Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Nb

Local Status: Rare and very local resident.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: July/August

Forewing: 17-18mm

Foodplant: Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides)

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded1876
Year last recorded2014
Number of records24
Number of individuals18
Unique positions9
Unique locations9
Adult records19
Immature records2

For the county, we have a total of 24 records from 9 sites. First recorded in 1876.


70.071 Yellow-ringed Carpet 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
70.071 Yellow-ringed Carpet 03
© Ian Marshall, 12 Aug 2018
70.071 Yellow-ringed Carpet 02
© Ian Marshall, 12 Aug 2018
70.071 Yellow-ringed Carpet 01 larva
© Paul Millard

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: This species still occurs at its famous site near Grassington (VC64), the most recent records being 10.8.1983 (SMJ, MRB) and 10.8.1987 (SMJ, JW). This is the only known Yorkshire location for this species, although there has been an unconfirmed report from VC62.

2012 (CHF): Porritt noted this species on Malham Moor and near Oughtershaw in upper Wharfedale. It was recorded again from Oughtershaw in 1967. It has been recorded from the Grass Wood area for many years but not since 1987. It turned up regularly in the Colt Park RIS trap from 1990 to 1993 ie during the whole time the trap was operated, but limited trapping at this site since then has not found it. It is hoped to trap more regularly here. Does this species still occur in Yorkshire or is it moving north because of climatic change?

I have located the "unconfirmed report from VC62" from The Naturalist in 1891. These old reports always make good reading and this one is as follows:
"Larentia ruficinctata near Scarborough - I beg to record the finding of the imago of Larentia ruficinctata on Hutton Buscel Moor on July 16th. I was in the company of Mr H.W. Head who at once identified the insect, which tallies exactly with the description in Newman. It differs materially from L. caesiata which is, I believe, not uncommon here. The moor at that point is about 450 feet above sea level. The White Meadow Saxifrage (S. granulata) does not grow in the neighbourhood, and therefore as this is the only food-plant named by Newman, the larva probably has alternative food-plants not yet recorded. Reginald H. Barker, Hull, August 7th 1891." According to Waring, this species feeds on Saxifraga hypnoides (mossy saxifrage) in Yorkshire and this has apparently never been native to VC62, so it it difficult to know what to make of this record.

2020 (CHF): There is generally a lot of focus on exciting new species moving north to colonise Yorkshire. We wax lyrical about climatic change and how we’re gaining a lot of new species. It’s easy to prove that a species is new to the county, but how do we tell when we have lost it? What are the negative effects of climate change? How many species have the southern part of their range in Yorkshire? Should we be worried about species which have a toe hold in our county but are common in Scotland? Of course we should. These species are part of our fauna and have been for a long time. There are quite a number of them. One such species is Yellow-ringed Carpet.

Porritt was aware of this species as he was sent a specimen from Malham Moor in 1876. He was also aware of “several specimens about Oughtershaw in upper Wharfedale, at an elevation of 1200 feet”. He even mentions an unconfirmed record at Hutton Buscel near Scarborough in 1891. This sounds a little dubious as its main food plant, Mossy Saxifrage, has never occurred in VC62.

We had a scattering of records in the middle of the last century from the Grass Wood/Bastow Wood/Dib Scar area and another one from Oughtershaw, but most of our records came from the Rothamsted trap run in upper Ribblesdale at Colt Park between 1990 and 93. This produced 13 records of single moths in its four years of operation. After that nothing was heard for a while and I see that I am quoted in Porritt’s Lists, published in 2011, as saying that our population might be extinct. Luckily, I was wrong, and Dib Scar produced more records in 2013 and 14, and the good news this year is that Paul Millard and Andrew Rhodes caught three there at actinic light in 2020. Another record reached us rather late – one from the Rothamsted trap at Malham Tarn in 2013, the first ever from this site. I haven’t had any records from them since 2015 so I don’t know if there are any more since then.

There are two subspecies. The paler flavicinctata occurs in western Scotland and the Inner Hebrides. The darker ruficinctata occurs in the rest of its range – central Scotland, Cumbria, Yorkshire, North Wales and the Black Mountains. The curious thing is that the north western flavicinctata is bivoltine whereas the others including our moths are univoltine, flying in July and August. With some species that is enough for people to query whether they are separate species, but I don’t think that has been suggested here. Take care not to confuse it with the rather similar Grey Mountain Carpet which however has no orange/yellowy scales.

I feel that it is highly likely that it occurs at other sites in the Dales and it really ought to occur in VC65. It isn’t the easiest thing to find. It appears to have a penchant for RIS traps and actinic traps, and we don’t have a single record at MV light, though I’m not suggesting it won’t come to MV light; it probably reflects the difficulty in lugging generators to remote places. It is said that it can be found resting on stones in the day time. Mossy Saxifrage, assumed (rightly?) to be its only food plant in Yorkshire, is actually not too rare in the Dales according to the on-line Plant Atlas. The south-eastern part of its range is lower Wharfedale apart from some at Greenhow, and it is most common in the limestone areas of Ribblesdale, Langstrothdale, Littondale, the Three Peaks area and a big chunk of land to the west of Hawes. A search for larvae may be one of the easiest ways to find it – we have larval records in May. In other parts of its range, it feeds on other Saxifraga sp. and even Sedum sp., so it’s not impossible it uses other food plants in Yorkshire. Now that Boris says we can all enjoy ourselves this summer, how about a holiday cottage in the limestone Dales in August and a hunt for Yellow-ringed Carpet?

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