The usual form in rural areas is all white peppered with black dots on both the wings and body. Black forms known as f. carbonaria were once dominant in industrial areas with high levels of pollution although their frequency has been steadily declining in recent years. Intermediate forms known collectively as f. insularia are variable between the light and dark forms.

The larvae can be seen between early July and late September before they overwinter as pupae just below the ground.

The Peppered Moth is frequently found in UK gardens, yet its amazing story has made it famous all over the world. It's one of the best-known examples of evolution by natural selection, Darwin's great discovery, and is often referred to as 'Darwin's moth'.

Size and Family

  • Family – Thorns, beauties, umbers and allies (Geometridae)
  • Large Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 44-56mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

Caterpillar Food Plants

A wide range of trees, shrubs and smaller plants including Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Downy (Betula pubescens) and Silver Birch (Betula pendula), limes, sallows, poplars, oaks, Sweet Chestnut (Castanae sativa), Beech (Fagus sylvatica), Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus), Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) and Hop (Humulus lupulus).


Woodland, scrub, hedgerows, parks and gardens.


  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Very well distributed and fairly frequent throughout most of England, Wales, and lowland Scotland. Also Frequent on the Isle of Man, Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Peppered moth - Heath McDonald

Peppered moth

Peppered moth - Stuart Read

Peppered moth

Peppered moth - Ben Sale

Peppered moth

Peppered moth - Paul Kitchener

Peppered moth

Peppered moth (Melanic form) - Lez Round

Peppered moth (Melanic form)

Peppered Moth

Peppered Moth

Peppered moth (caterpillar) - Bob Eade

Peppered moth (caterpillar)

Peppered moth (caterpillar) - Ryszard Szczygieł

Peppered moth (caterpillar)