Scotch Burnet

  • Scotch Burnet
    Scotch Burnet

Scientific name: Zygaena exulans

June - July. Found on high slopes and summits of mountains in the eastern Cairngorms. Small moth, black with five red spots on translucent forewing. Often found near cowberry.

Sometimes referred to as the Mountain Burnet, the forewings of this moth are thinly-scaled with five distinct, though sometimes very small, red spots. Its montane habitat and hairy body help to distinguish this moth.

Active in sunshine with a low, erratic buzzing flight, but will hide amongst vegetation during bad weather. Attracted to flowers, particularly Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil, but also Mountain Everlasting and others.

Size and Family

  • Family – Burnets and Foresters (Zygaenids)
  • Small Sized 

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Rare (Red Data Book category 3)

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Crowberry, eating the terminal shoots and unripe berries. Also Cowberry, Bilberry and Heather.


  • Countries – Scotland
  • Occurs in the UK as an endemic subspecies, subochracea, which is restricted to the eastern Cairngorms near Braemar, Aberdeenshire where it can be common.


Frequents the higher slopes, c.700-850m high, and summits of mountains, where the mainly prostrate vegetation consists of Crowberry, heathers and lichens with scattered Bilberry and Mountain Everlasting.

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