Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Vagrant/Accidental

Local Status: Very rare resident and migrant/wanderer.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: -

Forewing: -

Foodplant: -

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 recorded197620071976
Year last recorded200320112011
Number of records2718
Number of individuals2386776
Unique positions2514
Unique locations2310
Adult records216
Immature records0612

For the region, we have a total of 18 records from 10 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1976.


Gypsy Moth 3
© Julian Francis
2034 Gypsy Moth 02 male
© Julian Francis, 15 Aug 2020
2034 Gypsy Moth 01 male
© Les Hill

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: An extinct resident species colonising the fens in eastern England before 1907, and an occasional immigrant. The larva in fenland populations fed on bog-myrtle (Myrica gale) and creeping willow (Salix repens); however, the species is polyphagous on deciduous trees on the Continent, moreover, it is a pest species in orchards and forests across mainland Europe and in North America where it inflicts enormous damage. Although the female is apparently a reluctant flyer and therefore colonisation of new territory is in theory a slow process, wind-borne dispersal over significant distances has been observed for very small larvae. In Dorset, the species has been encountered on five occasions recently and all but one was recorded within a kilometer of the coast. Apart from the most recent observation of a resident colony, all dated records coincided with airflows from the continent; the second individual of 1976 is difficult to explain if the sedentary reputation of the female Gypsy is correct. Similarly, the present colony in south-east Dorset is also difficult to explain, apart that is through human introduction: Arne Wood, male at MV light on 7 August 1976 (B Pickess), Bournemouth, female at rest on tree in pier gardens on 18 August 1976 (P Fleet per L Siggs), Durlston, male at MV light on 5 August 2003 (J McGill), Highcliffe, male at MV light on 29 August 1985 (E Wild), south-east Dorset, hundreds of larvae on scrubby oak in May 2007, further larvae found in 2008, although colony size reduced by collectors.

There are several historical records too: Lilliput, circa 1895 (C Lawton), Cranborne, larva beaten and adult bred (F Fisher). "These two records are exceedingly puzzling. Fisher beat the larva out at Cranborne. Introduction seems out of the question, but why only one larva, seeing the rather gregarious habit of the insect, and the poor flying quality of the female. Neither I nor Fisher could get another larva, and we both did a lot of beating in the neighbourhood. The Poole capture is too circumstantial. I know the captor well, and I know he caught the specimen. It was in rather poor order, and distinctly yellower than those I have been accustomed to get in the south of France. Bankes, after hearing the whole story, accepted the insect as an authentic wild caught specimen. Neither he nor I could hazard a likely explanation of its presence." (W Parkinson Curtis manuscript).

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