Insects of Britain and Ireland: the genera of Lepidoptera-Noctuidae

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Xestia Hübner

Adults. Head rough. Face without any conspicuous prominence. Eyes glabrous; not ciliated. Antennae of males ciliate (mostly), or bipectinate (in alpicola).

Wingspan 28–46 mm. Thorax generally coloured like the forewings, the abdomen like the hindwings. Forewings reddish brown, grey-brown, ochreous, or dark purplish brown, etc., in different species; neither green nor greenish tinged; purplish marked or tinged, or neither purplish nor rosy marked or tinged; patterned transversely, or complexly patterned; the patterning well marked, or obscure; reniform defined; orbicular defined; claviform defined, or undefined. Hindwings white, or fuscous, or yellowish, or grey; plain, or terminally darkened; with a clear discal mark, or without a clear discal mark; transversely lined to without transverse lines; exhibiting vein 5. Vein 5 of the hindwings strong (distally); arising nearer to vein 6 than to vein 4. Thorax crested (front and rear). Middle tibiae with spines. Posterior tibiae with spines. Abdomen not crested.

Living adults found June to August, or August to December, or January to May (when hibernating).

Larvae, pupae. Larvae posteriorly rounded, or posteriorly tapered; feeding on diverse Dicot herbs and shrubs (especially Ericaceae), but grasses mentioned only in connection with X. sexstrigata and X. xanthographa (and then not exclusively); pupating on vegetative parts of the foodplant, or on the surface of the ground, or in the soil.

British representation. 10 species; South-east England, Central-southern England, South-west England, English Midlands, Northern England, Southern Scotland, Northern Scotland, Wales, and Ireland; agathina (Heath Rustic), ashworthii (Ashworth’s Rustic), alpicola (Northern Dart), baja (Dotted Clay), castanea (The Neglected, or Grey Rustic), c-nigrum (Setaceous Hebrew Character), ditrapezium Triple-spotted Clay), rhomboidea (The Square-spotted Clay), sexstrigata (Six-striped Rustic), triangulum (The Double Square-spot), xanthographa (Square-spot Rustic).


Illustrations. • Noctuinae: 11 Xestia species (Rustics) and Cerastis: Newman. • Noctuinae: Kirby. • Xestia agathina (Heath Rustic): Stephens II, 1830. • Xestia castanea (Neglected Rustic): Stephens II, 1830.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the genera of Lepidoptera-Noctuidae. Version: 8th June 2016.’.