Transparent Burnet

  • Transparent Burnet
    Transparent Burnet

Scientific name: Zygaena purpuralis

June - July. West coast of Scotland, Hebridean islands, western Ireland. Medium-sized moth with almost transparent wings, which are black with red blotches. Grassy slopes by the sea, occasionally inland on limestone.

Superficially similar to several of the other burnet moths, but readily distinguished by the thinly-scaled forewing with three blunt red streaks. Rarely this red colour is replaced by black, orange or yellow. The Slender Scotch Burnet and Scotch Burnet are also thinly-scaled, but are usually smaller and have distinct spots rather than streaks.

Flies in warm weather, preferring sunshine. During dull weather it can be found sitting exposed on flowerheads or grass stems. Visits nectar sources, such as Wild Thyme.

Size and Family

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

Conservation status

Subspecies caledonensis

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • UK status: Scarce (Nationally Scarce A)

Subspecies segontii

  • UK status: Presumed extinct

Subspecies sabulosa

  • Occurs in Ireland only

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Wild Thyme.


  • Countries – Scotland, Ireland
  • Subspecies caledonensis occurs on several of the Hebridean Islands and on small areas of the Mull of Kintyre and the Argyll coast. Subspecies segontii was formerly found in small colonies in parts of north Wales and has not been seen since 1962. Subspecies sabulosa is found in western Ireland, mainly on the Burren and Inishmore on the Aran Islands.


Found on steep, grassy, south or south-west facing slopes and undercliffs on or near the coast, and rarely inland on limestone.

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