Species Account

Select species and region:



Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Nb

Local Status: Very rare and restricted resident.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: Aug-Sep.

Forewing: 16-18mm.

Foodplant: Creeping Willow, other sand-dune plants.

IMPORTANT - Please note that the maps and accounts are provisional, subject to change and further update.  The whole dataset still needs to go through the final verification process and it is likely that a very small number of records will not satisfy the present requirements and there are other records that have not been formally submitted.  The information is for guidance only.

Record breakdown:

Year first recorded19291929
Year last recorded19951995
Number of records4998
Number of individuals74148
Unique positions1632
Unique locations918
Adult records4998
Immature records00

For the region, we have a total of 98 records from 18 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1929.


2099 Portland Moth 01
© Paul Harris

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A very local species confined to sandy coasts in Britain, the larva feeding nocturnally on creeping willow (Salix repens) and on sand dune plants, and then hiding in a burrow in the sand by day. In Europe, the moth also inhabits gravelly river shingle. The name of the moth was coined following the capture of a specimen by the Duchess of Portland, indeed, historically, a colony existed on Chesil Beach and it is possible that the original moth hailed from this colony. Until recently, it has been headquartered on the dune slacks at Studland, although the last record from this locality was eighteen years ago. Creeping willow is locally frequent on bogs in the Poole Basin, but rare on dune slacks. Given the increasing human pressures on sand dune habitat and their flora plus the scarcity of creeping willow on Studland, it is understandable that the species has declined to the point of extinction in recent years on this SSSI. Singletons trapped elsewhere in the Poole Basin are likely to have been wanderers from Studland. The Hengistbury Head record from the early part of the last century hints at a colony on the dune systems located there at that time, but regular trapping in recent years has failed to yield a single specimen. Before 1950, an extensive sand dune system over a kilometer in length, existed between Friar's Cliff and Mudeford, and untrampled sand dunes were established at Hengistbury Head. Conservation measures for this species are equivalent to those discussed for Sand Dart, and this species should also be explicitly referenced in the National Trust management plans for the Studland and Brownsea Island SSSIs. Non-Studland records follow: Portland, (Duchess of Portland), Chesil Beach, in 1843 (E Curtis, C Dale), Ballard Down (Reverend E Bankes), Sandbanks, (W Parkinson-Curtis et al), Furzebrook, at MV light on 3 July 1976, 5 July 1976 (Professor N Webb), Arne Wood, at MV light on 25 August 1970, 17 August 1971, 24 August 1971, 25 August 1971, 25 June 1987 (B Pickess), Brownsea Island, at MV light on 20 August 1965, 12 July and two on 6 August 1967, 6 and 9 August 1985 (A Bromby), Hengistbury Head, at light on 24 August 1929 (R Demuth).

The record below is the only example seen west of Purbeck for more than a century, and is likely to have been an immigrant. There is an outside chance that the individual may have originated from Studland but its absence there since 1991 plus a hot east to south-easterly airflow up to the time of capture, suggests a primary immigrant. The species is found over much of northern Europe and Scandinavia: Portland, at MV on 1 August 1995 (M Cade).

See background to species accounts.  Index of Vernacular names - Search - Random Species