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Owlet Moths (Noctuidae)

The Noctuids make up a very big family of moths. There are over 20,000 species known worldwide. In Britain it is the largest Moth family and represented by over 400 species. Most species are robust moths with long usually brownish wings, which have given them the common name of Owlet Moths. The wings are quite narrow, though. Some owlets have a different appearance, such as the Fan-feet and the Snouts. These do look like a crossing between Geometer Moths and Grassmoths. Minors and Rustics are extremely small and are often mistaken for micro moths, especially Pyralids. There are only very few Noctuids active during the day; most fly by night exclusively. But the moth most seen during daytime all over the country is an Owlet Moth: the Silver Y. Some Minors also fly in sunshine. Noctuids are good flyers. Contrary to the Geometer Moths, even though these have much larger wings. Among the Noctuids are quite some migrant species, travelling thousands of miles each year. In order to identify Noctuids two spots on the wings are very important: the bean-shaped kidney spot and the circular spot nearby. By studying these spots carefully it is sometimes possible to tell apart two very similar species. Most Noctuids pupate in or close near the ground in a cocoon. Usually Owlet Moths overwinter being either egg or pupa. Some species overwinter in the larval stage, though. Only very few species overwinter being adult. The Owlet Moths are split up in various subfamilies scientifically. But it is rather confusing, changes often and doesn't mean much to the amateur. So we haven't even tried that on this site.


Photograph of Paradrina clavipalpis
Pale Mottled Willow Paradrina clavipalpis

The Pale Mottled Willow is sometimes found inside buildings. More...


Photograph of Agrotis segetum
Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum

The Turnip Moth often is a pest in agriculture. More...


Photograph of Agrotis exclamationis
Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis

Unusual dark well-marked male. It is easy to see both: the heart and the dart. More...


Photograph of Agrotis clavis
Heart and Club Agrotis clavis

The circular spot looks a bit like an eye, which is a good way to identify the Heart and Club. More...


Photograph of Agrotis ipsilon
Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon

The Dark Sword-grass appears in Britain each and every year in great numbers, but doesn't breed over here. More...


Photograph of Agrotis puta male
Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta

The male is light and quite well marked. More...


Photograph of Agrotis puta female
Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta

Such a dark Shuttle-shaped Dart is a female. More...


Photograph of Axylia putris
Flame Axylia putris

The Flame is one of the very few Noctuids curling the wings around the body when at rest. More...


Photograph of Ochropleura plecta
Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta

The Flame Shoulder is regularly found resting in homes, sheds and stables. More...


Photograph of Noctua pronuba
Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba

The underwings of the Large Yellow Underwing are a great contrast to the upperwings. More...


Photograph of Noctua janthe
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe

The Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing proofs that common names are not always better than the scientific ones. More...


Photograph of Amphipyra pyramidea
Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea

The Copper Underwing has a very contrasting hindwing. More....


Photograph of Amphipyra berbera
Svensson's Copper Underwing Amphipyra berbera

Svensson's Copper Underwing can be told apart from the Copper Underwing only by closely inspecting the underwing and body of the animal. More...


Photograph of Hecatera bicolorata
Broad-barred White Hecatera bicolorata

It is obvious why it is called the Broad-barred White. More...


Photograph of Panolis flammea
Pine Beauty Panolis flammea

The Pine Beauty is available in two varieties: reddish and silvery grey. More...


Photograph of Lycophotia porphyrea
True Lover's Knot Lycophotia porphyrea

The True Lover's Knot is another beautiful Owlet Moth, found on heath. More...


Photograph of Anorthoa munda adult
Twin-spotted Quaker Anorthoa munda

The Twin-spotted Quaker has a very well chosen name indeed! More...


Photograph of Perigrapha munda larva
Twin-spotted Quaker Anorthoa munda

The caterpillar of the Twin-spotted Quaker is quite distinctly marked. More...


Photograph of Orthosia incerta
Clouded Drab Orthosia incerta

This big Drab is usually identified by the shape of the wing rather than the markings on it, or the colour. More...


Photograph of Orthosia cerasi
Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi

The Common Quaker sometimes is clearly marked like the animal in the picture. Usually it is not. And even the colour is extremely variable. More...


Photograph of Orthosia cruda adult
Small Quaker Orthosia cruda

The Small Quaker is a very variable species. Best identified by its small size: the wingspan is 28 to 32mm only. More...


Photograph of Orthosia cruda larva
Small Quaker Orthosia cruda

Full grown larvae have a charateristic black dot just behind the head. More...


Photograph of Orthosia gothica
Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica

The Hebrew Character is the character on the wing first: it is a spring time species. More...


Photograph of Xestia c-nigrum
Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum

The Setaceous Hebrew Character is very similar to the Hebrew Character, but flies in summer, not in spring. More...


Photograph of Xestia triangulum
Double Square Spot Xestia triangulum

The C in the Double Square Spot is broken in the middle, causing two black square spots to show. More...


Photograph of Xestia xanthographa
Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa

It is very easy to identify the Square-spot Rustic. Square is an unusual shape in nature. More...


Photograph of Melanchra persicariae larva
Dot Moth Melanchra persicariae

Til now we have only been seeing the caterpillar of the Dot Moth in our garden. More...


Photograph of Mamestra brassicae
Cabbage Moth Mamestra brassicae

The caterpillar of the Cabbage Moth is not very welcome, as it eats... cabbage. More...


Photograph of Lacanobia thalassina
Pale-shouldered Brocade Lacanobia thalassina

The Pale-shouldered Brocade can be identified by the white W near the edge of the wing and the pale shoulders. More...


Photograph of Ceramica pisi
Broom Moth Ceramica pisi

The caterpillar of the Broom Moth is often seen on Broom, but Linnaeus found it on peas. More...


Photograph of Asteroscopus sphinx
Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx

The name Sprawler refers to the interesting caterpillar and not the dull adult. More...


Photograph of Allophyes oxyacanthae
Green-brindled Crescent Allophyes oxyacanthae

The green scales in the Green-brindled Crescent are only revealed in a close up. More...


Photograph of Dryobotodes eremita
Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita

The Brindled Green has certain colour accents. In green, of course More...


Photograph of Cryphia algae
Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae

The Tree-lichen Beauty is green as well, but it is a verydark kind of green. More...


Photograph of Eupsilia transversa
Satellite Eupsilia transversa

The Satellite is named after a sun (the orange dot) and the two moons orbiting it. By the way: the sun may be white or yellow. More...


Photograph of Conistra rubiginea
Dotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginea

The Dotted Chestnut may be on the wing in winter and is one of the first moths to announce spring. More...


Photograph of Conistra vaccinii
Chestnut Conistra vaccinii

The Chestnut can be identified only by looking at the shape of the wing. More...


Photograph of Agrochola macilenta
Yellow-line Quaker Agrochola macilenta

The Yellow-line Quaker is unmistakable because of its colour and because it is on the wing in late autumn. More...


Photograph of Agrochola lota
Red-line Quaker Agrochola lota

The Red-line Quaker is reddish brown, sometimes even pink. It too is on the wing in late autumn. More...


Photograph of Xanthia togata
Pink-barred Sallow Xanthia togata

The Pink-barred Sallow is rather like a Geometer Moth, having broad wings and a beautiful colour. More...


Photograph of Acronicta rumicis
Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis

The Knot Grass is often quite difficult to identify, for it is quite dark and highly variable. More...


Photograph of Acronicta psi or Acronicta tridens
Grey Dagger / Dark Dagger Acronicta psi / Acronicta tridens

Once adult the Grey Dagger and the Dark Dagger can not be told apart. More...


Photograph of Acronicta psi or Acronicta tridens
Grey Dagger / Dark Dagger Acronicta psi / Acronicta tridens

This is the caterpillar of the Grey Dagger. More...


Photograph of Acronicta leporina
Miller Acronicta leporina

The Miller looks like the Grey Dagger and the Dark Dagger above, but the markings are more refind and it lacks the long black lines. More...


Photograph of Acronicta megacephala
Poplar Grey Acronicta megacephala

The Poplar Grey is a very indistinct moth indeed. More...


Photograph of Phlogophora meticulosa adult
Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa

Angle Shades is quite similar to a Hawk-moth and beautifully coloured. More...


Photograph of Phlogophora meticulosa larva
Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa

The caterpillar of the Angle Shades on this page is green. But it may be brown just the same. More...


Photograph of Cosmia trapezina
Dun-bar Cosmia trapezina

The caterpillars of the Dun-bar are the only ones in Britain actually hunting for other caterpillars to eat. More...


Photograph of Cosmia pyralina
Lunar-spotted Pinion Cosmia pyralina

The Lunar-spotted Pinion visits aphids to eat their honeydew. More...


Photograph of Mythimna albipuncta
White-Point Mythimna albipuncta

The White-Point is a migrant moth. It hardly ever breeds in Britain. More...


Photograph of Apamea crenata
Clouded-bordered Brindle Apamea crenata

There are two versions of the Clouded-bordered Brindle: a lighter one and this dark one. It is not always easy to identify this species. More...


Photograph of Apamea monoglypha
Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches is the biggest species in the Apamea group. More...


Photograph of Mesapamea secalis
Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis

The Common Rustic is a very small Noctuid. Because of the size and the fact it regularly flies in sunshine, it is often mistaken for a micro moth belonging to the Pyralid family. More...


Photograph of Oligia fasciuncula
Middle-barred Minor Oligia fasciuncula

The Middle-barred Minor is just one of the six Minor species in Britain and a very variable one. Identification is not always easy. More...


Photograph of Rivula sericealis
Straw Dot Rivula sericealis

Extremely small Noctuid reaching a wingspan of no more than 25 mm! Always rests head down.More...


Photograph of Rhizedra lutosa
Large Wainscot Rhizedra lutosa

The Large Wainscot usually is a big, white Noctuid, dusted with black scales. More...


Photograph of Elaphria venustula
Rosy Marbled Elaphria venustula

Because of its size and the way it sits the Rosy Marmbled is often mistaken for a Tortrix Moth. More...


Photograph of Protodeltote pygarga
Marbled White Spot Deltote pygarga

The Marbled White Spot is another unmistakable species. More...


Photograph of Plusia festucae
Gold Spot Plusia festucae

Perhaps the Gold Spot is too beautiful to be an Owlet Moth. More...


Photograph of Polychrysia moneta
Golden Plusia Polychrysia moneta

The Golden Plusia is still rather common, but numbers are declining. More...


Photograph of Autographa gamma
Silver Y Autographa gamma

The Silver Y is the brownish, nervously moving moth often seen in sunshine visiting flowers among the Peacocks, Whites, Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. More...


Photograph of Diachrysia chrysitis
Burnished Brass Diachrysia chrysitis

The Burnished Brass is an unmistakable and very common species. More...


Photograph of Scoliopteryx libatrix adult
Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix

The Herald is regularly found overwintering indoors. More...


Photograph of Scoliopteryx libatrix larva
Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix

The larva of the Herald is of a delicate kind of green. More...


Photograph of Hoplodrina octogenaria
Hoplodrina octogenaria, a Rustic

Not a British species, but the most common Rustic in the Low Countries. More...


Photograph of Charanyca trigrammica
Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammica

Why is it called Treble Lines when I count four of them? More...


Photograph of Hypena proboscidalis
Snout Hypena proboscidalis

Fanfeet and Snouts, like the Snout, differ from other Noctuids considerably. More...


Photograph of Hypena rostralis
Buttoned Snout Hypena rostralis

The Buttoned Snout overwinters being an adult moth. More...


Photograph of Zanclognatha tarsipennalis
Fan-foot Zanclognatha tarsipennalis

This picture of the Fan-foot clearly shows why it was given that name. More...


Photograph of Herminia tarsicrinalis
Shaded Fan-foot Herminia tarsicrinalis

The Shaded Fan-foot is named after the shadow between the two top lines. More...


Photograph of Herminia grisealis
Small Fan-foot Herminia grisealis

The Small Fan-foot is ornated with a thick bow-shaped line. More...


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This page has last been modified on Friday, October 19, 2018.
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