35.028 Brachmia blandella (Fabricius, 1798)

Status and Distribution

Widespread and common over much of southern, central and eastern England, eastern Wales and the Channel Islands. Local over the rest of Wales and more southern parts of northern England. There were some indications that the species was pushing northward during the late 1990s and the first few years of the 21st century but any expansion of range seems to have faltered. Apparently absent from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Scotland. A single 1970s record from central Scotland requires verification.

National Status: 

Common

Bradley & Fletcher no: 

866
Photo courtesy of UK Moths.
Photographer: Ian Kimber
Location: Shelley Whins, W. Yorks

Provisional Map

Maps updated with all data received by February 2016.

    Imago

    Brachmia blandella 2015 (Photo: B Smart) Brachmia blandella (Photo: B Smart) Brachmia blandella (Photo: G Riley)

     

    Set Specimens

    Brachmia blandella coll. 12.vi.2004 (pupa), em. 17.vi.2004, in withered flower of Ulex europaeus, Crownhill Down, Devon (Photo: R J Heckford)

    Dissection Group

    Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

    Ulex europaeus (common gorse), see plant distribution map; occasionally as a gall inquiline on Abies grandis (grand fir) or in the seed-heads of Cirsium palustre (marsh thistle).

    Within detached, withered gorse flowers lying amongst the spines of the bush, appearing to feed on the stamens, and on very small pods.

    Foodplant Map

    Habitat

    Utilises a wide range of habitats including grassland and woodland.

    Finding the Moth

    Larva: in captivity, intially, in a spinning on the broken ends of live gorse and, later, possibly on algae and small black fungi on the surface of dead plant material. In the wild after winter, in a spinning on detached, withered gorse flowers lying amongst the spines of large old bushes, appearing to feed on decaying stamens and very small pods. Full grown larva have been found feeding in live gorse flowers, spinning two together. It has also, on single occasions, been reared from collected insect galls on Abies grandis (grand fir) and from Cirsium palustre (marsh thistle) seed-heads.

    The final instar larva is similar to early instars of Agonopterix nervosa and, as with the Agonopterix larva, can wriggle in a rather violent manner, unusual in gelechiids. B. blandella larva are paler, a slightly different tone of brown to A. nervosa and do not grow longer than about 8mm. The most distinctive feature between the two is the dark brown or black, glossy, sclerotised ring around the base of the ventral prolegs in A. nervosa - this ring is translucent or, at most, very pale yellowish brown in B. blandella. The larva of Anarsia spartiella and Blastobasis adustella have also been found feeding in decaying gorse flowers. More details can be found in Heckford and Sterling, 2005 (see Publications - Published Papers).

    Adult: can be beaten from old, large gorse bushes, flies at dusk and comes readily to light.

    Similar Species

    When at rest, the rather triangular shape with pointed wings and the mottled pale-brown appearance make this a distinctive species.

    Larval Occurrence

    Larval Occurrence

    Flight Period

    Flight Period

    Single brooded from late June to early August. Has been found on a few occasions in mid- to late September.