Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Nb

Local Status: Rare and very local resident.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: Jun-Jul.

Forewing: M 34-42mm., F 44-48mm.

Foodplant: Mainly Poplar and Willow spp. and various deciduous trees.

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 recorded193519851935
Year last recorded201020062010
Number of records29874
Number of individuals291180
Unique positions20550
Unique locations20550
Adult records23454
Immature records6420

For the region, we have a total of 74 records from 50 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1935.


0162 Goat Moth 05
© Les Hill
0162 Goat Moth 04
© Les Hill
0162 Goat Moth 03
© David Kingman
0162 Goat Moth 02
© Phyl England 12 Jun 2007
0162 Goat Moth 01 larva
© Phyl England 03 Sep 2010

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A local and decreasing species in the British Isles, the larva living up to five years inside a wide variety of deciduous trees. A colony can occasionally destroy its host. The caterpillar exudes a strong goat like scent, a polyphenol called cossine (C16H24O2) that can be detected down-wind of an infected tree, and is reputed to be distasteful to birds (MOGBI Vol 2). When full grown (up to 100 mm long), the caterpillar is occasionally encountered well away from its host tree as it seeks a place to pupate, although pupation usually takes place within its host. The caterpillar spends its final winter in the larval state within a strong cocoon. The moth is sometimes observed at 'sugar' bait apparently attracted by one or more of the sugar ingredients. Without a tongue it is difficult to understand how the moth might benefit from such behaviour, but as cossine is a complex alcohol, the alcohol within the 'sugar' may attract the moth.

In Dorset, the moth was regarded as "generally distributed and not uncommon in the larval state when it could be occasionally fatally destructive to poplar planted for roadside ornament" (per W Parkinson Curtis manuscript). However, with fewer reports of the species in recent years, the declining trend nationally seems to be mirrored across the county. The few larval records in the past ten years or so, suggest a preference for oak (Quercus spp.), birch (Betula spp.) and sallow (Salix spp.) in deciduous woodland on sandy soil. An interesting observation by Brigadier H Warry at Upwey in 1953, related the occurrence of a freshly emerged female on the lawn ten yards from the nearest tree followed two days later by a freshly emerged male in the same place, and surmised infestation of the root of the tree. Conservation measures should include the retention of viable areas of mature oak-birch-sallow woodland on sites managed for conservation.

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