Argent and Sable

Rheumaptera hastata (70.120)
Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) Priority Species.

The Argent and Sable is a distinctive and unmistakeable moth that is now believed to be extinct in Warwickshire although we still hope it may be hanging on undetected... although this is highly unlikely. It was last recorded at Hay Wood, a site owned by the Forestry Commission (FC). Unfortunately, numbers had declined dramatically by 1997 and subsequent unsympathetic woodland management in 2002 almost certainly sealed the fate of the species in the county.

Its required habitat must contain lots of suitable larval food plant, and in woodland sites this is young Birch saplings. It needs a continuous supply of young Birch ideally between 0.3 -1.4 m in open sunny situations for it to thrive. Birch coppicing is therefore essential for this species survival.

It was formerly found in several Birch woodlands in Warwickshire including Bubbenhall Wood, Wappenbury Wood, Clowes Wood, Austy Wood, Brandon Wood, Coughton Park, Oversley Wood, Sutton Park and Waverley Wood.

It flies only during the daytime and is easy to spot due to its prominent black and white chequered markings. The flight is swift and erratic, often spanning the higher canopy. It prefers sunny and warm weather but may be observed on overcast days if warm and humid.

The Argent and Sable is single-brooded, flying in May and June with peak numbers in late May and the first week of June.

Please note: From February 2023 all sightings records should be submitted via the iRecord Butterflies app available via the iTunes or Google Store. Find out more here: iRecord at Butterfly Conservation.