Yorkshire Status: Very rare and very local resident.
Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: There has only been one recent record of this moth in Yorkshire. Previous records are very scant - it was suggested in the YNU 1970 list that the record near Bradford (VC63) was probably an accidental introduction and Porritt (1883-86) only recorded it once, from Richmond (VC65). Until 1984 it was doubtful whether this species was still breeding in Britain (Skinner, 1984). However it was then discovered to be resident in two woods in Northumberland (Dunn & Parrack, 1986) in 1984 and 1985. Both woods have a mixture of coniferous species and trees of different ages, which could be the key to this species' survival. Whether our recent record is from an as yet undiscovered colony or just a vagrant is uncertain but it would certainly be worthwhile to search for this species in suitable Yorkshire woodlands.
2012 (CHF): We have one recent record of this species from mixed woodland at West Tanfield in 2004 (confirmed A. M. Riley). A large and fairly distinctive species.
Argus 69, 2013: Only the sixth county record. This scarce spruce-feeding species could be either native, introduced with conifers or a migrant. VC62. Skelton, 16.6.2013 (DM). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.
2021 (CHF): 2020 was a fabulous year for Cloaked Pug. We had a whole three records! That might not sound a lot but it's quite a significant number for this enigmatic species as previously we only had seven records. It was first found in the county in the 19th century. Porritt says "Mr J Sang of Darlington assures me that a specimen of this species was taken at Richmond". The next one was not until 1966 when one came to MV light at Bradford. Rutherford writes "it must be presumed that it had been accidentally introduced into the area, possibly as a pupa" though Sutton and Beaumont in 1989 said "whether our recent record is from an as yet undiscovered colony or just a vagrant is uncertain, but it would certainly be worthwhile to search for this species in suitable Yorkshire woodlands".
In the first edition of Skinner's Guide in 1984, he suggested it was extinct as a breeding species and all recent records were migrants or on introduced spruce. This was the tone for quite a while, and it is possible that a lot of southern moths were in fact migrants, as a scatter of records on the south coast appear to coincide with arrivals of other migrants.
Scattered single moths kept turning up however. Terry Crawford had the next in 1988 at Acomb, Philip Winter the next in Langdale Forest in 1993, then Jill Warwick and I had one near Ripon in 2004. All at widely separated sites. I suspect that it has been here in Yorkshire all along. It certainly has in Northumberland where it was first found at Catcleugh in the 1930s and again in 1985 when it was bred out of spruce cones. Skinner also found it in Kyloe Woods, shortly after publishing his field guide which is a little ironic, and it has been seen at various sites since then north of our borders.
So, this isn't a migrant up here, and I'm not at all convinced it has come in on imported spruce. It's a native species which exists at a very low density and I suspect the moth doesn't come readily to light. In 2020 as I have said, we had three records. Two from the east of VC62 including Newtondale where it had been seen in 2016, and an unusual record at Halifax - the nearest site to the old Bradford record. It's a moth which needs mature Norway spruce as the larvae feed on the cones. It will occasionally feed on other conifers, and on the continent, this includes Scots pine, though not apparently here. It's is certainly resident in the east of VC62 and probably elsewhere. The larvae feed on the ripe seeds between the cone scales according to the Field Guide, high on the tree, and giving rise to clumps of reddish-brown frass hanging from the cones, and you need mature trees with large cones.
When you see it, it's a Pug on steroids. It's a stonking great thing with a bold big discal spot. The markings are most like Dwarf Pug but you would need a serious loss of perspective if you confused them in the hand. To be honest, the one we saw looked so unlike a Pug that I took it home for a further look. I don't think plantations of spruce are the right place to look for it unless they are really mature. I get the impression that you want old neglected ancient spruce. The place I found it, I seem to remember, just had a couple of big trees. I wonder if current forestry practices fell the trees before they are suitable for Cloaked Pug. It flies in June and July, so find some really mature neglected spruce this year and see if it's in your area!
Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.
Recorded in 8 (4%) of 200 10k Squares. First Recorded in 1883. Last Recorded in 2021. Additional Stats