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Study of Common Fan-foot (Pechipogo strigilata) in Wyre Forest

© Rosemary Winnall

Introduction

The Common Fan-foot in Britain is described as inhabiting open deciduous woodland, mainly on heavy soils. It used to be abundant where found, but has now become very scarce. It has been found from Cumbria and Lincolnshire and south across all of England and Wales. It was described as Nationally Notable A (16 to 35 ten kilometre squares in the country), when last classified, but should probably now be reclassified as Red Data Book. The worrying factor is the speed of the mothís decline in numbers and range. This is why it is a UKBAP species.

The Common Fan-foot is known to occur in the Wyre Forest, with adults trapped annually in suitable habitat during the speciesí flight period.

The Wyre Forest is one of the largest ancient semi-natural woodlands in Britain, extending to over 2,400 hectares, with over 1700 hectares of SSSI and over 500 hectares of NNR. Large areas are managed by Forest Enterprise and English Nature, with the remainder being privately owned. The Forest is situated on the western outskirts of Bewdley on the River Severn, with roughly half the woodland in Shropshire and half in Worcestershire.

During the summer of 2002, Dave Grundy (West Midlands Butterfly Conservation Moth Officer for Birmingham and the Black Country) set off to search the haystack for this particular needle, and not without some considerable success.

The aims of the project - sponsored by English Nature, Forestry Commission, Worcestershire County Council and West Midlands Butterfly Conservation - were:

(a)    To record times during the night for adults flying.

(b)   To determine the most successful recording methods for adults.

(c)    To determine the most successful recording methods for larvae (if at all possible).

(d)   To start to assess distribution of the species in Wyre.

(e)    To attempt to determine habitat preferences of the species.

(f)     To attempt to discover possible reasons for the speciesí decline.

(g)    To discover more about the speciesí larvae, their identification, and habits, particularly in the wild.

(h)  To start to assess whether the Wyre population is strong enough to be used for a reintroduction programme to a nearby site.

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