Argus 90, 2020: This is the only new macro moth for the county in 2020 and was predicted in the 2017 report. It was first found in the UK in 1962 in the Wye Valley though old specimens showed that it had existed in Norfolk in the 1950s. It has been spreading in our direction and is known to occur in north Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. It needs mature stands of small-leaved or large-leaved lime and flies in May and June. It has a distinctive double postmedial line when fresh, though this moth at the end of its flight period was worn and needed dissection for confirmation. It is likely to occur elsewhere.
VC64. Hackfall Woods, 17.6.2020 (CHF). NEW COUNTY RECORD.
2020 (CHF): Fletcher's Pug has an interesting history. Heslop in 1947 included Eupithecia egenaria in the British list and called it Pauper Pug. These early records some dating from the 19th century were found to be misidentifications of Freyer's Pug and Golden-rod Pug so it was removed from the list in 1952. Stephen Fletcher of the Natural History Museum (he of the Bradley and Fletcher list and nothing to do with me) had an inkling that the real egenaria might occur in England. On the continent it had a penchant for old lime woods so he thought that the Wye Valley might be a good place to look. He searched for it in 1961 and failed to find it. Robin Mere the following year went back and found it. He felt a bit sorry for poor old Steve who really should have found it first, and suggested the name Fletcher's Pug. Mere got his reward later when the Irish subspecies of Freyer's Pug became Mere's Pug. The argument about what to call it has raged ever since. According to Bernard Skinner, Bradley and Fletcher in a fit of modesty went with Heslop's old name in their first checklist so he argued it should stay that way and decided to call it Pauper Pug in his identification guide - it has remained "Pauper Pug" in the later editions. Bradley however in 1989 insisted that the name should be Fletcher's Pug and changed it in the logbook. His argument was that Pauper Pug was based on a misidentification and said "to me the appellation Pauper Pug is unuseful, the moth being no more pauperate than its congeners. On the other hand, the commemorative name Fletcher's Pug has connotations of inspired field work and discovery". In all lists since, both names have been used but Fletcher's Pug has come first in all of them except Riley, and Skinner where it is still called simply Pauper Pug. You will not need to be told which side of the argument I fall on.
Following its original discovery, old specimens in collections were examined and a moth from Thetford in 1953 proved that it had occurred in the country before 1962. Since then, it has been found in a number of counties and was found in Lincolnshire in 1995. It has been seen in various sites in Nottinghamshire in recent years including Clumber Park. I have had my eyes on it for a while and included it in the 2017 report under "moths to look out for". There has been much argument as to whether it is a long-overlooked native or introduced. One theory is that monks at Tintern Abbey introduced saplings of large-leaved limes to feed their bees, though others disagree and say there was lots of small-leaved lime there already and it will have fed on that. There is little native lime in the Thetford area and it probably arrived on introduced limes so that would support a more recent arrival. I suspect it hasn't been here too long. The lime woods in Lincolnshire were extensively "worked" in the 1970s and it wasn't found there until much later.
When trapping at Hackfall Woods on 17th June last year I caught an odd and rather worn Pug which I couldn't identify. Nothing unusual there! I dissected it and immediately realised it was something unusual. A glance at the book proved it was a male Fletcher's Pug. It has very distinctive wedding tackle. This site has a lot of mature small-leaved lime and is by far the most likely site for it to occur in my area. It is bound to occur elsewhere in the county and already will be in VC62 and 63 somewhere.
To find this species you really need decent old proper limes - preferably large-leaved or small-leaved, ie not the horrible hybrid "common" limes that are planted everywhere, though it will use these if it is desperate. It has been suggested that optimum conditions are when limes reach 60ft tall and have been undisturbed for many years. Current thinking is that Small-leaved is better than Large-leaved. For leaf-mining enthusiasts, it's the same trees which produce lots of mines of Stigmella tiliae which again you would be lucky to find on "common" lime, so I reckon if you've got tiliae you may very well have the Pug. It flies in the last half of May and the first half of June; hence my moth being worn. If it's fresh it's actually fairly distinctive as it has a double postmedial line with a characteristic curve beyond the discal spot. It's fairly large and is a pale grey colour. If you're having a bad day you might pass it over as Grey Pug or Larch Pug. If it's worn, you'll have to dissect it. See if you can find it in 2021!
2022 (CHF) This species is obviously well established now at Hackfall and was by far the commonest Pug trapped on 9th May and 10th June 2022, with 8 the first night and 9 the second night. It must occur elsewhere in the county.
Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.
Recorded in 1 (1%) of 200 10k Squares. First Recorded in 2020. Last Recorded in 2022. Additional Stats