The generic name of the Light Crimson Underwing, Catocala derives from the Greek 'kato' meaning below and 'kalos' meaning beautiful, and refers to the brightly coloured hindwings of the underwing moths (3). This species is similar in appearance to the Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa; the hind wings of both are crimson and black in colour. The caterpillar is greenish-grey and has yellow-brown patches (4).
The main flight period of this single-brooded species (6) occurs from late July to late August (7). The caterpillars, which feed on oak, can be found from late April to early June and the overwintering stage is the egg (8).
This moth has been recorded in most European countries with the exception of Ireland, Malta and Albania. It becomes more rare towards the northern-most parts of its range, which reaches east to Siberia and south to North Africa (2). In the UK it is now restricted to areas in and around the New Forest, Hampshire (2) and in Wiltshire (5), but was historically recorded from a wider range in the south of England (2).
Many large areas of mature oak woodland have been felled, in some cases this has been replanted with species other than oak (2). This has resulted in a decrease in the area of suitable oak woodland for this moth, and increased fragmentation of remaining habitat (2).
The Light Crimson Underwing is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The Species Action Plan produced aims to maintain all known populations, and enhance the numbers of the species at all sites by the year 2010 (2). Most existing populations occur in the New Forest or in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in the vicinity. The New Forest has been forwarded as a candidate Special Area of Conservation, a site designation that has stemmed from the EC Habitats Directive (2). Reintroduction of the species into parts of its former range has been proposed, and research and monitoring programmes are in development (2).
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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