Sunday, 20 September 2015

Toadflax Brocade - breeding in Glamorgan

There have been four adult records of Toadflax Brocade in garden light traps in South Wales this year: two in Cardiff and two at St Brides (Gwent). It therefore seemed highly probable that this species was breeding locally rather than these being just wanderers from southern England.

I've been keeping an eye on toadflax plants around Llandaff and Llandaff North for the striking larvae of this species, but without any success. This morning I took a trip down to Cardiff Docks, which always seems a likely area for new arrivals to establish themselves. After a bit of searching I found two larvae on Purple Toadflax at Tremorfa Industrial Estate (ST210757) and a further solitary larva on Common Toadflax on the verge just outside the entrance to Cardiff Port (ST208751).

Toadflax Brocade larva on Purple Toadflax
The delightful habitat which Toadflax Brocade likes to call home: two larvae on Purple Toadflax growing along the fenceline
It will be interesting to see how widely this species spreads in South Wales in the coming years. Small Ranunculus breeds in the same area but its foodplant, Prickly Lettuce, is much less widespread than the toadflaxes, which are frequent on road verges as well as in gardens. Despite recolonising the county in 2004, Small Ranunculus hasn't spread much beyond the confines of urban and industrial parts of Cardiff, with just a few records from the Vale coast as far west as Rhoose. Toadflax Brocade may well be different...but only time will tell.


  1. Well done George. I thought it had to be local since 4 adults have turned up. I'll keep a look out too.

  2. They were quite low down on the plants, so I may have missed some in earlier searches as I was looking mainly at the flowers and upper leaves. They were all actively feeding by day though, so quite easy to spot. The first two looked nearly full grown but the third was smaller so there should be a bit of time yet...

  3. Good work George - beautiful caterpillar too

  4. Worth a trip into the back streets of Swansea, or maybe the dock area ... if anyone gets a chance. Great spot