Wednesday 15 May
Northern dart moth (Xestia alpicola alpina)
Northern dart moth fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Northern dart moth description
The form of the Northern Dart moth found in Britain (Xestia alpicola alpina), is considered to be a different race or 'subspecies' from that which occurs in mainland Europe (4). Adults are silvery grey, with blackish and reddish patches on the forewings (5). The caterpillar has wrinkled skin, is dark reddish-brown in colour with a brown head, and three pale lines and two rows of black dashes along the back (3).Top
Northern dart moth biology
Although adults have been seen flying during the day, they normally fly very late at night (2). This is a single-brooded species, and adults are on the wing between late June and August (2). The eggs are laid in July, and the caterpillars emerge during the same month (3). They hide in mosses and lichens close to the foodplants (3) crowberry, ling, bilberry and bearberry, and feed on fresh young shoots (4). The caterpillars take two years to develop, overwintering twice before pupating during May (3). This species has a biennial rhythm, perhaps driven by parasitic wasps (6), so adults are typically seen only in alternate years (2).Top
Northern dart moth range
The subspecies alpina occurs in parts of Scotland, the north of England and north-western Ireland (4). The main breeding areas are located in the Cairngorms, Loch Rannoch, and Cumbria (4). It has also been found on Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Isles, and formerly on Shetland (4).Top
Northern dart moth habitatTop
Northern dart moth status
Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (4).Top
Northern dart moth threats
Already limited to the tops of mountains in northern Britain, this species will have nowhere else to go if global warming affects its habitat (6).Top
Northern dart moth conservation
A number of the sites supporting this moth are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or National Nature Reserves (NNRs) (4). Furthermore, it is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP); as such, a Species Action Plan has been published in order to guide its conservation. This plan aims to maintain the current range of the Northern Dart (4). In addition, English Nature has included this subspecies in its Species Recovery Programme.Top
Find out more
Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Viking, London.
Information authenticated by Roy Leverton.Top
- The process of becoming a pupa, the stage of an insect's development, when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
- (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.
- A different race of a species, which is geographically separated from other populations of that species.
- National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
- Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Viking, London.
- Carter, D. J. & Hargreaves, B. (1986) Field guide to the caterpillars of butterflies and moths in Britain and Europe. William Collins Sons & Co, London.
- UK BAP Species Action Plan (September 2002): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
- Personal observation from ARKive images.
- Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.