Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Migrant

Local Status: Migrant, recent colonist

Local Record: Grade 1   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, Jul-Sep.

Forewing: M 18-22mm. F 20-26mm.

Foodplant: Dog Lichen and other lichens.

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 recorded190520051905
Year last recorded201120082011
Number of records607281270
Number of individuals1332332730
Unique positions1071216
Unique locations941190
Adult records585281226
Immature records102

For the region, we have a total of 1270 records from 190 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1905.


2051 Four-spotted Footman 09
© Julian Francis
2051 Four-spotted Footman 08 male
© Martin Wood
2051 Four-spotted Footman 07
© Will Bown
2051 Four-spotted Footman 06
© Will Bown
2051 Four-spotted Footman 05 male (right) and female
© Martin Cade, 13 Oct 2008
2051 Four-spotted Footman 04 male
© Martin Cade, 30 Jul 2009
2051 Four-spotted Footman 03 female
© Paul Harris
2051 Four-spotted Footman 02 female
© Phyl England 27 Jul 2010
2051 Four-spotted Footman 01 male
© Terry Box, 07 Oct 2005

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A rare and decreased species whose range has contracted markedly in recent years; it is only truly resident in Cornwall and Devon, the larva feeding on lichens growing on the trunks and branches of oak (Quercus spp.) and other tree species. In Dorset, the moth has historically been a transient colonist of deciduous or mixed woodland, but it has always been very local: "Found locally and sparingly in the north and east." (Reverend E Bankes). "Usually scarce or very rare, but since 1930s has increased rapidly and is now a frequent capture." (W Parkinson-Curtis ms). In the middle of the twentieth century, a colony was evidently established in the Upwey area. No more residents were seen until 2003 when light trapping in woodland to the south-east of Abbotsbury revealed two discrete and robust colonies: Warre Wood, twenty-one on 25 July 2003 and, Wyke Wood, two-hundred and eleven on 17 August 2007, single larva in moth trap on 11 May 2008 (Dr P Sterling). Records from Puddletown, Shaggs and Hurn since 2005, suggest that colonisation of these localities may have taken place too.

Other Four-spotted Footman appear in random locations across the county from time to time, historically on one or two dates with no re-appearance in subsequent years, but more recently with greatly increased frequency; these are likely to be immigrants. Large-scale and discrete immigrations occurred in 1964, 1982, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008 where the insect appeared virtually simultaneously across the county. The species is resident across mainland Europe, but is apparently absent from southern Spain. In sum, the dramatic change in the fortunes of the moth in recent years, both as a resident and as an immigrant does suggest a fundamental expansion of its range in Europe at the present time.

The national norm is for a single brood during August and September. In Dorset however, two broods are suggested from the records. Resident moths appear in July and August, and immigrants as early as June, and again in September and in October but in higher numbers.

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