Bordered gothic moth (Heliophobus reticulata)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNoctuidae (1)
GenusHeliophobus
SizeWingspan: 3.5- 4 cm (1)

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (2).

The Bordered Gothic moth has an attractive pale network-like patterning on the otherwise mottled grey-brown forewings. The hindwings are whitish-tan in colour, becoming darker towards the outer margins (1). A darker form (H. reticulata hibernica) occurs in southern Ireland (3).

Since the 1960s, the range of this species has undergone a severe decline. It was once widespread in Wales and England south of Yorkshire, but is now believed to be in danger of extinction. In recent years, records have been restricted to South Wales, Portland in Dorset, north Kent and the Breckland of East Anglia, but these have become increasingly infrequent since 1990 (4). It has been recorded throughout Europe and extends eastwards to Russia, Siberia, Japan and Asia Minor (2).

This moth tends to inhabit open calcareous or sandy grassland habitats (4). The foodplant of the caterpillars is not known, but it is thought that the seedpods of bladder campion (Silene vulgaris), soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) and knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare) are likely candidates (2).

A single brood is produced; the adults are active in June and July. Caterpillars are present between late July and September, and the overwintering stage is the pupa(1).

The reasons for the decline of this species are not yet known (2).

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) has identified this species as a priority for conservation action. In addition to maintaining and enhancing all known populations, the plan aims to restore populations to five sites in the former range before 2010 (2). Research into the ecology of this species has been proposed; information resulting from this will hopefully guide suitable habitat management (2).

Further reading on moths:
Skinner, B. (1998) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying moths. Poyser, London.

Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.

  1. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  2. UK BAP (December 2001): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  3. UK Moths (December 2001): http://cgi.ukmoths.force9.co.uk/cgi-bin/show.pl?id=666&bf=21530
  4. Sean Clancy (2003) Pers. comm.