Sussex emerald moth (Thalera fimbrialis)

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Sussex Emerald
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Sussex emerald moth fact file

Sussex emerald moth description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyGeometridae
GenusThalera (1)

This moth was given the common name 'Sussex Emerald' because it was first identified in Britain at Beachy Head in Sussex in 1902. Adults are an attractive pale green colour with reddish flecks at the edges of the wings. The forewings are crossed by two wavy white lines, and the hindwings have just one cross-line (1). The striking caterpillars are yellow-green in colour with a red line along the back, which may occur as a row of dots. Two spikes that are tipped with red protrude out from the body and reach over the head, which is drawn into two points (3).

Size
Wingspan: 35- 39 mm (1)
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Sussex emerald moth biology

The Sussex Emerald is a single-brooded species; adults are active in July and early August and fly just after nightfall (1). The caterpillars are found towards the end of August through to the June of the following year, with a period of hibernation in winter (1). They are known to feed on yarrow, gorse and a range of other low-growing plants (1), but the majority are found on wild carrot (4).

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Sussex emerald moth range

At present the Sussex Emerald is known from just one site, Dungeness; the largest stretch of shingle in Europe. It is now extinct as a resident breeding species at the Crumbles near Eastborne in Sussex. There are single records of strays or migrants from Dorset, Swanage, Bournemouth, Hampshire, Essex, Beachy Head, and Northiam in Sussex. This species is known throughout central Europe, and the range extends east to central Asia (1).

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Sussex emerald moth habitat

At present, this moth is only recorded on one shingle beach in Britain (1).

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Sussex emerald moth status

Afforded full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (2).

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Sussex emerald moth threats

The species is a recent colonist in the UK (5), where it is at the north-western extreme of its range (6).

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Sussex emerald moth conservation

Dungeness is a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Very little active management is needed at the site to preserve the habitat for native flora and fauna (7). The Sussex Emerald moth is not a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species.

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Find out more

Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B. (1984) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth

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Authentication

Information authenticated by David Walker.

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Glossary

Hibernation
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal's metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is 'diapause', a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
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) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
  2. JNCC (12/2001): http://www.jncc.gov.uk/species/protect/animals.htm
  3. Carter, D.J. and Hargreaves, B. (1986) A field guide to caterpillars of butterflies and moths. William Collins and Sons, London.
  4. Walker, D (2002) Pers. comm.
  5. South, R. (1961) Moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd, London.
  6. Pers. observation from image.
  7. British Energy (12/2001): http://www.british-energy.com/environment/annual00_she/site_reports/mn_dungeness_land.shtml
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Image credit

Sussex Emerald  
Sussex Emerald

© Roy Leverton

Roy Leverton
Whitewells
Ordiquhill
Cornhill
Banffshire
AB45 2HS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1466 751 252

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