35.106 Gelechia turpella ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)

Status and Distribution

Rare, restricted to several widely scattered locations to the south and east of a line from the River Severn to the Humber Estuary. Although discovered in Wiltshire for the first time in 2014, most records relate to sightings with a more easterly bias. Since 1990, the moth has been located in only four counties (Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Wiltshire). 

Recent research has suggested that the historic records from Somerset are best treated as unverified and that the sole record from Hampshire relates to Gelechia nigra and not G. turpella (R. J. Heckford pers. comm.). The provisional distribution map for this species will be updated in April 2017 to reflect these changes but the recent records from Wiltshire mean the unconfirmed Somerset records may need to be reconsidered in the future.

National Status: 

pRDB 2

Bradley & Fletcher no: 

807

Provisional Map

Maps updated with all data received by February 2016.

    Imago

    Set Specimens

    Gelechia turpella (Photo: R J Heckford)

    Dissection Group

    Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

    Lombardy Poplar, foodplant of Gelechia turpella, Wiltshire (Photo: S Covey)

    Populus nigra (black poplar), see plant distribution map, including var. italica (lombardy poplar). Found resting on a Salix fragilis (crack willow) trunk in Kent suggesting this may also be a possible foodplant. In Europe also reported from Populus pyramidalis (bolle's poplar), P. balsamifera (balsam poplar) and P. laurifolia (laurel poplar).

    On the continent the larva feeds between rolled leaves. At a site in Kent on lombardy poplars, recently vacated upward spun pods, with only the inner surfaces consumed, were found with larva nearby apparently having moved there ready to pupate.

    Foodplant Map

    Habitat

    Gelechia turpella habitat, Wiltshire (Photo: S Covey)

    On the edges of deciduous wooded areas and on older, well established lines of poplars on the edges of roads, parks and large gardens.

    Finding the Moth

    Larva: in Europe, reported to feed within joined or rolled leaves of the foodplant. At a site in Kent, where larvae were found nearby under bark, poplar leaves had been spun upward into pods and only the inner surface was consumed. Although these were all vacated it was felt they may well have been constructed by G. turpella larva.

    Adult: most often recorded when found on the trunks of old poplars where it can be well concealed and will run rapidly on the surface of the tree if disturbed. Also comes to light on occasions.

    Similar Species

    A large, dark brown species which can superficially resemble Hofmannophila pseudospretella when observed resting on tree trunks. The obvious blackish-brown triangular tufts on the front of segment two of the palps and the narrower forewings readily distinguish it from that species. Gelechia muscosella and G. cuneatella are generally smaller but there is some overlap in size. Both have a slightly narrower and more elongate wing shape than G. turpella while G. muscosella lacks the distinctive triangular brown scales on segment two of the palps. Dissection may be needed to separate this group if the specimen is particularly worn.

    Larval Occurrence

    Larval Occurrence

    Flight Period

    Flight Period

    Single brooded in July. There are a few historic records with reports of the moth occurring at the end of May and in early June but it has not been possible to rule out the possibility that they were bred specimens.

    Earliest: 24th June 1998 VC17

    Latest: 9th August 1955 VC15