Black-veined moth (Siona lineata)

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Black-veined moth fact file

Black-veined moth description

GenusSiona (1)

Adult Black-veined moths are white in colour with black veins that are more obvious on the underside of the wings. Females differ from males in that they have slightly shorter wings and thicker, shorter bodies (3). The caterpillars are grey-brown in colour with darker lines along the back and sides (3).

Wingspan: 3.8- 4.8 cm (1)

Black-veined moth biology

The adults are on the wing in May and June and are largely crepuscular(5). They rest in long grasses during the day from which they are easily disturbed, sometimes flying naturally on warm, dull days (6). Caterpillars hatch from the eggs laid by the adults; they are present from July to May and hibernate through the winter, emerging the following spring when they pupate(1). The adults then emerge, starting the cycle again. This type of lifecycle is known as 'single brooded' or 'univoltine', as only one generation (or 'brood') is produced in the year.


Black-veined moth range

This species was once known from Kent, Dorset, Sussex, Essex, and Somerset, but now remains in just four sites in Kent (4). It has a wide distribution in Europe and extends as far east as Siberia (4).

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

Black-veined moth habitat

This moth inhabits lowland calcareous grasslands dominated by tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) where the main larval foodplant marjoram (Origanum vulgare) is present within the sward (4).


Black-veined moth status

Classified as Endangered in Great Britain and fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (2).


Black-veined moth threats

It is thought that the drastic decline of the Black-veined moth is the result of habitat burning, whether accidental or deliberate, over-grazing and lack of suitable management leading to scrub encroachment (4). The reason for the habitat management requirements of Siona lineata, and the probable cause of the contraction of its range, is the species’ requirement for transitional calcareous grassland within a specific stage of succession. The required habitat must exhibit a well-developed sward-mosaic of grass tussocks and herb growth, of sufficient length to offer protection to larvae throughout the winter. In the past, Siona lineata was doubtless able to find alternative suitable breeding habitat when an existing site became overgrown, cultivated or otherwise unsuitable. This is no longer the case, and the maintenance of suitable habitat at existing colony sites must remain the priority (5).


Black-veined moth conservation

The Species Action Plan produced as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan aims to maintain all current populations and restore a further ten populations in the historic range before 2010 (4). Since 1995, an English Nature Species Recovery Programme has worked towards meeting these aims (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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.


Information authenticated by Sean Clancy.



Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
Active at twilight and/or just before sunrise.
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal's metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is 'diapause', a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
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.
The process of forming a pupa, the stage in 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.
The progressive sequence of changes in vegetation types and animal life within a community that, if allowed to continue, result in the formation of a 'climax community' (the last stage in a succession where the vegetation reaches equilibrium with the environment).


  1. Skinner, B. (1884) Moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
  2. JNCC (December 2001):
  3. South, R. (1961) Moths of the British Isles. Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd, London.
  4. UK BAP Species Action Plan (December 2001):
  5. CLANCY, S.P. (2002). The Black-veined Moth (Siona lineata Scopoli,1763). Survey 2002. Confidential Report to English Nature. Peterborough.
  6. Sean Clancy (2003) Pers comm.

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