A white moth with small black spots on the forewing, however the number of black spots varies greatly from largely white examples which are almost entirely plain to those with many more spots that may even join together to form streaks along the wing veins.

The white wing colour can also vary with creamy-buff or even brown examples often found in Scotland.

The hairy larvae can be seen from July to September which then overwinter as pupae among plant debris.

Size and Family

  • Family – Tiger moths, ermines, footman moths and allies (Arctiidae)
  • Medium Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 36-46mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Priority species (research only)
  • Common

Caterpillar Food Plants

A wide range of herbaceous plants including Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) and docks.


Found in most rural and urban habitats including gardens, hedgerows, grassland, heathland, moorland, woodland and on the coast.


  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Common and well distributed throughout Britain, the Isle of Man and Ireland. Also abundant in the Channel Islands. 
White Ermine - Rob Blanken

White Ermine

White Ermine by Heath McDonald

White Ermine

White Ermine - Ryszard Szczygieł

White Ermine - Ryszard Szczygieł

White Ermine (underwing) by Rob Blanken

White Ermine (underwing)

White Ermine (no spots) by Ilia Ustyantsev

White Ermine (no spots)

White Ermine (young caterpillar) - Ryszard Szczygieł

White Ermine (young caterpillar)

White Ermine (caterpillar) - Paul Davis

White Ermine (caterpillar)

White Ermine (caterpillar) - Sue Davies

White Ermine (caterpillar)

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