Peppered Moth

Biston betulariaThe rural form is white peppered with black spots, and the completely black form (carbonaria) more common in urban areas, and is a favourite in genetic evolutionary studies. Another form f. insularia, is an intermediate form and has black wings with many white peppered spots. Wingspan 35-60mm.

Peppered Moth Biston betularia

The adults fly May to August. Attracted to light at night, and rests on trees during the day. Found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. Common and widespread. The caterpillars feed on assorted bushes, trees and plants.

Industrial Melanism: Over the last 200 years the Peppered Moth has been studied in detail due to its evolutionary changes in colouration. During the Industrial Revolution, due to the high levels of pollution at the time, soot being emitted into the atmosphere covered many trees in the towns and cities, obliterating any lichen or tree bark colouration which made the typical black and white Peppered Moth well camouflaged. Many of these forms died out, but the melanic form carbonaria, thrived as it was more suited to the grimy black environmental conditions of the time.

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire, June 2011. © Peter Hillman