Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Local

Local Status: Rare and very local resident.

Local Record: Grade 3   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Sep-Oct.

Forewing: 17-22mm.

Foodplant: Herbaceous plants.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded18831857188318831883
Year last recorded20142013195818831883
Number of records5711631
Number of individuals5210100
Unique positions217631
Unique locations217631
Adult records5710631
Immature records01000

For the county, we have a total of 78 records from 38 sites. First recorded in 1857.


73.237 Large Ranunculus 2020 map
© C H Fletcher
73.237 Large Ranunculus 01
© Ian Marshall, 21 Sep 2009

Species Account

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Now even more local than formerly (YNU, 1970) and almost entirely restricted to the coast.

2012 (CHF): In Porritt's day this species was much more common in Yorkshire and he described it as widely distributed and common in 1883. By the time of Rutherford's list in 1970 it had declined considerably. It is now a rare moth in the county; the main British Population being south of a line from the Wash to the Bristol Channel and in south Wales. Yorkshire records are now virtually all coastal as far north as Scarborough and we have small numbers of recent records from several different sites although none were reported in 2011.

2020 (CHF): It is interesting to see that Large Ranunculus was “widely distributed and common” in Porritt’s time. He lists it from all his usual correspondents from sites spread across all five VCs and evidently had little difficulty in finding it. In Durham it occurred along the lower Tees and it was known from Bishop Auckland and Durham according to Robson in 1899. Our database is poor for records for many species from then until 1960, but it must have still been present, probably in lower numbers, as for several years – there were records from Northallerton, Elland and Wakefield in the 1940s and 50s. There were also records in Northumberland at Kielder 1969 and Rochester in 1979 indicating that the northern population was still extant in some areas, and one was taken at Middleton-in-Teesdale in 1974.

There was then an unexplained and very marked decline in the north of England and like so many species it largely retreated south to a line running from north Norfolk, the south-east Midland counties to south Wales. It did not completely leave Yorkshire however. In 1989 Sutton and Beaumont noted it was “now even more local than formerly and almost entirely restricted to the coast”, and this has been the case ever since. At Spurn, records in the 1970s and the early 2000s suggested that it was resident there, but there were few records in many other years and it was last seen at Spurn in 2014. Some of these recent records may be wanderers from Lincolnshire and it is unlikely that it is currently resident. We do however have a proper stable relict population further up the coast. This is centred around Bridlington, Flamborough and up the coast to Scarborough. We get records from these sites most years.

In 2009 we received two records from Pickering. These were accepted but there was always a slight question mark as they were out of area and there was no photo. This year however, we had three records of six moths from another site in Pickering which backs up the previous records and confirms that the range extends inland. Together with further records from Scarborough, Flamborough and Bridlington, it paints a slightly rosier picture.

Looking at the recent Atlas which of course documents records to the end of 2016, it implies that although numbers have reduced, there has been some range expansion, and looking at the periphery of its range, there is a hint that in some parts of the range, it is creeping forward. It might be a little early to get excited, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in ten years’ time we are documenting a fresh invasion of the south and east of the county.

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