Larvae of this species feed mainly on Artemisia vulgaris but they will also attack sugar beet, spinning the leaves of young plants together; when numerous, the larvae cause extensive defoliation but the major veins are left intact. Although an important pest in continental Europe and in North America, it is of little or no importance in Britain, where it occurs mainly in sandy districts such as the Brecklands of East Anglia.
Adults occur in June and there may be a partial second flight in August and September. Although active mainly at night, the moths sometimes also fly in hot, sunny weather. Eggs are laid on the leaves of host plants, mainly in early June. They hatch shortly afterwards. Larvae then feed on the leaves, and often web leaves together to form a tube which extends down to the soil surface. The larvae are very active and, when disturbed, will move rapidly backwards and often seek shelter in cracks in the soil. The winter is passed in the pupal stage.
Adult 20-25 mm wingspan; forewings brownish-black with a creamish subcentral spot and pale submarginal markings (Fig. 302); hindwings pale brownish-black. Larva up to 25 mm long; body slender, grey to yellowish; pinacula pale, black-edged; head black; prothoracic plate black or grey.
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