When at rest the Red Sword-grass is brilliantly camouflaged as a bit of wood. Indeed its scientific name Xylena vetusta means ‘old wood’. It is a widespread species in northern and western parts of the UK, but is capable of long-distance flights so can turn up anywhere.

Red Sword-grass moths hibernate through the winter, starting to emerge in March. The moths visit early blossom such as sallow to drink nectar as well as feeding on the sap of birches.

Flight Season

There is one generation that flies from September to October and then again in March and April.

Size and Family

  • Family – Noctuidae
  • Large Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 50-57mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Local Resident

Caterpillar Food Plants

The caterpillars feed on a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs, and low plants.

Habitat

Can be found in damp woodland, mountain moorland and marshy places and even gardens.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Widespread but scattered locally
Red Sword-grass - Iain Leach

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass - Iain Leach

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass - Damian Money

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass - Iain Leach

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass - Iain Leach

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass - Iain Leach

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass (caterpillar) - Ilia Ustyantsev

Red Sword-grass (caterpillar)

Red Sword-grass (caterpillar) - Ilia Ustyantsev

Red Sword-grass (caterpillar)