Sesiidae : Sesiinae
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Lunar Hornet Moth
Sesia bembeciformis

(Hübner, 1806) 371 / 52.003
Photo © Damian Money,  Brotton, VC62

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Hornet Moth
Sesia apiformis
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Yorkshire Status: Scarce and thinly distributed or restricted resident.

Pheromone lure: LUN.

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: The most common species of clearwing in Yorkshire, most records come from VC63 where it would appear to be fairly frequent in open woodlands, commons and low moorland areas. Records are shown from all five vice-counties on map 195 in MBGBI 2, but the only VC65 record known is that listed in Porritt (1883-86), from Richmond. P. Q. Winter reports this species is most common in almond willow, less common in sallow and occasional in hybrid poplar species.

2012 (CHF): The commonest and most widespread clearwing. Most records are of larval tunnels in cut sallow stumps though it is sometimes encountered in the daytime. The males do not come strongly to pheromone lures unlike other clearwings. There are no recent records from VC62.

2020 (CHF): Lunar Hornet Moth is probably a lot more common than records suggest. It probably always has been. Porritt said in 1883 that it was "widely distributed and generally common" and in 1907 "all over the county and in many places in plenty". It is arguable whether Hornet Moth also occurred in the county. Porritt thought that "Hornet Moths" feeding on poplar trunks in the south West Riding were probably Lunar Hornet Moths. It's possible but it sounds a bit suggestive of Hornet Moth to me. There seems to have been much confusion at the time. Hornet Moth occurs not too far south of our borders so it may well have been once present. Sutton and Beaumont said Lunar Hornet Moth was "the commonest species of clearwing in Yorkshire … frequent in open woodlands, commons and low moorland areas." It would be hard to disagree.

We have had a regular scattering of records across the county in recent years, mostly in low-lying areas. A large proportion of these have been of larval tunnels in cut stumps of willows and sallows. Some have been of adults on willow stumps, and quite a few have been of adults on mist nets. The Atlas says "this species may be under-recorded as there is currently no pheromone lure available for it".

Wrong again! We now have a pheromone lure and it is very successful. Several people experimented with it last year and it really works. We had 21 records of Lunar Hornet Moth last year and 15 were found by using pheromones. The map shows lots of 2020 dots at new sites and it is really a map of who has been using the pheromones rather than where the moth occurs. If you want some, they are available from Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies - they have them in stock and mine arrived last week together with a nice new pheromone trap. I'm looking forward to giving them a try.

Info from ALS says: "a new lure (LUN) was introduced for this species in 2020. Response times from 9am until 4pm. Multiple catches to the lure have been seen when used with the pheromone trap. Lures used in conjunction with a pheromone trap should be checked at least every 15 minutes and once the species has been seen then the lure should be returned to its sealed container. Observers should be aware this lure has also attracted Hornet Clearwing on two occasions so check your identification". (Hornet Moth has a yellow head and shoulders whereas Lunar Hornet Moth has a yellow collar before you ask.)

So, the places are to try are those with mature goat, grey and crack willows in damp ground. In fact, anywhere with mature willows is worth a try. It does occasionally use poplar as well. You need to be looking from mid-June to early August. The peak in Yorkshire is the second week in July. Good luck!

Recorded in 81 (41%) of 200 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1883.
Last Recorded in 2022.
Additional Stats

< Leopard Moth  |  White-barred Clearwing >
Forewing: 15-19mm
Flight: July - August
Foodplant:   Sallows, willows.
Red List Status: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Verification Grade:  Adult: 2
List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
17/07/2022164SE27 - Kirkby Malzeard
17/07/2022163SE31 -  Wakefield (S)
16/07/2022162NZ61 - Guisborough
16/07/2022361TA04 - Beverley (N)
12/07/2022464SD86 - Settle
  Immature   Adult
Show Details | 1990 to 2022 | 2000 to 2022 | Graph Key
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