Black-banded moth (Polymixis xanthomista statices)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNoctuidae
GenusPolymixis (1)
SizeWingspan: 2.5- 2.6 cm (1)

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (2)

Adult Black-banded moths have grey forewings with dense yellow, white and greenish flecking and a darker area towards the centre (3). The hindwings are relatively more uniform in colour and are darker in females (4). The caterpillars are generally reddish-brown, with a brown head (5).

Precise details of the distribution of this scarce moth are currently unknown, as the species has been under-recorded (2). It is known from the coasts of the Scilly Isles, Devon, Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, Cornwall and the Isle of Man. Outside of the UK it has a wide central and southern European range (2).

This species is found on coastal cliffs where the larval foodplant thrift (Armeria maritima) is present (6). A preference is shown for plants that are closer to the sea (2). It does not occur on thrift away from the coast (5).

A single-brooded moth, adults are on the wing in August and September. The egg over-winters and the caterpillars are present the following year from March to early July, and can be found feeding at night on the leaves and flowers of the foodplant (1).

There is no evidence to indicate that the species has suffered a decline in recent years, and the factors contributing to the scarcity of this moth are currently unknown (2).

The Black-banded moth has been targeted by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as a species for conservation action. The Species Action Plan aims to maintain the current range of this moth in conjunction with a monitoring programme (2). A number of the known populations are found in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), National Trust owned land or candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (2).

Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B. (1984) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth
Young, M. (1997) The natural history of moths. Poyser, London.

Information authenticated by Adrian Spalding.

  1. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  2. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  3. South, R (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., London.
  4. Pers. observation. From image.
  5. Spalding, A (2003) Pers. comm.
  6. Pembrokeshire Lepidoptera (December 2001): http://www.lamphey98.freeserve.co.uk/PembsLepidoptera/