Olethreutes arcuella, a Tortrix Moth

It is a shame really that we do not have a common English name for the most beautiful of all leaf-rolling moths. The Germans are more respectful and call it the Splendid Roller (Prachtwickler). The bright orange background colour of the upperwing, with silvry, black, brown and yellow markings make this a species one not only never forgets, but make it unique as well: there is nothing like it in the moths world. Like many other Tortrixes the legs are creamy white with gray rings. The fact many people have never seen it at all is probably due to it's small size: the wingspan is some 14 to 18 mm only, meaning the animal isn't even 1 centimeter long.

The eggs are being laid in June and July mainly. They are deposited in leaflitter or on the leaves of small, low growing plants. The larvae come out in late summer and live in a leave rolled up. They are entirely dark brown. Just before winter they move to a pile of plant rubble and leaves, spin a leaf together and overwinter. Next spring they become active again and remain in the pile of rubble and leaves to finish their completion. Then they pupate within a cocoon. The new generation of moths appears from the beginning of June and flies about to the beginning of August.

Olethreutes arcuella is a remarkable moth, for not only is it a beauty, it also flies by day. In the evenings it is sometimes attracted to light, though. The splendid colours are such that it is not as easily seen between leaves as might be expected and extremely hard to see in flight. Scarce in England and Wales, rare in Scotland and Ireland, getting even rarer to the north. Scattered throughout Europe, but never appearing in great numbers.