Small Grey

Eudonia mercurella

This small moth comes from a challenging group of moths to accurately identify. With a forewing length of up to 9mm (0.4in), this moth can be quite variable, but can usually be identified by its white cross-lines and markings. The adults fly from June to September, and are attracted to light. They are a regular visitor to my garden, and fairly common throughout Britain. It can be found in woodland, grassland and gardens. The larvae feed on mosses.

Small Grey Eudonia mercurella

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

Grass Moths

Crambus perlella
Crambus perlella

Crambidae or Crambid Snout Moths belong to the superfamily Pyraloidea, or Pyralid moths, these long-snouted grass moths are sometimes listed as a subfamily to the Pyralidae family. They are often encountered when disturbed from the grass on sunny days, or when attracted to light at night. They are quite a varied group, some having quite distinctive colours and markings. The larvae feed on the roots of grasses, stems,  and sometimes on moss. Some of these Crambids can become serious pests of cereal crops.

Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella
Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella

There are 117 UK species which are in 8 subfamilies. One of these subfamilies is called Crambinae, and this is where the grass moths reside. There are 33 UK species with several migrants. These grass moths (also called “grass-veneers”) have narrow forewings and broad hindwings. They often rest on grass stems, or sometimes plant stems, facing downwards with their wings tightly packed against their body to make themselves look inconspicuous to predators. They are easily disturbed during the day when walking through grassland, and do not generally fly very far before settling down again. They actually appear larger in flight because of their broader hindwings. The caterpillars feed on the stems or roots of a variety of grasses and sometimes moss.

Crambus pascuella
Crambus pascuella

The photographs featured here show the variations in some of the species I have managed to photograph and may help in identification.

Agriphila geniculea
Agriphila geniculea
Agriphila straminella
Agriphila straminella
Catoptria falsella
Catoptria falsella

Taken during 2011, rear garden and local field, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011.

Garden Pebble

Evergestis forficalis

Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis

This moth has a distinctive wing repose when at rest, for it folds the wings like a tent above its body. It has an ochreous forewing with rusty brown line markings. It has two conspicuous dark rusty-brown discal spots. Wingspan 25 to 28mm.

Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis

The caterpillars can be a pest to gardeners for they eat various Cruciferae, especially Cabbage, Turnip and Horseradish.

The adults fly in two broods, one May to June, and the other August to September. Attracted to light. Found in gardens and allotments. Common and widespread throughout the British Isles.


May 2011, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011.

Small Magpie

Eurrhypara hortulata

Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata)

This beautiful and distinctive moth had flown into my dining room and had landed on the patio window. It has a bright yellow head and thorax, with traces in the black-banded abdomen. The forewings and hindwings are white with dark brownish markings which can vary in tonal intensity from grey through brown to black. Wingspan up to 28mm.

It flies June to July, and is found on woodland margins, in hedgerows, and in gardens. Common and widespread throughout except where it is more local in northern England and Scotland.

The caterpillar feeds on Common Nettle and occasionally Mint.

Photographs of Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) taken in July 2015, in house, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.