Goat Moth - Cossus cossus

The Goat Moth

Taxonomy

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Family: Cossidae

Subfamily: Cossinae

The Goat Moth is one of only three of the approximately 700 species of Cossidae moths (Leopard and Goat moths) to occur in Great Britain.

The wings of this moth are well camouflaged and resemble tree bark: they are brownish-grey in colour and have darker irregular markings which imitate the cracks found in bark. It is a large moth with a distinctive upright posture when at rest.

The Goat Moth's habitats are gardens, parks and other places with plenty of trees and shrubs. They are also found on riverbanks because of the higher proportion of Alder trees, one of their larval foodplants, that grow there.

The forewing of the Goat Moth ranges between 32 and 42mm

Distribution

This resident moth is nationally scarce and occurs in widely scattered colonies in the southeast of England, on the coasts of Wales, Devon and Kent and in parts of Scotland. There are also a few small, localised communities in southern Ireland.

Lifecycle

The Goat Moth is shortlived because it is unable to feed. It over-winters three or four times in its larval form, the final time in a cocoon from which pupates the following spring.

The larval foodplants of the Goat Moth are trees and shrubs in woodlands, parks and on riverbanks where it lives on Alders in particular. Alder trees are becoming increasingly affected by a fungal disease and many dead and dying trees are becoming obvious on our riverbanks.

Picture: Rob Petley-Jones

Studying butterflies and moths...