Status and Distribution
Formerly found at two locations in Norfolk and one in Suffolk and was last seen in West Norfolk in 1971. Searches at this last location from the late 1980s onwards, where the foodplant is still present, have failed to relocate the moth and it is now considered extinct in the British Isles. A record from Monk Haven, Pembrokeshire has not been possible to confirm and is thought to have been entered in error but the food-plant does occur in that county.
Photographs of a set male and female can be seen on the Natural History Museum, Cockayne collection website:
Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs
These two photographs are of feeding signs on a Verbascum sp. in France.
Verbascum pulverulentum (hoary mullein), see plant distribution map. In Europe reported from Verbascum densiflorum (dense-flowered mullein), V. phlomoides (orange mullein) and V. thapsus (great mullein).
Before extinction in Britain, larva could be found throughout the year, initially gregariously on undeveloped leaves in the centre of the plant. In the spring newly emerged larvae were found feeding on younger leaves or boring into stalks or stems, while the over-wintered larvae fed under the larger lower leaves in a silken web.
Formerly found on disturbed ground such as gravel-pits and quarries (the plants original 'natural' habitat is on coastal shingle).
Finding the Moth
Searches of sites where the foodplant still occurs in any abundance would be worthwhile at any time of year for the larvae.
A distinctive pale buff moth with a single prominent black spot on the forewing at two-thirds. Not likely to be confused with any other species.
This species was possibly double-brooded before becoming extinct in Britain with adults emerging from May to September and with peaks in June and September. The September moths are smaller than those in June. There was insufficient data on adults observed in the wild with most records relating to bred specimens.