Dark bordered beauty moth (Epione vespertaria)

Synonyms: Epione paralellaria
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyGeometridae
GenusEpione (1)
SizeWingspan: 26- 29 mm (1)

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).

The Dark Bordered Beauty moth, Epione vespertaria (Formerly known as Epione paralellaria) is similar in appearance to the more common Bordered Beauty moth (Epione repandaria), but the purplish border on the forewing is of even width; in the Bordered Beauty, the outer border tapers sharply towards the tip of the wing. The sexes are different in appearance; males are darker and more orange in colour than the pale yellow female (3). The caterpillar is greyish brown with a whitish, violet-tinged underside (3).

This species is known from most European countries, but just four small isolated populations are currently known in the UK; these are in north-east Yorkshire, Northumberland, near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire, and Strathspey. A new subcolony was discovered in Deeside in July 2001 (4). Due to a lack of recent records, the status of an historic population in Roxburghshire is unclear (2).

Inhabits wet heathland sites and damp aspen woodland (Populus tremula) (5), (4).

Adults of this single brooded species are active in late July and August. Males fly after sunrise for around an hour and again after dusk when they are occasionally attracted to light (1). Females are not often seen. Caterpillars are active between May and early July (1) and feed on creeping willow (Salix repens) in England and short re-growth aspen in Scotland (2). The overwintering stage is the egg (1).

This species has always been very local in Britain. Its isolated colonies are vulnerable to natural habitat succession, or inappropriate management such as too much or too little grazing (2).

The Dark Bordered Beauty moth is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP); the aims of the Species Action Plan include the maintenance and enhancement of all known sites and the restoration of the species to 10 sites within the former range by 2010, possibly using reintroductions (2). The two populations in England occur within existing Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and one is a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

Further reading on moths:
Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.

Information authenticated by Roy Leverton.

  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. Waring, P. (2001) Wildlife Reports. British Wildlife13: 129.
  5. UK Moths (December 2001): http://www.ukmoths.force9.co.uk/