Status and Distribution
Widespread and common to locally common in England, Wales and the Channel Islands; widespread but local over much of the Scottish mainland, although apparently absent from the far north and much of the west; rare in the Scottish Islands having only been noted on Orkney. Very local in Ireland with the few records mainly from the west and Northern Ireland.
Bradley & Fletcher no:
Maps updated with all data received by February 2018.
Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs
Rumex acetosella (sheep's sorrel), see plant distribution map, and in 2012 and 2013 in Devon on Rumex acetosa (common sorrel).
In Europe also recorded from Rumex crispus (curled dock) and R. tingitanus.
Feeds from a silken gallery spun on the upper part of the roots, along the stem or occasionally amongst the seeds.
In many acidic habitats such as grassland and heaths; also found in coastal shingle where the foodplant occurs.
Finding the Moth
Larva: feeds in two generations (August to April and again during July and August) from a silken gallery spun on the upper part of the roots, along or burrowing into the stem or occasionally among the seeds. Seed-feeding from a spinning on the stem is reported to be undertaken by the larva of the spring generation. In Europe, the larva of the spring generation has been reported to occur in spun silken tubes amongst moss with threads to the leaves of the host plant.
Adult: most frequently encountered at light, sometimes in good numbers, flies late in the evening, can be swept or smoked from amongst the foodplant during the day. Has been noted flying over heather and amongst Teucrium scorodonia (wood sage).
A moderately large and quite variable Gelechiid (13 to 17mm) with slightly pointed wing tips to the forewings - the sometimes similar Chionodes distinctella has more rounded wing tips. The overall lightness or darknes of the forewing is dictated by the ammount of blackish, fuscous, ochreous or whitish scales present. In all but the darkest or worn specimens, the distinctive nature of the outwardly oblique fascia of raised black scales at one-quarter is definitive. Even in pale specimens there is usually a hint of these darker scales and sometimes one or two thin lines or streaks of darker scales, occasionally starting from about one third, but more usually from beyond half way to the termen. The females have more pointed tips to the hindwing than the males.
Double brooded; the moth having been found from the beginning of May to the end of September with a few later and earlier records. The peak flight periods are from late May to early July for the first brood and late July to late September for the second.
Earliest: 17th March 1977 (VC16). This record is mentioned in The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 4 (2) to suggest that the moth may occasionally over-winter as an adult. The next earliest is 22nd April 2010 (VC68).
Latest: 10th November 2002 (VC25)