Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Adults of this single-brooded species are active in September and October, and hibernate through the winter, emerging again in March and April (2), when the eggs are laid in groups (4). Caterpillars are active both in the day and night from May to July (2). In August the pupal stage develops on or below the ground (4). The foodplants of the caterpillars have not been identified (1), but may include sorrel and dock (7).
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Description

Sword-grass moth adults are large, with greyish-brown wings. The forewings can vary in colour, being darker in some individuals (3). The caterpillars are plump in appearance and can grow up to 6.5 cm long. They are bright green in colour with two yellow lines passing along the back, between which are black spots with white centres. Along each side there is a white line topped with red dashes (4). The English name 'Sword-grass' is an old name for sedge, which was believed to be the foodplant of the caterpillars in 1778 when the species was given this name (6).
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Distribution

Range

Unfortunately, this moth has suffered a massive decline in the UK since the 1960s. It was once widespread but has been observed in England on only a handful of occasions since 1980. It may hang on as a resident breeding species in both Wales and Northern Ireland but is not recorded often (1). It still breeds over quite a large area in Scotland and is more regularly recorded there (1).
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Ecology

Habitat

This species utilises a variety of habitats, but tends to occur in moorland or upland sites (1).
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Associations

Animal / parasitoid / endoparasitoid
larva of Nowickia ferox is endoparasitoid of larva of Xylena exsoleta
Remarks: Other: uncertain

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Xylena exsoleta

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (1).
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Threats

The factors responsible for the poor status of this species are not known (1).
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Management

Conservation

The Sword-grass is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species. The Species Action Plan produced as part of this prioritisation aims to maintain the current known populations and enhance these by 2010 (1). Suitable habitat management, increasing the available area of habitat and linking fragmented habitat patches at occupied sites have been suggested as potential measures that may benefit the species (1).
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Wikipedia

Xylena exsoleta

The Sword-grass (Xylena exsoleta) is a species of moth of the family Noctuidae.


Technical Description and variation[edit]

See glossary for terms used

The wingspan is 58–68 mm. The length of the forewings is 24–29 mm. Forewing long and narroe.Differs from Xylena vetusta in being mainly dark or blackish grey, the ochreous ground showing only in a longitudinal streak above the median vein broadening along vein 5; orbicular stigma large and well-marked, with black linear centre and outline; lines marked by pairs of black spots on veins; submarginal line preceded by two wedgeshaped black marks which do not reach the reniform; hindwing dark fuscous. Co-extensive in range with vetusta; the form occurring in Central Asia is differentiated by Staudinger as ab. impudica, the ground colour being paler, more ashy grey, with less distinct markings; in ab. obscurata Spul. the whole forewing is suffused with brown; the opposite to this, in which all the black grey shading is absent and the whole forewing, except narrowly along costa, is pearly grey, may be called ab. pallescens ab. nov. [Warren] ; in this the markings are as distinct as in the type form, and the hindwing is quite pale fuscous; there are 4 males of this form in the Tring Museum from Europe, one marked Crimmitschau and the other 3 without more precise locality. [1]

Biology[edit]

The moth flies from September to July depending on the location.

Larva green; dorsal and subdorsal lines broadly yellow; spiracular line red, pale-edged beneath, with the yellow spiracles above it; tubercles white with broad blackish rings.The larvae are widely polyphagous, feeding on various deciduous trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, including Epilobium, Lilium, Iris, Rumex, Euphorbia, Ononis, Allium cepa, Brassica oleracea and Delphinium.[2] The caterpillars of Sword-grass can reach a length of approximately 60 mm. They are green, with black blotches, white lateral lines and orange markings. Like many similar species, they make their metamorphosis underground.

Distribution[edit]

It is found from the Canary Islands and north-western Africa through Europe, the Near East and central Asia up to the Pacific and Japan.

Habitat[edit]

These moths prefer moorlands and woodlands.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Seitz, A. Ed., 1914 Die Großschmetterlinge der Erde, Verlag Alfred Kernen, Stuttgart Band 3: Abt. 1, Die Großschmetterlinge des palaearktischen Faunengebietes, Die palaearktischen eulenartigen Nachtfalter, 1914
  2. ^ "Robinson, G. S., P. R. Ackery, I. J. Kitching, G. W. Beccaloni & L. M. Hernández, 2010. HOSTS - A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants. Natural History Museum, London.". 
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