This striking moth rests with wings open and half-raised and forewings slightly curled. Can be distinguished from the similar Lunar Thorn by a dark central spot towards the outer edge of the hindwing upperside. The central silver crescent on the forewing is also larger on the Purple Thorn. Second generation moths are typically smaller and paler.

The caterpillars can be found from late May to early July and again in from August to September in southern England.Overwinters as a pupa, just below ground.

The adult moths are rarely seen apart from when attracted to light.

The typical form of this common species has a distinct black mark on the forewing that is unique among spring-flying moths, but in northern parts, this mark may be the same as the ground colour, or paler.

This moth spends the winter as a pupa in an underground cocoon, with the adult fully formed inside. The caterpillars can be found between April and July, feeding mainly at night on the buds and then the leaves of their foodplant.

Adults fly late in the night, even in cold conditions and can be seen feeding at sallow blossom, also regularly attracted to light and sugar.

The male of this common species has a brownish forewing that is quite variable but can be distinguished by a row of black dots along the edge of both fore- and hindwing. The similar looking Mottled Umber lacks these markings and are less conspicuous in the Scarce Umber.

Caterpillars can be found between April and mid-June. Overwinters as a pupa underground

Males come to light and sometimes in large numbers while the female can be found by day resting on tree-trunks.

This common species is easily recognised by their round-tipped forewing, with large, rounded, pale-outlined oval and kidney mark and uniformly grey hindwing. Markings are extremely variable but always a shade of brown or grey.

The caterpillars can be found from April to June, living at first in the developing buds before going on to feed on the leaves, fully grown larvae can be found resting on the underside of the leaf. 

The adult moth often comes to light and to sugar in large numbers but adults will also feed on sallow catkins and the flowers of Blackthorn.

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, 

A common resident but rarer further north and into Scotland. Forewing is uniformly white with black dots. Very similar in appearance to closely related Ermines and care must be taken with identification.

Flight Season

Flies at night from late June to early September in a single generation.

A common resident. Forewing is two-toned grey and white, or uniformly grey, with black dots. Very similar in appearance to closely related Ermines and care must be taken with identification.

Can be seen in large numbers both as a caterpillar and adult moth, often coming to light. Also seen in the daytime at rest on the foodplant.

Flight Season

Flies at night from June to August in a single generation.

A common resident from the south midlands northwards but widely considered an immigrant in the south. Forewing is white with black dots which are considerably more numerous than in related species.

Can be seen in large numbers both as a caterpillar and adult moth, often coming to light.

Flight Season

Flies at night from June to September in a single brood.

Often found inside houses and being continuously brooded can be seen at any time of the year. Accidentally introduced across the world with dried stored goods.

Flight Season

Flies throughout the year in multiple broods.

Size and Family

  • Family – Oecophoridae
  • Small Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 15-21mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common Resident

Caterpillar Food Plants

The caterpillars feed on dried plant and animal debris.

Often found inside houses, this Asian species was introduced into Europe and beyond during the 1840's but can now be seen throughout the British Isles.

Adults vary greatly in size.

Flight Season

Flies throughout the year in multiple broods but most often encountered during the summer months. Outdoors the species cannot survive hard frosts.

Size and Family

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