Barberry carpet moth (Pareulype berberata)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyGeometridae
GenusPareulype (1)
SizeWingspan: 2.7- 3.2 cm (2)

Classified as Endangered in Great Britain (3) and fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (4).

Adult Barberry Carpet moths have greyish-white forewings with attractive brown patterning (5), and the hindwings are paler and more uniform (6). The caterpillar is brown in colour and has a stout appearance with darker stripes along the back (5); it moves by a 'looping' action (7). The common name refers to the larval foodplant, barberry (Berberis vulgaris) (3).

This endangered moth once had a fairly widespread distribution from Devon and Sussex reaching as far north as Yorkshire (3). Following a decline, just nine known native breeding sites currently exist in 5 counties including Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Suffolk and Dorset (7). Elsewhere the range extends through Europe reaching east to Asia Minor and north to Sweden (3).

The foodplant grows in sunny locations in hedgerows and at the edges of woodlands (3).

This is a 'double-brooded' or 'bivoltine' species; two generations are produced during a single year. Adults of the first brood are active in May and the beginning of June, their eggs hatch, the resulting caterpillars are active in mid-June to mid-July and then pupate. The second brood adults emerge in August, the caterpillars that hatch from their eggs are active in August and September, and the pupae overwinter as a dormant stage. When the adults emerge the following year in April/May, the cycle begins once again (2). The caterpillars feed on barberry (3).

Since the 19th century the foodplant has been removed from hedgerows because it was identified as a host of the wheat-rust fungus Puccinia graminis, which affects agricultural crops (7). In addition, damage often occurs to barberry plants through burning and hedge trimming (3). At present, efforts are being made to propagate barberry, with promising results (7).

This moth has been identified as a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and is the focus of an English Nature Species Recovery Programme, which began in 1995 (3). The aims of the Species Action Plan include the maintenance and enhancement of all known populations, and the restoration of ten populations within the historic range by the year 2010 (3). These targets have begun to be met through an English Nature-funded captive breeding programme at Bristol Zoo with subsequent releases into the wild (8). Further collections of this species are held at Dudley Zoo, Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, and by a number of private breeders (7).

Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B. (1984) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth

For more information on the captive breeding and release programme at Bristol Zoo see:
http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/conservation/nativespecies.htm

Information authenticated by Warren Spencer of the Invertebrate Section, Bristol Zoo Gardens:
http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (April 2003) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Skinner, B (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  3. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  4. JNCC (December 2001): http://www.jncc.gov.uk/species/protect/animals.htm
  5. South, R. (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., London
  6. Pers. obv. From reference 2.
  7. Warren Spencer , Bristol Zoo Gardens Invertebrate Section (April 2003) Pers. Comm.
  8. Bristol Zoo (April 2003): http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/conservation/nativespecies.htm