Yorkshire Status: Scarce and thinly distributed or restricted resident.
Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Another species often associated with gardens and allotments which is less common now in many areas. However, it is still well distributed and often frequent in vice-counties 63 and 64 (generally the most heavily populated areas), but it is more local in vice-counties 61, 62 and 65.
Beaumont, 2002: This moth has been recorded much less frequently in recent years and is now regarded as scarce over much of the County.
Current status (CHF, 2011): In serious national decline. The few remaining Yorkshire populations are now nationally important.
2020 (CHF): V-moth numbers underwent a catastrophic decline at about the turn of the century. It virtually disappeared from VC61 and 63 about 15 years ago and is now resident very locally in parts of the north of the county in small numbers. This has been mirrored nationally and it has disappeared from much of lowland England. Our outpost is nationally important. Numbers dropped to single records in 2008 and 2012 and have been low in other years, but in 2020 the situation altered. I hope I am not tempting fate when I suggest that things might be stabilising. At the main "epicentre" at Grewelthorpe there were 17 records of 26 moths; at two sites at each end of Pickering there were six records of eight moths and five of five; there were records near Ripon at Nosterfield NR and at Healey where it has been seen before, and there were moths from two new sites at Helmsley and Brompton-on-Swale. This is more sites than we have had for a long time.
Porritt said in the 1880s that it was "abundant in all gardens containing currant bushes" and field guides suggest that the recent decline is because gardeners use insecticides on their currants. Really? I certainly don't and I lost my V-moths 15 years ago. Perhaps currants aren't grown as much in gardens, but perhaps the more likely reason is that climatic change is playing a part. In Yorkshire over the last 20 years, the average altitude of records has increased by nearly two metres a year implying that warming temperatures might make living in the lowlands less easy.
The choice of food plant might not be as simple as it appears. The Geometrid Moths of Europe states that its main food plant is wild gooseberry though it will also utilise red and black currants. The Field Guide implies that red and black currant are the main food plants. All three species are neophytes in the UK with no records in the wild before 1600 which makes me wonder if we had V-moths here before that date. Wild gooseberry is widespread in Yorkshire, particularly in the north of the county, and it occurs in a lot of hedgerows in my area. I wonder if it is using this more than we think.
Books tell us this is a moth of gardens and allotments, which to a certain extent it is, but I get the impression from records in my area that it is a moth of open woodland, woodland edges and hedgerows. It over-winters as an egg on the food plant and perhaps over-enthusiastic hedgerow management might play a part. There is certainly much we don't know about this enigmatic species. I hope that we manage to keep our population here.
Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.
Recorded in 93 (47%) of 200 10k Squares. First Recorded in 1846. Last Recorded in 2023. Additional Stats