Range & Status
Recorded since 1980 in Britain only from Cornwall, Devon, Surrey/Sussex, Shropshire and Wales, and rare at all sites and considered on the verge of extinction (Spalding, 1997a). Widely distributed in western Europe. The most recent records are from oak woods in mid Wales in 1994 and a single in Sussex more recently, indicating that it might still be present in Britain, although searches during National Moth Night in April 2003 produced no records from known (or any other) sites (Spalding, 2004).
Recorded only seven times in Cornwall, six times at Bodinnick between 1956 and 1962 (Rossel, 1956; Rossel, 1962; Smith, 1984) and once in the Seaton valley in 1983 (Spalding, 1989). Despite repeated visits to Bodinnick and nightly trapping at the Seaton site and several other suitable sites, no further sightings have been made. The gap of 21 years between sightings indicates that the moth is either absent from Cornwall, very rare and subject to population fluctuations, or overlooked. The three Cornish records were recorded at light; the use of techniques such as ' sugaring' , beating for larvae and adults, and inspecting Sallow Salix spp. blossom may yield further records.
Habitat & Ecology
The larvae feed on Oak, in Cornwall probably Sessile Oak Quercus petraea . The adults overwinter, probably within Oak leaves which have remained on the tree; it is the small shrubby trees and coppiced regrowth that generally retain their leaves during the winter months. There may also be climatic reasons for the decline of this species (Waring, unpublished report).
The ' tidying-up' of small shrubby Oak trees and the cessation of Oak coppicing in some areas has reduced the amount of available overwintering sites. This may have contributed to the national decline of this species.
The decline of the Orange Upperwing might be halted by the retention of small shrubby Oak trees growing on thin, acid soils and the encouragement of traditional coppicing. A UK BAP priority species.