Dingy mocha moth (Cyclophora pendularia)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyGeometridae
GenusCyclophora (1)
SizeWingspan: 2.6- 2.9 cm (1)

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).

The common name 'mocha' refers to mocha stone, an agate with a beautiful moss-like patterning of crystals (3). The Dingy Mocha is finely mottled with red-brown patterning and is 'dingy' only in that it is darker in colour than any of the related species (4).

This moth is currently restricted to Dorset and western Hampshire, having been lost from Wiltshire, Surrey, Sussex, Suffolk, Devon, Kent and South Wales (2). It is known from most European countries (2).

Dingy Mocha caterpillars live in open heathland or damp grassland habitat on 1-3m tall willows (Salix species) (2).

This double-brooded or 'bivoltine' species flies at night (5); the first brood flies in May and early June, and the second flies in July and early August. Caterpillars are present in July and September, and the overwintering stage is the pupa(1).

Factors contributing to the decline of this species may include the loss of suitable habitat. Heathland has been lost due to development, forestry and agricultural intensification; furthermore, poor management may result in succession to woodland. Heathland fires and scrub clearance during heathland restoration may also put pressure on this moth (2).

The Dingy Mocha has been targeted as a priority species for conservation under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The aims of the Species Action Plan are to maintain and enhance all known populations, and to restore the species to five sites in its former range by 2010 (2). Research into the ecology of the species and a regular monitoring programme have also been recommended (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. Young, M. (1997) The natural history of moths. Poyser, London.

Information authenticated by Butterfly Conservation:
http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/

  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. Marren, P. (1998) The English names of moths. British Wildlife10: 29-38.
  4. Pers. observation from images.
  5. Parsons, M. (2002) Butterfly Conservation. Pers comm.