3.005 (0014) Ghost Moth Hepialus humuli humuli (Linnaeus, 1758)

Resident. Common.
UK BAP Priority Species.
Flight period

The first known mention of the Ghost Moth was when William Lennon (1863) in his 'List of Lepidoptera taken near Dumfries' said it was "common everywhere." The next mention was when R. S. Gordon (1913) of Corsemalzie, Wigtownshire, stated it to be common and generally distributed in gardens, fields and roadsides; also, that in June 1897 it was particular numerous in a grassy field nearby that Black-headed Gulls came to feast on them.
In 1944 Archibald Russell recorded it for Kirkcudbrightshire near Gatehouse-of-Fleet.
About thirty records were recorded at the Rothamsted stations during 1974-89. From 1990 to 2010 there were only four records from Wigtownshire with the rest of the 140 records coming from widespread scattered sites in Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, proving it to be common.

Subspecies H. h. thulensis Newman, 1865
Although a resident of Shetland it has surprisingly been recorded twice in our Region. The first was caught on the banks of the Nith (VC72) on 3rd July 1946, with the second, also caught on the same day in 1975 at Newlands (VC72) in Kirkmahoe parish, now residing at the National Museums Scotland.
Life cycle
One generation. Overwinters as a larvae during July to May, with pupation underground, but this probably occurs over two seasons.
The adult Ghost Moth has no proboscis, so it is never found at sugar or flowers.
Larval foodplants
Grasses, Common Nettle, docks, burdocks, to name a few.
Grassy and weedy places.
Recorders' notes
Males and females are different in colour, and easily sexed, which is worth recording.
Male © Keith Naylor, Milton, 25 June 2011
Female © Keith Naylor, Mersehead RSPB, 22 July 2005

Local distribution map

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Distribution map displays records from the National Biodiversity Network (See terms and conditions).

The following datasets are included:

  • Butterfly Conservation - Macro-moth provisional distribution for the British Isles (excluding the Republic of Ireland) from the National Moth Recording Scheme
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