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Purple-barred Yellow
Lythria purpuraria (Linnaeus, 1758)
Geometridae: Larentiinae
1717 / 70.0389
Photo © Liverpool World Museum Richard Walker,  Specimen from the J.S. Greenhill collection labelled Thetford 1901

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Rhodometra sacraria
Forewing: 10-12mm
Flight: April - June with a second generation July - September.
Foodplant:   Prostrate Knotweed
GB Status: Unconfirmed
Verification Grade:  Adult: 4
Non-Norfolk species.
Old unconfirmed 19th Century records from Perth in Scotland, York and Kent. No modern-day UK records.

The occurrence of this species in Norfolk is unconfirmed. Information included for reference only.

Whilst databasing uncommon moths in the Liverpool World Museum Entomology Department in 2019, several unnamed specimens of Purple-barred Yellow (Lythria purpuraria) were discovered by VC59 CMR Richard Walker. One specimen originally from a collection by J. S. Greenhill had the data label Thetford 1901.

However, further research by Richard, including documents connected with Mr Greenhill from the 1970s, revealed he bought collections at auction. An auction catalogue he had retained and marked was amongst the papers, although there is no evidence he bought moths on that occasion.

It was also discovered that this is not the only non-UK species labelled as UK in the Greenhill collection. After the collection arrived in Liverpool and was being rehoused, the then head of Entomology, Ian Wallace, found a Green Silver-spangled Shark (Cucullia argentea) with data including month, year and UK location. Ian spent a year trying to tie this down as new or second record to Britain with many very eminent entomologists. No one had heard of this record. There was other correspondence from Liverpool with the Keeper of Entomology at the British museum in which comparisons of writing and paper were made with some other of Greenhill's claims. The written responses revealed doubts!

It is believed that following the purchase of a collection probably at auction which contained continental moths he assimilated them into his British collection. Whether he deliberately added the data labels in all these cases or not is open to speculation.

With thanks to Richard Walker and the Liverpool World Museum.

Verification Grade Comment: Occurrence in the British Isles unconfirmed

Determination by Genitalia Examination Required

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