Toadflax brocade moth (Calophasia lunula)

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Toadflax Brocade on pupa
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Toadflax brocade moth fact file

Toadflax brocade moth description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNoctuidae
GenusCalophasia (1)

Adult Toadflax Brocade moths are whitish-grey in colour with bluish-black markings (3), and are usually found at dusk visiting red valerian flowers (4). The caterpillar is yellow and black with irregular markings and has pale bluish-grey sides with black spots (5).

Size
Wingspan: 26-32 mm (1)
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Toadflax brocade moth biology

Two generations occur each year, one flies in May and June, the other in August, and these generations may overlap (4). Caterpillars occur between June and September (7); they are very colourful but are fairly well camouflaged when amongst their foodplant (1). The pupal stage overwinters inside a robust cocoon attached to objects such as walls and fence posts (4).

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Toadflax brocade moth range

This moth colonised Britain relatively recently (in 1950), but now appears to be in decline (1). It is found in a small number of sites along the Kent and Sussex coastline (6), and was historically recorded from Essex (6). The species has been observed in most European countries and has become established in North America following an introduction (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Toadflax brocade moth habitat

This species inhabits shingle and is occasionally found in verges at the side of roads, waste ground and gardens. In all cases it requires a source of the caterpillar foodplant. Caterpillars were originally noted to feed mainly on common (yellow) toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) growing in the open, but in recent years they seem to prefer the naturalised purple toadflax (Linaria purpurea). Pale toadflax (L. repens) and small toadflax (Chaenorhinum minus) have also been mentioned as British foodplants (7).

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Toadflax brocade moth status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).

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Toadflax brocade moth threats

As this moth is at the northern extreme of its range in the UK, it seems that climatic factors are the major reason that its distribution here is so restricted. In periods of poor weather, the range often decreases. In addition to this, the remaining coastal shingle habitat is under pressure from development and coastal defence work (2).

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Toadflax brocade moth conservation

The Roadflax Brocade has been targeted as a priority for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The Species Action Plan produced as part of this process aims to maintain the existing populations of the species. Some of the occupied sites occur within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), one of which is a candidate Special Area for Conservation (SAC), a site designation stemming from the EC Habitats Directive (2).

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

Further reading on moths:
Skinner, B. (1984) 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 Sarah Patton.

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Glossary

Cocoon
A sheath of silk, which is spun around the pupae of some insects (a pupa is a stage in 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).
Pupal stage
Stage in 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.
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References

  1. UK Moths (January 2002): http://www.ukmoths.force9.co.uk/
  2. UK BAP Species Action Plan (January 2002): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  3. Lyneborg, L. (1975) Moths in colour. Blandford Press, Dorset.
  4. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  5. South, R. (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., London.
  6. Butterfly Conservation (January 2002): http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/ne/news/mww/
  7. Patton, S. (2002) Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Toadflax Brocade on pupa  
Toadflax Brocade on pupa

© 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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