Friday 24 May
Dark crimson underwing moth (Catocala sponsa)
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Dark crimson underwing moth fact file
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Dark crimson underwing moth description
The generic name of the dark crimson underwing moth, Catocala derives from the Greek 'katõ' meaning below, and 'kalos' meaning beautiful. This refers to the brightly coloured hindwings of underwing moths. The specific name sponsa means 'betrothed woman' or 'bride'; this may be a reference to the gaudy underwear worn by Scandinavian brides (1). The dark crimson underwing has mottled brown to greyish forewings which provide good camouflage against tree bark, and brilliant red and black-banded hindwings which can be suddenly revealed when the moth is threatened; this often startles predators such as birds. The caterpillar is grey-brown with raised red spots from which black bristles protrude (4).
- Wingspan: 5.8 - 7.4 cm (2)
Dark crimson underwing moth biologyTop
Dark crimson underwing moth range
In the UK the dark crimson underwing breeds only in the New Forest, Hampshire. It was formerly known from Wiltshire, London (3), Kent and Sussex (2). It has been recorded from most European countries; the range extends north to Siberia and south to North Africa, but it is local or rare in many areas (3).Top
Dark crimson underwing moth habitatTop
Dark crimson underwing moth status
Classified as Rare in Great Britain (3).Top
Dark crimson underwing moth threats
The species underwent a decline in numbers during the 1970s, but has since resurged somewhat. The causes of the decline are thought to be due to widespread felling and fragmentation of mature oak woodland and replanting with other tree species (3).Top
Dark crimson underwing moth conservation
The Species Action Plan for the Dark Crimson Underwing, produced as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) aims to maintain all current populations. Proposed long-term aims include the re-introduction of this moth to two sites within the former range, and the enhancement of the sizes of all existing populations before 2010 (3). This may be aided by replanting oaks in ways that increase the size of mature oak woodlands, and by linking currently isolated patches together (3).Top
Find out more
For more information on moths see:
- Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.
- Skinner, B. (1984) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.Top
- Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- An attempt to establish a native species back into an area where it previously occurred.
- Also known as ‘univoltine’. Referring to an organism which has just one brood each year.
- Butterfly Conservation. (September, 2008)
- Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
- UK Biodiversity Action Plans (December, 2001)
- South, R. (1961) The Moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., London.
- Butterfly Conservation. (2001) Moths. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.
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