Species of the week #125 – barred chestnut

The barred chestnut is dependent on the special moorland habitat and is completely unknown to the vast majority of people. This butterfly does not actually make any great demands on its environment. Nevertheless, it was last seen in Rhineland-Palatinate more than 50 years ago. What is causing the Barred Chestnut to become extinct?

Distribution status extinct
Remaining occurance Emsland
Last sighting in Rhineland-Palatinate 1968 in Kastellaun
Habitat Bogs and cool wetlands
Threat Habitat loss, climate change

The Moorland Meadow Owl occurs mainly in northern Europe and northern Asia to Japan. In Central Europe, it is only found locally in mountains, forests and moorland areas. It is cool enough there.

The caterpillars live on dwarf shrubs, birches and herbs and like to eat blueberries, dock and plantain of all kinds. The adult butterflies are often seen sucking on the flowers of tansy and broom heather. The bog meadow owl prefers to live in bogs or at least damp habitats, usually on the edge of sparse woodland.

While the female moths are all relatively dark and show little variability, the male moths can look very different. They are patterned from light to dark, but always in an earthy brown shade that camouflages them well so that they are easily overlooked in their environment.

The bog meadow owl is actually well equipped against extinction due to its broad food spectrum with many common species and its manageable habitat requirements. However, its preference for cool wetlands seems to be a major drawback. Due to drainage and loss of wetlands, and also due to climate change, the cool sites are dwindling to such an extent that survival for the Bog Meadow Owl does not seem possible. Accordingly, the bog owl has become very rare throughout Central Europe.

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Image: By Ilia Ustyantsev from Russia – Diarsia dahlii – Barred chestnut – Подорожниковая совка жёлто-бурая, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74597750