Argus 58, 2009: An exciting addition to the Yorkshire list. This species is bivoltine, flying in May/June and August/September. Do examine all late 'Water Carpets' carefully as they might be this species. VC62. Spruce Bank Wood, Kilburn, 22.8.2009 (TAB). NEW COUNTY RECORD.
Current status (CHF, 2011): The first at Kilburn 2009. The larvae feed on common marsh-bedstraw Galium palustre in damp woodland. A spectacular range expansion from the south-west in the last five years has seen this moth reported from Lancashire, Cumbria, Suffolk and several midland counties. In 2010 there were further records from Kilburn and also from Hardcastle Crags in VC63 suggesting that there is already breeding within the county.
Argus 63, 2011: A remarkable series of records from Hardcastle Crags where we have a healthy population of this recent colonist. Counts of up to 30 coming to light. No records from our other site at Kilburn this year. Damp woodland with a good growth of marsh bedstraw should be targeted as we are likely to have undetected colonies in the County. VC63. Hardcastle Crags, several dates from 7.5 to 3.6.2011 (first brood) and 30.7 to 11.9.2011 (second brood) (AC, BL).
Argus 72, 2014: Further spread into a new vice-county. Still very local in areas with marsh bedstraw.
VC61. North Cliffe Wood, 6.8.2014 (IM, ADN). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.
2020 (CHF): Devon Carpet has a very fragmented distribution in Europe, though its range extends right across Asia to Japan. Some of its isolated European populations are under threat and there are conservation concerns. In the UK, as the name might suggest, it has always been a moth of the south and west. Its scientific name, otregiata, actually refers to Ottery St Mary in Devon, the type locality. Its stronghold has always been Devon, Cornwall, and most of south and west Wales, where it has been happily going about its business in damp woodland for a long time.
Around the turn of the century something happened and it developed the urge to wander. It didn't just inch forward gradually; instead, it must have perused the travel brochures and decided that the rest of the country was ripe for exploration. It moved rapidly into the Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria. It moved east and was seen as far as Suffolk in 2007, a huge leap. Yorkshire had its first record in 2009, and by 2013 it had reached the south-west of Scotland. It's the sort of spread from the south-west that we have seen for Beautiful Snout, Red-necked Footman and one or two others, but more rapid.
Our first record in 2009 wasn't in the south west of the county, but was in VC62 at Kilburn. The following year it was at Hardcastle Crags in the west of VC63 where by 2011 catches of up to 30 were being seen at light. By 2014 it had reached North Cliffe Wood in VC61 and by 2016 it was in the south west of VC64. It has been seen on the VC65 boundary near Ripon but has not yet crossed the river. The current distribution is in a band across the centre of the county as far as the east of VC62 where catches have sometimes been into double figures in the last two years. Despite all this, it is still a local moth with a widely scattered population. The biggest number of records was 13 in 2019 and there were just eight in 2020, so it's not turning up everywhere and remains rather elusive.
This is typically a moth of damp open woodland where the larvae feed on marsh bedstraw or fen bedstraw, and this is certainly where the biggest numbers occur, though I've seen it a few times now in various habitats including gardens. It is bivoltine with records in May/June and August/September. A first brood moth could be confused with Water Carpet which is larger, shinier, and has a different shape to the outer edge of the dark cross band. The moth itself is a different shape and always seems to me to have its wings spread out further making it into a triangle with a wider base. I've also seen it confused with Small Phoenix which has rather similar markings and is the same size and shape. Every year we get records of "Water Carpet" in August. This isn't meant to have a second brood but once in a blue moon this is actually correct, and in 2017 we even had a Water Carpet on 14th October, but more often they are actually Devon Carpet. Often there is no photo so we simply don't know.
Is this just climatic change causing the movement? If so, why does it happen so rapidly? Why are similar changes not being seen in the rest of Europe? Are genetic factors involved enabling it to adapt to different environments? Has it adapted to feed on different Galium species? Has it found some new defences against predators? It all makes little sense to me. There has been a series of invaders from the south-west in recent years. Which one is going to be next?
Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.
Recorded in 33 (17%) of 200 10k Squares. First Recorded in 2009. Last Recorded in 2023. Additional Stats