Cheshire Macro-Moth Papers - Paper 5

Moths Requiring Unusual Plants:

There are quite a number of moth species which are totally dependent upon a particular plant and when this plant is unusual or uncommon, or not readily recognised, the moth does not often get recorded unless the plant happens to grow close to someone's garden where a moth trap is operated. The following list, in no particular order, gives a number of such plant/moth associations which may help us to add to our knowledge of the distribution of moths in Cheshire. I have referred to Newton's Flora of Cheshire to see that there is some chance of finding most of the plants but we may need more up to date local knowledge to locate some of them.

English Name of Plant: Remarks: 10Km Squares for Moth:
Butterbur Often grows in big patches by rivers. We have only four records for the Butterbur Moth. SJ47, 88, 97, 98.
Valerian Is said to be common but does not seem to be noticed very often. The Valerian Pug often occurs where there are good stands of the plant but we have only three records. SJ46, 64, 97.
Red Bartsia Is not always easy to find. A hand-full of seedheads from the Wirral Way a few years back produced the Barred Rivulet of which we have only two records. SJ37, 38.
Burnet Saxifrage Said by Newton to be 'frequent' though I don't think I've seen it in Cheshire. We have no recent record of the Pimpernel Pug but there are some in Gordon Smith's list.  
Spindle Tree Is rare in the wild but there may be cultivated substitutes. It is the foodplant of the Scorched Carpet which has recently been recorded. SJ54, 64.
Bladder Campion Is not easy to find in any quantity. It is the home of two moths we see little of: The Marbled Coronet and the Netted Pug.

Coronet in: SJ28, 65 & 99.

Pug in: SJ27, 28, 36, 47, 65, 99.

Toadflax Is supposed to be common but in some squares is difficult to find. The Toadflax Pug is only recorded from half our squares. SJ28, 29, 38, 44, 45, 46, 57, 64, 65, 66, 67, 75, 77, 87, 88, 98.
Alder Buckthorn Not uncommon but not always obvious. (Purging Buckthorn does not seem to occur in Cheshire). Well known as the foodplant of the Brimstone Butterfly but also of the Dark Umber, recorded only in SJ28, and of the Brown Scallop - never recorded in Cheshire. SJ28
Barberry Is rare in Cheshire as a wild shrub but it is widely grown in gardens which presumably explains two records of the Scarce Tissue. SJ77, 87.
Golden Rod The wild version, is not uncommon in some parts of Cheshire. The only real concentration which I know is on the railway cutting at Bunbury but this has not produced the Bleached Pug. The moth is not difficult to find in North Wales but occurs where the plant is under trees. (Note - the Golden Rod Pug is not uncommon in Cheshire and seems to prefer Ragwort).  
Cow Wheat In North Wales this plant has yielded the Lead Coloured Pug but it is unrecorded in Cheshire.  
Mallow According to Newton this plant is fairly widespread in the West of Cheshire but our records of the Mallow Moth are much more restricted. SJ27, 28, 29, 44.
Cotton Grass Grows in quantity in very few places, perhaps I should have treated it in the same way as heather (see Paper-2). Haworth's Minor has only been recorded from three of the sites. SJ65, 88, 99.

At the other end of the scale we have the Small Rivulet in every 10Km square except SJ56, where is there a good patch of Hemp Nettle in SJ56? And, even more ridiculous, Brown Silver Lines is unrecorded from SJ29, 36 & 46; where is there a good patch of Bracken in each of these squares ?

C. Ian Rutherford.
February 1991












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