Light crimson underwing moth (Catocala promissa)

Light Crimson Underwing feeding
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Light crimson underwing moth fact file

Light crimson underwing moth description

GenusCatocala (1)

The generic name of the Light Crimson Underwing, Catocala derives from the Greek 'kato' meaning below and 'kalos' meaning beautiful, and refers to the brightly coloured hindwings of the underwing moths (3). This species is similar in appearance to the Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa; the hind wings of both are crimson and black in colour. The caterpillar is greenish-grey and has yellow-brown patches (4).

Wingspan: 6- 6.5 cm (1)

Light crimson underwing moth biology

The main flight period of this single-brooded species (6) occurs from late July to late August (7). The caterpillars, which feed on oak, can be found from late April to early June and the overwintering stage is the egg (8).


Light crimson underwing moth range

This moth has been recorded in most European countries with the exception of Ireland, Malta and Albania. It becomes more rare towards the northern-most parts of its range, which reaches east to Siberia and south to North Africa (2). In the UK it is now restricted to areas in and around the New Forest, Hampshire (2) and in Wiltshire (5), but was historically recorded from a wider range in the south of England (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Light crimson underwing moth habitat

Requires extensive areas of mature oak woodland (Quercus species) (2).


Light crimson underwing moth status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).


Light crimson underwing moth threats

Many large areas of mature oak woodland have been felled, in some cases this has been replanted with species other than oak (2). This has resulted in a decrease in the area of suitable oak woodland for this moth, and increased fragmentation of remaining habitat (2).


Light crimson underwing moth conservation

The Light Crimson Underwing is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The Species Action Plan produced aims to maintain all known populations, and enhance the numbers of the species at all sites by the year 2010 (2). Most existing populations occur in the New Forest or in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in the vicinity. The New Forest has been forwarded as a candidate Special Area of Conservation, a site designation that has stemmed from the EC Habitats Directive (2). Reintroduction of the species into parts of its former range has been proposed, and research and monitoring programmes are in development (2).

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Find out more

Further reading on moths:
Skinner, B. (1998) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying moths. Poyser, London.



Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.



(also known as 'univoltine'). Insect life cycle that takes 12 months to be complete, and involves a single generation. The egg, larva, pupa or adult over winters as a dormant stage.


  1. UK Moths (December 2001):
  2. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001):
  3. Butterfly Conservation (2001) Moths (leaflet). Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.
  4. South, R. (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. London.
  5. Butterfly Conservation (December 2001):
  6. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  7. Clancy, S (2003) Pers. comm.
  8. Porter, J. (1997) Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.

Image credit

Light Crimson Underwing feeding  
Light Crimson Underwing feeding

© David Green / British Butterfly Conservation Society Ltd

Butterfly Conservation
Manor Yard
East Lulworth
BH20 5QP
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1929 400 209


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