Northern Ireland's Priority Species

Dasypolia templi – brindled ochre

 
Dasypolia templi
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Dasypolia templi (Thunberg, 1792)
Family: Noctuidae

This is a large furry, greenish-brown coloured moth which holds the wings tightly wrapped around the body. Specimens have a variable amount of golden yellow dusting, yellower, paler individuals are usually males. The forewings look rough because of the way the scales are arranged. The moth is most often encountered in rough coastal grasslands. It flies late in the year from mid-September to November which may account for the sparse number of records. This species has declined in the UK by 80% over a 25 year period but in Northern Ireland there is no evidence of such a decline.

In brief

  • Scarce and local with a scatter of records from the “harder” coasts of Northern Ireland
  • The adult flies from mid-September to November
  • Most likely to be encountered at light
  • A Northern Ireland Priority Species because of declines detected in other parts of the UK where it has undergone an 80% decline over a 25 year period. There is no evidence that the species has exhibited a similar decline in Northern Ireland

Species description
This is a large furry, rough textured, greenish-brown coloured moth which holds the wings tightly wrapped around the body. Specimens have a variable amount of golden yellow dusting, yellower, paler individuals are usually males. The wings are held tightly around the body, captured specimens are prone to “play dead”.

Life cycle
The adult flies from mid-September to November. Fertilised females hibernate over winter and appear in April to egg lay. Caterpillars feed on various umbelifers including Hogweed and Angelica. Young caterpillars feed within the hollow stems before moving to the roots. It pupates just under the soil surface.

Similar species
None.

How to see this species
The species is most readily encountered on rough coastal grassland associated with rocky shores. Readily attracted to light. Rathlin has proved to be a reliable place to see this species but other sites such as Strangford Lough have also proved productive.

Current status
It is widespread but apparently scarce, although this may be related to its flight time when moth trapping effort is usually reduced. Inland records are rare.

Why is this species a priority in Northern Ireland?

  • Listed as a UK Priority Species and therefore on the Northern Ireland Priority List by default
  • Rapid decline (80% over 25 years 1968-2002) assessed using Rothamstead trap data

Threats/Causes of decline
It is thought to be declining in the UK as a result of many factors, including habitat change, pollution and the use of pesticides.

Conservation of this species

Current action
In Northern Ireland there are no specific actions proposed for this species.

  • Occurs on a few designated sites such as Strangford Lough and Rathlin
  • Increase Rothamstead Trap network to gather data on status
  • Encourage submission of records to the Moth recorder

Proposed objectives/actions
None currently proposed.

What you can do

  • Report all moth sightings to the Moth Recorder for Northern Ireland, Andrew Crory, andrew.crory@gmail.com or use the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland (BCNI) sightings web page at http://www.bcni.org.uk/submitsighting.php. The BCNI database is managed by CEDaR and these records will then be used to update the Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland website.
  • Join Butterfly Conservation. Butterflies and Moths are in serious decline — with your support Butterfly Conservation can take action to reverse this.

Further information

Links
The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland

UK Moths Website with an up-to-date distribution map

The state of Britain's moths - an explanation as to how declines have been calculated

Background information on the Rothamstead Trap Surveys

Literature
Skinner, B. (2009). 3rd revised and updated edition. The colour identification guide to the moths of the British Isles. Apollo Books.
Thompson, R. & Nelson, B. (2006). The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland. NMNI, Belfast.
Waring, P. & Townsend, M. (2009). 2nd edition. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife.

Text written by:
Allen & Mellon