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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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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