Silky wave moth (Idaea dilutaria)

Silky Wave
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Silky wave moth fact file

Silky wave moth description

OrderGeometridae: Sterrhinae
GenusIdaea (1)

The Silky Wave is a pale tan-coloured moth, with a slightly darker-brown wavy pattern on both the fore- and hindwings (3). It is similar in appearance to the more common Idaea fuscovenosa, but lacks the black spot on the fore-wing (1). The caterpillar is dull greyish in colour with a pale line along the sides towards the rear and smaller lighter markings on the upper surface (4).

Wingspan: 2- 2.2 cm (1).

Silky wave moth biology

A single brood is produced each year, the adults of which fly from mid-June to mid-July. The caterpillars are present between August and May, feeding on withered and rotting leaves of the foodplant. The overwintering stage is the caterpillar (1).


Silky wave moth range

This species was first recorded from Durdham Down near Bristol in 1851 (1). It still occurs in the Bristol area today, as well as at a site on the Gower coast of Glamorgan, and a third population exists on the Great Orme in North Wales (2). This moth also occurs in central and southern Europe (2).

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

Silky wave moth habitat

Occurs in open calcareous grasslands on steep south-facing slopes where grazing is either light or absent. The species requires a source of the larval foodplant, common rock-rose (Helianthemum) (2).


Silky wave moth status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).


Silky wave moth threats

The main factor thought to be responsible for the decline in this species is inappropriate grassland management, such as overgrazing or scrub encroachment (2). The Silky Wave is at the limit of its range in the UK and its preference for south-facing slopes may indicate that climatic factors may also affect this species (3).


Silky wave moth conservation

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) has identified this species as a priority for conservation. A Species Action Plan has been produced, which details the main actions required to conserve this moth. The plan for the Silky Wave moth aims to maintain the current known populations, enhance these populations by 2005 and reintroduce the species to three sites within the historic range by 2010 if no further existing populations are discovered. Proposed conservation management for this species includes increasing the area of suitable habitat at occupied sites and linking existing isolated fragments of habitat in order to allow numbers of the Silky Wave to increase (2).

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

Find out more

Further reading on moths:
Leverton, R. (2001) Enjoying Moths. Poyser, London.
Skinner, B. (1984) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth



Information authenticated by Barry Stewart.



Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
Of the stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.


  1. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  2. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001):
  3. Pers. observation from images.
  4. Porter, J. (1997) Colour Identification Guide to the Caterpillars of the British Isles, Viking Press, London.

Image credit

Silky Wave  
Silky Wave

© Paul Waring

Paul Waring
Windmill View
1366 Lincoln Road
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1733 571 917


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