Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Common

Local Status: Scarce and thinly distributed or restricted resident.

Local Record: Grade 2   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Jul-Oct.

Forewing: 21-26mm.

Foodplant: Hawthorns, Blackthorn, Crab Apple, Hazel, Honeysuckle.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded19922008198519992006
Year last recorded20142014201420142014
Number of records28267354294106
Number of individuals38677637472150
Unique positions4115676615
Unique locations4015656713
Adult records28167347276106
Immature records10530

For the county, we have a total of 1103 records from 200 sites. First recorded in 1985.


73.062 Copper Underwing 05
© Nancy Stedman
73.062 Copper Underwing 04 larva
© Derek Parkinson
73.062 Copper Underwing 03 palps
© Derek Parkinson
73.062 Copper Underwing 01 (same spec. as 02)
© Paul Kipling, 30 Aug 2011
73.062 Copper Underwing 02 underside (same spec as 01)
© Paul Kipling, 30 Aug 2011
73.062 Copper Underwing 06
© Alan Draper

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: A. berbera (Rungs) has recently been separated from this species. There has been considerable confusion as to whether visual methods of identifying the two are really conclusive. P.Q. Winter has carried out a study on the visual characteristics of the two species (Winter, 1988). He concludes that most specimens can be separated by visual methods but some still need genitalia examination for differentiation. In any case the most reliable visual characteristics are not those given in Skinner (1984). Copper Underwings (either pyramidea or berbera have become much more common in recent years in Yorkshire. However, there is only one confirmed and one possible record of pyramidea, suggesting it is rare in the County. Duddington and Johnson (1983) record both species in Lincolnshire. In Derbyshire, however, there has only been one confirmed record of pyramidea, from the very south of the county (Harrison & Sterling, 1986). After the species were split and most Yorkshire records were found to be of berbera there was discussion as to whether any Yorkshire specimen had ever been pyramidea. The specimen mentioned in the last list (YNU, 1970) from Gateforth Wood in 1937 (VC64) has now been re-examined by P.Q. Winter. This has proved to be pyramidea. If any other old specimens are still in existence it would be very interesting to also examine these to chart the history of the two species in the County.

Argus 47, 2001-04:
VC61. Spurn, 15.8.2004 gen. det. (BRS). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.
VC63. Rossington, 4.8.1990, 23.8.2002 gen. det. (RIH); West Melton, 11.8.2003 gen. det., 8.7. & 9.8.2004 (HEB). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.

Argus 52, 2006:
VC65. Hutton Conyers, 23.8.2006 (CHF); Thorpe Perrow arboretum, 2.9.2006 (CHF et al.). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.

2012 (CHF): Since about 2005 numbers of this moth have rocketed and it can now be found all over the county where it is sometimes commoner than berbera. This is not just due to better identification but is a genuine increase. Take care separating these two species. This should be done by using a variety of features rather than relying on just one. Pyramidea is a brighter cleaner-looking moth with more sharply defined markings and often this initial impression is proved right on looking further. The most reliable feature is probably to look at the underside of the hindwing but this is not always easy to see on a live specimen. The much maligned palp method is however usually reliable in fresh moths in the early part of the season though may be confusing towards the end of the flight period and should never be used as the sole differentiating feature. In fresh moths, berbera has marked pale tips to the palps whereas pyramidea has white running down the whole front of the palps. The angle of the points on the antemedian line is another good way to separate these two species. Photos of all these features can be found in the file section of the newsgroup under "Copper Underwing Identification". Fresh moths should not prove to be difficult however by mid-September the situation can be different and these features become harder to interpret. If in any doubt, record on MapMate as "Copper Underwings agg". There will always be a proportion of specimens you will not be able to identify to species level unless they are dissected.

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