Noctuidae : Xyleninae
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The Conformist
Lithophane furcifera

(Hufnagel, 1766) 2238 / 73.203

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Yorkshire Status: "Rare, no recent record."

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Not recorded since Porritt (1883-86). This immigrant has only been recorded in Britain eleven times (Skinner, 1984) the first being from Halifax (VC63) in the mid 1800s. In Porritt's day the specimen was in the collection of T. Wilkinson of Scarborough.

2012 (CHF): Porritt says that in The Entomologists Magazine 5: 278 the late Mr T. H. Allis recorded the capture of a specimen at Halifax 'many years since'. It was for a long time in his own collection and afterwards in that of the late Mr Thomas Wilkinson of Scarborough. In 1907 Porritt suggested that Allis's specimen had probably been casually introduced. There have been no further records in Yorkshire though there was one in Northumberland in 2007.

I have located Allis's original note in The Entomologists Magazine in 1869. It reads as follows: Note on Xylena conformis. - Mr W. Newman seems to think that very little is known about this rarity; so I will inform your readers that I had an old example which was taken near Halifax in spring, many years since. I did not know what it was, but felt sure it was new to our list. It was seen soon afterwards by several London lepidopterists but was considered by them as only a variety of X. rhizolitha (lambda) [ie Grey Shoulder-knot]; this I never agreed with, but put it aside for further information; it shows the reniform stigma distinctly red, as recent ones. Some years since my old friend Mr John Scott was in Wales and obtained a fine pair of conformis from the original captor; one of these Mr Scott most kindly gave to me; and as soon as I saw it, my attention was called to my old hibernated specimen. On comparison, I found the latter much paler but still preserving the character of the Welsh insect; there is a marked difference between that and the continental examples that I have seen, which latter are broader in the fore-wing, and more silvery; the Welsh specimens are dark rich chocolate. When I received Mr Scott's example, I gave my original one to my friend Mr Thomas Wilkinson, of Scarborough, who still has it. I should like to know whether the specimens of the allied species, Zinckenii, [Nonconformist] taken in England, vary in the same manner?

I have seen four or five British individuals of X. conformis. The late Rev. G. R. Read had a specimen from the original captor; at his death it was still among his duplicates, and when I packed up his insects to send to Mr Stevens for sale, put it in its right place in the cabinet, it was sold with the others, but I know not who bought it. - T. H. Allis, Osbaldwick, York, March 3rd 1869.

So Allis's specimen with its red stigma and pale appearance was unlike the (now extinct) British form (suggesting an immigrant) but had a marked difference from the more silvery continental form, so was his identification correct and where did the moth originate from? Perhaps we will never know.

Recorded in 1 (1%) of 200 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1869.
Last Recorded in 1869.
Additional Stats

< Grey Shoulder-knot  |  Blair's Shoulder-knot >
List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
1869+63SE02 - Halifax
  Immature   Adult   [Show Flight Weeks]
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