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Magpie Moth

Abraxas grossulariata

Magpie Moth , Magpie

A close up photograph of a magpie moth Abraxas grossulariata on a leaf

Abraxas grossulariata 1

by Tony Hisgett. CC BY 2.0

1 of 8
A Magpie Moth is a pretty white-winged insect with black and yellow markings. It's common to gardens and parks but has seen a drop in numbers in the last several years. In the UK, the caterpillar overwinters, hibernating in debris or soil. They pupate in late spring, emerging in summer. It can be found throughout Britain but is less abundant in northern parts of the country.
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Traits

A pretty moth that's common in gardens and parks.
Caterpillar may chew on leaves of hazel, hawthorn, privet and currants.

Appearance

Adults: At rest, this moth has white wings with black and orange splodges. The bodies are yellow with black splodges. The wingspan is 5cm! Larvae: The caterpillars show similar patterning and colouring as the adult moths. They're creamy yellow with irregular black spotty markings, with some orange on the sides of the body, too. Pupae: The pupae are shaped like a rugby ball, black, with orange stripes. Egg: Spherical, red-brown.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Geometridae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Europe and Eastern Siberia

Biological treatment

Unfortunately, the larvae, or caterpillars, can sometimes be pests in years where conditions are optimum for breeding. If in high abundance, caterpillars may be picked off garden plants using gloves and relocated, or placed in soapy water.

Chemical treatment

Infestations of these caterpillars are rarely severe enough for chemical action. If a chemical option is sought, check with your local garden centre and please take care to follow the manufacturers' instructions. Organic pesticides should be attempted first (natural pyrethrums, fatty acids and plant oils). Synthetic products containing deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin should only be used as a last resort. Never treat plants in flower to avoid harming pollinators.

Attracts

Gooseberry

Ribes uva-crispa

A Prunus spinosa plant with green leaves and black purple berry fruits

Blackthorn

Prunus spinosa

Hawthorn

Crataegus spp.

Hazel

Corylus spp.

A green Ligustrum plant with white flowers in a garden

Privet

Ligustrum spp.

Bramble Currant

Searsia batophylla

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