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[All pictures of garden wildlife on this page are thumbnails. Click on any thumbnail for a large format to be displayed.]

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.


Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis

It doesn't happen every day, but sometimes the Heart and Dart flies in full sunshine. More...


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...


Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta

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


Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta

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


Flame Axylia putris

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


Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta

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


Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba

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


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...


Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea

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


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...


Pine Beauty Panolis flammea

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


Twin-spotted Quaker Perigrapha munda

The Twin-spotted Quaker has a very well chosen name indeed!. Used to be called Orthosia munda. More...


Twin-spotted Quaker Perigrapha munda

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


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...



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...


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...


Small Quaker Orthosia cruda

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


Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica

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


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...


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...


Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa

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

Dot Moth Melanchra persicariae

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


Cabbage Moth Mamestra brassicae

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


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...


Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx

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


Green-brindled Crescent Allophyes oxyacanthae

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


Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita

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


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...


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...


Chestnut Conistra vaccinii

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


Yellow-line Quaker Agrochola macilenta

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


Pink-barred Sallow Xanthia togata

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


Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis

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


Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa

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


Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa

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


Dun-bar Cosmia trapezina

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


Lunar-spotted Pinion Cosmia pyralina

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


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...


Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

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


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...


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...


Straw Dot Rivula sericealis

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


Large Wainscot Rhizedra lutosa

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


Rosy Marbled Elaphria venustula

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


Marbled White Spot Protodeltote pygarga

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


Gold Spot Plusia festucae

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


Golden Plusia Polychrysia moneta

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

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...


Burnished Brass Diachrysia chrysitis

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


Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix

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


Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix

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


Hoplodrina octogenaria, a Rustic

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


Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammica

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


Snout Hypena proboscidalis

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


Buttoned Snout Hypena rostralis

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


Fan-foot Zanclognatha tarsipennalis

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


Shaded Fan-foot Herminia tarsicrinalis

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


Small Fan-foot Herminia grisealis

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