The Sprawler

The Sprawler (Asteroscopus sphinx) is a species of resident macro-moth found throughout most of England and Wales, although it is more common in the South. It can be found in broadleaved woodlands, and other well-wooded ares, including some gardens.

It is one of the later-flying species to be found in Britain, with adults being on the wing from mid-October to early December. The species frequently comes to light, with males usually arriving from midnight onwards, and females arriving earlier.

This species only has one generation each year and survives the winter by overwintering as eggs, which are laid in small crevices on the trunks of trees. The eggs hatch in April and the larvae feed nocturnally on a variety of tree species, including Pedunculate Oak, Blackthorn and Small-leaved Elm until early-June when they pupate in a cocoon beneath the soil surface.

The Sprawler (Asteroscopus sphinx)
The larvae have a habit of throwing their head back as a defence mechanism, and this behaviour is where the English name 'Sprawler' comes from.

It is classed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species in England due to an 83% decline in its UK population over a 35 year period (1968-2002) and its use as an indicator species for the winder environment.

Over the last two weeks I have been helping run a few moth traps on campus. Considering the time of year we have done quite well for variety, and in 3 nights of trapping with both an actinic and MV bulb a total of 87 individuals of 16 species have been caught. So far, seven of the species caught have been new to me which is very nice, taking my moth list up to 597 and PSL total to 1186. I'm hoping to reach 600 moths and 1200 overall by the end of 2017 so I have my work cut out a bit, but hopefully a few outings around Norfolk and Hampshire over Christmas will easily take me up to my targets.

Relative frequency of species on three trapping dates at the same site.
Cumulative totals of individuals from both an actinic robinson
trap and an MV robinson trap run simultaneously.

If you want to find out any more information about The Sprawler, or moths in general, these websites are a mine of information:

http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/asteroscopus-sphinx/adult/
http://www.hantsmoths.org.uk/species/2227.php
https://www.norfolkmoths.co.uk/index.php?bf=22270
http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/_speciespages/2067.pdf