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At a meeting of the Suffolk Moth Group it was agreed to form the Suffolk Moth Panel (SMP) to validate records received from recorders from around the county. The panel's purpose is to validate and accept/query records that are received by the County Moth Recorders. The intention behind the formation of the panel is to ensure that the Suffolk moth records we hold can be trusted as a reliable source of information. The County Moth Recorders have agreed to delegate responsibility for the validation of records to the panel.  It is intended that in the normal run of things the panel will meet a couple of times in the early part of the year to validate records received over the previous year. The members of the panel do not presume to be experts in all moth matters and will consult people outside the panel for expertise and comments where required.

With the 1997 Suffolk Moth Checklist there was a degree of uncertainty about which records would be queried when submitted and how much information we would like to have received about various species. In an attempt to clarify the situation the SMP have categorised all the moth species  into 4 main categories so that recorders will know the minimum amount of  information we would like to receive for particular species when they submit their records. Hopefully, this will mean that the appropriate information can be captured at the time the moth is recorded and this information can then be submitted to the county moth recorders.  The greater detail of recording should make the validation process by the SMP easier and will help give us a better understanding of the moths in Suffolk. The extra information will also help us to monitor localised and rare species for signs of decline or increase.

Following these guidelines may mean that preparing records for submission to the recorders may take some more time than previously. However, if you do not feel that you have the time to follow the guidelines then please continue to submit records as you currently do. We would rather have abbreviated records than no records at all. Alternatively if you wish to submit detailed records for all your moth recording then feel free to do so.

With the latest version of the checklist  recorders should be aware of which records are likely to be queried and should preferably retain voucher specimens of the species where required.

The following outlines the categories that have been set up with some explanation of the category. Records of moth species falling into categories 1 and 2 will normally be accepted without validation by the SMP whereas records of moth species falling into categories 3 and 4 will be vetted by the SMP at their annual meeting and confirmation of these records may be sought.
 

Categories of Moths for Recording Purposes

Category 1

This category includes macro-moths that are widespread and abundant, are readily identifiable and already on the Suffolk Checklist. This category also includes common micro-moths that are also on the Suffolk Checklist. Annual records should suffice (eg recorded in 1998). Examples include Large Yellow Underwing, Heart and Dart, Light Emerald and Common Carpet.

Category 2

This category includes macro-moths which although they may be readily identified and already be on the Suffolk Checklist are of restricted distribution or occurrence so we would like to collect as much information about them as possible. We would like to know precise dates (or at least a range of dates), numbers recorded and who determined the species. This category also includes all but the most common of migrants. Examples include Gem, Small Brindled Beauty, Olive and Nut-tree Tussock.

Category 3

This category covers moths which are not readily identifiable and may be confused with other species. This category also includes species that are on the Suffolk Checklist but are scarce enough for the SMP to want to monitor the records that we receive. This notably includes rare moths which may be easily confused with commoner species (eg Water Ermine being confused with White Ermine). Records of some of these species as adults will need to indicate that the genitalia has been examined (eg Dark Dagger to distinguish from Grey Dagger). This category also includes all those micro-moths on the Suffolk Checklist which are not listed in Category 1. As with Category 2 we would like to receive records as detailed as you can possibly supply for these species as this may help the SMP in the process of validation. Examples include Ground Lackey, Pale November Moth, Alder Kitten, White-mantled Wainscot and Shaded Fan-foot.

Category 4

This category covers all moths which are not on the current Suffolk Checklist plus a few on the Checklist for which we have only a single or a few records. The species may be hard or easy to identify, localised or rare. Voucher specimens will nearly always be required for the acceptance of these records. As with Category 2 and 3 we would like to receive detailed records for these species. Examples of species already on the Suffolk Checklist  in this category include Double Line, Oak Processionary and Blair's Mocha.
 

If a species is listed with a category where G has been appended to a category number then this indicates that we would prefer to have adult records of these species confirmed by examination of the genitalia. Using the example given before the Dark Dagger would be listed with a category 3G and the genitalia should preferably be examined to confirm a record of the adult of this species.
 

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