The Heart Moth is pale in colour with light brown patterning and off-white hind-wings. It takes its common name from the single heart-shaped mark on each forewing (3). The caterpillar has a black back with three white lines, and has a brown underside (4).
This moth is single-brooded, and adults fly between late June and July. The caterpillars are active at night between April and early June, and spend the day concealed in a tent of leaves held together with silk (1). The overwintering stage is the egg (1).
The only sizable populations at present occur in Surrey, but this moth also persists in the Windsor Forest area in Berkshire, Northamptonshire, and there has been a recent record from the north-west of Kent, the first record here for around 80 years (5). It is known to have become locally extinct in Essex, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Hampshire. Despite being known from most European countries, it is extinct, rare or local in many areas (2).
A Species Action Plan has been produced for the Heart Moth under the UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan). This plan aims to maintain all known populations of this species, with enhancement of the populations by 2010 (2). These aims may be achieved through appropriate habitat management and creation, agri-environment schemes, and by linking fragmented habitat patches together (2). In addition, research into the detailed habitat requirements of this species in order to guide suitable habitat management has been underway for a couple of years, directed by Butterfly Conservation (5).
These schemes allow the government to compensate farmers for using methods that benefit the environment. The two main initiatives in the UK are the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Since October 2000 these have formed part of the England Rural Development Programme (EDRP), administered by DEFRA, the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. See http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/erdphome.htm for more on these initiatives.
(also known as 'univoltine'). Insect life cycle that takes 12 months to be complete, and involves a single generation. The egg, larva, pupa or adult over winters as a dormant stage.
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