Noctuidae : Plusiinae
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Photo © Ben Sale,  Stevenage, Hertfordshire (12/06/20) - Head detail

Similar Herts & Middlesex Species
Spectacle
Abrostola tripartita
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Dark Spectacle
Abrostola triplasia

(Linnaeus, 1758) 2449 / 73.002

General comments:
Immigrant/vagrant, perhaps also an extremely local resident.

The scientific names of this species and of the Spectacle have been exchanged throughout entomological history causing confusion in the records. In 2023, the Spectacle is the common one (with 5,887 records in the database and the Dark Spectacle (with 398 records) is the rarer one - in Herts and Middlesex. However, having sorted through the nomenclatural confusion it is evident that this was not always the case. The Dark Spectacle was a common and widespread moth in Hertfordshire whilst Spectacle was rather infrequently seen. Thus, at Hitchin in 1916 Foster has it as 'very common' and in his 1937 county list he gives several localities where it was found. It was evidently common in the Bishops Stortford area and Allan (1950) noted that it was 'Common enough at light' here. In the 1985 update to the Bishops Stortford list by John Fielding and others, there is no mention of Dark Spectacle, even though Charles Watson took one at light in Bloodhounds Wood in 1981; the entry for the Ordinary Spectacle reads 'Common'. At some stage, however, the Dark Spectacle declined to its present state of rarity in the county and was replaced by the ordinary Spectacle, which was then rare and is now more or less ubiquitous. At Totteridge, Ian Lorimer records just six Dark Spectacles in his garden trap from 1954 to 1980, suggesting that in his area, at least, the moth was not common by as early as 1954. By 1983, the authors of volume 10 of Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland were able to report that the Dark Spectacle was then '... much more local [than ordinary Spectacle] over much of Britain. More common in the west than the east ...'. There is very little additional data that sheds light on the situation. The present-day map shows a number of solid dots for records made recently, but these were all made from 2001 to 2005 and the 1981 Bloodhounds Wood record is the last one in Hertfordshire prior to this more recent flurry, which perhaps relates to vagrant examples? All but one of these are from light traps: Scales Park, 22nd July 2001 (Jim Reid); Cuffley, 21st July 2001 (Alan Bolitho); Rothamsted, 21st August 2001 (Phil Gould); Lucas Wood, Todd's Green, 25th August 2001 (Colin Plant); Churchgate, Cheshunt, 4th September 2001 (Paul Roper); Rothamsted Estate, 29th June and 27th July 2002 (Phil Gould); Golden Grove, Gilston, 11th July and 4th August 2005 (Colin Plant); Datchworth, 17th July 2005 (Steve Palmer) and Rye House Power Station, one male in a Malaise trap, 18th September 2005 (Colin Plant). Additional record: James Fish and Julian Reeves caught an example of this sparsely-distributed species in their trap in Bishops Stortford at the end of July 2008. Subsequently this species, although not often seen, is being more frequently recorded with around a dozen records a year since 2009.

Recorded in 33 (80%) of 41 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1887.
Last Recorded in 2023.
Additional Stats

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List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
23/09/2023120TL41 - Sawbridgeworth / Bishop's Stortford
14/09/2023120SP90 - Berkhamsted
12/09/2023220TL31 - Hertford
11/09/2023220SP90 - Berkhamsted
11/09/2023120TL23 - Letchworth / Baldock
Show Details | 1990 to 2023 | 2000 to 2023 | Graph Key
Express Record Dark Spectacle
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VC20 VC21 VC21 VC20
Click Map for Details
Forewing: 14-18mm.
Flight: Two generation June-July. Aug-Sept.
Foodplant:   Common Nettle and Hop
Red List: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Verification Grade:  Adult: 2
 Immature Adult   [Show Flight Weeks]
© hertsmiddxmoths.uk 2024 NOLA®; Database using MapMate® Digital Maps © Bartholomew 2010. Design © Jim Wheeler 2024
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