Status and Distribution
Widespread and common over most of England and south east and north east Wales, becoming local to very local in south west and northern England, the remainder of Wales and the Channel Islands. Those records from the extremes of its range are mostly historic suggesting there has perhaps been a slight contraction of range in the last 100 years or so. Rare in Ireland and Northern Ireland and apparently absent from Scotland and Isle of Man.
Foodplant and Larval Feeding Signs
Crataegus spp. (hawthorn), see plant distribution map, Prunus spinosa (blackthorn), Sorbus aucuparia (rowan, in Lancashire 2008 and 2015, Ben Smart) and Cotoneaster horizontalis (wall cotoneaster). Bred once from Juniperus communis (juniper).
In Europe also found on Amelanchier ovalis (snowy mespilus), Malus domestica (apple), Prunus domestica (wild plum), Pyrus communis (pear) and Sorbus aria (whitebeam).
Feeds between spun leaves. Small larvae have been found on blackthorn in VC38 in September 1994 and September 1995 suggesting they may overwinter in this stage and recommence feeding in the spring. An occasional second brood of adults occur in September so some larvae are able to complete their development in the summer.
Gardens, hedgerows, scrubland and open woodland.
Finding the Moth
Larval: spins two or more leaves together flatly and grazes through to the upper epidermis, causing conspicuous pale brownish blotches on the uppermost leaves.
Adult: rests by day on tree trunks (hawthorn, hazel and oak have been reported), fences or even occasionally walls, has been observed flying over low plants in early evening and flying at dusk, can be disturbed from hedgerows during the day, has been smoked from unspecified vegetation and comes readily to light in small numbers.
When fresh, the slate grey colouring of the forewing with two patches or lines of raised black scales (at one-quarter and, more extensively, at three-quarters) are distinctive. Some southern specimens have a slight pinkish grey hue whilst worn specimens with the greyer forewings can fade to pale greyish-brown. Dissection may be necessary once the moth has lost most or all of the black scales to avoid confusion with other grey or slightly pinkish grey species, such as Pseudotelphusa paripunctella and Teleiodes wagae, the latter of which has four black spots in an outwardly oblique row at two-fifths.
Mainly single brooded with the vast majority of records from early June to mid-August, in some years flying from mid-May. Across much of the moths range a few adults can be found from late August into early October indicating an occasional second brood. Earliest reports of this were in 1909 in Dublin but it does appear to be an increasingly frequent occurence since the start of the 21st Century.
Earliest: 5th May 1961 and 2014 (VC15 / VC14)
Latest: 8th October 2003 (VC60)