Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Local

Local Status: Scarce and local resident.

Local Record: Grade 1   See here for explanation

Flight time: Sep-Nov and Mar-Apr, (hibernates).

Forewing: 24-29mm.

Foodplant: Herbaceous and woody 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 recorded193219871932
Year last recorded201120082011
Number of records1256262
Number of individuals1377288
Unique positions584124
Unique locations483102
Adult records1206252
Immature records306

For the region, we have a total of 262 records from 102 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1932.


2241 Red Sword-grass 06
© Paul Harris
2241 Red Sword-grass 05 larva
© Jack Oughton
2241 Red Sword-grass 04
© Will Bown
2241 Red Sword-grass 03
© Phyl England
2241 Red Sword-grass 02
© Tom Morris
2241 Red Sword-grass 01
© Will Bown 22 October 2012

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A local damp moorland and marshland species in western and northern Britain, and rare in central and eastern England, the larva is polyphagous. In Dorset, this highly distinctive and rather large moth colonises mire, marsh and damp heathland habitat on sandy soils, and is most often observed where bog myrtle (Myrica gale) and purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) grow. In also inhabits damp habitat further north and west, notably in the Blackmore Vale and at Powerstock Common, where purple moor-grass is again a likely host foodplant.

Frequent light trap records from Purbeck during the 1930s with up to eight examples in a single night, suggests that a transitory colony was established in the area at the time: Swanage, on 13 September 1933, 26 October 1935, Scar Bank, on 18 and 20 September 1932, eight on 2 October and three on 8 October 1932, two on 15 October 1932, 17 October 1932, 25 October 1932, 20 October 1934, 13 September 1935 (A Russell).

The moth is evidently dispersive, with a number of records from localities well away from core colonies. The following additional records are of potential immigrant examples from the Continent: Durlston, two at MV light on 23 October 1965 (T Harman, B Elliott), two at ivy blossom on 16 October 1966 (R Cook), at MV light on 22 December 2002 (S Nash, P Davey).

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