Northern Ireland's Priority Species

Entephria caesiata – grey mountain carpet

 
Entephria caesiata
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Entephria caesiata (Denis & Schiff., 1775)
Family: Geometridae

A rare, small, grey geometrid found in moorland and mountain. Colour can be variable but generally greyish with a prominent central band edged in white. It flies from the end of June to mid September and the larval foodplants are most likely heathers and bilberry. A Northern Ireland Priority Species because of major declines detected elsewhere in the UK. At present such data does not exist for Northern Ireland.

In brief

  • This is a rare moth of moorland and mountain
  • It has a single generation on the wing from the end of June to mid-September and occurs only in upland areas
  • Has a habit of resting on vertical rock surfaces by day
  • It can be attracted to light but perhaps best looked for during the day when it is at rest
  • It is a Northern Ireland Priority Species because of declines detected in other parts of the UK where it has undergone a 67% decline over a 25 year period. There is no evidence as yet that the species has exhibited a similar decline in Northern Ireland but as we are part of the UK it has been included on the Priority List

Species description
A member of the Geometridae, it can be described as a member of this “butterfly-like” group of moths. It normally rests with the mottled grey forewings open revealing a dark, prominent cross-band edged in white. Hindwings are plain and pale cream with a chequered border. This moth can be slightly variable in colour which may reflect the overall colour of the exposed rock in the vicinity.

Life cycle
Single brooded, on the wing from the end of June to mid-September. The caterpillar most likely feeds on Heathers and Bilberry from July to late May. It over-winters as a small larva then pupates in a cocoon amongst the stems and litter of the foodplant.

Similar species
The habitat, flight season and habit of resting on vertical rock surfaces by day help distinguish this moth. The even rarer Yellow-ringed Carpet has golden-orange scales in the central band of the fore-wings.

How to see this species
This rare moth appears to be in decline but it is more likely under-recorded due to the difficulty of trapping in remote upland areas. It has been recorded from all counties and is known from upland areas in Fermanagh, north Antrim and the Mournes. It flies from dusk and comes to light traps but a number of the more recent records are of moths found by day.

Current status
There are recent records of this notable moth from Cuilcagh, Benaughlin, Slieveanorra, and also Belfast. The last records from the Mournes were in the 1930’s but there is no reason to think that it has gone from this area.

Why is this species a priority in Northern Ireland?

  • Listed as a UK Priority Species and therefore on the Northern Ireland Priority List by default
  • Rapid decline (67% over 25 years 1968-2002) assessed using Rothamstead trap data

Threats/Causes of decline
It is thought to be declining in the UK as a result of many factors, including habitat change, pollution and the use of pesticides.

Conservation of this species

Current action
In Northern Ireland there are no specific actions proposed for this species. General management for Biodiversity in upland areas will help maintain the species.

Proposed objectives/actions

  • Encourage submission of records to the Moth recorder

What you can do

  • Report all moth sightings to the Moth Recorder for Northern Ireland, Andrew Crory, andrew.crory@gmail.com or use the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland (BCNI) sightings web page at http://www.bcni.org.uk/submitsighting.php. The BCNI database is managed by CEDaR and these records will then be used to update the Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland website.
  • Join Butterfly Conservation. Butterflies and Moths are in serious decline — with your support Butterfly Conservation can take action to reverse this.

Further information

Links
The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland

MothsIreland Website

The state of Britain's moths - an explanation as to how declines have been calculated

Background information on the Rothamstead Trap Surveys

UK Moths Website with an up-to-date distribution map

Literature
Baynes, E.S.A. (1964). A revised catalogue of Irish macrolepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths). EW Classey, Hampton, Middlesex.
Porter, J. (1997). The colour identification guide to caterpillars of the British Isles. Viking, London.
Skinner, B. (2009). 3rd revised and updated edition. The colour identification guide to the moths of the British Isles. Apollo Books.
Thompson, R. & Nelson, B. (2006). The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland. NMNI, Belfast.
Waring, P. & Townsend, M. (2009). 2nd edition. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife.

Text written by:
Allen & Mellon