On arrival at Cape Clear Island, West Cork in October 2021 for my usual sojourn, it quickly became obvious that there were quite a few migrant moths and Red Admirals about. There were a few Rush Veneers Nomophila noctuella and uncountable numbers of Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis seen throughout the island each day. The weather was generally drifting South/South-east all week and with mild nights my trap was put out most nights mostly because of the unending enthusiasm of James McNally.
During the week in a discussion with Michael O’Donnell he happened to mention that there was a large number of Radford’s Flame Shoulders Ochropleura leucogaster in Britain and that I should keep an eye out for it as it is a migrant species. We, James, Dr. Geoff Oliver and I, were a bit disappointed by the quantity and quality of what was in our trap most night with lots of Rusty-dot Pearl and on one night five Gem Orthonama obstipata being the only moths of note. Later that week we trapped a Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta, which is the only possible confusion species with Radford’s but as I am very familiar with this common species there was no sense of excitement.
However, on emptying the trap on the morning of the 16th, Chick (JMcN) took out an eggbox with just one moth on it and I quickly noticed it was similar to but different from Flame Shoulder. Could it be? I quickly potted it for closer examination and was pretty sure that what I was looking at was a Radford’s Flame Shoulder. The moth was longer and narrower than Flame Shoulder and the white edge to the wing reached the ‘shoulders’ and continued across the thorax to complete a white-lined loop. This feature is not mentioned in the literature but is very obviously different to Flame Shoulder. I was able to see that the moth had pure white hindwings which differ to the yellowish hindwing of Flame Shoulder. I was sure that we were looking at a first Irish record and this was quickly confirmed on a UK moths Facebook page.
This was the first but will not be the last. Of that I am certain.
Radford’s Flame Shoulder Ochropleura leucogaster Cape Clear Island, West Cork.