Grey Birch Geometridae

Aethalura punctulata (Denis & Schiff., 1775)

Description: Wingspan 30-35mm. The ground colour of the forewings is generally whitish grey and suffused with darker grey giving a mottled appearance. There are three cross-lines near the costa, which are sometimes indistinct.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Not known in N. Ireland, Skinner gives May and June as the flight period on the mainland.

Status: A rare species that has not been seen for many years; previously recorded by Langham at Demesne Lough Tempo in 1936 and Rostrevor Oakwood by Johnson around the same time. Increased fieldwork during the 1990s (especially in the south and west) failed to find this species. Its long-term absence does not necessarily mean it has become extinct, but the lack of any real proof in recent times makes it difficult to confirm its present status. Increased fieldwork over the last several years, especially in west Fermanagh and the birch woodlands in north Armagh may well prove successful as it has so frequently in the past for other notable species.

Ecology: A species normally associated with woodland, especially were birch is well established. According to Skinner, adults are attracted to light and can occasionally be found by day at rest on the trunks of trees and fence posts. There have been a few recent records claiming to be this species, however no genuine specimens exist to substantiate these claims. In southern Ireland it occurs in Cos. Kerry, Galway and Wicklow. The larvae can be found in July and August on birch or occasionally on alder Alnus glutinosa. It overwinters in the pupal stage.

World Distribution: Throughout Europe, eastern Siberia and Japan.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1951 Agassiz number: 70.274

Additional information:

UK Moths account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland