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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Luperina nickerlii subsp. leechi - Sandhill Rustic

Range & Status

The Sandhill Rustic has three distinct centres of population in Britain (Cornwall, Essex and Suffolk, and north Wales and Lancashire), in which the three subspecies are found: demuthi , gueneei and leechi . The subspecies leechi occurs in Cornwall and is a unique subspecies found nowhere else in the world. The Sandhill Rustic occurs in various parts of western and central Europe with several subspecies.

Regional Distribution

The subspecies leechi occurs at a single coastal site where it was found in 1974 (Goater, 1976). A single female Luperina nickerlii was found at Bude in 1990 (Wedd, 1991), thought at the time to be similar to the Essex/Suffolk populations. The taxonomy of this species is confused, and D. Wedd (pers. comm.) suggests that his specimen is half-way between subsp. leechi and subsp. demuthi . It is possible that this specimen was a stray from a local saltmarsh or sand dune colony, but no colonies have been found in this area despite searches.

Habitat & Ecology

The Sandhill Rustic occurs on a strip of shingly sand about 500x240 metres (Spalding, 1993) where the larvae feed on Sand Couch-grass Elytrigia juncea . The population at this site is erratic (Spalding, 1991b) and its size is probably related to seasonal weather patterns, the amount of foodplant available (Spalding, 1994b), the regular disturbance of the sand and the stage in the life cycle of Elytrigia (Spalding, unpublished observations).


Collecting of adults in some years could be a threat, especially in years when the population is low; recent work indicates that in some years the population is strong (Spalding, 1997b) but populations in 2007 and 2008 have been very low. The adults rest by day either under the low-growing shore vegetation (Spalding, 1991c) or out on the open sand where their cryptic appearance makes them almost impossible to see; continued disturbance of the site is necessary to ensure the survival of the larval foodplant. Summer storms can also pose a threat.


The population is regularly monitored. The site is owned by the National Trust. A UK BAP priority species.


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.