35.057 Metzneria littorella (Douglas, 1850)

Status and Distribution

Rare, recorded only from two coastal areas in England (in East Sussex and the Isle of Wight) and one in the Channel Islands (Guernsey).


National Status: pRDB 1
Bradley & Fletcher no: 723
Photographer: ©S Palmer
Location: Niton, IOW

Provisional map


Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs

Plantago coronopus Niton IOW 2013 (Photo: © S Palmer)

Plantago coronopus (buck’s-horn plantain), see plant distribution map.

There are no obvious external signs of feeding damage. A slight compression or tightening of the empty seed husks against the stem occurs as the larva matures. With a hand lens, fine grains of sand or grit are visible affixed to the silken tube attached to the stem.


Metzneria littorella habitat Niton IOW 2013 (Photo: © S Palmer)

South facing, sparsely vegetated soft rock under-cliff and landslips where vegetation has started to recolonise.

Finding the Moth

Larva: feeds on the seeds from beneath a dense silken tube fixed against the central stalk of a seedhead from September to March. The larva cuts an elongate hole in the stem and spins a dense but very thin cocoon in the stem, usually just below the seed-head, for pupation from March to early May.

Adult: can be disturbed amongst the foodplant during the day, its small size and shape being reminiscent of a Coleophorid.

Similar Species

Its small size and the greyish white forewing colour, speckled black, with two pale ochre-yellow stripes, readily distinguish this species from other members of the genus.

January, February, March, July, August, September, October, November, December
May, June

Single-brooded from late April to mid June.

Earliest: 1st May 1993 (VC113).

Latest: 23rd June 2006 (VC14).