Entomology

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Sark’s butterflies and moths have been well studied since 1873, when W.A.Luff found 28 species of butterflies and 48 of moths. In 1970 Roger Long at La Société Jersiaise listed 57 butterfly species for the entire Channel Islands, 39 for Sark, including the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, found only in Sark between 1947 and 1967.

In recent years regular annual recording has been undertaken on Sark Margaret and Roger Long, and by the late Michael Shaffer and his wife Dr Monika Shaffer-Fehre. The total number of Lepidoptera recorded has risen to 566, the vast majority being diurnal or nocturnal moths. Michael Shaffer’s monumental study Lepidoptera of the Channel Islands published in 2008, less than a year before his death, is a fine legacy of his dedicated study. Additionally miscellaneous annual lists, the field guides, the Heath Actinic Moth Trap donated by Roger Long, for whom it was specially made, and a student microscope make up the resources for visiting entomologists.

Of Sark's Lepidoptera Michael Shaffer wrote, 'From the large fauna present on Sark it is possible to observe live adults at almost all times of the year. The species vary widely in their respective life-cycles and most are highly seasonal. A few produce adults during the winter to very early spring; others are on the wing only in autumn; while the majority have two or more breeding cycles per year and can be seen from late spring to late summer. In some case the adults may hibernate in winter, while warm spells of weather may allow them to be active, so it is possible to see isolated live specimens outside their normal breeding periods. In the warmer weather many normal breeding species have their numbers vastly boosted by annual migrations between the islands and especially directly from the Continent.'

Other entomological discoveries of note include the survival on Sark of the Large Tortoiseshell butterfly, and the first recorded hatching of a Swallowtail. The 
presence of the Scaly Cricket Pseudomogoplistes vicentae on Dixcart Beach that was discovered by Irene and Peter Brown in 1998. Until then the Scaly Cricket was only known in the British Isles from Chesil Beach in Dorset where it was found in 1949. Since the discovery on Sark further colonies have been found at other locations on the English south coast, in Pembrokeshire and Guernsey. Wingless and covered in tiny scales, it lives among shingle around the high tide mark and is thought to emerge at night to feed on decaying plant and animal material along the strandline.

There have been several specialist studies of Sark's entomology including the island's bees, wasps and beetles.

Opening hours of our Heritage Room

We are normally open every weekday between 11am and 1pm from Easter to the end of September

We are currently closed due to the pandemic crisis but look forward to welcoming visitors again soon

All images copyright of Sue Daly/La Société Sercquaise 2021

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