73.208 (2242) Sword-grass Xylena exsoleta (Linnaeus, 1758)

Resident. Rare.
UK BAP Priority Species.
Flight period

Lennon (1863) had found it in the Crichton Institution Garden, Dumfries. Gordon (1913) found it common at sugar and ivy blossom at Corsemalzie. Earliest date was 24th September 1906 with the latest 8th May 1911.
William Evans received specimens from Mowat, the Killantringan lighthouse keeper during 1914-15 to aid his insect migration studies.
Archibald Russell (1944) listed it as occurring near Gatehouse of Fleet (VC73) during the years 1942-43. Sir Arthur Duncan had found it at Tynron (VC72) in March 1944, October 1951 and April 1952, with another record in Kirkmahoe parish in February 1952, all four specimens at National Museums Scotland.
Cunningham (1950) states that at Mabie Forest in the whole of the autumn of 1949 he only saw three specimens and none at all in 1950. He also states that he has never seen the Sword-grass in spring after hibernation.
During early May 1974 one was trapped at Irvine House Lodge, Auchenrivock, Dumfriesshire. Another spring record was in late March 1997 in Cally Woods (VC73).
Life cycle
One autumn generation, reappearing in the spring. Overwinters as an adult. Larvae are present from May to July, with pupation in a cocoon close to the ground.
Larval foodplants
Thistles, docks, Groundsel and other low species.
Very similar to Red Sword-grass, but lacks the orange-red tint found in the forewing, also, if worn, the foot of the hind-leg colour can be checked - there is no red tint on it.
Chiefly in the uplands - Moorland, open woodland and rough pasture.
Recorders' notes
This species was queried by NMRS, presumably for being northerly, but the proof is in the museum.
Specimen or quality photo required for record acceptance.
© Keith Naylor per A B Duncan, Tynron, 24 March 1944

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  • 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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