Geometridae : Larentiinae
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Devon Carpet
Lampropteryx otregiata

(Metcalfe, 1917) 1751 / 70.104
Photo © Damian Money,  New Marske VC62 8th August 2019

Similar Yorkshire Species
Water Carpet
Lampropteryx suffumata
Small Phoenix
Ecliptopera silaceata
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Yorkshire Status: Local resident.

Since the 2020 lockdown summary below, things have moved forward, and we are now getting over 30 records a year. The distribution has filled out a bit but is still mainly from the west of VC64 across in a band to the east of VC62 where it is particularly common. Every year brings records from new sites and it can turn up in gardens away from its foodplant. It remains rare in the south and east of the county, and is happiest in damp woodland in the north. Do not mistake the first brood with the larger Water Carpet, as the broods overlap.

2020 (CHF): Devon Carpet has a very fragmented distribution in Europe, though its range extends right across Asia to Japan. Some of its isolated European populations are under threat and there are conservation concerns. In the UK, as the name might suggest, it has always been a moth of the south and west. Its scientific name, otregiata, actually refers to Ottery St Mary in Devon, the type locality. Its stronghold has always been Devon, Cornwall, and most of south and west Wales, where it has been happily going about its business in damp woodland for a long time.

Around the turn of the century something happened and it developed the urge to wander. It didn't just inch forward gradually; instead, it must have perused the travel brochures and decided that the rest of the country was ripe for exploration. It moved rapidly into the Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria. It moved east and was seen as far as Suffolk in 2007, a huge leap. Yorkshire had its first record in 2009, and by 2013 it had reached the south-west of Scotland. It's the sort of spread from the south-west that we have seen for Beautiful Snout, Red-necked Footman and one or two others, but more rapid.

Our first record in 2009 wasn't in the south west of the county, but was in VC62 at Kilburn. The following year it was at Hardcastle Crags in the west of VC63 where by 2011 catches of up to 30 were being seen at light. By 2014 it had reached North Cliffe Wood in VC61 and by 2016 it was in the south west of VC64. It has been seen on the VC65 boundary near Ripon but has not yet crossed the river. The current distribution is in a band across the centre of the county as far as the east of VC62 where catches have sometimes been into double figures in the last two years. Despite all this, it is still a local moth with a widely scattered population. The biggest number of records was 13 in 2019 and there were just eight in 2020, so it's not turning up everywhere and remains rather elusive.

This is typically a moth of damp open woodland where the larvae feed on marsh bedstraw or fen bedstraw, and this is certainly where the biggest numbers occur, though I've seen it a few times now in various habitats including gardens. It is bivoltine with records in May/June and August/September. A first brood moth could be confused with Water Carpet which is larger, shinier, and has a different shape to the outer edge of the dark cross band. The moth itself is a different shape and always seems to me to have its wings spread out further making it into a triangle with a wider base. I've also seen it confused with Small Phoenix which has rather similar markings and is the same size and shape. Every year we get records of "Water Carpet" in August. This isn't meant to have a second brood but once in a blue moon this is actually correct, and in 2017 we even had a Water Carpet on 14th October, but more often they are actually Devon Carpet. Often there is no photo so we simply don't know.

Is this just climatic change causing the movement? If so, why does it happen so rapidly? Why are similar changes not being seen in the rest of Europe? Are genetic factors involved enabling it to adapt to different environments? Has it adapted to feed on different Galium species? Has it found some new defences against predators? It all makes little sense to me. There has been a series of invaders from the south-west in recent years. Which one is going to be next?

Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.

Recorded in 33 (17%) of 200 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 2009.
Last Recorded in 2023.
Additional Stats

< Water Carpet  |  Northern Winter Moth >
Forewing: 12-14mm
Flight: May - June, August - September
Foodplant:   Bedstraws
Red List Status: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Verification Grade:  Adult: 3
List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
11/09/2023162SE89 - Hole of Horcum
02/09/2023165SE37 - Ripon
20/08/2023165SE37 - Ripon
19/08/2023164SE54 - York (S/W)
17/08/2023162SE76 - Kirkham
  Immature   Adult   [Show Flight Weeks]
Show Details | 1990 to 2023 | 2000 to 2023 | Graph Key
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