35.041 Bryotropha desertella (Douglas, 1850)

Status and Distribution

Local to very local, in sandy coastal areas throughout much of the British Isles. Rare in northern Scotland occuring as far north as the Orkney Isles. Inland records are rare and associated with dry sandy areas, such as The Brecks, or disused sand-pits although the only area with any records post 2000 inland is in East Anglia suggesting many of the old sites have been lost.

National Status: 

Nationally Scarce B

Bradley & Fletcher no: 

786
Photo courtesy of UK Moths.
Photographer: Phil Boggis
Location: Penhale Sands, Cornwall

Provisional Map

Maps updated with all data received by February 2016.

    Imago

    Bryotropha desertella Glamorganshire 2015 (Photo: C M Manley)

    Larva

    Bryotropha desertella larva (Photo R J Heckford)

    Set Specimens

    Bryotropha desertella coll. 18.iii.2009, em. 10.v.2009, Syntrichia ruralis ssp ruraliformis, Braunton Burrows, Devon  (Photo: R J Heckford)

    Dissection Group

    Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

    Syntrichia ruraliformis (sand-hill screw-moss), Homalothecium (Hypnum) lutescens (yellow feather-moss) and Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (springy turf-moss).

    The larva feeds in whitish silken tubes incorporating some sand grains within the moss.

    Foodplant Map

    Habitat

    In sandy coastal areas, particularly sparsely vegetated open duneland and also, rarely, inland in sandy areas.

    Finding the Moth

    Larva: in whitish silken tubes incorporating some sand grains within the moss foodplant.

    Adult: can be disturbed during the day and comes to light.

    Similar Species

    B. desertella lacks the coppery brown gloss of B. terrella, the latter usually being slightly larger and with broader forewings (wingspan 11-15mm in B. desertella as opposed to 14-16.5mm in B. terrella). In coastal dunes, B. desertella is usually smaller than B. terrella and B. politella but there is some size overlap. Inland, B. desertella is usually larger and can be darker than on the coast making it difficult to separate from B. terrella. Dissection is strongly recommended if there is any doubt, particularly if an inland B. desertella is suspected. Further information on comparisons with B. politella and B. terrella can be found under those species.

    Larval Occurrence

    Larval Occurrence

    Flight Period

    Flight Period

    Single brooded from mid-May to late August.

    Earliest: one exceptionally early record of 15th April 2004 (VC25); next, at same location, 13th May 2006.

    Latest: 10th September 2006 (VC48)