35.119 Scrobipalpa samadensis (Stainton, 1883)

Status and Distribution

The most widespread of the coastal Scrobipalpa species. Very local to rare from Lincolnshire to Sussex becoming local to locally common in most of the remaining coastal areas around the British Isles. Any large gaps in distribution are more likely to be down to under-recording than the total absence of the moth. Recorded once from an upland area in the Highlands of Scotland.

National Status: Nationally Scarce B
Bradley & Fletcher no: 811
Photographer: © T Tams

Provisional map


Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs


Plantago coronopus, (buck's-horn plantain), see plant distribution map, Plantago maritima (sea plantain) and also reported from Plantago lanceolata (ribwort plantain).

Causes wilting and greying of the leaves with frass in the centre of the plants and occasionally spinning leaves together.


Scrobipalpa samadensis habitat, Burrows Marsh, Lancs (Photo: S M Palmer  Scrobipalpa samadensis habitat, Red Wharf Bay July 2013 (Photo: S M Palmer)

Mainly associated with saltmarshes but occasionally on sandhills and vegetated coastal shingle. To date there has been only one confirmed inland records of this species in the British Isles (in Highland Scotland) but in Europe it is known to occur in dry grassland at levels in excess of 2000m.

Finding the Moth

Larva: being primarily a root feeder, the plant shows signs of wilting and greying leaves, a withered centre to the plant sometimes with gingery frass. Also found spinning two leaves together on sea plantain and eating the parenchyma. In Europe the initial feeding is reported as a long and narrow mine in the leaf in which it probably hibernates followed by the feeding in the upper rootstock.

Adult: can be disturbed from amongst the foodplant during the day in warm conditions and later comes readily to all forms of light.

Similar Species

Shows quite considerable individual and geographical variation, with specimens of Scrobipalpa atriplicella, S. instabilella, S. nitentella and S. stangei all having been found in collections labelled as S. samadensis. Dissection is therefore recommended until familiarity is built up with the look of the specimens at particular sites.

April, May, July, August
June, July, August

Single or possibly double brooded. The extensive set of records on the scheme database (300) indicate the moth flies from the end of May through to early September with a fairly steady build up in numbers to a peak in the first half of August. The couple of late September records are, perhaps significantly, from the mild climate of the Scilly Isles although there are no corresponding late records from the Channel Islands. Larval records received to date all relate to the period mid-March to the end of May suggestive of a single extended brood.

E. R. Bankes, in his 1894 paper in the Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (30:82), reported it as double brooded from June to July and again in August to September. The larval feeding periods were given as April to May and July to August, however he also noted he and W. H. B. Fletcher had only met with the first brood larvae and that it was solely Mr. Richardson's experience of regular second brood larvae he was quoting.

Earliest: 15th May 1997 (VC9) and 2016 (VC1).

Latest: 27th September 1957 (VC1)