The orange upperwing is an open woodland or woodland-edge species. The larval foodplants are pedunculate oak and sessile oak (Quercus robur and Q. petraea), both of which are abundant throughout Britain. The moth is particularly associated with small or coppice trees that retain their leaves over winter, as the adult moths overwinter within withered oak leaves which have remained on the tree.
The orange upperwing has been recorded from central, southern and south-western England, with occasional records from Wales, but by about 1980 it was apparently restricted to Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Shropshire and South Wales. The last definite record was from Sussex in 1984, although there is a recent unconfirmed record from Hampshire. It seems to have disappeared from its main locality in Surrey. There are no populations currently known. The orange upperwing is widely distributed but scarce in Europe and North Africa.
In Great Britain this species is classified as Endangered.
Current factors causing loss or decline
Decline of woodland coppice management.
Inappropriate ride and woodland management.
Current searches for the moth centre on former sites, including Yarner Woods NNR and Friday Street in Surrey.
Action plan objectives and targets
If refound in Britain, enhance the population size at each site by 2010.
Restore to 1980 status in Wales and southern and south-western England, by reintroductions if necessary.
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
Where appropriate, include the requirements of the orange upperwing when preparing or revising prescriptions for agri-environment and woodland grant schemes, focussing on the retention of small oak trees within woodlands. (ACTION: CCW, NE, FC, MAFF. WOAD)
Site safeguard and management
Ensure that all sites where re-establishment is proposed are appropriately managed, for example through uptake of woodland grants. (ACTION: CCW, NE, FC)
Species management and protection
Initiate a programme of captive breeding to provide material for experimental study and reintroductions. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Following assessment of the current status of the orange upperwing, undertake reintroductions into suitably restored habitats in a range of former sites across southern and south-western England and in Wales. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Advise landowners and managers of the presence of the orange upperwing and the importance of beneficial management, aimed at a diverse woodland structure, for its conservation. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Future Research and Monitoring
Undertake surveys to determine the status of the species. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Conduct targeted autecological research to inform habitat management. (ACTION: CCW, NE, FC)
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to a central database for incorporation into national and international databases. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Communications and Publicity
Promote opportunities for the appreciation of this species and the conservation issues associated with its habitat. This should be achieved through articles within appropriate journals, as well as by a publicity leaflet. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: UK Biodiversity Group Tranche 2 Action Plans - Volume IV: Invertebrates (March 1999, Tranche 2, Vol IV, p355)
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