A large, strong-flying butterfly restricted to the Norfolk Broads, although migrants are occasionally seen elsewhere. Pale yellow wings with black veins and blue margins.

This is one of our rarest and most spectacular butterflies. The British race britannicus is a specialist of wet fenland and is currently restricted to the Norfolk Broads. Here the adults can be seen flying powerfully over open fen vegetation, stopping to feed on flowers such as thistles and Ragged-Robin.

The antennae also have a whitish band near the tips and there is a small yellowish-white spot or dash at the rear of the thorax.

The caterpillars spend two years feeding near the base of a tree trunk or in the roots, overwintering as larvae.

Size and Family

  • Family – Clearwing moths (Sesiidae)
  • Small Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 24-28mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Nationally Scarce B

Caterpillar Food Plants

Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and birches.

Identified by three or sometimes four narrow and yellowish-white bands on the abdomen and vertical stripes on the thorax with the absence of and orange scales on the forewings.

The adults can sometimes be seen visiting flowers of Thrift and Thyme. The caterpillars feed inside the roots and stems of the foodplant from August to the following May, overwintering as part-grown larvae.

The males have six yellow bands but the females have only five, both with orange scales on the tip and along the central bar of the forewings and largely yellow legs.

The adults can sometimes be found using sweep nets. The caterpillars feed inside the roots of the foodplant from July to the following May, overwintering as larvae.

Similar in size and appearance to the Currant Clearwing but missing the yellow collar or thorax markings of the Currant Clearwing.

The caterpillars spend two years feeding in thin stems of the willow foodplant causing a pear-shaped gall overwintering as larvae.

This moth can be distinguished from the Large Red-belted and Red-tipped Clearwings by the absence of any red markings on the forewings.

The adults are occasionally seen resting on tree trunks in the early morning. The caterpillars feed inside the trunk of the tree from August to the following May, overwintering as part-grown larvae.

This moth can be distinguished from the Large Red-belted and Red-tipped Clearwings by the absence of any red markings on the forewings.

The adults are occasionally seen flying around apple trees in the afternoon. The caterpillars can be found feeding underneath the bark of the foodplant from August to the following May, overwintering as larvae.

The forewings are marked with reddish-brown scales, particularly around the edges. At rest the wings are held close to the body. The males have seven yellow bands on the abdomen whereas the females have only six but both have a yellow tail fan.

They overwinter twice as larvae in the roots of the Raspberry plant, producing a gall at the base on the stem in the second year.

There are two distinct yellow bands on the abdomen but sometimes there are additional faint bands. The antennae are black.

The caterpillars spend two years feeding in thin stems of the foodplant, overwintering as larvae.

Similar in appearance to the Hornet Moth it can be distinguished by the black head and shoulder and a yellow collar. It is also smaller in size.

They usually overwinter twice as larvae. In the first year the caterpillars feed close to the ground but move slightly higher up the tree trunk in the second year.

Size and Family

Subscribe to Black