This rare moth has pale buff underwings and, as its name suggests, orange forewings, delicately marked with darker lines and dots. It could easily be confused with the much commoner Orange Sallow Xanthia citrago, especially as both are attracted to sugared lures.
The Orange Upperwing has declined in numbers drastically in recent years, having been recorded from central, southern and south-western England, with occasional records from Wales. However, by 1980 it had become restricted to Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Shropshire and South Wales. Its last definite record was in 1984, from Sussex, although an unconfirmed record was reported from Hampshire. The Orange Upperwing is scarce but widely distributed in Europe and North Africa.
The moth is an open woodland or woodland-edge species, particularly associated with small or coppiced trees that retain their leaves over winter, as the adult moths overwinter within withered leaves left on the tree.
The Orange Upperwing moth is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans (UK BAP), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. As with all rare or endangered species, it is important to conduct surveys to determine the status of this moth and, having evaluated the results, it may be appropriate to undertake reintroductions into suitably restored habitats on a range of former sites across southern and south-western England and in Wales. It is also vital that all sites where re-establishment is proposed are appropriately managed and this type of woodland habitat increased through the uptake of woodland grants.
Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management in which trees are cut close to the base of the trunk. Re-growth occurs in the form of many thin poles. Coppiced woodlands are cut in this way on rotation, producing a mosaic of different stages of re-growth.
The footpaths and access tracks which run through and divide blocks of trees in woodland. Many rides contain a mixture of rich flora and structure, and provide different habitat conditions for a range of wildlife.
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