Season (Adult / Immature):
National Status: Common
Local Status: Uncommon and fairly widespread resident.
Local Record: Grade 2 See here for explanation
Flight time: One generation, Aug-Sep.
Foodplant: Not well known in the wild, docks and sorrels.
|Year first recorded||1940||1939||1846||1886||1904|
|Year last recorded||2013||2014||2014||2014||2014|
|Number of records||66||150||301||487||72|
|Number of individuals||73||112||314||714||71|
For the county, we have a total of 1076 records from 341 sites. First recorded in 1846.
Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Fairly well scattered over the County but most frequent on higher ground. Recorded from all five vice-counties. The dark ab. olivacea (Stephens) is also recorded.
2012 (CHF): This is a moth of upland grassland but does occur in some lowland areas. Numbers have gradually reduced in recent years, particularly in the lowlands, and it has become rare in the south and east of VC63. It is rarely recorded in any more than ones and twos at light. This may be another example of a species retreating to the uplands because of climatic change.
2020 (CHF): Grey Chi was well known to Porritt. He describes it as “abundant in the West Riding and no doubt common everywhere”. He gave few specific locations so it must have been widespread. Sutton and Beaumont in 1989 described it as being “well scattered over the county but most frequent on higher ground” and listed several sites in each VC where it had been seen. It seems likely therefore that this has always been a moth which has been most common in upland grassland and moorland but also occurring in lowland areas at a lower density. Curiously there are virtually no records from our lowland heaths – just two old records from Skipwith Common.
The situation has been gradually changing over the last 30 years. Numbers in upland sites have reduced but lowland areas have been much more badly affected. I see that in 2012 I wrote on the Yorkshire Moths website “This is a moth of upland grassland but does occur in some lowland areas. Numbers have gradually reduced in recent years, particularly in the lowlands, and it has become rare in the south and east of VC63. It is rarely recorded in any more than ones and twos at light. This may be another example of a species retreating to the uplands because of climatic change.” I think that was a fair summing-up and since 2012 the change has continued. The Atlas says “it has decreased severely in abundance since 1970 and declined in distribution especially in the south of its range” and this is borne out by the distribution map. In my own garden where I started trapping in 1999, it was quite regular until 2005, but since then, I have just had single moths in 2011 and 2019. Catches of multiple moths is now more unusual. We have several records of catches of 5-8 at light on the database but none since 2003.
Apart from almost deserting the lowlands, there has been little alteration of the range. This seems to be another example of a moth moving to higher altitude. Looking at Yorkshire data in the 20 years up to 2017, the altitude of the average record has moved upwards 3.7m per year. Curiously this is identical to Gold Spangle.
In 2020 we received 21 records of 33 moths from 17 sites, all in typical areas in the west of the county and east of VC62, apart from a single lowland record at York. The only new 10K square record was at Richmond.