Marsh mallow moth (Hydraecia osseola hucherardi)

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Marsh Mallow
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Marsh mallow moth fact file

Marsh mallow moth description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNoctuidae
GenusHydraecia (1)

The common name of the Marsh Mallow moth refers to the larval (caterpillar) foodplant of the same name (Althaea officinalis). Adults are dark cream in colour (3) with paler hindwings (1).

Size
Wingspan: 4- 5 cm (1)
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Marsh mallow moth biology

Adults of this single-brooded species are active at night in September; caterpillars are present from early spring to July and feed on marsh mallow roots. The overwintering stage is the egg (1).

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Marsh mallow moth range

Following a decline that started in 1966 (3), this moth is currently restricted to three sites in the Romney Marsh to Rye area on the border between Sussex and Kent, and a site in Kent on the bank of the river Medway (4). In Europe, the species occurs in only a few scattered sites (2).

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Marsh mallow moth habitat

The foodplant, marsh mallow, grows in damp, low-lying places along watercourses, field margins and ditches (4).

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Marsh mallow moth status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).

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Marsh mallow moth threats

The main reason for the decline of this species seems to be loss of the foodplant resulting from repeated mechanised ditch clearance, drainage, herbicide use and overgrazing (2). In addition to this, the Marsh Mallow moth is at the limit of its range in Britain, which may make it vulnerable to climatic factors (3).

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Marsh mallow moth conservation

The Marsh Mallow moth has been targeted by the UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) as a priority for conservation action. Both remaining populations occur within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and the population of the marsh mallow foodplant has been supplemented with reintroductions that may allow the moth population to increase (2).

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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Find out more

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.

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Authentication

Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.

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Glossary

Single-brooded
(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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References

  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. East Sussex County Council. The lepidoptera of Rye Bay (December 2001): http://www.yates.clara.net/lepidoptera.html
  4. Clancy, S. (2002). Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Marsh Mallow  
Marsh Mallow

© Paul Waring

Paul Waring
Windmill View
1366 Lincoln Road
Werrington
Peterborough
PE4 6LS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1733 571 917
paul_waring@btinternet.com

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