-spot Dart. Stephen Judd took the White Pinion Spotted in Delamere Forest (SJ57), Paul Griffiths has Tawny Pinion at sugar at Broomhall (SJ64), Bill Hardwick and Steve McWilliam found the Shore Wainscot on the coast at Wallasey (SJ29), and a Cloaked Pug found its way to my trap (SJ87) which must be a very long way from its nearest breeding ground.

Against these six we must set the removal of two species from our list. Careful investigation leads us to believe that all five-spotted Burnets in Cheshire are in fact Zygaena lonicerae (The Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet) and that Zygaena trifolii (The Five-spot Burnet) should not have been recorded. Last year in my haste to get the notes out before going abroad I identified Richard Gabb's larva from a photographic slide as the Goat Moth, a more careful inspection of an enlarged copy shows that I was wrong, so the Goat Moth comes out.

In 1985 though, there was quantity as well as quality in the records. The Davidsons have added 36 species to the 219 already known for SJ76 while Dr Peter Holmes at Bromborough has done equally well in SJ38 raising the total from 221 to 257; also I SJ77 Alan Roberts pushed the total past 250. I have made several visits to different sites in SJ97 and got the total for that square comfortably past 300, mainly by day work and some sugaring in the Autumn.

Paul Griffiths in SJ64 , Ted Abraham and the Poole Brothers in SJ27 and Peter Atherton in SJ54, have each increased their totals by 20 or more species. Other squares with no resident recorder have not gone unattended and Bill Hardwick and Steve McWilliam have visited many sites with generators and made significant additions in SJ46, 56, 57, 58 and 67 as well as ones and twos in several other squares. There are in fact now 19 squares with 200 species or more recorded and only four with less than 100.

In these circumstances I have not done my customary list of 'promotions' though of course the original 'A' list has grown considerably as a result of the work in SJ38 and 75. I am now preparing a new list based on all the available results with what I hope will prove a more stable grading of the status of each species. When ready this will be sent o each contributor.

Other interesting records show that the Red Underwing is undoubtedly still spreading, so apparently is the Oak Nycteoline, or have we only just learned to recognise this little moth for what it is? There were several new records of the Lunar Marbled Brown and Yellow Barred Brindle neither of which has been seen much in recent years. My own most pleasant memory is of Wood Tigers flying in the sunshine on the Pennines. It was not at all a good year for migrants but there were several obvious vagrants (i.e. insects which had wandered far outside their normal range).

Dragonflies - 1985:

As I mentioned last year this order is now co-ordinated by Richard Gabb and Stephen Hind who will be sending out a note on their first year to those who have contributed. Will those who are interested in this project please contact Richard direct at: 72 Chester Road, Poynton, Cheshire, if they have not already done so. The 'New Management' have got of to a good start and have sent me the following précis to whet your appetites for what is to come:-

  • "1985 proved to be one of the most rewarding years for Odonata recording despite the worst possible weather to generate enthusiasm for the more detailed 'Tetrad' scheme.
  • The rediscovery of the Hairy Dragonfly, Brachytron pratense, after over 20 years was an exciting start in the Spring. Soon afterwards the National Recorder visited the County with the thought that perhaps the Club-tailed Dragonfly, Gomphus vulgatissimus, might possibly have spread down the River Dee from the Severn. The finding of exuviae on the banks upstream from Chester must be one of the most significant UK records for 1985. Later in the Summer a further new species for the County in the form of the Ruddy Sympetrum, Sympetrum sanguineum, was found, again near Chester.
  • With two species re-discovered and three species found for the first time over the last two years, I wonder what the full potential for the County will be, given sufficient recording effort. Help Please !!".

C.I. Rutherford - (01625-583683)                                                                                                                                                                 January 1986
Longridge, Macclesfield Road
Alderley Edge, Cheshire, SK9 7BL












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