Aggregate Species

There are several species of macro moth which cannot be identified to species level by looking at external characteristics: accurate identification can only be made by looking at the genitalia.  We receive many records each year of species such as Common Rustic or Grey Dagger without any indication whether the genitalia have been examined.  As our records are now passed to the National Moth Recording Scheme, it is important that the data is as accurate as possible, and records will not be added to the Yorkshire Moths database if we have any reason to believe them to be incorrect.  We have had a ‘purge’ of old records and have removed a large number of records from the database which are likely to be unsafe.  If you are using MapMate there are options such as ‘Common Rustic agg’ which will enable you to record them.  Here is a list of aggregate species:

1. Red Twin-spot Carpet/Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet – only record these to species level if you are confident.  Separation of these two species is not always as easy as it appears in the books.  The option exists on MapMate to record as the aggregate form if you are at all unsure.

2. November Moth/Pale November Moth/Autumnal Moth – record as November Moth agg if using MapMate and not Epirrita sp.  Wing markings are only a guide and there is a lot of overlap.  Autumnal Moth may be acceptable from experienced observers if well marked, otherwise genitalia examination is essential.

3. Dark Dagger/Grey Dagger – record as Dark Dagger/Grey Dagger.  These cannot be separated by wing markings.

4. Marbled Minor/Tawny Marbled Minor – record as Marbled Minor agg on MapMate rather than Oligia spRufous Minor may be allowable from experienced observers, otherwise also record as Marbled Minor agg.

5. Copper Underwing/Svensson’s Copper Underwing – only record if fresh and if you are familiar with the differences.  Otherwise record as Copper Underwing agg.

6. Common Rustic/Lesser Common Rustic – record as Common Rustic agg on MapMate rather than Mesapamea sp.  Despite what some books may suggest, these two species are never separable on wing markings.  Be careful with genitalia examination as they can be tricky to separate.

7. Large Ear/Ear Moth/Crinan Ear/Saltern Ear – record as Ear Moth agg on MapMate rather than Amphipoea sp.  Some literature suggests that Large Ear may be identifiable by experienced observers but even with this species it is usually best to check genitalia and the situation is compounded in Yorkshire as we have all four species in the county and it is likely that Large Ear and Saltern Ear hybridise at times.  Be aware that both the male and female genitalia of Saltern Ear and Large Ear are very similar.

Every year we receive many records of ‘Pug species’, ‘Plume Moth Species’ or ‘Cnephasia species’.  These are all deleted from the database so it is best not to record these.  You do not have to try and put a name to everything you catch!

Several of the microlepidoptera should not be recorded to species level unless the genitalia have been examined.  The option again exists on MapMate to record as the aggregate species.  These are:

Caloptilia alchimiella/robustella

Coleophora alcyonipenella/frischella

Acleris laterana/comariana

Acleris ferrugana/notana