Status and Distribution
Locally common in England and Wales, more local in Northern England, central and eastern Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland; scarce in western and northern Scotland. The species demonstrates a coastal bias in much of the western and northern parts of its range.
Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs
Atriplex spp. (orache) and Chenopodium spp. (goosefoot (part)), including Atriplex glabriuscula (babington's orache), A. halimus (sea orache, VC10, Dr D T Biggs, 2003), A. littoralis (grass-leaved orache), A. patula (common orache), A. portulacoides (sea purslane), A. prostrata (spear-leaved orache), Chenopodium album agg. (fat-hen), C. giganteum (tree spinach) R Edmunds VC53 2020, Chenopodiastrum murale (nettle-leaved goosefoot) VC23 2010, Lipandra polysperma (many-seeded goosefoot) and Oxybasis rubra (red goosefoot). The foodplant map shows Atriplex patula as it is one of the most frequently used larval foodplants, together with Chenopodium album agg.
In Europe it has also been reported from Atriplex sagittata, Bassia scoparia (summer-cypress), Spinacia sp. and Amaranthus sp.
Finding the Moth
Larva: the large white blotch-mines are readily located and can occasionally be abundant in suitable localities.
Adult: can be swept from amongst the larval foodplants amongst which it flies in sunny or cloudy, humid conditions; will occasionally come to light. The moth has on occasions been found in numbers in agricultural polytunnels.
Although a small moth for the family, the short and relatively broad dark purplish-grey forewings with varying extents of ochreous yellow spots or streaks make this a distinctive species.
Usually double brooded, from the end of April to mid-June and from late July to the end of August. In some years a presumed third brood has been noted from early September to mid-October. There have been a significant number (c10% of adult sightings) recorded during early and mid July from across the British Isles suggesting that broods and flight periods may vary according to the season, altitude and microclimate.