Northern Ireland's Priority Species

Agrochola litura – brown-spot pinion

Agrochola litura

Agrochola litura (Linnaeus, 1761)
Family: Noctuidae

A small-medium sized Noctuid moth which is very rare in Northern Ireland with only two records both from County Down. The moth has an orangey-brown background colour with intense black dot and dash markings. The adult is on the wing in September and October. In Great Britain it has undergone a serious decline over the last 25 years.

In brief

  • This is a very rare moth in Northern Ireland with only two records
  • Unrecorded in the Republic of Ireland
  • Very similar to the more common Beaded Chestnut
  • It is a Northern Ireland Priority Species because of declines detected in other parts of the UK where it has undergone a 63% decline over a 25 year period

Species description
A typical Noctuid with the wings folded over the body. The background colour is orangey-brown to chestnut with a series of symmetrical, neat, intensely black, dots and dashes scattered across the forewings. It is most likely to be encountered at light.

Life cycle
The caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of herbaceous and woody plants in a wide range of habitats. It over-winters as an egg.

Similar species
Very similar to the more common Beaded Chestnut with which it is easily confused. The markings of Beaded Chestnut are not as intensely black and the background colour is considerably more variable from off white to dark brown.

How to see this species
It cannot be reliably seen anywhere in Northern Ireland and is unknown in the Republic of Ireland.

Current status
Only two records. One from Copeland Island, County Down in 2004 and a retrospective record from Dundrum, County Down in 1996 a specimen being unearthed in a private collection. As these records emanate from East Down it is possible that both records relate to immigrants from Great Britain.

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 (63% 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.

Proposed objectives/actions

  • Encourage submission of records to the Moth recorder. Photographic evidence or a specimen would be required to substantiate any claims

What you can do

  • Report all moth sightings to the Moth Recorder for Northern Ireland, Andrew Crory, or use the Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland (BCNI) sightings web page at 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

The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland

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

Background information on the Rothamstead Trap Surveys

MothsIreland Website

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

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