Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Common

Local Status: Uncommon and fairly widespread resident.

Local Record: Grade 1   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Jul-Aug

Forewing: 18-21mm.

Foodplant: Herbaceous plants.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded19121857190218421973
Year last recorded20142014201420142014
Number of records9018814570494
Number of individuals621571511287138
Unique positions30825114931
Unique locations31855116231
Adult records8717513167890
Immature records00010

For the county, we have a total of 1221 records from 360 sites. First recorded in 1842.


73.018 Gold Spangle 2020 abundance
© C H Fletcher
73.018 Gold Spangle 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
73.018 Gold Spangle 03
© Paul Kipling, 23 Jul 2010
73.018 Gold Spangle 02
© Damian Money
73.018 Gold Spangle 01
© Damian Money

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Widely distributed and sometimes locally fairly common. Some of the specimens recorded on the VC61 coast may be immigrants or it may be expanding its range in Yorkshire. This fine moth is a distinctive feature of the northern fauna and until recently was almost unknown in southern England.

2012 (CHF): Not uncommon on the higher ground though numbers may have fallen a little recently especially in the south and east of its range.

2020 (CHF): Gold Spangle was evidently not a common moth in Porritt’s day. He noted that it was much commoner in some neighbouring counties and “ought to be taken oftener in similar localities within our boundary”. He noted it from York, Pateley Bridge and at Doncaster (“very rare”). By the 1950s the situation had changed and there were records from far more sites. By the time of Sutton and Beaumont (1989) it was “widely distributed and locally common” and other comments noted “it may be expanding its range in Yorkshire. This fine moth is a distinctive feature of the northern fauna and until recently was almost unknown in southern England”. Rothamsted data showed a stable picture, and surprisingly still does. I say “surprisingly” because since the 1990s, records have gradually declined in Yorkshire. The chart shows by how much, though earlier years have fewer records and the data is more robust for dates after 2000.

The recent Atlas quotes the stable Rothamsted figures for abundance and charts a significant decline in distribution, but only 34% (1970 – 2016) or even less, 22% (2000 – 2016), in other words not much. It does point out some “range retraction at its southern edge in the English Midlands”. It all sounds fairly unremarkable. I think however that the situation is far more dramatic than this. It has completely disappeared from the south-east of England. In Yorkshire last year we did not have a single record from VC61, from the east of VC63 and from the usual sites in the middle of the county. In other words, it has almost completely deserted lowland areas. Looking at this further, our Yorkshire data show that the average altitude of all records has increased dramatically, and it has moved upwards by 3.7 metres per year in the 20 years from 1998 to 2017. Only Lunar Thorn, Autumn Green Carpet, Broom Moth, Pale Eggar and Red Sword-grass have moved upwards at a faster rate, a change most likely caused by warming temperatures. In 2020 we received only 33 records of 36 moths from 24 sites, so virtually all records were of single moths. On the database, 82% of records are of single moths (suggesting perhaps that it might not come strongly to light), but even so, counts of five to 15 have been not particularly unusual, and at one site above Pateley Bridge in 2008, 40 were caught at light.

Having said all that, I had two in my trap in 2020 and I’m at 35m above sea level, so perhaps all is not lost!

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