Sandhill rustic moth (Luperina nickerlii leechi)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNoctuidae
GenusLuperina (1)
SizeWingspan: 32-42 mm (2)

Classified as Endangered in Great Britain (3).

There are four races, or subspecies of the Sandhill Rustic moth in Great Britain (3). Luperina nickerli leechi has silvery-grey forewings, and a brownish band passing across the centre of the wings (2).

This race of the Sandhill Rustic was first found in 1974. It has an extremely restricted range, occurring only in one small site in the south-west of Cornwall (3).

Inhabits a sand and shingle beach (3).

All races of the Sandhill Rustic are nocturnal and single-brooded; adults fly in August and September. They are not attracted by light, but are more likely to be found resting on the stems of the foodplant (2), sand couch-grass (Elytrigia juncea) (4). Caterpillars are present between September and early July, feeding in the stem bases and the tops of the roots of the food plant (2). The overwintering stage is the caterpillar (2).

As it occurs at just one site, the population is exceptionally vulnerable to chance events such as storms (3). However, the caterpillars are protected from winter gales because they live at first inside the stems of the foodplant. The other main threat is the encroachment onto the beach of thicker vegetation, especially red fescue grass, with the loss of open areas of bare sand suitable for Sandhill Rustic and sand couch-grass (5).

This race, along with Luperina nickerlii gueneei, another race that occurs in north Wales and Lancashire, is included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme.

For more on English Nature's Species Recovery Programme see:
http://www.english-nature.org.uk/science/srp/default.asp
Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B (1998) Moths of the British Isles. Viking, London.

Information authenticated by Adrian Spalding.

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Viking, London.
  3. Shirt, D. B. (Ed). (1987) British Red Data Books: 2 Insects. Nature Conservancy Council, Peterborough.
  4. Spalding, A. (1994) The Sandhill Rustic- The Unanswered Questions. British Wildlife6: 37-39.
  5. Spalding, A. (1997) The use of the butterfly transect method for the study of the nocturnal moth Luperina nicklerii Goater (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and its possible application to other species. Biological Conservation, 80: 147-152.