The typical form of this common species has a distinct black mark on the forewing, but in northern parts, this mark may be the same as the ground colour, or paler.

Adults can be seen feeding at sallow blossom, and is regularly attracted to light.

Flight Season

Flies throughout March and April in one generation.

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.

An Asian species, first recorded in the British Isles from Kent in 2007, where it was attracted to light. Since then sightings have increased greatly and is now encountered frequently across the south and even central London.

Flight Season

Flies from late July through to mid-September in one generation.

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.

When at rest the Red Sword-grass is brilliantly camouflaged as a bit of wood. Indeed its scientific name Xylena vetusta means ‘old wood’. It is a widespread species in northern and western parts of the UK, but is capable of long-distance flights so can turn up anywhere.

Red Sword-grass moths hibernate through the winter, starting to emerge in March. The moths visit early blossom such as sallow to drink nectar as well as feeding on the sap of birches.

If there are pine trees nearby, you have a chance of seeing this beautiful, orange-red moth which flies from late February until the beginning of summer. Thanks to its colours and patterns, the moth blends in perfectly as it rests among the buds of the pine trees.

Contrary to the general decline of UK moths, the Pine Beauty has done well over recent decades, increasing in numbers as a result of pine trees being planted for timber production and as ornamental plants in gardens.

Adults feed in spring at sallow blossom and are attracted to light.

An unmistakable moth in the early spring, identifiable by the two broad brown bands across the forewing which vary in width and are edged with black. There is a darker form where the banding is still present but less conspicuous. Ground colour varies from white to greenish grey.

Male and female are similar but the female is often whiter and the male has feathered antennae.

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