Species Account

Select species and region:



Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Local

Local Status: Very rare and very local resident.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: Two generations, Apr-May, Aug-Sep.

Forewing: 13-18mm.

Foodplant: Aspen, poplars, sallows and willows.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded201518422009
Year last recorded201518702014
Number of records124
Number of individuals114
Unique positions112
Unique locations112
Adult records114
Immature records010

For the county, we have a total of 7 records from 4 sites. First recorded in 1842.


71.027 Chocolate-tip 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
71.027 Chocolate-tip 06 open wings
© Alison Tubbs
71.027 Chocolate-tip 07
© Alison Tubbs
71.027 Chocolate-tip 05
© Ken McCann, 27 Apr 2020
71.027 Chocolate-tip 04
© David Ashton, 18 Aug 2019
71.027 Chocolate-tip 02
© Damian Money
71.027 Chocolate-tip 03
© Damian Money
71.027 Chocolate-tip 01
© Dave Williamson, 15 May 2009

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Not recorded since Porritt (1883-86) and then only from York in 1842. (incorrect - see below) However, this species is still found in mid Lincolnshire (Duddington & Johnson, (1983) so there is still a chance it could be found in Yorkshire again.

Argus 58, 2009: One of the moths of the year, trapped and photographed in the south of the county. This attractive species of poplars and willows has not been seen in Yorkshire since one in the York area in 1842. It is well established in mid-Lincolnshire and numbers are building up in Cheshire, so our moth may have come from one of these populations.
VC63. Old Moor RSPB, 9.8.2009 (CDi, JWr). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.

Current status (CHF, 2011): The account in Sutton and Beaumont is a little sketchy. In fact Porritt's lists mention records in 1842 and 1870. Robert Clark mentions the species "within five or six miles of York" in a list of moths from 1842 (The Entomologist, Feb 1842) and William Prest notes (Entomologist's Monthly magazine 7:256) "Towards evening we began our return to old Ebor and on the way found a few larvae of C. curtula and reclusa in spun-together aspen leaves" - this took place on 17.7.1870. Clostera reclusa was an old name for Small Chocolate-tip so larvae of both species were found together. William Prest is listed as finding Small Chocolate-tip at Askham Bog so perhaps this was the site. The other likely site is Strensall Common.

The population in the south of England has been doing well with expansion into Cheshire recently, and there are also plenty of recent records from Lincolnshire, so one trapped at Old Moor Wetlands in 2009 may have come from one of these populations.

2020 (CHF): This species was known to occur in Yorkshire in the 19th century. In 1842 Robert Cook mentioned finding it “within five or six miles of the city of York” and in 1870 William Prest wrote – “towards evening we began our return to old Ebor, and on the way found a few larvae of C. curtula and retusa (Small Chocolate-tip) in spun together aspen leaves”. As we already know that Prest found Small Chocolate-tip at Askham Bog, it is possible that this was the source of the Chocolate-tip. These two records were the only ones in Yorkshire for a long time as it retreated to the south east with its northern boundary on a rough line from Birmingham to north Norfolk, apart from a small population in Scotland. Since the turn of the century however, it has expanded its range and moved north. It appeared in the south of Yorkshire in 2009. Another was seen in 2013 and it has appeared every year since then in increasing numbers.

In 2020 there was a remarkable expansion of range and we now have a new frontier – Halifax and Keighley in the West, Brompton-by-Sawdon in VC62 in the north, Little Preston in VC64, and Wheldrake Ings to the south-east of York. A total of 17 sites in 2020 of which ten are new. Five records were of moths from a second brood. The big question is what will happen next. My guess is that the range will contract for the next two or three years, there will be a period of consolidation and “infilling”, then it will be on the march again. It is probably enjoying being free of its usual parasitoids but I’m sure they will catch up with it. Of course, I might be totally wrong and it might carry on expanding. Speculating about this sort of thing is what makes recording so interesting. Perhaps it will reappear at Askham Bog and then will have come full circle. My aspens are ready and waiting. There will be an MV trap underneath them this May.

See background to species accounts.  Index of Vernacular names - Search - Random Species