Silver Y

Autographa gamma

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)

I was watering my garden containers this afternoon when this moth flew out of one. The Silver Y just has that – a distinctive metallic silvery Y mark on each forewing. The forewing ground colour is marbled brown, reddish-brown, grey and buff, and sometimes it has a purplish hue. Wingspan up to 40mm.

Several generations are seen every month of the year, but more frequently seen during the months of May to September. Often seen flying during the day in sunny weather, or at dusk being attracted to nectar-rich flowers. It is also attracted to light at night. Found in all habitats, from coastal to inland. Widespread and abundant immigrant from Europe.

The caterpillar feeds on a variety of low-growing plants, including Common Nettle, clovers and bedstraws.

Photograph of Silver Y (Autographa gamma), taken September 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Celypha striana

Celypha striana

A brownish moth with a distinct brown cross-band. Forewing length 7 to 10mm.

Celypha striana

It flies June to August, and inhabits grassland. A common and widespread species in southern Britain, becoming less so further north.

The caterpillar feeds on the roots of Dandelion.

Photographs of Celypha striana, taken June 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Scarce Footman

Eilema complana

Scarce Footman (Eilema complana)

This footman rests with its wings wrapped and folded close to its body which helps to distinguish it between the Common Footman (Eilema lurideola). Forewing length up to 18mm.

Scarce Footman (Eilema complana)

The caterpillars feed on lichens. The adults are seen July to August, and they are attracted to light. Found in woodland, on heathland and downland. Common and widespread in central and southern England, and Wales, scarce elsewhere.

Photographs of Scarce Footman (Eilema complana) taken in July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Dark Arches

Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)

The Dark Arches is quite variable in ground colour, ranging from pale greyish, brown to blackish. It has conspicuous oval and kidney marks, dark V-shapes either side of the thorax, and a W-mark near the outer edge. All these are distinguishing features and remain fairly constant even if there is a difference in colour. Wingspan up to 55mm.

Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)

The caterpillars feed on various grasses. The adults fly June to August, sometimes September to November in the south. Fairly attracted to light, and often comes in large numbers. Found in all types of habitats, including gardens, woodland, hedgerows, marshes, and arable land. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs of Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) taken in July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

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.

Common Yellow Conch

Agapeta hamana – This is one of my favourite Tortrix moths. It has a pale, creamy- yellow ground colour with distinct dark brown markings.

Agapeta hamana

Agapeta hamana

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D3200
Date taken: 11th July 2015
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire



Mythimna ferrago

The clay is a plain moth, with variable ground colour, ranging from pinkish brown, buff and straw. It has small white markings on each forewing. The males have a black band on the underside of the abdomen. Wingspan up to 40mm.

The caterpillars feed on grasses.

It flies June to August, and is attracted to light. Found in various open habitats, including open woodland, wetland and gardens. Common and widespread.

Photographs taken July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Who’s Looking At Who?

Riband Wave (Idaea aversata f. remutata)

This was the second moth I discovered on my patio door today, and this one was peering through the side window having a good look in. It is geometer moth, of which there are two forms of this particular species, this one being Idaea aversata f. remutata. This form has fine, delicate darkish lines on its forewings, where as the other, typical form, has a wide dark cross band.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Macroglossum stellatarum

I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawkmoth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase, 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. It has a bright orange flashy underwing, and distinct chequer-like markings on the rear of its squat abdomen. It has a wingspan of up to 58mm.

The caterpillar feeds on Lady’s and Hedge Bedstraw, and Wild Madder.

It flies April to December. Most immigrants arrive in August and September. Occurs anywhere, from coastal regions, woodland rides, parks and gardens.

This is a regular migrant to Britain from southern Europe and north Africa which can breed here in hot summers in the south of England.

Photographs taken August 2005, in flight, rear garden, and August 2007, resting on foliage, local wood, Staffordshire.

Marbled Beauty

Bryophila domesticaThis is indeed a beauty with its various marbled colouration. It ranges from greyish, greyish-green, green or dull orange in ground colour, or a slight mixture of these colours all with white. It has a wingspan of up to 25mm.

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

It can be seen from July to August, and is attracted to light. It is often attracted to my moth trap, and this is how I managed to photograph it the next day before releasing it. Often found resting on walls, fences, or tree trunks during the day. It is particularly well camouflaged on lichen covered trees. It is found in various habitats, from urban to suburban, calcareous woodland and coastal cliffs.

The caterpillars feed on lichen which grows on various substrates such as trees, walls and rocks. © Peter Hillman

Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire, July 2015.

Heart & Dart

Agrotis exclamationis

This moth has distinctive heart and dart shaped markings on its forewings. There are some variations, but a constant narrow black band across the collar of the thorax identifies this species when compared to the Heart & Club (Agrotis clavis) which is similar. Wingspan 30 to 40mm. Forewing length 15 to 19mm.

The caterpillar feeds on various herbaceous plants.

It flies In two generations, May to August, and in September further south. Readily attracted to light, sometimes in great numbers. Also feeds at sugar and flowers. Found almost anywhere. Common and widespread, and one of the most abundant larger moths in Britain.

Photographs taken July 2015 and June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

The Flame

Axylia putris

An unmistakeble species which has little variation, except some may show a reddish-brown tinge on the forewing. It has excellent camouflage when at rest as it folds its wings close to its body, lays back its antennae, and mimics a broken stem or twig. A dark leading edge and a dark kidney mark on the forewing readily distinguishes this species from others that maybe similar.Wingspan 27 to 32mm. Forewing length 14 to 16mm.

The caterpillar feeds on Common Nettle, White Dead Nettle, and other low-growing plants.

It Flies June to July, and it is found in various habitats, including woodland margins, farmland, hedgerows and gardens. A common and widespread species except further north where it is more local.

Photographs taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Hebrew Character

Orthosia gothica

A distnctive species which has a unique mark amongst moths on its forewing, hence its name. The mark maybe variable, as can the forewing ground colour. No similar species. Wingspan up to 35mm.

The caterpillar feeds mainly at night in April to July, feeding on the buds at first and then the leaves. It feeds on a wide range of vegetation, including trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

The adult flies March to early May in the south of Britain, and April to early June in the north and Ireland. It is found in various habitats, from moorland to gardens. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs taken March 2012 and  March 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire.