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 English subspecies or is similar in appearance to the Figure of Eighty but the cross-lines are more wavy, often thicker and more numerous. The Scottish subspecies scotica is sometimes a paler grey colour or occasionally brown. The Irish subspecies hibernica varies between the two others in colour with paler markings.

The adults fly at night and are attracted to light.

A brown moth with fine dark cross-lines on the forewings curving around the 80 mark. The forewings are broader then the Figure of Eight moth. The adults fly at night and are attracted to light.

The caterpillars can be found from mid-July to September feeding at night and resting between two leaves spun flat together during the day. They overwinter as pupae in a delicate cocoon between leaves of the foodplant which fall to the ground with the leaves in autumn.

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.

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.

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.

A golden leading edge to the forewing and white central spot are diagnostic. The wing fringes are plain.

The adults fly at night and are attracted to light. The caterpillars can be found from August to late the following May, overwintering low down on the foodplant. They camouflage themselves by attaching parts of the foodplant to their bodies.

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