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Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

An outline list of the moths and butterflies of Fair Isle

Nick J. Riddiford

The following is a summary of Lepidoptera recorded on Fair Isle up to the end of 2017. It incorporates records from field observations, light trapping and attractions to sugar at various sites round the isle, including long-term monitoring activities at the Bird Observatory, Lower Stoneybrek and Schoolton.

For further information, and detailed assessment and analysis, please refer to the paper published in the Entomologist’s Gazette (Riddiford & Young 2017).

Advice to visiting field observers: additional records are welcome, via the FIBO warden or to Nick Riddiford at Schoolton. For additions to the list and for those classified as rare, verification in the form of a captured specimen or indisputable photograph will be required for the record to be accepted.

The List

Taxon Micropterix aruncella (Scopoli, 1763)
Fair Isle status Previously rare, increasingly common resident
First & last dates 13th June; 8th July
TaxonKorscheltellus fusconebulosa (DeGeer, 1778)
Vernacular nameMap-winged Swift
Fair Isle status Very common resident; shows characteristics of the Shetland form H. f. shetlandicus
First & last dates 21st May; 12th August
TaxonTinea pellionella Linnaeus, 1758
Vernacular nameCase-bearing Clothes-moth
Fair Isle status Overlooked resident or adventive; one record, ♂, 17th July 2012
TaxonTinea pallescentella Stainton, 1851
Vernacular nameLarge Pale Clothes-moth
Fair Isle status Fairly common resident around outhouses
First & last dates May to September; 'outlier' - 13th March
TaxonMonopis laevigella (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
Vernacular nameSkin Moth
Fair Isle status Common resident
First & last dates 25th May; 30th July
TaxonAspilapteryx tringipennella (Zeller, 1839)
Fair Isle status Under-recorded resident; one adult, coastal grassland with abundant Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata, 20th June 2012; several vacated leaf-mines, Ribwort Plantain, Hoini, 1st August 2017
TaxonPhyllonorycter apparella (Herrich-Schaffer, 1855) New to the British Isles
Fair Isle status Extralimital vagrant; one record, ♂, 20th August 2015 (Riddiford & Young 2016), coinciding with southern Scandinavia population explosion.
TaxonYponomeuta evonymella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameBird-cherry Ermine
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 9th August 2006.
TaxonPlutella xylostella (Linn. 1758)
Vernacular nameDiamond-back Moth
Fair Isle status Annual migrant, frequently in enormous numbers; has bred
First & last dates 14th May; 30th September
Highest total “Thousands and thousands”, 26th July 2000 (field records)
TaxonRhigognostis senilella (Zetterstedt, 1839) Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Resident; recorded most years in small numbers
First & last dates 15th July to 24th September; 'outliers' - 22nd March, 14th & 20th April, 7th May
TaxonRhigognostis annulatella (Curtis, 1832) Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Resident, recorded irregularly in small numbers; probably commoner than records suggest
First & last dates 25th July to 4th October; 'outliers' - 2nd February, 21st March
TaxonGlyphipteryx thrasonella (Scopoli, 1763)
Fair Isle status Abundant resident
First & last dates 20th June to 18th July; 'outlier' - 14th May
TaxonAcrolepiopsis assectella (Zeller, 1839) second Scottish record
Vernacular nameLeek Moth
Fair Isle status Adventive or stray migrant (most likely the former); one record, 15th June 2003
TaxonArgyresthia conjugella (Zeller, 1839)
Fair Isle status Migrant or adventive (no food plants on Isle); one record, 29th June 2003
TaxonEndrosis sarcitrella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameWhite-shouldered House-moth
Fair Isle status Abundant resident, including houses, out-buildings; commonest summer but active all year
TaxonHofmannophila pseudospretella (Stainton, 1849)
Vernacular nameBrown House-moth
Fair Isle status Very common resident; regular in buildings, widely distributed outdoors where probably associated with bird nests
First & last dates Recorded all months March-October plus one on 25th December
TaxonAgonopterix arenella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly migrant; two records, 29th September 1999, 14th August 2001
TaxonAgonopterix heracliana (Linnaeus, 1758)
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly adventive with produce; one record, in house, 24th August 2004
TaxonAgonopterix nervosa (Haworth, 1811)
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly migrant; one record, 25th August 2009
TaxonDepressaria radiella Goeze, 1783
Vernacular nameParsnip Moth
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly migrant; one record, 23rd April 2009
TaxonDepressaria badiella (Hübner, 1796)
Fair Isle status Resident, probably commoner than records suggest
First & last dates 9th August; 3rd September
TaxonBryotropha terrella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Fair Isle status Common resident; dry eroded patches of heath and coastal grassland
First & last dates 21st June; 13th August
TaxonMonochroa tenebrella (Hübner, 1817)
Fair Isle status Overlooked resident; only record, five in pitfall trap, coastal grassland, May 2010, one there the following month
TaxonScrobipalpa instabilella (Douglas, 1846) Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Unclear, probable adventive; one record, amongst stored wool, 8th August 1994
TaxonScrobipalpa samadensis (Stainton, 1883) Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Abundant in coastal turf with plantain swards, late June to July.
First & last dates 28th June; 27th July
TaxonCaryocolum vicinella (Douglas, 1851) Nationally Scarce A
Fair Isle status Probably overlooked resident; one record, 8th August 2009
TaxonColeophora discordella Zeller, 1849
Fair Isle status Fairly common resident; case-bearing larvae apparently restricted to more robust plants of Birdsfoot Trefoil on cliffs
First & last dates Active larval cases, June; earliest emergence 12th July, fresh adults 19th July when some larvae still active
TaxonColeophora mayrella (Hübner, 1813)
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly overlooked resident; one record, 17th July 1994
TaxonColeophora taeniipennella Herrich-Schäffer, 1855
Fair Isle status Super-abundant resident; strongly synchronised emergence
First & last dates 29th June; 8th July
TaxonColeophora saxicolella Duponchel, 1843
Fair Isle status Probably overlooked resident; one record, 13th July 2012
TaxonElachista argentella (Clerck, 1759)
Fair Isle status Largely overlooked resident; three records, 25th July 1997, 4th July 2008, 4th July 2011
TaxonElachista albidella (Nylander, 1847)
Fair Isle status Possibly overlooked resident; one record, 15th July 2009
TaxonBlastobasis lacticolella Rebel, 1940
Fair Isle status Unclear, 'natural' immigration as part of ongoing range expansion cannot be ruled out; one record, 27th June 2011
TaxonAlucita hexadactyla Linnaeus, 1758
Vernacular nameTwenty-plume Moth
Fair Isle status Unclear, potentially an overlooked resident but immigration cannot be ruled out as one taken at a coastal site; three records, 8th & 17th September 2006, 12th August 2014
TaxonPlatyptilia isodactylus (Zeller, 1852) Nationally Scarce B
Vernacular nameHoary Plume
Fair Isle status Common resident; first noted in 2004 but probably overlooked before.
First & last dates 11th July; 17th July
TaxonStenoptilia bipunctidactyla (Scopoli, 1763)
Vernacular nameTwin-spot Plume
Fair Isle status Recent colonist; one in 2009, exponential increase to hundreds by 2013, moderate numbers in 2014-15 thereafter; currently restricted to a few pockets of rough grassland south of the school
First & last dates 23rd June; 26th July
TaxonPhaulernis fulviguttella (Zeller, 1839)
Fair Isle status Abundant resident; occasionally in emergence swarms of 50+
First & last dates 19th July; 30th July
TaxonAnthophila fabriciana (Linnaeus, 1767)
Vernacular nameNettle-tap
Fair Isle status Abundant resident but, following destruction of other nettle beds, currently restricted to one large patch maintained by sympathetic crofter
First & last dates 5th July; 28th July
TaxonAphelia viburnana ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameBilberry Tortrix
Fair Isle status Super-abundant resident; tightly synchonised emergence of many thousands over just a few days in heath and moorland; the Fair Isle taxon is distinctive, merits further investigation
First & last dates 11th June; 21st July
TaxonEana osseana (Scopoli, 1763)
Fair Isle status Very common resident; attracted to light
First & last dates apart from one on 7th June, all records between 1st July and 29th August
Highest total 57, FIBO trap, 12th August 2005
TaxonEana penziana (Thunberg, 1791) colquhounana Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Relatively common, July-August; attracted to light
First & last dates 5th July; 5th September
Highest total 15, FIBO trap, 21st July 2006
TaxonAcleris caledoniana (Stephens, 1852)
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly overlooked resident; one record, 20th September 1987
TaxonAcleris effractana (Hübner, 1799)
Fair Isle status Unclear; overlooked resident or infrequent migrant; four records, 3rd September 2003, 11th & 16th September 2006, 'summer' 2008, 1st August 2014.
TaxonAcleris aspersana (Hübner, 1817)
Fair Isle status Common resident across the hill;
First & last dates 24th July; 7th September
Highest total 34, FIBO trap, 18th August 1988
TaxonAcleris hyemana (Haworth, 1811)
Fair Isle status Common resident; adult winter-active, moorland heath
First & last dates Dated records are few, comprising records in October (from 7th), February and March (to 22nd)
TaxonEupoecilia angustana (Hübner, 1799)
Fair Isle status Under-recorded resident of cliffs; two records, 50 flying by day 11th June 2004, one 29th June 2012 - both at cliff sites; characteristics of the Shetland form E. a. thuleana
TaxonAethes cnicana (Westwood, 1854)
Fair Isle status Unclear, probably overlooked resident; one record, 5th July 2006
TaxonLobesia littoralis (Humphreys & Westwood, 1845)
Fair Isle status Abundant resident; cliffs, coastal grassland
First & last dates 16th June; 6th August
TaxonBactra lancealana (Hübner, 1799)
Fair Isle status Abundant resident of wet flushes, mire and marshy grassland; the Fair Isle form is very small
First & last dates 10th June; 6th September
TaxonAncylis unguicella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Fair Isle status Unclear, probably overlooked resident; one record, moorland, 4th June 2012.
TaxonRhopobota naevana (Hübner, 1817)
Fair Isle status Infrequently encountered resident; six records, 4th August 1999, 20th May 2011, 4th June 2012, 11th July 2013, 19th & 30th June 2015
TaxonEpinotia mercuriana (Frölich, 1828) Nationally Scarce B
Fair Isle status Common resident of Calluna heath, July to early August; particularly active late afternoon
First & last dates 2nd July; 7th August
TaxonEpinotia nisella (Clerk, 1759)
Fair Isle status Unclear but likely migrant; one record, 28th July 2008, coincided with small influx of Timandra comae to Fair Isle and Shetland
TaxonEucosma cana (Haworth, 1811)
Fair Isle status Resident, occasional in traps; probably much commoner than records suggest
First & last dates 13th June; 16th August
TaxonDichrorampha montanana (Duponchel, 1843)
Fair Isle status Probably common but overlooked resident; four field records, 23rd June 2009, 11th July 2013, 4th July 2016, 20th June 2017
TaxonPapilio machaon Linnaeus, 1758
Vernacular nameSwallowtail
Fair Isle status Very rare extralimital migrant; one record, 9th September 1995
TaxonPieris brassicae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameLarge White
Fair Isle status Formerly abundant resident, now a rare migrant with no records at all in 1992-2002 & 2004-10
First & last dates (migrants) 14th May; 1st September
TaxonPieris rapae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSmall White
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; six or seven records, singles on 17th June 1978, 7th August 1989, 9th July 1992, 26th & 27th May, 11th & 19th June 2004
TaxonColias croceus (Fourcroy, 1785)
Vernacular nameClouded Yellow
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; three records, late July to early August 1980, 25th May & 16th August 1992
TaxonCoenonympha pamphilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSmall Heath
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; one record, June 1980
TaxonManiola jurtina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameMeadow Brown
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; two records, 10th & 20th June 1980; another seen briefly in flight on 29th July 1990 by experienced observers is best treated as possible but unverified
TaxonVanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameRed Admiral
Fair Isle status Annual migrant in variable numbers; has bred
First & last dates 6th May; 30th October
Highest total “Big invasion”, major arrival streaming through from south-east all morning of 25th August 2002
TaxonVanessa cardui (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular namePainted Lady
Fair Isle status Annual migrant; has bred
First & last dates 19th May; 10th October
Highest total Generally lower numbers than Red Admiral but outstripping the latter nearly 3 to 1 during major movement north-westwards of 25th August 2002
TaxonAglais io (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular namePeacock
Fair Isle status Scarce, previously irregular now near annual migrant; first notified record 1983 followed by gap to 1995, thereafter almost annual; one record of hibernation, adult disturbed in byre 4th April 2005
First & last dates (migrants) 9th June; 26th September (excludes the April record)
Best year Largest influx, 13 butterfly-days in 2013
TaxonAglais urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSmall Tortoiseshell
Fair Isle status Common migrant; bred 1996, 2009; one overwintered as pupa, emerging on or shortly before 21st April 2010
First & last dates 18th May; 14th October
Highest total 35, 1st August 1980 (field records)
TaxonLampides boeticus (Linnaeus, 1767)
Vernacular nameLong-tailed Blue
Fair Isle status Adventive; two larval records - one with stock early September 2006, pupated immediately, ♀ emerged 15th October. Another, probably this species, mange-tout pea packet “fresh from Kenya”, 16th April 2008, died 21st April
TaxonPolyommatus icarus (Rottemburg, 1775)
Vernacular nameCommon Blue
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; one verified record, 11th June 1990; a “blue sp.” August 1980 was probably this species
TaxonDioryctria abietella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameDark Pine Knot-horn
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 1st August 1991, 17th September 2006. Both on easterly winds
TaxonMyelois circumvoluta (Fourceroy, 1785) northernmost UK records
Vernacular nameThistle Ermine
Fair Isle status Very rare extra-limital migrant; three records, 12th June 1992, 16th June 2002, 3rd July 2015
TaxonEphestia elutella (Hübner, 1796) Nationally Scarce B
Vernacular nameCacao Moth
Fair Isle status Unknown provenance, possible introduction with goods; one record, 22nd July 1992
TaxonLoxostege sticticalis (Linnaeus, 1761)
Vernacular nameBeet Webworm
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 11th August 1996 - part of a small invasion to Shetland
TaxonSitochroa palealis (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
Vernacular nameSulphur Pearl
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; one field record, 24th July 2014 (Parnaby et al. 2014). New to Scotland.
TaxonUdea ferrugalis (Hübner, 1796)
Vernacular nameRusty Dot Pearl
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 4th September 2002, 23rd October 2004
TaxonUdea lutealis (Hübner, 1809)
Vernacular namePale Straw Pearl
Fair Isle status Extremely abundant resident, grassland habitats; common in gardens
First & last dates 11th July; 30th August
TaxonNomophila noctuella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameRush Veneer
Fair Isle status Scarce migrant becoming more frequent; recorded in 12 years, 1988-2017
First & last dates 13th August, 22nd October; 'outliers' - 27th April, 14th & 25th June, 18th July
Highest total “Major influx”, 25th to 30th September 2006 (field records)
TaxonScoparia subfusca Haworth, 1811
Vernacular nameLarge Grey
Fair Isle status Resident; frequent, herb-rich rough grassland
First & last dates 26th June; 29th July
TaxonScoparia ambigualis (Treitschke, 1829)
Vernacular nameCommon Grey
Fair Isle status Common resident; rough grassland, coastal grassland, moorland, coastal heath
First & last dates 3rd June; 26th July
TaxonEudonia angustea (Curtis, 1827)
Vernacular nameNarrow-winged Grey
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; two records, 12th & 19th July 1995 (separate individuals)
TaxonEudonia lineola (Curtis, 1827) Nationally Scarce B
Vernacular nameWhite-line Grey
Fair Isle status Unclear, probably under-recorded resident; one definite record 11th August 2010; two other individuals, 29th & 31st July 2010, may have been this species
TaxonChrysoteuchia culmella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameGarden Grass-veneer
Fair Isle status very rare migrant; two records of three individuals, two on 11th July 2005, one on 6th July 2006
TaxonCrambus lathoniellus (Zincken, 1817)
Vernacular nameHook-streak Grass-veneer
Fair Isle status Very common day-active resident, relatively short emergence period late May-mid June
First & last dates 26th May to 23rd June; 'outliers' - 26th July, 14th October
TaxonAgriphila tristella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameCommon Grass-veneer
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; four records, first half of August 1990, 16th August 1996, 16th August 2006, 6th August 2009
TaxonAgriphila straminella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameStraw Grass-veneer
Fair Isle status Abundant resident, mainly grassland; long flight period, occasional synchronised mass emergences
First & last dates 28th May-18th August
Highest totals “Huge numbers”, 26th June 1992, 24th July 2015 (field records)
TaxonSaturnia pavonia (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameEmperor Moth
Fair Isle status Ship-assisted adventive; one record, 30th May 1992; boarded cruise ship between Leith and Fair Isle, released on Isle
TaxonLaothoe populi (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular namePoplar Hawk-moth
Fair Isle status Ship-assisted adventive; one record, 17th June 1999; boarded a cruise ship between Leith and Fair Isle, released on Isle
TaxonAgrius convolvuli (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameConvolvulus Hawk-moth
Fair Isle status Rare irregular migrant; records 1988, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2015
First & last dates 6th August; 22nd September
Best year Up to 10 individuals in exceptional influx, 6th August-12th September 2003
TaxonMacroglossum stellatarum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameHummingbird Hawk-moth
Fair Isle status Rare irregular migrant; recorded in 11 years from 1992, including three or four in 2003, five in 2006 and three in 2015
First & last dates 27th May; 10th October
TaxonHyles gallii (Rottemburg, 1775)
Vernacular nameBedstraw Hawk-moth
Fair Isle status Rare irregular migrant; recorded 1974, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2003 (n=2), 2007 (n=2)
First & last dates 5th July; 9th August
TaxonTimandra comae (Schmidt, 1931)
Vernacular nameBlood-vein
Fair Isle status Very rare extralimital migrant; one record, 28th July 2008, part of a small influx to Shetland
TaxonXanthorhoe decoloraria (Esper, 1806)
Vernacular nameRed Carpet
Fair Isle status Common resident; characteristics of Shetland form X. d. hethlandica
First & last dates 5th July; 30th September
Highest total 17, Lower Stoneybrek trap, 20th August 2006
TaxonXanthorhoe fluctuata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameGarden Carpet
Fair Isle status Relatively common two-generation resident; characteristics of northern form X. f. thules
First & last dates 7th May-3rd July (1st generation); 28th July-11th September (2nd generation)
Highest total Eight, FIBO trap, 29th May 2003
TaxonXanthorhoe montanata ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameSilver-ground Carpet
Fair Isle status Very common resident, often active by day; characteristics of Shetland form X. m. shetlandica
First & last dates 10th June; 17th September
TaxonCamptogramma bilineata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameYellow Shell
Fair Isle status Resident, scarce inland, frequent on cliffs; characteristics of northern form C. b. atlantica
First & last dates 25th June; 7th August
TaxonHydriomena furcata (Thunberg, 1784)
Vernacular nameJuly Highflyer
Fair Isle status Unclear, under-recorded resident or infrequent migrant; recorded 2003, 2006, 2008, 2012; singles except five in 2006 and two in 2008
First & last dates 30th July; 23rd September
TaxonEulithis testata (Linnaeus, 1761)
Vernacular nameChevron
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 30th August 1955 & 22nd August 1999
TaxonChloroclysta miata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameAutumn Green Carpet
Fair Isle status Unclear; overlooked resident or infrequent migrant; recorded 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2015 (n=2)
First & last dates 24th September; 21st October
TaxonEpirrita filigrammaria (Herrich-Schäffer, 1846)
Vernacular nameSmall Autumnal
Fair Isle status unclear; overlooked resident, very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; one record, 3rd September 2006
TaxonMesotype didymata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameTwin-spot Carpet
Fair Isle status Resident, abundant by day; those with characteristics of M. d. didymata and Shetland form M. d. hetlandica commonly fly together
First & last dates 17th July; 4th September
TaxonGymnoscelis rufifasciata (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameDouble-striped Pug
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; three records, 10th September 2003, 9th June 2007, 30th May 2008
TaxonEupithecia venosata (Fabricius, 1787)
Vernacular nameNetted Pug
Fair Isle status Common resident; characteristics closest to Orkney form E. v. ochracea
First & last dates 14th May; 18th August
TaxonEupithecia pusillata ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameJuniper Pug
Fair Isle status Frequent under-recorded resident of Prostrate Juniper Juniperus communis nana-rich heath and moorland
First & last dates 17th June (one), then 28th July to 21st September
TaxonEupithecia nanata Prout, 1938
Vernacular nameNarrow-winged Pug
Fair Isle status Scarce under-recorded resident, moorland
First & last dates 30th May; 19th July
TaxonEupithecia centaureata ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameLime-speck Pug
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 2nd August 2008
TaxonEupithecia satyrata (Hübner, 1813)
Vernacular nameSatyr Pug
Fair Isle status Abundant, moorland, active by day; characteristics of northern form E. s. curzoni
First & last dates 9th June; 11th July
TaxonAbraxas grossulariata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameMagpie Moth
Fair Isle status Annual migrant in recent years; first record in 1998, annual in increasing numbers from 2001; major influxes 2004-06; records in very tight time-frame of no more than a week, usually mid-July
First & last dates 4th July; 7th August
Highest total “As many as 100”, 14th July 2006 (field records)
TaxonScoliopteryx libatrix (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameHerald
Fair Isle status Rare migrant, attracted to sugar; recorded 1999, 2002, 2006, 2013; small influxes in three of the years suggest irruptive tendency
First & last dates 5th August; 8th October
TaxonHypena proboscidalis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSnout
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 11th July 2002
TaxonSpilosoma urticae Esper, 1789 Nationally Scarce B; first verified Scottish record
Vernacular nameWater Ermine
Fair Isle status Very rare extralimital migrant or dispersive vagrant; one record, 7th June 2002 (Riddiford & Shaw 2011).
TaxonArctia caja (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameGarden Tiger
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 18th July 2005, 25th July 2013
TaxonUtetheisa pulchella (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameCrimson Speckled
Fair Isle status Very rare extralimital migrant; one record, 2nd October 1961
TaxonPandesma robusta (Walker, 1858)
Vernacular nameRobust Tabby
Fair Isle status Alien; one record, freshly dead amongst South African grapes, 31st January 2004
TaxonDiachrysia chrysitis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameBurnished Brass
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 27th July 1997 (first for Shetland) & 12th August 2001
TaxonAutographa gamma (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSilver Y
Fair Isle status Irregular breeder and abundant migrant subject to immense influxes; unprecedented arrival and continuous through passage north-westward on moderate south-east winds on 6th August 1996 was estimated from transect counts at a very conservation half a million; similar standard counts put the total for the whole of Shetland at “tens of millions”
First & last dates 18th May; 5th November
Highest total c. 500,000, 6th August 1996 (field record)
TaxonAutographa pulchrina (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameBeautiful Golden Y
Fair Isle status Unclear, probably under-recorded scarce resident; recorded 1996, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017
First & last dates 26th July; 21st August
TaxonPlusia festucae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameGold Spot
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 7th August 2006, 5th August 2010
TaxonAcronicta rumicis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameKnotgrass
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 2nd August 2008
TaxonAmphipyra tragopoginis (Clerck, 1759)
Vernacular nameMouse Moth
Fair Isle status Rare irregular migrant; recorded in eight years 1991-2006 including six in 1991 and three in 1996; no records after 2006
First & last dates 10th August; 27th September
TaxonHeliothis peltigera ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameBordered Straw
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 9th September 2002
TaxonHelicoverpa armigera (Hübner, 1808)
Vernacular nameScarce Bordered Straw
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 29th August 1997
TaxonCaradrina clavipalpis (Scopoli, 1763)
Vernacular namePale Mottled Willow
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 8th August 1998
TaxonPhlogophora meticulosa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameAngle Shades
Fair Isle status Common resident and likely migrant; recorded all months, May to November, but only one in August
First & last dates 1st May-15th November; 'outlier', 18th December was during abnormally mild weather
Highest total 17, Schoolton, to sugar, 18th September 2002
TaxonCelaena haworthii Curtis, 1829
Vernacular nameHaworth's Minor
Fair Isle status Unclear, possibly overlooked resident; one record, 30th September 2011
TaxonHelotropha leucostigma (Hübner, 1808)
Vernacular nameCrescent
Fair Isle status Scarce migrant; recorded in seven years from the first in 1992, maximum three or four in 2006, three in 2015. The 1992 individual showed characteristics of nominate form H. l. leucostigma
First & last dates 22nd July; 22nd August
TaxonHydraecia micacea (Esper, 1789)
Vernacular nameRosy Rustic
Fair Isle status Very common, especially in-bye
First & last dates 29th July; 24th October
Highest total 39, Schoolton trap, 3rd September 2010
TaxonAmphipoea fucosa (Tutt, 1888)
Vernacular nameSaltern Ear
Fair Isle status rare migrant; three records, 14th August 1997, 4th August 1999, August 2003; showed characteristics of the European nominate form Amphipoea fucosa f. fucosa
TaxonAmphipoea lucens (Freyer, 1845)
Vernacular nameLarge Ear
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; recorded in four years, 4th August 1991, 4th & 7th August 2003, 18th August 2005, three on 2nd & one on 8th August 2008
TaxonAmphipoea oculea (Linnaeus, 1761)
Vernacular nameEar Moth
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 3rd September 1991
TaxonAmphipoea crinanensis (Burrows, 1908)
Vernacular nameCrinan Ear
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 29th July 2000
TaxonLuperina testacea ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameFlounced Rustic
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant or dispersive vagrant; one record, 16th August 2003
TaxonRhizedra lutosa (Hübner, 1803)
Vernacular nameLarge Wainscot
Fair Isle status Rare migrant, perhaps irruptive; recorded in three years, three in 1992, five or six in 2006, one in 2013
First & last dates 18th September; 8th October
TaxonDenticucullus pygmina (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameSmall Wainscot
Fair Isle status Scarce migrant; one, 30th August 1955; thereafter 1-4 recorded in nine years, 1991-2011
First & last dates 20th July; 28th September
TaxonApamea remissa (Hübner, 1809)
Vernacular nameDusky Brocade
Fair Isle status Common resident; dark form A. r. obscura commoner than type
First & last dates 14th June; 25th August
Highest total 16, Lower Stonebrek trap, 5th July 2007
TaxonApamea crenata (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameClouded-bordered Brindle
Fair Isle status Rare migrant, possibly established as scarce resident; recorded in eight of nine years since first record in 2005; single records to 2009, three to seven per annum thereafter
First & last dates 4th June; 30th July
TaxonApamea monoglypha (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameDark Arches
Fair Isle status Resident; most abundant larger moth on Fair Isle, particularly grassland habitats
First & last dates 24th June; 17th September
Highest total 377, Barkland trap, 27th August 2006
TaxonApamea furva (Cockayne, 1950)
Vernacular nameConfused
Fair Isle status Relatively common resident; Fair Isle form is A. f. britannica
First & last dates 1st July; 23rd September
Highest total Five, FIBO trap, 23rd August 2012
TaxonApamea lateritia (Hufnagel, 1766) probably fewer than 20 UK records
Vernacular nameScarce Brindle
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two July records, 23rd July 2009, 18th July 2011
TaxonMesapamea secalis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameCommon Rustic
Fair Isle status Unclear, probably migrant; small numbers of Mesapamea secalis sensu stricto recorded annually since 1999
First & last dates 18th July; 27th August
TaxonMesapamea didyma (Esper, 1788)
Vernacular nameLesser Common Rustic
Fair Isle status Probable migrant, has bred; individuals determined on genitalia characters recorded 1993, 2003, 2006, 2009
First & last dates 21st July; 11th August
Best year Three records, 2006
TaxonMesapamea Heinicke, 1959 agg.
Vernacular nameCommon/Lesser Common Rustic
Fair Isle status Non-determined individuals recorded in eight years, 1993-2015; dissected individuals gave ratio of more than two to one in favour of M. secalis (20 to 8, n=28)
TaxonOligia fasciuncula (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameMiddle-barred Minor
Fair Isle status Very common resident; frequently encountered day and night on Marsh Ragwort Senecio aquaticus and Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris inflorescences; shy visitor to traps
First & last dates 29th June; 14th August
TaxonAgrochola macilenta (Hübner, 1809)
Vernacular nameYellow-line Quaker
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; four records, 29th September, 6th & 8th October 2006, 17th October 2015
TaxonAgrochola circellaris (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameBrick
Fair Isle status Generally scarce near-annual migrant, small influxes classically arriving on south-east winds; one big influx in September 2000 when “many” in the north
First & last dates 8th September; 24th October
Highest total “Many in north”, 26th September 2000
TaxonXylena exsoleta (Linnaeus, 1758) Nationally Scarce B
Vernacular nameSword-grass
Fair Isle status Probable rare migrant with single autumn occurrences 1999, 2005, 2011; spring adult 23rd April 1992 and full-grown larva July 2004 raise the possibility of intermittent colonist or very rare overlooked resident UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. Riddiford (2005)
First & last dates 30th September; 14th October (excludes April record)
TaxonXylena vetusta (Hübner, 1813)
Vernacular nameRed Sword-grass
Fair Isle status Scarce migrant, attracted to sugar; one spring record, 25th March 2009; irregular autumn visitor recorded in eight years from first in 1999, including 6 or 7 in 2003
First & last dates, autumn 6th September; 6th November
Highest total Three, Schoolton, to sugar, 1st November 2004
TaxonEupsilia transversa (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameSatellite
Fair Isle status Unclear, occasional scarce migrant or rare overlooked, possibly temporary resident; recorded 1991 and five years between 2002 and 2009, including two December records
First & last dates 12th September; 27th November
Highest total 11, Schoolton, to sugar, 22nd November 2004
TaxonParastichtis suspecta (Hübner, 1817)
Vernacular nameSuspected
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records of three individuals, one on 3rd & two on 28th August 2000
TaxonAporophyla nigra (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameBlack Rustic
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; three records, two together on 10th September 1991, one on 4th September 1996, one on 2nd September 2017
TaxonDasypolia templi (Thunberg, 1792)
Vernacular nameBrindled Ochre
Fair Isle status Resident; probably common but under-recorded as autumn emergence coincides with inclement weather unsuitable for trapping; four in spring, 11th & 30th March, 5th & 27th April; all others between 9th September and 4th November
Highest total Four, Schoolton trap, 7th October 2017
TaxonOrthosia gothica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameHebrew Character
Fair Isle status Only five records, 21st March 2004, 17th April 2011, 19th April 2014, 4th & 13th April 2017; early spring weather largely unconducive to trapping so best treated as an overlooked resident or occasional migrant
TaxonCerapteryx graminis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameAntler
Fair Isle status Very common resident, most numerous in the moorland and heath
First & last dates 5th July; 25th September
Highest total 50, FIBO trap, 14th August 1980
TaxonAnarta trifolii Hufnagel, 1766
Vernacular nameNutmeg
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 23rd July 2006
TaxonLacanobia thalassina (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular namePale-shouldered Brocade
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 30th May 2014
TaxonLacanobia oleracea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameBright-line Brown-eye
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; two in 2002, five in 2003, one in 2004, 2010 & 2015
First & last dates 18th June; 4th September
TaxonCeramica pisi (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameBroom Moth
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 27th July 2006
TaxonHada plebeja (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameShears
Fair Isle status Common resident; one of few 'early' species, May-June; exceptional second brood suggested by individuals on 30th August 1955, 6th September 2003, 3rd October 1997
First & last dates 14th May; 14th July (excludes the late August-October records)
TaxonHadena bicruris (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameLychnis
Fair Isle status Colonising resident; first recorded 2005, annual in increasing numbers since
First & last dates 27th May; 17th August
Highest total 12, Schoolton trap, 7th July 2017
TaxonHadena confusa (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameMarbled Coronet
Fair Isle status Common resident; one of few 'early' species, May-early June, full-grown caterpillars in early August and a number of records from mid-June to early September suggest occasional second brood; a proportion but not all show characteristics of the Shetland form H. c. obliterae
First & last dates 11th May; 3rd September
Highest total 12, FIBO trap, 23rd May 2012
TaxonMythimna pallens (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameCommon Wainscot
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; three records, 14th August 1996, 8th June 2002, 6th September 2007
TaxonMythimna impura (Hübner, 1808)
Vernacular nameSmoky Wainscot
Fair Isle status Increasingly common resident; potentially a recent colonist as first record in 1990, the second in 1998, third in 2000 (all singles) then annual from 2002, initially 1-2 increasing to multiple occurrences from 2006 onwards
First & last dates 5th July; 24th August
Highest total 13, Schoolton trap, 2nd August 2010
TaxonMythimna vitellina (Hübner, 1808) northernmost UK record
Vernacular nameDelicate
Fair Isle status Very rare extralimital migrant; one record, 22nd September 2006,
TaxonPeridroma saucia (Hübner, 1808)
Vernacular namePearly Underwing
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; recorded in four years, singles 1997, 1999, 2015 and an unprecedented influx of 11 month-nights in 2006 involving several individuals
First & last dates 22nd September; 24th October
TaxonAgrotis exclamationis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameHeart and Dart
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 11th June 1992
TaxonAgrotis segetum ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameTurnip Moth
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; seven records, 28th August 2000, 16th September 2002, 1st September 2005, 22nd, 25th, 29th & 30th September 2006
First & last dates 28th August; 30th September
TaxonAgrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameDark Sword-grass
Fair Isle status relatively common near-annual migrant; mainly attracted to sugar
First & last dates 9th June; 8th November
Highest total 38, Schoolton, to sugar, 12th September 2003
TaxonDiarsia mendica (Fabricius, 1775)
Vernacular nameIngrailed Clay
Fair Isle status Abundant resident; endless variety defies allocation to specific forms
First & last dates 2nd July; 23rd October
Highest total 89, Schoolton trap, 28th August 2002
TaxonDiarsia rubi (Vieweg, 1790)
Vernacular nameSmall Square-spot
Fair Isle status Common resident; much commoner in-bye with apparently earlier main emergence than in moorland north
First & last dates 22nd June; 6th September
Highest total Nine, Schoolton trap, 24th August 2013
TaxonLycophotia porphyrea ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameTrue Lover's Knot
Fair Isle status Abundant resident of moorland north, far less frequent in south
First & last dates 4th July; 27th August
Highest total 239, FIBO trap, 10th August 2007
TaxonRhyacia simulans (Hufnagel, 1766)
Vernacular nameDotted Rustic
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; two records, 5th September 2004 (first Shetland record for 50 years), 24th August 2015
TaxonStandfussiana lucernea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameNorthern Rustic
Fair Isle status Very common resident; most are the dark northern form
First & last dates 27th June; 15th September
Highest total 75, Schoolton trap, 2nd August 2007
TaxonNoctua pronuba (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameLarge Yellow Underwing
Fair Isle status Abundant resident, masking any migrant activity, though the only spring record, 17th May 1992, may have been a migrant
First & last dates 17th June; 23rd October (excludes May record)
Highest total 164, Lower Stoneybrek trap, 3rd July 2007
TaxonNoctua comes Hübner, 1813
Vernacular nameLesser Yellow Underwing
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; recorded in three years, one September 1996, six moth-nights 2001, one August 2011
First & last dates 23rd August; 25th September
TaxonNoctua janthe (Borkhausen, 1792)
Vernacular nameLesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; three records, 11th & 22nd August 2006, 20th August 2012
TaxonEurois occulta (Linnaeus, 1758) Nationally Scarce B
Vernacular nameGreat Brocade
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; three records of five individuals, three on 14th August 1997, one on 4th August 2004, one on 22nd August 2007
TaxonXestia baja ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameDotted Clay
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 13th August 2015
TaxonXestia agathina (Duponchel, 1827)
Vernacular nameHeath Rustic
Fair Isle status Very rare migrant; one record, 3rd September 2002
TaxonXestia xanthographa ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
Vernacular nameSquare-spot Rustic
Fair Isle status Abundant resident; Fair Isle's commonest macromoth in late summer and early autumn
First & last dates 11th July; 22nd October
Highest total 171, Schoolton trap, 28th August 2002
TaxonXestia sexstrigata (Haworth, 1809)
Vernacular nameSix-striped Rustic
Fair Isle status Rare migrant; four records, 3rd August 2004, 2nd September 2005, 30th July & 3rd August 2006
TaxonXestia c-nigrum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vernacular nameSetaceous Hebrew Character
Fair Isle status Unclear, near annual migrant or under-recorded resident; normally one to two but six in 1993 and three on one night in September 2015
First & last dates 16th July; 17th September
TaxonEugnorisma glareosa (Esper, 1788)
Vernacular nameAutumnal Rustic
Fair Isle status Abundant resident largely restricted to moorland north; two forms, f. glareosa outnumbering f. edda approximately 3 to 1. Very occasionally individuals are trapped with a forewing coloration intermediate between the two forms
First & last dates 3rd August (glareosa); 18th September (edda)
Highest total117, FIBO trap, 14th August 2004

Acknowledgements

A big thankyou is extended to all the trap operators past and present, islanders, visitors and other supporters and contributors of records. The publishers of the Entomologist’s Gazette are warmly acknowledged for permission to use this cut-down version of the paper, Riddiford & Young (2017) originally appearing in their journal.

References

Parnaby, S., Parnaby, D. & Riddiford, N.J. 2014. Sitochroa palealis: new to Scotland. Atropos 52: 68-69.

Riddiford, N. 2005. The status of the Sword-grass on Fair Isle. Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologists’ Society 64: 74.

Riddiford, N.J. & Shaw, D. 2011. Scottish records of the Water Ermine Spilosoma urticae (Esp.) (Lep.: Arctiidae). Entomologist’s Record & Journal of Variation 123: 92-93.

Riddiford, N.J. & Young, M.R. 2016. Phyllonorcyter apparella (Herrich-Schaffer, 1855) (Lep.: Gracillariidae) new to the British Isles from Fair Isle. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 128: 19-22.

Riddiford, N.J. & Young, M.R. 2017. The moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Fair Isle. Entomologist’s Gazette 68: 275-308.