Migrant Butterflies and Moths



After the disappointment of October, November turned out to be an interesting month for migrating moths. A Red-headed Chestnut was taken at light at Peacehaven, Sussex on 5th, with another being taken at Dovercourt, Essex on 8th (a new county record). Good numbers of Gem, Vestal, Humming-bird Hawk-moth, White-point, Cosmopolitan, Small Mottled Willow, and Scarce Bordered Straw were all recorded in the south during the first half of the month. Huge numbers of White-speck were also recorded, including 130 on St Mary’s on 17th, and 106 on Guersey, Channel Islands on 21st. A specimen of the olive feeding Pyrale Palpita vitealis was also taken on Guernsey on 21st; and a third Red-headed Chestnut was taken at Norton-sub-Hamdon, Somerset on 25th. Good numbers of Gem and Humming-bird Hawk-moth continued to be reported throughout the month. All of the common species of migrant were recorded throughout the month, with particularly large numbers of Rush Veneer and Rusty-dot Pearl reported.

December proved to be one of the best on record with good numbers of common migrants recorded throughout the month, plus the odd rarity. The rare tropical Pyralid Euchromius ocellea was taken at light on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly on 18th; an amazing total of four Striped Hawk-moth were taken there on 24th, 25th and 26th(2). These are thought to be the first December sightings on record, and coincided with the first December fall of dust in rain on record. The moths are thought to have originated from the Canary Islands. Large numbers of White-speck were also recorded on St Mary’s throughout the month, with an incredible 67 recorded on 18th. Also on St Mary’s, The Gem was taken at light on 14th and 18th. Humming-bird Hawk-moth were recorded from Portland, Dorset on 2nd, Taunton, Somerset on 3rd, Bakingstoke, Hampshire on 10th, Towcester, Northhants on 14th, and North-west London on 21st. Small numbers of all the common species were taken in the south throughout the month.

Striped Hawk-moth: Taken at light, Longstone, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly on 24th December. (Photo: M. Scott)


November also proved to be a memorable month for butterflies with a Monarch being sighted on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly on 1st. There were several sightings of Clouded Yellow throughout the month. Totals included 20 in Hampshire, 10 in Dorset, 5 in Cornwall, and 1 in Sussex. The last Clouded Yellow of the month was recorded at Gosport, Hants on 28th. Large numbers of Red Admiral, and a few Painted Lady were recorded throughout the month, particularly in the south.

Not surprisingly only two species of butterfly were recorded in December – 3 Clouded Yellows were seen together at Seaton, East Cornwall on 4th. This may be the latest sightings on record. Several Red Admiral were recorded throughout the month including 7 in Hampshire, 4 in Dorset, 2 in Sussex, 1 in London, and 1 in Cornwall.

You can send in your migrant butterfly or moth records by either completing the form on the website www.migrantmoth.com, or emailing steve@migrantmoth.com.

Written by: Steve Nash