The Lizard peninsula, Cornwall

The Lizard peninsula has long been a popular place for visiting entomologists. The site’s location at the southernmost tip of mainland Britain makes it a prime location for immigrant insects, particularly during the autumn months, and the mild winter climate gives rise to frequent unseasonal records and early flight periods for some resident species. There are several colonies of Marsh Fritillary in the area; Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is relatively widespread but the Silver-washed Fritillary is more local. At times of migration Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow and Humming-bird Hawk-moth are regularly seen, and in suitable weather this is a good location to look for the spectacular Monarch butterfly in September or early October. Red-veined Darter dragonflies are regular and breed occasionally, whilst Keeled Skimmer and even Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly may be seen. The Lizard is perhaps most famous for moths and several new species to Britain have been caught here, including most recently the rare immigrant Thysanoplusia daubei in November 2014. The speciality resident species include Black-banded, Devonshire Wainscot, Barrett’s Marbled Coronet, Square-spot Dart, Hoary Footman, Jasione Pug and the plume moth Pterophorus fuscolimbatus. Netted Pug, Thrift Clearwing, Brussel’s Lace, Wood Carpet, Four-spotted Footman, Grass Wave, Crescent Dart, Chamomile Shark, L-album Wainscot, Anomalous, Grass Eggar, Feathered and Large Ranunculus may be easily seen at the right time of year.

It is in the autumn when the Lizard comes into its own for insect migration, and given the right conditions this can be one of the best places to be in the UK. Palpita vitrealis, Convolvulus Hawk-moth, White-speck, Delicate, Cosmopolitan, Gem, Vestal and Small Mottled Willow are regular at this time of year. In recent years rarer species have included Slender Burnished Brass, Tunbridge Wells Gem, Scar Bank Gem, Dewick’s Plusia, Golden Twin-spot, Dark Mottled Willow, Porter’s Rustic, Rosy Underwing, Death’s-head Hawk-moth, Silver-striped Hawk-moth and Crimson Speckled.

For visitors to the Lizard renting a suitable property in a sheltered location is the best way to enjoy mothing here, and there are some real gems (not just the moths!) hidden away amongst the many holiday properties available for let here. The editor of Atropos lives on the Lizard and is usually happy to show people some of the highlights of his moth-traps by arrangement. Records from visiting entomologists are also welcomed for the annual report he publishes in Atropos. Contact Mark Tunmore on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

by Mark Tunmore


All images taken by Mark Tunmore


 

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