35.110 Scrobipalpa pauperella (Heinemann, 1870)

Status and Distribution

Rare, with recent records from regular records from a single site only.

First found in June 1972 and again in June 1973, at Chippenham Fen NNR, Cambridgeshire. More recent searches for larvae and adults at this site failed to produce any additional signs and it was subsequently considered extinct in the British Isles.

In 2013, several specimens of an unknown Scrobipalpa attracted to light in mid-West Yorkshire (VC64) from 2011 onwards were critically examined and found to refer to this species. In late July 2018 a photograph of the male genitalia of a moth from Ashridge, Bucks (VC24), dated 18/6/2013 and originally thought to refer to S. obsoletella, was seen on the dissection group website and thought likely to be S. pauperella. This identity was subsequently kindly confirmed by H. Beaumont and C. Fletcher.

National Status: 


Bradley & Fletcher no: 


Provisional Map

Maps updated with all data received by February 2018.


    Set Specimens





    Scrobipalpa pauperella, Yorks 2014 (Photo: C Fletcher)

    Male genitalia

    Dissection Group

    Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

    Foodplant unknown in Britain.

    In Europe, the moth is associated with various species of Asteraceae (Compositae), such as Centaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed), Cirsium palustre (marsh thistle), Cirsium helenioides and Petatsites albus (white butterbur). It is also possibly associated with Serratula tinctoria (saw-wort). It feeds in the stem of greater knapweed and mines along the midrib of the leaves in marsh thistle.

    Larvae on Cirsium palustre (marsh thistle) collected during searches for this species at Chippenham Fen produced only Scrobipalpa acuminatella and no Centaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed) was found anywhere near the 1972/3 capture site.


    Scrobipalpa pauperella habitat, Yorks 2014 (Photo: C Fletcher)

    Fenland at the Cambridgeshire site. The Yorkshire site is an area of mature mixed woodland with open areas of herb rich magnesian grassland containing several small ponds formed largely of bomb craters on this MOD site.  The moths were light trapped near one of the wetter parts of the site.

    Finding the Moth

    Larva: fenland areas in Cambridgeshire where the possible larval foodplant, marsh thistle, occurs would be worth further investigation. Checks at the Yorkshire have failed to turn up any signs of larval feeding so far.

    Adult: in Europe the moth has been noted flying about marsh thistle.


    Similar Species

    The British specimens found to date closely resemble dark forms of Scrobipalpa acuminatella but have slightly more slender forewings and the black spots are more distinctly surrounded with orange brown. In Europe, the forewing colour of S. pauperella varies from nearly fuscous to more or less orange brown depending on the ammount of orange scales. If S. pauperella is suspected, retention of a voucher specimen from the original or any new site is considered essential.

    Larval Occurrence

    Larval Occurrence

    Flight Period

    Flight Period

    Possibly single-brooded, in June, but insufficient data is currently available to make a definitive judgement. In Europe it is considered probably bivoltine with records from April to early June and again in July and August.

    Earliest: 25th May 2011 (VC64).

    Latest: 8th July 2011 (VC64).