Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Nb

Local Status: Uncommon and restricted resident.

Local Record: Grade 3   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Feb-Apr.

Forewing: 15-21mm.

Foodplant: Blackthorn, Hawthorns.

IMPORTANT - Please note that the maps and accounts are provisional, subject to change and further update.  The whole dataset still needs to go through the final verification process and it is likely that a very small number of records will not satisfy the present requirements and there are other records that have not been formally submitted.  The information is for guidance only.

Record breakdown:

Year first recorded19051905
Year last recorded20112011
Number of records259518
Number of individuals9621924
Unique positions106212
Unique locations85170
Adult records172344
Immature records79158

For the region, we have a total of 518 records from 170 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1905.


1633 Small Eggar 10
© Gillian Nash, March 2017
1633 Small Eggar 09
© Paul Harris
1633 Small Eggar 08 (Egg mass)
© Paul Harris
1633 Small Eggar 07
© Paul Harris
1633 Small Eggar 06
© Gillian Nash, 9 Apr 2015
1633 Small Eggar 05 larvae
© Jack Oughton
1633 Small Eggar 04
© Peter Bruce-Jones
1633 Small Eggar 03 larva
© Jack Oughton
1633 Small Eggar 02 larvae
© Mike Hetherington, 23 Mar 2012
1633 Small Eggar 01
© Mike Hetherington, 23 Mar 2012

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A local species in England, the larva feeding on blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) and dog-rose (Rosa canina).

In Dorset, the moth has a similar distribution to the Pale Eggar, but is primarily associated with blackthorn. When young, the gregarious larvae are relatively easy to find due to the large and highly visible webs they create on host bushes. Several hundred caterpillars may inhabit a single web and significant defoliation may result in the immediate vicinity of the web but not enough to endanger the host plant. When almost full-grown, the larvae disperse, occasionally over relatively long distances. The hairs from the caterpillar can cause irritation to skin. The moth may not emerge from its pupa for three years or more, but overwintering once in this stage tends to be the norm. Although the species is present in the county, it is markedly scarcer than it used to be, and this is probably directly due to man-related activities.

Like the endangered Brown Hairstreak butterfly, the Small Eggar seems to prefer untended blackthorn bushes and hedgerows. Land management policy of precision-strimming hundreds of miles of the county's hedgerows, whether they line footpaths, bridleways, minor roads or major roads, has undoubtedly reduced favourable habitat for both species. On top of hedgerow degradation come wind-borne chemical drift from agricultural pesticide sprays targeted at crops that inevitably envelop and contaminate boundary hedgerows.

Lydlinch Common in the Blackmore Vale is a stronghold for both the Brown Hairstreak and the Small Eggar, and comprises small compartments of ancient common land with large quantities of unkempt blackthorn. Conservation measures on this SSSI should include the maintenance on rotation of sloe scrub in various stages of growth. In some years the Small Eggar is also common on coastal blackthorn scrub between Weymouth and Cogden.

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