Bright wave moth (Idaea ochrata cantiata)

GenusIdaea (1)
SizeWingspan: 2.1- 2.4 cm (2)

Classified as Rare in Great Britain but may be re-classified as Vulnerable (3).

Adult Bright Wave moths are ochreous brown to orange in colour with fine waved cross-lines on both the fore- and hind-wings (2). The slightly wrinkled caterpillars are pale ochreous brown in colour with three greyish lines along the back (4).

Since 1980, this species has been recorded from three coastal areas in Suffolk, Essex and Kent, and may occur in other areas when blown by the wind (3). It is now believed that this species is no longer present in Suffolk or Essex, but is currently restricted as a British resident species to an 18km stretch of coastline in east Kent (5). It is also found in central and southern Europe, North Africa and northern Iran (3).

Inhabits sandy shingle beaches, golf-course rough and coastal sand hills (3).

Very little is known about the ecology of this moth (3). It is single brooded; the adult flight period is between late June late July (5); adults can be found resting in bushes and low vegetation during the day (2) and are easily disturbed (5). The overwintering stage is the caterpillar, which occurs between August and May, and probably feeds on the flowers of a range of sand hill plants (2).

The main threats to this species include coastal erosion, golf-course management and pressure from humans using beaches inhabited by the Bright Wave moth for recreational purposes (3).

The Bright Wave moth is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It is also included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme, which funded survey work in 1997 (6). The Species Action Plan for the Bright Wave aims to determine the detailed habitat needs of the species, maintain viable populations in the current range and where possible restore the species to its 1980s distribution (3), possibly with the help of reintroductions (6). In Suffolk, the species occurred on land that is managed as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and a Suffolk Wildlife Trust Reserve (6). Measures to prevent recreational damage to key beaches have been proposed, along with raising public awareness and appreciation of the species and the importance of its sensitive habitats (6).

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

Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary ( January 2003)
  2. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  3. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001):
  4. South, R. (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. London.
  5. S.P. Clancy (2002) The Bright Wave Moth (Idaea ochrata cantiata Prout,1913) – Survey 2002. Confidential Report to English Nature. Peterborough.
  6. Suffolk Local Biodiversity Action Plan (December 2001):