A characteristic grassland species.Distinctive, with each forewing having creamy-coloured markings, the outlines of which resemble a witch’s face.

The moth is named after Old Mother Shipton, a 16th century Yorkshire witch.Usually flies for short distances, but is very alert after being disturbed, often alighting on flowers between flights.

Size and Family

  • Family – Catocalines
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wingspan Range - 26-32mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

    Caterpillar Food Plants

    Clovers (Trifolium sp.), Black Medick (Medicago lupulina), Lucerne (Medicago sativa), Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), as well as Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomeratus) and other grasses.


    Found on a range of open, grassy habitats, including downland, heathland, low moorland, flower-rich hay meadows, woodland rides, verges, embankments etc.


    • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland
    • Fairly well distributed in England, Wales and Ireland, though more local in Scotland north to Ross-shire. Scarce on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
    Mother Shipton by Mark Parsons

    Mother Shipton