Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Common

Local Status: Scarce and local resident.

Local Record: Grade 3   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Jun-Jul.

Forewing: 13-15mm.

Foodplant: Sweet-William and Bladder Campion.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded1991199620001988
Year last recorded2014201420142014
Number of records1021611126
Number of individuals861712126
Unique positions247288
Unique locations247278
Adult records1011611126
Immature records0000

For the county, we have a total of 255 records from 66 sites. First recorded in 1988.


72.282 Varied Coronet 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
73.282 Varied Coronet 03
© Paul Holmes
73.282 Varied Coronet 02
© Andy Nunn
73.282 Varied Coronet 01
© Ian Andrews

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: This is a relatively new species to the British Isles. Although odd migrants had been taken in earlier years it suddenly appeared in numbers in the late 1940s (Skinner, 1984). Since then it has slowly spread up the country, from the south-east, reaching Lincolnshire in the mid 1970s (Duddington & ]ohnson, 1986). The first Yorkshire specimen was taken in a garden in Whitkirk, Leeds (VC64) on 18.7.1988 by A. Wilkinson. Since its main foodplant is sweet william, a common garden plant, it may continue its northward colonisation of the country and we may find more specimens of this pretty moth in our suburbs.

Beaumont, 2002:
VC61. Spurn, 22.7.1991 (BRS). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.
VC63. Rossington, 28.6 & 12.7.2000 (RIH); Canklow, Rotherham, two late June 2000 (RFB). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.

Argus 50, 2005:
VC62. Haxby, 4.7.2005 (TJC). NEW VICE-COUNTY RECORD.

Current status (CHF, 2011): A steady push north and west. It has not yet reached VC65 but looks set to do so in a few years.

2020 (CHF): Some moths like Small Ranunculus advance across the county at a great rate without a moment’s thought for what lurks round the corner. Others appear to plot their advance carefully, send out a few scouts for a recce, and inch forward gradually. Varied Coronet is most certainly in the latter category. This is another fairly recent colonist to the country, initially as a rare migrant and first recorded breeding in 1948 in Dover. It reached Lincolnshire in the 1970s and was first recorded in Yorkshire at Whitkirk (Leeds) in 1988. This was the only county record when Sutton and Beaumont was written in 1989. Numbers were very low over the next few years but by 2000 it had a foothold in the south of VCs 61, 62, 63 and 64. Since then it has built its numbers up and gradually inched north and west. There has been very little spread into the south-west of England or into Wales. It has instead concentrated on heading north on the east side of the country.

This is an antisocial moth which appears on its own in the moth trap. It seems to have few friends and it rather enjoys social distancing. The most ever caught in the county in one session is three. Numbers have increased considerably in the last two years and in 2020 there were 91 records of 92 moths from 51 sites. The slow march across the county continues and the map shows a lot of new sites at the periphery of its range forming a new frontier; Luddenden, Keighley, Otley. Knaresborough, Hutton Conyers, Helmsley and Skelton are all new sites to where it has advanced before calling a halt and planning next year’s campaign. We now have a VC65 record as is has advanced from Sharow, a mile away in VC64, to cross the border into my garden. This is despite the lack of Sweet Williams in my flower beds so it must have been a bit miffed when it arrived. If you haven’t recorded this moth, a good gambit is a trip to the garden centre when lockdown permits, to stock up on its favourite food plant. Take care not to confuse it with the rather similar Marbled Coronet, though this has become a much rarer moth in the county, in fact it is now so unusual that we need to see photographs of any possible Marbled Coronets you might catch.

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