Over 250 Moths Over 16 Years

x16 photos. Double click to enlarge

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum
Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) – taken August 2005

It was when I purchased my first digital camera back in 2005, a Sony Cybershot compact camera, that my love for nature and the side of the natural world, that is not always often seen but is always there to be found, became rekindled. My interest in moths – ‘moth mania’ I call it – began from a young age when I used to stay up a little at night with my older brother Steve, looking out for these nocturnal insects. In those days I used to paint and draw them, especially those with vivid patterns and colours like the Garden Tiger, which has sadly declined over the years since, and I have not yet seen one here to photograph.

Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) – taken August 2006
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria – taken June 2007

So since 2005, I have photographed over 250 (and still counting with lots of past images still to go through and positively identify) species of moth and have uploaded them to this site. 250 is small fraction of the 2,500 or more species of moth to be found throughout Britain. Not all are attracted to light. Some are attracted to feromones or sugar. Some are day-fying moths, and some are rare and localised to different areas of the country.

The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) – taken September 2008
Common Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma truncata) – taken May 2009

Oddly enough, in the year 2010 I apparently did not take one single moth photo, but a year later moth mania hit me again and I photographed over 150 different species of moth!

Yellow-tail Euproctis similis
Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) – taken July 2011
Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) – taken October 2012
Scarce Silver-lines Bena bicolorana
Scarce Silver-lines (Bena bicolorana) – taken July 2013

After buying different compact cameras over the years, it was in 2014 I purchased my first DSLR camera the Nikon D3200.

Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) – taken March 2014
Common Yellow Conch Agapeta hamana
Common Yellow Conch (Agapeta hamana) – taken July 2015
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata f. remutata)
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) – taken July 2016

2016 was the year I upgraded my camera to the Nikon D7200 (which I still use to this day) , and in 2017 it was another year the moth mania got to me. It was a very bountiful year for moths.

Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana
Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) – taken September 2017

The thing with moths is that they can be seen all year round, even during the winter months where most other insects are hibernating.

Sycamore Piercer Pammene aurita
Sycamore Piercer (Pammene aurita) – taken June 2018
Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) -taken July 2019
Azalea Leaf Miner Caloptilia azaleella
Azalea Leaf Miner (Caloptilia azaleella) – taken May 2020
Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) – taken July 2021

Something To Cuddle … Well Almost

No it’s not my new pet, and it is not a new rug, either … it is a moth which looks like it has a bull’s head. It is called the Pale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda, and they are very much attracted to light sources. The adults are sexually dimorphic, with the females being generally larger and plainer than the males.

Grey Dagger


Acronicta psi – This moth gets it name from the black dagger-like markings on its forewings. It is not possible to tell apart from the Dark Dagger (A. tridens), without genitalia dissection (which is not my thing) and is normally recorded as an aggregate species. It is found in most habitats, including woodland, hedgerows and gardens.


Grey Dagger Acronicta psi

© Peter Hillman ♦ 20th July 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Mottled Beauty


Alcis repandata – This was the one that nearly got away, but thankfully landed and rested on the side of the garden shed at the time. Quite an attractive moth beauty this, which can be extremely variable. A regular visitor to light sources.


Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata

© Peter Hillman ♦14th June 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Oak Eggar


Lasiocampa quercus – I came across this striking hairy caterpillar as it crawled over a sea wall when I was on a visit to Llandudno, Wales. They do not feed on oak as the English name leads us to believe, but its cocoon looks much like an acorn. The hairs may cause skin irritation, which is the caterpillar’s defense mechanism. They can grow up to 80mm (3 -1/8in) long.


Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

The larva can take a year to grow in the south, and two years further north where it is cooler. They feed quite rapidly and change appearance as they grow which can make them hard to identify compared to other Eggars. It feeds on a variety of plants, including heather and bramble.

Double-click images to enlarge.


© Peter Hillman ♦ 24th April 2014 ♦ West Shore, Llandudno, Wales ♦ Nikon D3200


Brindled Pug


Eupithecia abbreviata – This attractive moth must have been bedazzled by my garage light and I found it on the door the next morning. Like most pugs they are only small with a wingspan of around 22mm (7/8in). It is an early spring species, and usually inhabits deciduous woodland where the caterpillars feed on oak and hawthorn. Double-click to enlarge images.


Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

© Peter Hillman ♦ 11th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Dark Arches


Apamea monoglypha – This moth really like your house lights, and you certainly know when one is around because they whiz around you like crazy. Yet they are mostly well behaved during the light of day and will let you photograph them wthout flying off, which is good because there would be no point in this post otherwise. The ground colour of the forewings is quite changeable, but the distinctive pattern always remains more or less the same. Double-click to get closer.


Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Heart & Dart


Agrotis exclamationis – You can clearly see why they call this moth the Heart & Dart. Double-click for a closer look-see.



Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Two Fan-foots


At first glance these two fairly well-defined macro-moths from the family Erebidae – subfamily Herminiinae – look quite similar. But look more closely … see how their finely drawn lines are different? Double-click to peer closer …


The Fan-foot Herminia tarsipennalis
The Fan-foot (Herminia tarsipennalis)

Small Fan-foot Herminia grisealis
Small Fan-foot (Herminia grisealis)

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019 & 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Orange Swift


Triodia sylvina – This is from a primitive moth group called Hepialidae, which contains just 5 species found in the British Isles. The adults cannot feed for they have no functional proboscis. The images featured are that of the male. The sexes look quite different from one another.



Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 2nd August 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet


Zygaena lonicerae – An attractively bright day-flying moth, with yes, you guessed it, five red spots on each forewing.


Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D3200
Date taken: 21st June 2014
Place: Local field, Staffordshire


Old Lady


Mormo maura – You know when this one pays a visit because it is fairly large with a wingspan of up to 65mm (2 1/2in). Not one of the brightest of moths, but it has an interesting, fine-lined pattern.


Old Lady Mormo maura


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 26th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Iron Prominent


Notodonta dromedarius – A moth which looks like it is suffering from oxidation with its distinct red rusty markings. One of the easier of the night lepidoptera to photograph. They are fairly calm and will remain still for a long time.


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

The Drinker


Euthrix potatoria – An unusual moth. This is the female of the species. The name comes from the habit of the caterpillar which apparently has a preference for drinking drops of dew.


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 26th June 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Maiden’s Blush


Cyclophora punctaria – A finely detailed and beautifully coloured moth from the family Geometridae.


Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lunar Underwing


Omphaloscelis lunosa – There is a dark ‘crescent moon’ marking on the pale underwing of this moth which gives it its name.


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Barred Sallow


Tiliacea aurago – Although this is somewhat faded, it is quite an attractive moth with autumnal colours and a very diagnostic yellow or yellow-orange central band.


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th October 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Scarlet Tiger


Callimorpha dominula – This is a wonderfully bright coloured day-flying moth.


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula


I found the larva to the adult above feeding on Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) on a walk along a local woodland margin back in the spring of 2012.

Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula caterpillar


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200 (2019) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 (2012)
Date taken: 29th June 2019 (adult) 16th May 2012 (caterpillar)
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire (adult), local woodland margin, Staffordshire (caterpillar)


 

Small Emerald


Hemistola chrysoprasaria – This is rarely seen in my county, and there has only been but a handful of ecologically recorded sightings since the first one in 1967, this one being one of them. A beautiful green moth with distinctive pale crosslines.


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Hummingbird Hawk-moth


Macroglossum stellatarum – I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawk-moth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase back in the summer of 2005, and haven’t been able to capture one in flight and feeding since back then. A spectacular brightly coloured diurnal moth which can be seen sipping nectar in full sunlight with its extraordinary long proboscis. It looks and sounds like a hummingbird as it feeds from tubular flowers such as Red Valerian, Buddleia, Lilac, and the like.


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Sony Cybershot DSC-W1
Date taken: 21st August 2005
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Elephant Hawk-moth


Deilephila elpenor – This hawk-moth always reminds me of a fond time during my boyhood when my brother and I discovered the caterpillar for this moth, and subsequently watched it pupate and turn into this magnificent adult. Hawk-moths can be quite docile creatures in the daytime, and they will let you handle them readily, and tend to be very cooperative and accommodating on a photo shoot. This is one of our most beautiful moths with large pink and olive-green streamlined wings. The name comes from the caterpillar which looks like an elephant’s trunk when it extends itself. This is one of the few caterpillars that can actually swim, in which it may resemble a small grass snake.



Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lime Hawk-moth


Mimas tiliae – This is a large and impressive hawk-moth with scalloped-edged forewings and olive-green and pinkish markings. The central dark forewing markings may be variable, and in some individuals may be joined to form a cross-band.


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon Coolpix P500
Date taken: 26th June 2013
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Yellow And Black And Hairy All Over

No wonder the birds don’t fancy eating them and the Ragwort in the fields is teeming with these brightly coloured caterpillars of the Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae), a moth which can be seen flying amongst the grasses during the daytime, especially when disturbed. Please see the adult last in line below.

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae larva

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae

Local field, July 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Willow Beauty

Peribatodes rhomboidaria – The Willow Beauty is a variable moth and may be confused with other ‘Beauty’ species. It has a wingspan of 30-38mm. An important feature in identification is the cross-line on the forewing beyond the middle which is strongly kinked near the leading edge. It is more or less straight in trailing half, and forms a dot on each vein. The adult flies mainly June to August, but in the south a second generation form August to October. Readily comes to light, sometimes in fair numbers. Found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. Common and widespread, and resident. The larvae feed on a range of broadleaved trees, shrubs and climbers, including privet, Honeysuckle and birches.

Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, July 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

This Moth Is Looking At You!


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) – Say Hi!


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Blotched Emerald

Comibaena bajularia A beautifully green coloured moth with a wingspan of 23-27mm. It is mainly found in southern England and Wales in deciduous woodland where the larvae feed on the leaves of oaks. It can be seen June to July. A resident species which is local in well established woodland.

Attracted to light, rear garden, June 2019. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Bright-line Brown-eye

Lacanobia oleracea – This moth may not be as exciting to look at compared to some others but it does have rather a curious vernacular name. The shade of the brown forewing may vary a little. Note the ‘brown-eye’, the kidney-mark with the bright orange blotch in the centre, and the white cross-line forming a ‘W’. The adult flies May to July, and is found in various habitats, including suburban gardens.The larva feeds on a wide variety of wild and cultivated herbaceous and woody plants.

Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea

Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, July 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

This Leopard Has Blue Encrusted Gemstones for Spots

Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina) – I found the blue sparkling spots on this moths wings and head quite beautiful. It belongs to a family of moths called Cossidae, and this is one of only three species that can be found in the British Isles. It flies at night and is attracted to light, but it can also be found resting during the daytime on tree trunks. The adults are not able to feed. They fly June to July, and frequent open woodland, scrub, parks and gardens. The larvae feed on the wood of various deciduous trees.

Leopard Moth Zeuzera pyrina

Leopard Moth Zeuzera pyrina

Leopard Moth Zeuzera pyrina

Leopard Moth Zeuzera pyrina

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, July 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Beauty In Survival

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) – I guess one might not think this to be a moth on first appearance. One of its ways of continuing survival is to mimic a broken off piece of a birch twig, right down to that silvery dusting on top. Even though I have seen this kind of thing before, I am still in awe of what nature presents to us all!

Buff-tip Phalera bucephala

Buff-tip Phalera bucephala

Buff-tip Phalera bucephala

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, June 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Icing on The Moth

Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) – I thought this was quite an interesting view which makes the moth appear like it has been iced all over. You really need to double-click to appreciate it. It was taking a drink from the moistened moss.

Clouded Silver Lomographa temerata

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, June 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Beautiful Hook-tip

Laspeyria flexula – This moth has strongly hooked rusty-brown wingtips. It has a greyish-brown forewing ground colour, often with a pinkish-lilac hue. It has distinctive cross-lines, with the lower one following through on the hindwing. Wingspan 23-27mm. The adult flies late June to early August, and it is attracted to light. Found in woodland, parkland and orchards. A resident species, widespread but local in the south of England and Wales. The larva feeds on lichens growing on deciduous and coniferous trees.

Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula

Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula

Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, June 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

Buff Arches


Habrosyne pyritoides – I always find the defined markings on this moth quite remarkable. It makes you wonder how it evolved to finish up with this particular suit of patterning, colouration and form.


Buff Arches Habrosyne pyritoides


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 27th June 2018
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Straw Dot

Rivula sericealis – This is one of those moths that can be easily disturbed during the day. It is only small, and they normally only fly a short distance before settling down again, usually head down and tail up, may be to resemble the face of a small rodent. This one landed on Field Horsetail.

Straw Dot Rivula sericealis

With a wingspan of 18-23mm, the forewings have a straw ground colour and large dark dot-like markings. The marking forms a kidney shape which can be seen clearer in fresher specimens, and although it appears to be brownish, under a lens it is purple and black. There is patterning which can be seen in unworn fresher specimens which can vary slightly. Unlikely to be confused with any other species.

The adult flies in two generations, June to July and August to September. It prefers damp environments and can be found in damp grassland, damp woods, heathland, moorland and gardens. It is easily disturbed during the day, where it will usually only fly a short distance before settling down on grass or vegetation adopting an upside down posture. It flies from dusk and is readily attracted to light. It is both a resident species and a suspected immigrant. Common and widespread, and fairly frequent in the southern half of Britain. Scarcer and more localised further north.

The larva feeds at night on various grasses including False Broome, Tor-grass and Purple Moor-grass. It overwinters as a larva, and pupates in a small cocoon between grass blades.


Photograph: Local field, June 2018. Nikon D7200 © Peter Hillman.

The Cinnabar

Tyria jacobaeae – The fields were full of these most distinctive day-flying moths, which I chased along with the Pheasant. These were a little easier to chase, but they knew you was getting close and would fly a short distance to another part of the field, sometimes even before you could put eye to camera.

The Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae

Local field, June 2018. © Peter Hillman

Mother Shipton

Euclidia mi – This beautifully marked moth is often seeing flying during the day where it will alight on flowers to feed. If you look at the forewings you may make out a face on each one with a beady eye, a long nose and a gaping moth, resembling a witch or an old hag. The face apparently resembles that of a real person, a prophet called Mother Shipton who died in 1591.

Mother Shipton Euclidia mi

Mother Shipton Euclidia mi

Mother Shipton Euclidia mi

Mother Shipton Euclidia mi

I found this one in a local field rich in wild flowers, which is its preference. The adults can be seen on the wing from May to early July. The larva feed on a variety of clovers and grasses. Common in England and Wales, scarcer elsewhere.


Local field, Staffordshire, May 2018. © Peter Hillman.

Muslin Moth

Diaphora mendica – This is one of those rare occasions where I have spotted and photographed a moth out in the wilds. The first image is the female, and she is a little worse for wear with her faded wings and slightly torn edges. The species is sexually dimorphic. Compare the male in the bottom image.

Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica


Female found on local river bank, Staffordshire, May 2018. © Pete Hillman.

Lesser Yellow Underwing

Noctua comes – This moth caterpillar almost turned a darker shade of  oak on Saturday when I was staining my back fence. Thankfully I spotted it in time and relocated it near a similar foodplant opposite, stopping to take a few snaps of it. The image below shows it rolled up in defensive mode, making it look less like a caterpillar to a prying bird. The head is in the centre with its suckered, almost toothed feet (prolegs) and front legs (true legs) like fingernails wrapped around it. Double click for a better look.

Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes caterpillar

Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes

It may have just come out of winter hibernation (or I inadvertently woke it up). It is not a fussy eater and will feed on a range of bushes, trees and herbaceous plants. It tends to feed at night, then hides from predation during the day. It will eventually pupate underground before becoming the adult.


Rear garden, Staffordshire,May 2018. © Peter Hillman