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: 11-13mm.

Foodplant: Yarrow, Sneezewort.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded18831904188319501883
Year last recorded20142014201420142014
Number of records51922417627983
Number of individuals476238146350118
Unique positions7265848626
Unique locations7763849226
Adult records49620713726180
Immature records20110

For the county, we have a total of 1281 records from 342 sites. First recorded in 1883.


70.187 Tawny Speckled Pug 2020 abundance
© C H Fletcher
70.187 Tawny Speckled Pug 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
70.187 Tawny Speckled Pug 03
© Andy Nunn
70.187 Tawny Speckled Pug 01
© Paul Kipling, 30 July 2010

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Widely distributed and locally common where yarrow is plentiful in all five vice-counties. This species is recorded more frequently than many other pugs, perhaps because it is relatively easy to identify.

2012 (CHF): There has been a decline in numbers in recent years though it can still be locally quite common. Still quite widely distributed across the county. The form with the orange-brown forewing patch (f. subfulvata) is much commoner than the plainer form (f. cognata).

2020 (CHF): Tawny Speckled Pug is one of the easiest Pugs to identify and is always a pleasure to find in the moth trap. It is however in trouble. It has been in decline for many years. For the very first time this year there were no records at all in VC64. There was only one site in VC63. The situation is mirrored to a certain extent nationally though I get the impression that it is not doing quite as badly in the south and east of the country. The chart shows what has happened in Yorkshire over the last 40 years, the y axis is the number of records per 10,000 records, so this year we had 32 records out of 212,000 ie 0.15 per 10,000. The VC63 site was responsible for 14 of these which actually makes it look artificially good.

It occurs in a variety of habitats and the main food plant is said to be yarrow, but I think it is commonest in calcareous herb-rich weedy areas. I think the most likely cause of the demise is our obsessive drive to "tidy up" our countryside, cut our road verges too early, build "affordable housing" on brownfield sites and plough up to the edges of our fields.

Its closest relative, Bordered Pug, another attractive and easily-recognised species, is in the same predicament. Larvae feed on Mugwort and Wormwood and it is even more a species of disturbed ground. Numbers are slowly dropping and insidious "tidying up" is again likely to be the reason.

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