Check out the autumnal moth named after a stargazer and a mythical beast

The Sprawler moth seems to spread its forelegs wide when it’s at rest on a chunk of wood. Its delicate patterning gives it something of a resemblance of a bark surface, perhaps. But, it is its scientific name that is a little curious and needs further explanation.

Sprawler Moth - Asteroscopus sphinx
The Sprawler, new to my Cambridgeshire garden 8th November 2021

Lepidopterists originally referred to The Sprawler as Cassinia after the Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini who lived from 1625—1712. It was first cited by Hufnagel in 1766. But, why was it named after an astronomer? The answer lies in the behaviour of the moth’s larva, its caterpillar. When startled the little green beast rears up its spine-covered head as if gazing heavenwards. Why it does this is something of a mystery, but then much about insects remains mysterious. Perhaps the behaviour is enough to fool a predator into thinking the larva might bite back.

The Cassinia genus was dropped in recent times for the term Asteroscopus, which is a more generic term for a star gazer, one might say. The astero part from the Greek for star and scopus from the word for watching (see also telescope). So, the full scientific binomial for The Sprawler is Asteroscopus sphinx (Hufnagel, 1766).

2021 is the year I discovered 35 new species of moth in our back garden

UPDATE: The Sprawler turned up in early November, bringing the total up to 36 new for the garden in 2021. No December moth yet, at the time of writing, sadly.

These Lepidoptera were all new for my back garden in Cottenham drawn to a 40 Watt ultraviolet “actinic” lamp on the night noted. Any of dubious ID I had confirmed from a photo by Sean Foote better known on Twitter as @MothIDUK to whom I am very grateful for the assistance and have put a tip in his tip jar.

The 35 species new for the garden in 2021 are as follows

7/3/21 – The Satellite
20/4/21 – Agonopterix purpurea* (To Myo lure)
10/5/21 – Esperia sulphurella
31/5/21 – Mottled Pug
2/6/21 – Brown Silver-line
4/6/21 – Hypena rostralis
4/6/21 – Buttoned Snout
6/6/21 – Aethes tesserana
6/6/21 – Red-belted Clearwing*
12/6/21 – Currant Clearwing*
13/6/21 – Yellow-legged Clearwing*
13/6/21 – Argyresthia curvella
14/6/21 – Red-tipped Clearwing*
16/6/21 – Orange-tailed Clearwing
24/6/21 – Hedya salicella
25/6/21 – Mompha ochraceella
4/7/21 – Aleimma loeflingiana
4/7/21 – Cnephasia agg.
11/7/21 – Plain Pug
15/7/21 – Dark Umber
19/7/21 – Raspberry Clearwing*
24/7/21 – Leek Moth
24/7/21 – Scarce Silver-lines
2/8/21 – Dewick’s Plusia (I’d only seen this moth previously in Greece)
4/8/21 – Helcystogramma rufescens
9/8/21 – Toadflax Brocade (Had larva in the garden in 2019)
19/8/21 – Yellow Belle
21/8/21 – Tawny-barred Angle
22/8/21 – Common Wave
23/8/21 – Udea lutealis
24/8/21 – Square-spot Rustic
1/9/21 – Aethes smeathmanniana
5/9/21 – Swammerdamia pyrella
19/9/21 – Beet Moth
10/10/21 – Acleris schalleriana
9/11/21 – The Sprawler

*Drawn to pheromone lure during the day, rather than actinic light at night. If non-target then pheromone is named

Numbers were very much down on my previous three seasons of trapping, never getting to more than a couple of hundred moths on any given lighting-up night and usually of 30-40 species on such nights. When I last counted (2/9/21) I’d seen about 4760 moths of 260 species. In 2019, I counted 12000 specimens and hadn’t lit up anywhere near as frequently in that year as I have during 2021. Early to mid-September got quite busy with a lot of Large Yellow Underwings and Setaceous Hebrew Characters etc.

The spring was cold and wet, summer was a bit of a washout too, but we had two or three warm spells in September.

Dewick’s Plusia
Common Wave
Scarce Silver-lines
Yellow-legged Clearwing

At the height of summer you will find plenty of Lepidoptera at the almost legendary Fleam Dyke

Mrs Sciencebase and myself visited the July Racecourse end of Devil’s Dyke near Newmarket back in July and saw literally hundreds of Chalkhill Blue butterflies and dozens of Marbled White as well as a couple of Dark Green Fritillary.

It was tip-off from a couple I met by chance in a woodland who were “twitching” a White Letter Hairstreak at Overhall Grove (Nick & Stella). All of this was mentioned in my Woodwalton NNR blog post at the time. The same couple pointed me in the direction of the Cambs and Essex branch of Butterfly Conservation website, to which members add their sightings on a very timely basis.


I’d missed seeing Clouded Yellow on the wildflower margin at Waresley Wood up the hill from Browns’ Piece this year, not surprising given the farmer had ploughed it for some reason and put a load of signs up warning off walkers from venturing anywhere near his land.

Chalkhill Blues courting

Anyway, the C&E branch had an update regarding another dyke, Fleam Dyke, near the one I mentioned earlier. Chalkhill Blues there and Clouded Yellow. So I took a trip there on the first sunny morning for a few weeks. I was perhaps too late for the Clouded Yellow. Although their season does extend into the autumn, they’re a rare migrant anyway, so you have to be lucky.

However, parking up at the Fulbourn Fen car park and walking from there to Fleam Dyke and to the far end of the ridge Mutlow Hill, I was rewarded with a fair few Lepidoptera – Common Blue, Brown Argus, Brimstone butterfly, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, European Peacock, Chalkhill Blue, Large and Small White. There were numerous moths around – Silver Y, Yponomeuta sp., Garden Carpet, Treble-bar.

I had planned to head to Devil’s Dyke after walking Fleam Dyke for more “Chalks”, but changed my mind as it clouded over. I learned later from the Cambs & Essex page that someone had spotted a solitary Adonis Blue there, which would’ve been a new species to me. Ah well.

Social sensitivities could make us cancel the Gypsy Moth

In the US and elsewhere, there’s been a call to give many plants and animals new vernacular names because their well-known common names contain terms and words considered inappropriate. The Gypsy Moth, Lymantria dispar, is a case in point.

L. dispar was, according to the UK Moths website, “a common species in the East Anglian and southern fens” in the early 1800s, a century later it was extinct as a breeding species here. Meanwhile, having been introduced to North America in 1869 it has spread there and become a larval pest of deciduous trees. It is already more properly known as the LDD Moth in North America, for the extant sub-species there Lymantria dispar dispar.

Back in Old Blighty, the species had somewhat recovered in London by 1995 and has spread across its old stamping grounds. I saw my first male L. dispar to the actinic light on the night of the 5th August 2020, only my third season of mothing. On the almost balmy night of 22nd August 2021, there were three males in the garden. Incidentally, the females are larger and bulkier than the males and mostly white. The larvae are tiny and can disperse readily on a breath of wind.

The term “Gypsy” (more commonly Gipsy in English until recently) originated in the early 17th Century and derives from gypcian, a Middle English dialectic word meaning “Egyptian“. Of course, the Roma to whom the term has pejoratively and inappropriately been applied were of Indian ancestry rather than North African. The term is generally considered offensive when referring to itinerant ethnic groups and so there is a pressing need to find new names for a range of plants and animals – Gypsy Wort, Gypsy Ant, and, of course, the Gypsy Moth.

I wonder whether the entomologists would consider calling L. dispar the “Dusky Underwing”. I don’t think that name has been used for another member of the Lepidoptera. The male of the species has a passing resemblance to the Catocala species, such as the Red Underwing and the Dark Crimson Underwing at least while their hindwings are not exposed. And, there are many other unrelated “underwing” moths, such as the various and diverse yellow underwings, orange underwing, straw underwing and the black underwing (now usually known as the Old Lady and previously the Grave Brocade). #TeamMoth #MothsMatter

Forgive me, I thought I was writing a new blog article but when I looked at the one I did when I saw L. dispar in the garden for the first time in 2020, I seem to have repeated myself.

Find out what new moths I have mostly been discovering in my garden this year

I have been mothing in earnest since the summer of 2018 and have seen and photographed almost 400 species in that time. It feels like a lot, but there are some 1800 or so species we might see in The British Isles, although not all of them will be present in a Cambridgeshire garden.

Buff Arches was new in the garden in 2019

I keep a detailed record of what I see and report into the County Moth Recorder at the end of the season. Usually, there are a few new species to add to the growing list each year. 2021 does not feel like the numbers nor diversity have been as high as they were in the previous three seasons, but I have noted several new and interesting species attracted to the actinic light of the scientific moth trap and to pheromone lures (previously, I used a lure for the Emperor moth, but this year, bought a set of lures for Clearwing moths and the Hornet moth, and was successful with several of those species.

      1. Agonopterix purpurea (Haworth, 1811) (MYO lure)
      2. Argyresthia curvella (Linnaeus, 1761)
      3. Yellow Belle (Aspitates ochrearia, Rossi, 1794)
      4. Toadflax Brocade (Calophasia lunula, Hufnagel, 1766)
      5. Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata, Scopoli, 1763)
      6. Yellow Oak Button (Aleimma loeflingiana, Linnaeus, 1758)
      7. Currant Clearwing (Synanthedon tipuliformis, Clerck, 1759)
      8. Orange-tailed Clearwing (Synanthedon andrenaeformis)
      9. Raspberry Clearwing (Pennisetia hylaeiformis, Laspeyres, 1801)
      10. Red-belted Clearwing (Synanthedon myopaeformis, Borkhausen, 1789)
      11. Red-tipped Clearwing (Synanthedon formicaeformis, Esper, 1782)
      12. Yellow-legged Clearwing (Synanthedon vespiformis,  Linnaeus, 1761)
      13. Downland Conch (Aethes tesserana, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
      14. Buff Cosmet (Mompha ochraceella, Curtis, 1839)
      15. Ephestia sp.
      16. Four-dotted Footman (Cybosia mesomella) – Monk’s Wood
      17. Helcystogramma rufescens (Haworth, 1828)
      18. Rosy-striped Knot-horn (Oncocera semirubella) – Cherry Hinton
      19. Leek Moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella, Zeller, 1839)
      20. White-backed Marble (Hedya salicella, Linnaeus, 1758)
      21. Dewick’s Plusia (Macdunnoughia confusa, Stephens, 1850)
      22. Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata, Hübner, 1813)
      23. Plain Pug (Eupithecia simpliciata, Haworth, 1809)
      24. The Satellite (Eupsilia transversa, Hufnagel, 1766)
      25. Scarce Silver-lines (Bena bicolorana, Fuessly, 1775)
      26. Buttoned Snout (Hypena rostralis, Linnaeus, 1758)
      27. Grey Tortrix (Cnephasia stephensiana, Doubleday,[1849)
      28. Dark Umber (Philereme transversata, Hufnagel, 1767)
      29. Tawny-barred Angle (Macaria liturata, Clerck, 1759)
      30. Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi, Vieweg, 1790)

Take a look at the unexpected beauty of moths

Regular readers will hopefully be well aware by now that I got bitten by the mothing bug three years ago. Mrs Sciencebase spotted an enormous Copper Underwing in the garden and we were both fascinated by its size and its markings.

Poplar Hawk-moth

A friend in the village had previously offered to lend me his scientific moth trap with its UV tube and so I gave him a call and he said he would set it up that night in his garden. I could come to see what had turned up the next morning (24th July 2018). There were lots of moths in there with some weird and wonderful names – Angle Shades, Poplar Hawk-moth, Willow Beauty, Dark Arches, Burnished Brass, Ruby Tiger, Buff Ermine…the list goes on.

Elephant Hawk-moth

I was hooked and took the trap home and have been “lighting up” ever since. My “tick list” is fast approaching 400 moth species. I’ve photographed them all at least once and some of them several times. You can see my latest moth photos on the Sciencebase Instagram along with my other nature photos and other stuff. My ticklist is on my Imaging Storm website along with an archive of the Lepidoptera photos.

Six-spot Burnet

They do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but you cannot deny that the insect world is beautiful and nowhere more so, in my opinion than in the realm of the Lepidoptera. Incidentally, butterflies are just one group within Lepidoptera, on the same branch of the family tree as the so-called micro moths, in fact.

Eyed Hawk-moth
Buff Arches
Chinese Character
Yellow-legged Clearwing
Emperor Moth
Gypsy Moth
Clifden Non-pareil

…of all the Leps I’ve photographed

My Mothematics Gallery can be found on my Imaging Storm photography site along with other invertebrates, flora and fauna, etc. I’ve written about several of the species I’ve seen for various outlets, but haven’t yet got around to adding all of the links to this list #bearwith


  1. Aethes francilana/beatricella (Walsingham, 1898/Fabricius, 1794)
  2. Agapeta hamana (Linnaeus, 1758)
  3. Agonopterix heracliana-ciliella agg NFM 2020
  4. Agonopterix purpurea (Haworth, 1811) NFM 2021 (MYO lure)
  5. Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa, Linnaeus, 1758)
  6. Arches, Buff (Habrosyne pyritoides, Hufnagel, 1766)
  7. Arches, Dark (Apamea monoglypha, Hufnagel, 1766)
  8. Arches, Least Black (Nola confusalis, Herrich-Schaeffer, 1847)
  9. Arches, Light (Apamea lithoxylaea, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  10. Argyresthia curvella (Linnaeus, 1761) NFM 2021
  11. Autumnal Moth (Epirrita autumnata, Borkhausen, 1794)
  12. Barred Marble (Celypha striana, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  13. Beauty, Brindled (Lycia hirtaria, Clerck, 1759) NFM 2020
  14. Beauty, Lilac (Apeira syringaria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  15. Beauty, Marbled (Bryophila domestica, Hufnagel, 1766)
  16. Beauty, Mottled (Alcis repandata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  17. Beauty, Oak (Biston strataria, Hufnagel, 1767)
  18. Beauty, Pale Brindled (Phigalia pilosaria, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  19. Beauty, Tree-lichen (Cryphia algae, Fabricius, 1775)
  20. Beauty, Willow (Peribatodes rhomboidaria, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  21. Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella, Linnaeus, 1758)
  22. Bell, Two-coloured (Eucosma obumbratana, Lienig & Zeller, 1846) NFM 2020
  23. Blood-vein (Timandra comae, Schmidt, 1931)
  24. Blood-vein, Small (Scopula imitaria, Huebner, 1799)
  25. Bluebell Shade (Eana incanana, Stephens, 1852)
  26. Border, Clouded (Lomaspilis marginata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  27. Border, Dotted (Agriopis marginaria, Fabricius, 1776)
  28. Box-tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis, Walker, 1859)
  29. Bramble Shoot Moth (Notocelia uddmanniana, Linnaeus, 1758)
  30. Brick, The (Agrochola circellaris, Hufnagel, 1766)
  31. Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea, Linnaeus, 1758)
  32. Brimstone (Opisthograptis luteolata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  33. Brindle, Clouded (Apamea epomidion, Haworth, 1809) NFM 2020
  34. Brindle, Small Clouded (Apamea unanimis, Huebner, 1813)
  35. Brindle, Yellow-barred (Acasis viretata, Huebnerr, 1799)
  36. Brindled Green (Dryobotodes eremita, Fabricius, 1775)
  37. Brocade, Dusky (Apamea remissa, Huebner, 1809)
  38. Brocade, Light (Lacanobia w-latinum, Hufnagel, 1766)
  39. Brocade, Toadflax (Calophasia lunula, Hufnagel, 1766) – larva and adult NFM 2021
  40. Brown-line Bright-eye (Mythimna conigera, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  41. Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata, Scopoli, 1763) NFM 2021
  42. Brown-tail (Euproctis chrysorrhoea, Linnaeus, 1758)
  43. Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala, Linnaeus, 1758)
  44. Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica, Linnaeus, 1758)
  45. Burnet, Five-spot (Zygaena trifolii, Esper, 1783)
  46. Burnet, Six-spot (Zygaena filipendulae, Linnaeus, 1758) (pre-trap)
  47. Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  48. Button, Maple (Acleris forsskaleana)
  49. Button, Tufted (Acleris cristana, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  50. Button, Yellow Oak (Aleimma loeflingiana, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2021
  51. Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae, Linnaeus, 1758)
  52. Campion, The (Sideridis rivularis, Fabricius, 1775) NFM 2020
  53. Carpet, Common (Epirrhoe alternata, O. F. Mueller, 1764)
  54. Carpet, Common Marbled (Dysstroma truncata, Hufnagel, 1767)
  55. Carpet, Garden (Xanthorhoe fluctuata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  56. Carpet, Large Twin-spot (Xanthorhoe quadrifasiata, Clerck, 1759)
  57. Carpet, Least (Idaea rusticata, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  58. Carpet, Red-green (Chloroclysta siterata, Hufnagel, 1767)
  59. Carpet, Red Twin-spot (Xanthorhoe spadicearia, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  60. Carpet, Scorched (Ligdia adustata)
  61. Carpet, Silver-ground (Xanthorhoe montanata, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  62. Carpet, Spruce (Thera britannica, Turner, 1925)
  63. Case-bearer, Coast Green (Coleophora amethystinella, Ragonot, 1885) NFM 2020
  64. Chestnut, The (Conistra vaccinii)
  65. Chestnut, Beaded (Agrochola lychnidis)
  66. Chestnut, Dark (Conistra ligula)
  67. China-mark, Ringed (Parapoynx stratiotata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  68. China-mark, Small (Cataclysta lemnata)
  69. Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata)
  70. Chocolate Tip (Clostera curtula)
  71. Chrysoteuchia culmella, “Grass Moth” Linnaeus, 1758
  72. Cinnabar, The (Tyria jacobaeae) (pre-trap)
  73. Clay, The (Mythimna ferrago, Fabricius, 1787)
  74. Clearwing, Currant (Synanthedon tipuliformis, Clerck, 1759) NFM 2021
  75. Clearwing, Orange-tailed (Synanthedon andrenaeformis, Laspeyres, 1801) NFM 2021
  76. Clearwing, Raspberry (Pennisetia hylaeiformis, Laspeyres, 1801) NFM 2021
  77. Clearwing, Red-belted (Synanthedon myopaeformis, Borkhausen, 1789) NFM 2021
  78. Clearwing, Red-tipped (Synanthedon formicaeformis, Esper, 1782) NFM 2021
  79. Clearwing, yellow-legged (Synanthedon vespiformis,  Linnaeus, 1761) NFM 2021
  80. Clifden Nonpareil (Catocala fraxini, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020
  81. Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata)
  82. Clover, Marbled (Heliothis viriplaca, Hufnagel, 1766)
  83. Cnephasia sp. (Grey Tortrix agg.)
  84. Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella, Linnaeus, 1758)
  85. Conch, Black-headed (Cochylis atricapitana)
  86. Conch, Common Yellow (Agapeta hamana)
  87. Conch, Downland (Aethes tesserana, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775) NFM 2021
  88. Conch, Ox-tongue (Cochylis molliculana)
  89. Conch, Rough-winged (Phtheochroa rugosana, Huebner, 1799)
  90. Conch, White-bodied (Cochylis hybridella, Huebner, 1813)
  91. Corn-borer, European (Ostrinia nubilalis, Huebner, 1796)
  92. Coronet, The (Craniophora ligustri, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  93. Coronet, Varied (Hadena compta, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  94. Cosmet, Buff (Mompha ochraceella, Curtis, 1839) NFM 2021
  95. Cream-bordered Green Pea (Earias clorana)
  96. Crescent, The (Helotropha leucostigma, Huebner, 1808)
  97. Crescent, Green-brindled (Allophyes oxyacanthae)
  98. Dagger, Grey/Dark (Acronicta psi/tridens)
  99. Dagger, March (Diurnea fagella)
  100. Dart, Deep-brown (Aporophyla lutulenta)
  101. Dart, Garden (Euxoa nigricans, Linnaeus, 1761)
  102. Dart, Shuttle-shaped (Agrotis puta)
  103. Diamondback Moth (Plustella xylostella)
  104. Dowd, Furness (Blastobasis adustella, Walsingham, 1894)
  105. Dowd, Wakely’s (Blastobasis lacticolella, Rebel, 1940)
  106. Drab, Clouded (Orthosia incerta, Hufnagel, 1766)
  107. Dun-bar, The (Cosmia trapezina, Linnaeus, 1758)
  108. Eggar, Oak (Lasiocampa quercus, Linnaeus, 1758)
  109. Elder Pearl (Anania coronata, Hufnagel, 1767)
  110. Emerald, Common (Hemithea aestivaria, Hübner, 1789) NFM 2020
  111. Emerald, Light (Campaea margaritaria)
  112. Emerald, Small (Hemistola chrysoprasaria, Esper, 1795)
  113. Emperor (Saturnia pavonia, Linnaeus, 1758)
  114. Ephestia sp. NFM 2021
  115. Ermine, Apple (Yponomeuta malinellus, Zeller, 1838) larvae 2020
  116. Ermine, Bird-cherry (Yponomeuta evonymella, Linnaeus, 1758)
  117. Ermine agg. (Orchard, Apple or Spindle Ermine)
  118. Ermine, Buff (Spilosoma lutea, Hufnagel, 1766)
  119. Ermine, Thistle (Myelois circumvoluta, Fourcroy, 1785)
  120. Ermine, White (Spilosoma lubricipeda, Linnaeus, 1758)
  121. Esperia sulphurella (Fabricius, 1775)
  122. Fan-foot, The (Herminia tarsipennalis, Treitschke, 1835)
  123. Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis, Linnaeus, 1767) NFM 2020
  124. Flame, The (Axylia putris, Linnaeus, 1761)
  125. Flame, Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta, Linnaeus, 1761)
  126. Flat-body, aggregate (Agonopterix heracliana-ciliella agg.)
  127. Flat-body, Brindled (Agonopterix arenella)
  128. Flat-body, Broom (Agonopterix scopariella)
  129. Flat-body, Brown-spot (Agonopterix alstromeriana, Clerck, 1759)
  130. Flat-body, Coastal (Agonopterix yeatiana, Fabricius, 1781)
  131. Flat-body, Long-horned (Carcina quercana, Fabricius, 1775)
  132. Footman, Buff (Eilema depressa, Esper, 1787)
  133. Footman, Common (Eilema lurideola, Zincken, 1817)
  134. Footman, Dingy (Collita griseola)
  135. Footman, Four-dotted (Cybosia mesomella, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2021 Monk’s Wood
  136. Footman, Orange (Eilema sororcula, Hufnagel, 1766) NFM 2020
  137. Footman, Scarce (Eilema complana, Linnaeus, 1758)
  138. Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775)
  139. Fungus moth (Tinea trinotella) – one of many fungus moths
  140. Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis)
  141. Gold Spot (Plusia festucae, Linnaeus, 1758)
  142. Gold Triangle (Hypsopygia costalis)
  143. Gothic, Feathered (Tholera decimalis, Poda, 1761)
  144. Grass-veneer, Common (Agriphila tristella)
  145. Grass-veneer, Elbow-striped (Agriphila geniculea, Haworth, 1811)
  146. Grass-veneer, Hook-streak (Crambus lathoniellus, Zincken, 1817)
  147. Grass-veneer, Pearl (Catoptria pinella, Linnaeus, 1758)
  148. Grass-veneer, Satin (Crambus perlella, Scopoli, 1763)
  149. Grass-veneer, Straw (Agriphila straminella, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  150. Grey, Common (Scoparia ambigualis, Treitschke, 1829)
  151. Grey, Early (Xylocampa areola)
  152. Grey, Ground-moss (Eudonia truncicolella)
  153. Grey, Little (Eudonia lacustrata)
  154. Grey, Narrow-winged (Eudonia angustea)
  155. Grey, Poplar (Subacronicta megacephala)
  156. Grey, Small (Eudonia mercurella)
  157. Hawk-moth, Elephant (Deilephila elpenor)
  158. Hawk-moth, Eyed (Smerinthus ocellata))
  159. Hawk-moth, Hummingbird (Macroglossum stellatarum)
  160. Hawk-moth, Lime (Mimas tiliae)
  161. Hawk-moth, Pine (Sphinx pinastri, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020
  162. Hawk-moth, Poplar (Laothoe populi)
  163. Hawk-moth, Privet (Sphinx ligustri) (pre-trap)
  164. Hawk-moth, Small Elephant (Deilephila porcellus)
  165. Hawthorn moth (Scythropia crataegella, Linnaeus, 1767)
  166. Heart & Club (Agrotis clavis)
  167. Heart & Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)
  168. Heath, Latticed (Chiasmia clathrata)
  169. Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)
  170. Hebrew Character, Setaceous (Xestia c-nigrum)
  171. Helcystogramma rufescens (Haworth, 1828) NFM 2021
  172. Herald, The (Scoliopteryx libatrix, Linnaeus, 1758)
  173. Highflyer, May (Hydriomena impluviata, Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) NFM 2020
  174. Hook-tip, Beautiful (Laspeyria flexula, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  175. Hook-tip, Oak (Watsonalla binaria, Hufnagel, 1767)
  176. Hook-tip, Pebble (Drepana falcataria)
  177. House Moth, Brown (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)
  178. House Moth, White-shouldered (Endrosis sarcitrella)
  179. Kitten, Sallow (Furcula furcula)
  180. Knot-grass (Acronicta rumicis, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020
  181. Knot-horn, Beautiful (Rhodophaea Formosa, Haworth, 1811
  182. Knot-horn, Grey (Acrobasis advenella, Zincken, 1818)
  183. Knot-horn, Rosy-striped (Oncocera semirubella, Scopoli, 1763) NFM 2021 (Chalkpits)
  184. Knot-horn, Tabby (Euzophera pinguis, Haworth, 1811)
  185. Knot-horn, Thicket (Acrobasis suavella)
  186. Knot-horn, Twin-barred (Homoeosoma sinuella, Fabricius, 1794) NFM 2020
  187. Knot-horn, Warted (Acrobasis repandana, Fabricius, 1798) NFM 2020
  188. Lackey, The (Malacosoma neustria, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020
  189. Large Clothes Moth (Morophaga choragella)
  190. Leek Moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella, Zeller, 1839) NFM 2021
  191. Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)
  192. Long-horn, Brassy (Nemophora metallica, Poda, 1759)
  193. Lozotaenia forsterana (Fabricius, 1781) NFM 2020
  194. Lychnis, The (Hadena bicruris)
  195. Magpie (Abraxas grossulariata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  196. Magpie, Small (Anania hortulata)
  197. Maiden’s Blush (Cyclophora punctaria)
  198. Mallow, The (Larentia clavaria, Haworth, 1809)
  199. Marble, Birch (Argyrotaenia ljungiana)
  200. Marble, Common (Celypha lacunana)
  201. Marble, Diamond-back (Eudemis profundana, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775) NFM 2020
  202. Marble, White-backed (Hedya salicella, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2021
  203. March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)
  204. Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  205. Merveille du Jour (Griposia aprilina, Linnaeus, 1758)
  206. Miller, The (Acronicta leporina, Linnaeus, 1758)
  207. Minor, Cloaked (Mesoligia furuncula)
  208. Minor, Tawny/Marbled (agg.) (Oligia latruncula)
  209. Minor, Middle-barred (Oligia fasciuncula, Haworth, 1809)
  210. Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata)
  211. Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis, Scopoli, 1763)
  212. Mother Shipton (Euclidia mi, Clerck, 1759)
  213. Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis, Clerck, 1759)
  214. Mullein, The (Cucullia verbasci)
  215. Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)
  216. Nemapogon sp. (agg.)
  217. Nutmeg, The (Anarta trifolii)
  218. Nutmeg, Large (Apamea anceps)
  219. Oak Lantern (Carcina quercana, Fabricius, 1775)
  220. Oegoconia sp. (Haworth, 1828) NFM 2020
  221. Old Lady (Mormo maura, Linnaeus, 1758)
  222. Peacock (Macaria notata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  223. Peacock, Sharp-angled (Macaria alternata, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  224. Pearl, Dusky (Udea prunalis, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  225. Pearl, Elderberry (Phlyctaenia coronata, Hufnagel, 1767)
  226. Pearl, Fenland (Anania perlucidalis, Hübner, 1809)
  227. Pearl, Lesser (Sitochroa verticalis, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020
  228. Pearl, Olive (Udea olivalis, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  229. Pearl, Rusty Dot (Udea ferrugalis, Hübner, 1796) NFM 2020
  230. Pearl, Straw-barred (Pyrausta despicata, Scopoli, 1763) NFM 2020
  231. Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)
  232. Phoenix, The (Eulithis prunata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  233. Pinion, Brown-spot (Agrochola litura, Linnaeus, 1761)
  234. Pinion, Lunar-spotted (Cosmia pyralina, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  235. Pinion, Pale (Lithophane socia)
  236. Pinion, White-spotted (Cosmia diffinis, Linnaeus, 1767)
  237. Plume, Beautiful (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)
  238. Plume, Common (Emmelina monodactyla)
  239. Plume, White (Pterophorus pentadactyla, Linnaeus, 1758)
  240. Plusia, Dewick’s (Macdunnoughia confusa, Stephens, 1850) NFM 2021 (also Greece 2019)
  241. Prominent, Coxcomb (Ptilodon capucina)
  242. Prominent, Iron (Notodonta dromedarius)
  243. Prominent, Pale (Pterostoma palpina)
  244. Prominent, Pebble (Notodonta ziczac)
  245. Prominent, Swallow (Pheosia tremula)
  246. Pseudoswammerdamia combinella NFM 2020
  247. Ptycholoma lecheana NFM 2020
  248. Pug, Bordered (Eupithecia succenturiata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  249. Pug, Common (Eupithecia vulgata, Haworth, 1809)
  250. Pug, Currant (Eupithecia assimilata)
  251. Pug, Cypress (Eupithecia phoeniceata, Rambur, 1834)
  252. Pug, Double-striped (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)
  253. Pug, Foxglove (Eupithecia pulchellata, Stephens, 1831)
  254. Pug, Freyer’s (Eupithecia intricata, Zetterstedt, 1839)
  255. Pug, Green (Pasiphila rectangulata)
  256. Pug, Grey (Eupithecia subfuscata)
  257. Pug, Lime-speck (Eupithecia centaureata)
  258. Pug, Mottled (Eupithecia exiguata, Hübner, 1813) NFM 2021
  259. Pug, Plain (Eupithecia simpliciata, Haworth, 1809) NFM 2021
  260. Pug, Wormwood (Eupithecia absinthiata, Clerck, 1759)
  261. Puss Moth (Cerura vinula)
  262. Quaker, Common (Orthosia cerasiu)
  263. Quaker, Powdered (Orthosia gracilis)
  264. Quaker, Red-line (Agrochola lota)
  265. Quaker, Small (Orthosia cruda)
  266. Quaker, Twin-spotted (Anorthoa munda)
  267. Quaker, Yellow-line (Agrochola macilenta)
  268. Ranunculus, Large (Polymixis flavicincta)
  269. Ranunculus, Small (Hecatera dysodea)
  270. Rustic, Black (Aporophyla nigra)
  271. Rustic, Brown (Rusina ferruginea, Esper, 1785) NFM 2020
  272. Rustic, Clancy’s (Caradrina kadenii, Freyer, 1836) NFM 2020
  273. Rustic, Common/Lesser agg. (Mesapamea secalis/didyma)
  274. Rustic, Flounced (Luperina testacea)
  275. Rustic, Light Feathered (Agrotis cinerea)
  276. Rustic, Mottled (Caradrina morpheus)
  277. Rustic, Rosy (Hydraecia micacea)
  278. Rustic, Square-spot (Xestia xanthographa)
  279. Rustic, Vine’s (Hoplodrina ambigua)
  280. Rustic/The Uncertain (Hoplodrina blanda/octogenaria)
  281. Sallow, The (Cirrhia icteritia)
  282. Sallow, Barred (Tiliacea aurago)
  283. Sallow, Centre-barred (Atethmia centrago)
  284. Sallow, Dusky (Eremobia ochroleuca, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  285. Sallow, Pink-barred (Xanthia togata)
  286. Satellite, The (Eupsilia transversa, Hufnagel, 1766) NFM 2021
  287. Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  288. Sciota adelphella
  289. Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria, Linnaeus, 1767)
  290. Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  291. Shark, The (Cucullia umbratica, Linnaeus, 1758)
  292. Shears, Tawny (Hadena perplexa, Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) NFM 2020
  293. Shears, The (Hada plebeja)
  294. Shoot, Orange-spotted (Rhyacionia pinicolana)
  295. Short-cloaked Moth (Nola cucullatella, Linnaeus, 1758)
  296. Shoulder-knot, Blair’s (Lithophane leautieri)
  297. Shoulder-knot, Rustic (Apamea sordens)
  298. Silver Y (Autographa gamma)
  299. Silver-lines, Green  (Pseudoips prasinana, Linnaeus, 1758)
  300. Silver-lines, Scarce (Bena bicolorana, Fuessly, 1775) NFM 2021
  301. Small Scallop (Idaea emarginata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  302. Snout (Hypena proboscidalis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  303. Snout, Buttoned (Hypena rostralis, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2021
  304. Spectacle, The (Abrostola tripartita)
  305. Spectacle, Dark (Abrostola triplasia, Linnaeus, 1758)
  306. Spinach, The (Eulithis mellinata, Fabricius, 1787)
  307. Spinach, Dark (Pelurga comitata)
  308. Square-spot, Double (Xestia triangulum, Hufnagel, 1766)
  309. Straw, Barred (Gandaritis pyraliata, Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
  310. Straw, Bordered (Heliothis peltigera, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  311. Straw, Scarce Bordered (Helicoverpa armigera, Hübner, 1808) NFM 2020
  312. Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)
  313. Streamer, The (Anticlea derivata)
  314. Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  315. Swift, Common (Korscheltellus lupulina)
  316. Swift, Orange (Triodia sylvina)
  317. Sword-grass, Dark (Agrotis ipsilon)
  318. Sycamore moth (Acronicta aceris) – caterpillar
  319. Tabby, Double-striped (Hypsopygia glaucinalis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  320. Tabby, Large (Aglossa pinguinalis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  321. Tabby, Rosy (Endotricha flammealis)
  322. Thorn, Canary-shouldered (Ennomus alniaria)
  323. Thorn, Early (Selenia dentaria)
  324. Thorn, Feathered (Colotois pennaria)
  325. Thorn, Purple (Selenia tetralunaria)
  326. Tiger, Jersey (Euplagia quadripunctaria, Poda, 1761)
  327. Tiger, Ruby (Phragmatobia fuliginosa, Linnaeus, 1758)
  328. Tortrix, Dark Fruit-tree (Pandemis heparana, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  329. Tortrix, Dark Strawberry (Celypha lacunana)
  330. Tortrix, Garden Rose (Acleris variegana, Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
  331. Tortrix, Grey (Cnephasia stephensiana, Doubleday,[1849) NFM 2021
  332. Tortrix, Large Fruit-tree, male (Archips podana, Scopoli, 1763)
  333. Tortrix, Red-barred (Ditula angustiorana, Haworth, 1811) NFM 2020
  334. Treble-bar (Aplocera plagiata, Linnaeus, 1758)
  335. Treble Brown Spot (Idaea trigeminata)
  336. Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica)
  337. Tubic, Golden-brown (Crassa unitella, Hübner, 1796)
  338. Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum)
  339. Tussock, Pale (Calliteara pudibunda)
  340. Tussock, Nut-tree (Colocasia coryli)
  341. Twenty-plume moth (Alucita hexadactyla)
  342. Twist, Orange-pine (Lozotaeniodes formosana)
  343. Twist, Privet (Clepsis consimilana)
  344. Umber, Dark (Philereme transversata, Hufnagel, 1767) NFM 2021
  345. Umber, Mottled (Erannis defoliaria, Clerck, 1759)
  346. Umber, Waved (Menophra abruptaria)
  347. Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow (Noctua fimbriata, Schreber, 1759)
  348. Underwing, Copper agg. (Amphipyra pyramidea agg.)
  349. Underwing, Dark Crimson (Catocala sponsa, Linnaeus, 1767) NFM 2020
  350. Underwing, Large Yellow (Noctua pronuba)
  351. Underwing, Least Yellow (Noctua interjecta, Hübner, 1803)
  352. Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow (Noctua janthe)
  353. Underwing, Lesser Yellow (Noctua comes, Hübner, 1813)
  354. Underwing, Lunar (Omphaloscelis lunosa)
  355. Underwing, Red (Catocala nupta, Linnaeus, 1767)
  356. Underwing, Straw (Thalpophila matura, Hufnagel, 1766)
  357. Vapourer, The (Orgyia antiqua)
  358. Wainscot Smudge (Ypsolopha scabrella, Linnaeus, 1761)
  359. Wainscot, Bulrush (Nonagria typhae, Thunberg, 1784)
  360. Wainscot, Common (Mythimna pallens)
  361. Wainscot, Large (Rhizedra lutosa)
  362. Wainscot, Smoky (Mythimna impura, Hübner, 1808)
  363. Wainscot, Twin-spotted (Lenisa geminipuncta, Haworth, 1809)
  364. Wainscot, Webb’s (Globia sparganii, Esper, 1789)
  365. Water-veneer, Pale (Donacaula forficella, Thunberg, 1794)
  366. Wave, Common White (Cabera pusaria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  367. Wave, Dwarf Cream (Idaea fuscovenosa, Goeze, 1781)
  368. Wave, Riband (Idaea aversata and ab remutata)
  369. Wave, Satin (Idaea subsericeata, Haworth, 1809)
  370. Wave, Single-dotted (Idaea dimidiata, Hufnagel, 1767)
  371. Wave, Small Dusty (Idaea seriata)
  372. Waved Black (Parascotia fuliginaria)
  373. Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella)
  374. Webber, Juniper (Dichomeris marginella, Fabricius, 1781) NFM 2020
  375. White Satin Moth (Leucoma salicis, Linnaeus, 1758)
  376. White, Bordered (Bupalus piniaria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  377. White, Broad-barred (Hecatera bicolorata, Hufnagel, 1766)
  378. White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)
  379. Willow, Pale Mottled (Caradrina clavipalpis)
  380. Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)
  381. Yellow-faced Bell (Notocelia cynosbatella)
  382. Yellow Horned (Achlya flavicornis)
  383. Yellow, Barred (Cidaria fulvata, Forster, 1771)
  384. Yellow Conch, Common (Agapeta hamana, Linnaeus, 1758)
  385. Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata)
  386. Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis, Fuessly,1775)

Butterflies are all moths, simply a grouping within Lepidoptera

  1. Argus, Brown (Aricia agestis, Denis & Schiffermueller, 1775) NFM 2020 Church Lane, Cottenham
  2. Blue, Chalkhill NFM2021 Devil’s Dyke, Cambs
  3. Blue, Common (Polyommatus icarus, Rottemburg, 1775)
  4. Blue, Holly (Celastrina argiolus, Linnaeus, 1758)
  5. Blue, Long-tailed NFM 2019 Cottenham and then Greece
  6. Blue, Northern (Plebejus idas, Linnaeus, 1761) – NFM 2018 Germany
  7. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni, Linnaeus, 1758)
  8. Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) NFM 2020 Waresley Wood
  9. Comma (Polygonia c-album, Linnaeus, 1758)
  10. Copper, Small (Lycaena phlaeas, Linnaeus, 1761) NFM 2018 Norfolk
  11. Emperor, Purple NFM2021 Woodwalton Fen
  12. European Peacock (Aglais io, Linnaeus, 1758)
  13. Fritillary, Silver-washed (Argynnis paphia, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM 2020 Hayley Wood
  14. Fritillary, Dark Green NFM2021 Devil’s Dyke, Cambs
  15. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus, Linnaeus, 1758)
  16. Hairstreak, Green (Callophrys rubi, Linnaeus, 1758) NFM2021 Les King Wood, Cottenham
  17. Hairstreak, Purple NFM2021 Woodwalton Fen
  18. Hairstreak, White Letter NFM2021 Overhall Grove
  19. Heath, Small (Coenonympha pamphilus, Linnaeus, 1758)
  20. Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, Linnaeus, 1758)
  21. Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines, Linnaeus, 1758)
  22. Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Linnaeus, 1758)
  23. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus, Linnaeus, 1758)
  24. Skipper, Essex NFM 2020 Church Lane, Cottenham
  25. Skipper, Large (Ochlodes sylvanus, Esper, 1777)
  26. Skipper, Small (Thymelicus sylvestris, Poda, 1761)
  27. Tortoiseshell, Small (Aglais urticae, Linnaeus, 1758)
  28. Two-tailed Pasha NFM 2019 Greece
  29. Speckled Brown (Pararge aegeria, Linnaeus, 1758)
  30. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon, Linnaeus, 1758) – France
  31. Swallowtail, Scarce – Greece
  32. White, Green-veined (Pieris napi, Linnaeus, 1758)
  33. White, Large (Pieris brassicae, Linnaeus, 1758)
  34. White, Marbled (Melanargia galathea, Linnaeus, 1758)
  35. White, Small (Pieris rapae, Linnaeus, 1758)

Incidentally, the title of this blog post was alluding to the 1975 song by Hal David (words) and Albert Hammond (music) – To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before – from Hammond’s album of that year 99 Miles from L.A. You might also know it from the 1984 cover version by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson.

Toadflax Brocade moth

As the name of the Toadflax Brocade moth might suggest, its purported larval foodplant is toadflax, which could one of dozens of Linaria plant species. The “brocade” refers to the patterning on the wings of the moth, which might to a fanciful entomologist remind one of a heavy fabric interwoven with a rich, raised design.

Toadflax Brocade, the blur of the wings down to it vibrating them pre-flight

Anyway, we saw a solitary larva of this species on our garden waste bin a couple of years ago, I blogged it at the time. Two summers later and an adult finally made an appearance in the scientific trap last night, drawn to the 40 Watt actinic UV tube. There were a few dozen other moths in the trap, all ones that have put in several appearances over the summer weeks. It’s been a mad year in this part of Vice County 29, far fewer moths seen in far lower numbers than in the heady days of the summer of 2019.

Toadflax Brocade moth

That was my first full season with the trap and one sultry night had almost 500 specimens of more than 100 species to count and catalogue before freeing into the undergrowth some way away from the trap site. At the time of writing, 25 species new for the garden so far in 2021. There’s still plenty of time for something special to arrive, still hoping to see December Moths later in the year, of course!

Larva next to purple toadflax

According to the UK Moths site: “As a resident species, this moth is restricted to the south-east and central southern coasts of England, where it frequents mainly shingle beaches. It is a relatively recent colonist, arriving around 1950 and quickly gaining a foothold, but appears to be now in decline again.”

Purple Toadflax

Its scientific name is Calophasia lunula which hints at a heat phase and perhaps the moon-like quality of some of its wing marking…but that’s just a guess and Peter Marren doesn’t seem to mention the scientific binomial in his excellent book Emperors, Admirals & Chimney Sweepers. Actually, I recall now, a lunula is a crescent moon marking, like the white at the base of one’s fingernails. Also refers to a Bronze Age necklace.

Yellow Toadflax, also known as Butter & Eggs

You can see right through the clear wings of some species of moth

If I’ve counted correctly, there are 14 clearwing moths that we might see in The British Isles, some more likely in some areas than others (Welsh Clearwing, for example, and Raspberry Clearwing, Cambs and Beds). They’re generally diurnal, day-flying moths, great pollinators of wildflowers and garden flowers alike.

Orange-tailed Clearwing drawn to AND lure 16 Jun 2021

You might spot some on your raspberry canes or purple loosestrife on a riverbank. However, having a pheromone lure to bring them to your garden briefly for a sighting is a more certain way to see these amazing creatures. I’ve got a selection of pheromone lures from Anglia Lepidopterist Supplies, which have drawn a few.

Red-tipped drawn to FOR lure 14 Jun 2021

Once drawn to the lure, the moth can be observed and photographed, the lure packed away in the freezer until next year and the moths meanwhile released back into the wild away from any watchful insectivorous birds (I’m looking at you Robin and Blackbird!)

Red-belted Clearwing (MYO) 7 Jun 2021, then 14 to CUL lure 13 Jun 2021

They’re all quite small moths but all superficially resemble wasps in various ways, an evolutionary adaptation to confound predators.

Currant Clearwing (TIP) 12 Jun 2021
Raspberry Clearwing (HYL) 19 Jul 2021
Red-tipped Clearwing (FOR) 14 Jun 2021

I do have a lure for another moth with clear wings that is even more like a waspish creature, the Hornet Moth, unfortunately, it’s past their flying season and I did not see a single one during any luring session unfortunately, although I know from another moth-er in the village that they are in our locality.

Yellow-legged Clearwing – drawn to AND not VES 13 Jun 2021

Hawk moths

There are about 20 hawk-moths that you might come across in The British Isles, some far more often than others. Some are day-flying (diurnal), some night-flying (nocturnal), some drawn to light others preferring sweet nectar. These moths sit in the Sphingidae grouping, and are more generally known as Sphinx moths elsewhere.

Pine Hawk-moth
Eyed Hawk-moth


Privet Hawk-moth
Hummingbird Hawk-moth
Elephant Hawk-moth
Lime Hawk-moth
Small Elephant Hawk-moth
Poplar Hawk-moth

The photos above are the eight hawk-moths we have seen in our garden over the last three years of mothing here. So, still plenty to “tick”, as it were.