Clay fan-foot moth (Paracolax tristalis)

Clay Fan-foot
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Clay fan-foot moth fact file

Clay fan-foot moth description

GenusParacolax (1)

Adult Clay Fan-foot moths are pale ochreous brown in colour with darker brown cross-lines on both the fore- and hind-wings (3). When fully grown, the caterpillars develop a downy texture, and are brown in colour with three lines along the back (3).

Wingspan: 2.8- 3.5 cm (1)

Clay fan-foot moth biology

A single brooded species, adult Clay Fan-foot moths are on the wing from July to early August. The caterpillars are active between the end of August and early June feeding on fallen oak leaves, and overwinter whilst small (1). It is likely that caterpillars inhabit the leaf-litter until pupation, feeding on oak leaf-detritus (4).


Clay fan-foot moth range

This species has always been restricted to the south-east of England, but has undergone a massive 70% reduction in range, and has been lost from Hampshire, Essex and Wiltshire. It is now known from just a handful of woodlands in Surrey, Kent and Sussex. Outside of the UK it is found in southern parts of Europe reaching east to China, Iran and southern Russia (2).

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

Clay fan-foot moth habitat


Clay fan-foot moth status

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (2).


Clay fan-foot moth threats

It is thought that the decline of this species is due to the reduction in suitable habitat within its range, namely oak-dominant mature woodland or traditionally coppiced woodland with a high density of oaks left as standards (4).


Clay fan-foot moth conservation

The Clay Fan-foot moth has been identified as a priority species for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The Species Action Plan aims to maintain all existing populations, but no specific action other than monitoring has been proposed. The majority of the known populations currently occur within existing Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Conservation action targeted at other species that inhabit lowland coppiced woodland such as the Drab Looper moth (Minoa murinata) will be likely to benefit this species too (2).

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.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.

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 Sean Clancy.



Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management in which trees are cut close to the base of the trunk. Re-growth occurs in the form of many thin poles. Coppiced woodlands are cut in this way on rotation, producing a mosaic of different stages of re-growth.
The process of becoming a pupa, the stage of an insect's development, when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
Single brooded
(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. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles. Viking Press, London.
  2. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001):
  3. South, R. (1961) The moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. London.
  4. Clancy, S. (2002) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Clay Fan-foot  
Clay Fan-foot

© Paul Waring

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


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