Neglected Rustic Noctuidae

Xestia castanea (Esper, 1796)

Description: Wingspan 36-38 mm. Forewings reddish brown with poorly-defined stigmata and crosslines and small prominent dark-coloured dot in the upper half of the forewing. Hindwings fuscous brown with a paler fringe and fine red line.

Similar Species: Square-spot Rustic X. xanthographa, which has a paler hindwing and lacks the dark-coloured dot in the forewing.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: The few N. Ireland records have been between mid August and early September. With so little information on this species it is difficult to provide an accurate flight period. Skinner gives August and September as the main flight period in Britain.

Status: Described by Donovan (1936) as being rare in Ireland and only reported a few times in the last 20 years. The most recent record is from Davagh Forest, Tyrone. Other N. Ireland sites are Murlough Bay near Fair Head and Aghalee, Antrim, Monastir Glen, Fermanagh and Argory Moss, Armagh. There is also an old record for Coleraine Londonderry.

Ecology: A heathland species. Adults are attracted to light and to the flowers of Heather Calluna vulgaris. They will often rest during the day concealed amongst the lower branches of Heather. The larvae feed from October until late spring on willow Salix spp. and Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna. It overwinters as a larva.

World Distribution: Western Europe from Portugal to Scandinavia.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2132 Agassiz number: 73.355

Additional information:

UK Moths account

Caterpillar: 

 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland
http://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/lepidoptera/species.asp?item=6223

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