The scarce Lunar Yellow Underwing has dark brown forewings but deep yellow hindwings with a broad brownish-black border. There is a black spot on the margin of the forewing (the 'costa') near the apex (2). The moth can suddenly display the hind wings when threatened in order to alarm potential predators (4).
Adults of this single-brooded species fly between late June and September, and possibly aestivate during August (1). Caterpillars are present from October to April and feed at night on fine grasses (1). The pupal stage occurs underground (3).
This species has undergone a sustained decline but formerly had a wide distribution in the UK. The current stronghold is in the Brecklands of Norfolk and Suffolk (3). It is also currently reported from north east Scotland, and caterpillars have been found in the Wirral (Cheshire) in 2002 (2). Elsewhere it is known from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, and is a local species in Europe, but is absent from the south-west of Spain and Portugal, southern Greece and Ireland (3).
The Lunar Yellow Underwing moth is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species. The Species Action Plan aims to maintain the current range of the species. Survey and research has been largely carried out in the Brecks (2).
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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