(Citheronia regalis overall spotty distribution

Neil Jones neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Tue Nov 2 10:05:00 EDT 2010

On 02/11/2010 10:45, Michael Gochfeld wrote:
> I have looked at a lot of butterfly range maps on BAMONA, but the 
> Citheronia regalis distribution map seems unusually spotty.  Is it 
> just that the moth disappeared from intermediate sites before it was 
> recorded.
> http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=3334   [/I can't seem to 
> copy this map, so check the site]/
> It's not as host specific as I had thought (see below). And I 
> wonder what its various State conservation ranks are.
There can be a recorder effect. We have a scheme in the UK which I have 
been involved in since the early days.
It is the largest insect recording scheme in the world. Here in Wales in 
the beginning records for butterflies were
a bit thin on the ground and I remember discussing with a colleague that 
you could actually work out where
the lepidopterists live by looking at which squares had high numbers of 
records. I was able to say look you live there and
I live here, that is a wardened nature reserve that lots of people visit 
etc. He then said pointing to a well recorded square
well who lives there then? I laughed and replied "my grandmother". I 
used to make regular visits to see her and look around the
surrounding countryside. Her garden was also right next to a disused 
railway track that was very rich, as they often are.

It is also worth remembering that ecology is complex and that having a 
common foodplant is not necessarily an indication that
a moth will be common. We have the New Forest Burnet Moth over here 
which is now confined to a single site in Scotland.
It feeds on Birds' Foot Trefoil which is a very common wild flower. 
There is also the Fiery Clearwing moth which is so rare
  that it is protected by law but which uses Dock, which is a common weed.

As an explanation to anyone who is confused, The New Forest  was a royal 
hunting forest in southern England which was designated as a new one by 
King William I (William the Conqueror) who conquered England in 1066. It 
was new then so the name has stuck. Royal forests contained large areas 
of open countryside and this is still true of the area today which is 
now essentially a large nature reserve. The moth died out there in the 
1920s and was later discovered in Scotland.

And as I always say because Americans get it wrong all the time and I am 
using several of the names. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Northern Ireland is made up of four constituent nations. England, 
Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales. Here in Wales we even have
our own distinctive Celtic language.

Neil Jones
neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk

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