Common Forest Looper Pseudocoremia suavis
Description: Tony James, Cornwall Moth Group.
This species was first discovered in 2007 as five single unidentified specimens which arrived sporadically between April and October at a regular garden light trap at a single location in Cornwall. It took a year of enquiries, including Europe, before the Natural History Museum, London finally identified it in 2008. Because of the occurrence separations (3mth, 2mth, 1mth, 2wks), it was thought that the specimens were from an establishing population, which would have been introduced to the UK accidentally, probably on plants, and members of the Cornwall Moth Group were recruited periodically to group trap in the area adjacent to the garden in a small Plant Nursery to see if a source could be determined. After no success in 2008, a further specimen arrived at the garden trap again in June 2009, suggesting that the species is established here, but further investigation continues.
This species is very variable, dark brown male specimens looking superficially like a Spruce Carpet, or dark version of a Common Marbled Carpet, for which they can easily be mistaken. Similarly, the lighter females could easily be mistaken for a colour variation of a Highflier, particularly when they occur together.
Foodplants in New Zealand are listed as various species, including Firs and Gorse, both of which are fairly common in the area. There is a suspicion that this species may have been introduced to the Nursery here from another area in the UK which has previously supplied plants to it, so it is worth investigating any other Nurseries which might import plants directly from overseas, to see if other populations are present.
Further information about this species is available in a New Zealand paper, and an article giving more details of this species discovery is available in the periodical ATROPOS No.33:Winter 08 issue.