The resting position of the Early Thorn distinguishes it from all other British thorns, with wings held back and close together, similar to a butterfly. The summer generation is smaller and paler, typically with larger tawny orange patches on the underside. Darker forms are encountered in the north.

The caterpillar can be found between May and June and again from August to early October in the south but in the north, where there is only one generation, caterpillars can be found between June and August. Overwinters as a pupa, spun between leaves or plant debris, 

The adult moth is common and well distributed throughout the British Isles, often seen at lighted windows and moth traps.

Flight Season

Flies at dusk onwards in two generations, from mid-February to May and again from July to September. In the north there may only be one generation from May to June.

Size and Family

  • Family – Ennominae
  • Medium Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 28-40mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common resident

Caterpillar Food Plants

The caterpillars feed on a variety of deciduous trees, including Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Hawthorn (Crataegus), Hazel (Corylus), Silver Birch (Betula pendula), Alder (Alnus) and Sallows (Salix).

Habitat

Can be found in woodland, scrub, hedgerows, parks and gardens, even urban areas.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

  • Common

Early Thorn - Iain Leach

Early Thorn

Early Thorn - Iain Leach

Early Thorn

Early Thorn - Iain Leach

Early Thorn

Early Thorn - Rachel Scopes

Early Thorn

Early Thorn - Ilia Ustyantsev

Early Thorn

Early Thorn - Bob Eade

Early Thorn

Early Thorn (caterpillar) - Ilia Ustyantsev

Early Thorn (caterpillar)

Early Thorn (caterpillar) - Patrick Clement

Early Thorn (caterpillar)