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  Heart Moth Dicycla oo  

B&F: 2315

ABH: 73.218

Status: Resident - possibly now extinct in VC32

Distribution and Abundance: Rare

Primary Habitat: Wooded parkland

Flight Period: Single brooded in late June and July

Record: 5 July 1986 Yardley Chase (B Statham), 28 June 2004
(J. Blincow) and 28 June 2006 (P. Horsnail).

Observations: Last recorded in the county in 2006, and not seen recently despite some extensive survey work at previously known locations. The 1986 record was of a singleton and despite much recording on the site was not updated until 2004 when the species was found to be well established in a private area of the Chase. During 2006 a further colony was discovered well away from the Yardley colony on private land in SP66. Historically the occurrence of this moth in Northamptonshire has been understated in literature, perhaps in part due to the secrecy of some of the recorders involved.

Here are some brief notes on some of the old localities:

Salcey Forest: Last recorded in 1955.

Little Billing: Some twenty eggs were found in the crevices in the bark of an oak tree in 1950, almost all were successfully reared to moths.

Kettering area: In 1954 several moths were taken at an m.v. light run on a caravan site to the east of the town. There were isolated oaks in the fields around this site.

Weekley Hall Wood: Moths were fairly common at m.v. light on the outskirts of the wood in 1955.

Geddington Chase: The species was clearly well established in 1907 with twelve moths being taken at sugar that year.

Bedford Purlieus: Recorded around the turn of the last century (F. A. Adams pers. comm.).

Castor Hanglands: The best known site. The moth was recorded there at sugar and light for at least half a century. The highest known catch at sugar was twelve moths from some fifty sugar patches in 1924 and at m.v. light twenty-six on a sheet in 1951. The form renago comprised some 7% of the population and earliest and last recorded dates for the moth were 22 June and 30 July. Most of the larger oaks were felled in 1955 and certainly all of those trees which the old collectors knew that there would be a specimen on their sugar patch, if there were any to be had, were lost. The foregoing has been summarised from unpublished material by R. E. M. Pilcher. The moth was last seen there on 8 July 1963.

Many subsequent attempts to find the moth on the reserve have failed. It is known to decline to very low numbers before increasing again and there are still some very suitable unworked sites that probably held colonies in the past.

L.O.N.: 1907. Castle Ashby, Blatherwyck, Geddington Chase. Local but occasionally plentiful.

First Record: 1882, Salcey Forest, Hull & Tomalin.