35.063 Psamathocrita argentella Pierce & Metcalfe, 1942

Status and Distribution

Endemic to the British Isles. Only known from several coastal locations within Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and West Sussex where it can be locally common. It has very occasionally been attracted to light a few kilometres inland and, on one occasion, turned up c40km north of its closest known coastal breeding site.

National Status: 

pRDB 2

Bradley & Fletcher no: 

750a

Provisional Map

Maps updated with all data received by February 2016.

    Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

    Psamathocrita argentella (Photo: J R Langmaid)

    Elytrigia atherica (sea couch), see plant distribution map.

    The larva can be found from mid-July to early September on the developing flower and seed extruding whitish frass which can sometimes be seen adhering to the spikelet.

    Foodplant Map

    Habitat

    Psamathocrita argentella habitat, Hants., June 2013 (Photo: S M Palmer)  Psamathocrita argentella habitat, Hants., June 2013 (Photo: S M Palmer)  Psamathocrita argentella habitat Hants 2014 (Photo: S Palmer)

    Southern coastal saltmarshes where the foodplant, sea couch, occurs.

    Finding the Moth

    Larva: developing flowers and seeds should be searched for the presence of adhering white frass.

    Adult: flies mainly at dawn but also at dusk where it has been seen running up the grass stems and resting with wings open. It has also been observed flying around the foodplant after heavy rain at 1630hrs in good numbers. On occasions females can be found with their ovipositors trapped in the grass spikelets by the stiff scale-like glumes and lemmas.

    Similar Species

    Similar in size, shape and markings to Psamathcrita osseella from which it is best separated by dissection.

    It may be possible to differentiate the two by examination of the underside of the abdomen which is reddish-buff in P. osseella and whitish in P. argentella but this has not been tested in the field. The speces looks rather Elachista-like in shape and size, the hindwing shape being the best way to identify it as a Gelechiid.

    Larval Occurrence

    Larval Occurrence

    Flight Period

    Flight Period

    Single brooded, from mid-June to mid-July although this is based on a limited number of records (18).

    Earliest: 13th June 1987 (VC11)

    Latest: 12th July 1985 (VC10)