Status and Distribution
Very local in England, Wales and Ireland; not recorded from Scotland or the Channel Islands. The main concentration of records come from central and southern England, north-east England and western Ireland.
Records under this name from prior to 1982 may be referable to Syncopacma larseniella from which it can only be separated by dissection.
Bradley & Fletcher no:
Maps updated with all data received by February 2016.
Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs
Lotus corniculatus (common bird's-foot-trefoil), see plant distribution map, and possibly Genista species.
In Europe it is also reported to utilise Genista germanica, Genista tinctoria (dyer's greenweed), Lembotropis nigricans, Medicago ssp. (medicks) and Vicia cracca (tufted vetch).
The reports of feeding between joined/united leaves are based upon larvae found in Europe which were written prior to the separation of S. cinctella from S. larseniella.
Occurs on rough, dry ground often with calcareous soils. Specific locations include downland, limestone pavement, a golf course, and a former fly-ash tip covered with soil imported from a limestone area.
Finding the Moth
Larva: not recorded in Britain but believed to spin the leaves together
Adult: has been swept from suitable habitat and occasionally comes to light
There are six Syncopacma species that have the dark forewing and, to some extent or other, a white fascia - many are scarce and have a restricted distribution. The size of the moth together with the habitat and available larval foodplants will help to narrow down the options to some extent. Breeding to establish the association with a particular foodplant is strongly recommended and could add additional information on the range of foodplants utilised by some of this genus. There is some overlap in foodplant usage and if in doubt, bred specimens should also be dissected.
It has been suggested that the presence or absence of a curve to the white crossband can assist in identification of these species. This is not the case, as although S. larseniella normally has a straight line, both S. taeniolella and S. cinctella can have a straight or slightly inwardly curved fascia. This feature is therefore unsuitable on its own as an identification feature.
S. taeniolella, which also feeds on common bird's-foot-trefoil, usually has a narrow whitish fascia on the forewing underside, with a whitish spot or broken line on the underside of the hindwing. These features are not present in S. cinctella or other members of this genus. Any Syncopacma bred from common bird's-foot-trefoil without the white underside marking will require dissection to be identified with certainty. See photographs of S. taeniolella and S. larseniella forewing and hindwing undersides in 'Images' of the respective species.
S. cinctella may utilise some Genista sp. so the dissection of moths bred from this foodplant is also recommended.
S. cinctella and S. larseniella are the two most likely to cause confusion as they can be very similar externally. A lack of critical examination of specimens in the past and to some extent more recently has made it difficult to accurately assess the true distribution of these two species. Although S. cinctella is believed to be much more local and may well sometimes be associated with a different habitat, it is advised that habitat differences should not be used in isolation when making an identification until familiarity with the species present at a site has been ascertained by dissection and/or breeding.
Structurally, S. cinctella has a relatively narrow forewing which appears broader towards the end, whereas S. larseniella does not appear to be broader at the end. The pale fascia on the forewing (sometimes absent in S. cinctella) is sometimes slightly inwardly curved in S. cinctella but can be straight as in S. larseniella - this is difficult to judge in a live moth and all of these features are best looked for in set specimens. For the time being it appears safe to say that if the moth is bred from greater bird's-foot-trefoil then it will be S. larseniella.
Single brooded, during June and July.
Earliest: 21st May 2005 (VC44)
Latest: 29th July 2002 (VC8)