Why Moths?

Scarce Moths of North Antrim

All moth species are important, both in their own right, but also for their ecological role, but some of North Antrim’s moths have an added conservation value due to their scarcity.
Yellow-ringed Carpet below Fair Head

Murlough Bay is the only known location for the Yellow-ringed Carpet in Ireland.
Murlough Bay to the south of Fair Head is the only known home for the Yellow Ringed Carpet (below left) on the island of Ireland, making this site of critical importance. The larvae of this species feeds on Mossy Saxifrage, as does the similar looking Grey Mountain Carpet (below right) which is also a threatened species across the island. The latter species is less of a specialist feeding also feeding on heather and bilberry.

In July 2012 The Saxon (left) was recorded for the first time in North Antrim at Glenariffe. It’s origins were unknown as the only other Irish records are from County Kerry in the far south west. Up to November 2015 only 7 records of 9 individuals had been seen in Ireland. In 2018 several were found in Breen Oakwood, and every year since, proving the presence of a resident population. In 2021 a further site was found in the Antrim Hills. The other moth in this image is the Alder Moth (right) a locally scarce species.
Saxon & Alder

The Light Knot Grass is a rare species across Ireland and was only found in North Antrim for the first time in 2018 at Garry Bog.
Light Knot Grass (Acronicta menyanthidis)

Only discovered in Northern Ireland for the first time in 1999, North Antrim is now the key area in Ireland for the Dotted Carpet and is very rarely reported away from a handful of sites in the Glens. The larvae feeds on lichens especially beard lichen.
Dotted Carpet (Alcis jubata)

The Small Chocolate-tip is rarely attracted to light. Recent larval searches have discovered the species at a number of sites in the region.
Small Chocolate-tip (Clostera pigra)

A rare coastal species the Netted Pug had not been recorded in Antrim for 45 years until one was found in 2016, with two in 2017 and five in 2023.
Netted Pug (Eupithecia venosata)

The Bilberry Pug was first discovered in Breen wood in 2020, which was the first record for the county. It has been seen every year since, though in small numbers.
Bilberry Pug (Pasiphila debiliata)

Craigagh Wood and Glenariffe are home to the scarce Clouded Magpie in the region. This species has very much North-eastern distribution in Ireland.
Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata)

Slender Brindle was first recorded in Ireland in 2000, so it was a surprise to find a healthy population each year in Breen Oakwood since 2018.
Slender Brindle (Apamea scolopacina)

The Devon Carpet is apparently a very recent colonist of Ireland and is only known to be established in a handful of sites, including Glenarm wood.
Rapidly moving north and the west the Devon carpet recently reached North Antrim. Whilst it is nice to see new species the factors driving these changes is of concern,

The Orange Sallow was not recorded in Ireland before 2000. There have been two recorded from Craigagh Wood, Cushendun. In 2022 two appeared in my Ballycastle garden.
Orange Sallow (Tiliacea citrago)

The stunning Wood Tiger has been recorded along the Antrim coast on several occasions. It favours dune grasslands.
Wood Tiger (Parasemia plantaginis)

The Confused is a rare coastal species which can be found occasionally on the cliffs of North Antrim and Rathlin.
Confused (Apamea furva)

The Red Twin-Spot Carpet is generally an upland species in Ireland, which has been recorded on Rathlin and more recently on the slopes of Orra Mountain in the the Antrim Hills.
Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia)

Lempke’s Gold Spot was added to the Irish species list in 2019 with records from Rathlin Island. It has been recorded there since, but not yet on the mainland.
Lempke’s Gold Spot (Plusia putnami)

The hazel woods of Glenariffe are the only place in Ireland that the Breech-green Carpet has been recorded in over two decades.
Beech-green Carpet (Colostygia olivata)

Also inhabiting Glenariffe is the Barred Carpet which is scarce across the rest of Ireland.
Barred Carpet (Martania taeniata)

The diminutive and scarce Pretty Pinion was found at Murlough Bay several years ago, where it can relatively frequent in certain areas.
Pretty Pinion (Perizoma blandiata)