Night Flying Moths

Moths are night time pollinators, but many different species need a variety of food plants for their caterpillars too.

The mosaic of woodland, moorland, farmland and grassland in the National Park ensures a healthy habitat, while our vast dark skies provide ideal flying conditions for them. The surveys and research undertaken each year help us to understand how best to guide environmental management for these important night flyers.

Dark Tussock Moth

This is a species often found on moorland where its caterpillars feed on heather. They are a striking sight; displaying a number `tussocks` of dense hairs along their length.

Photograph of a grey Dark Tussock moth

The adults have long furry front legs that when at rest are pushed out in front of it. They are a very common moth throughout the National Park and are on the wing through June and July.

White Ermine Moth

The White Ermine moth relies on dropping off leaves or twigs if disturbed by a bird hunting for food. It pretends to be dead to help it to evade predators, as most birds prefer to attack something that moves.

A striking White Ermine moth with black spots on its wings

Males have striking black comb like antennae.

Buff-tip Moth

One way to avoid being eaten by a bird is to look like something not worth eating. In case of the Buff-tip Moth, it looks like a twig!

A Buff-Tip Moth rest on a end of a finger.

The Buff-tip moth is a master of disguise, even taking on a rounded appearance with a snapped end. The one in the photo shows it with its front legs out but given time it would have pulled them in as; what twig has legs!

This is a reasonably common species throughout the National Park. Its caterpillars feed on the leaves of a number of broadleaved trees.

Garden Tiger Moth

The Garden Tiger Moth has to be one of the most striking species. Its upper wings hide the blast of colour of the under-wings that it displays to deter would be predators. This give the warning that it is not a tasty meal.

A Garden Tiger Moth showing its brightly coloured black,white and orange wings.

Many people are more familiar with its caterpillar – the woolly bear or hairy Hubert. This is often encountered crossing paths and roads on its way to hibernate. An occasional find on our surveys.

Swallow-tailed Moth

This largish moth is more butterfly-like than moth, but only flies at night.

At first it is a puzzle to see how this species could be camouflaged or protected from birds. It’s easier to see how it might be though when it settles on the underside of a leaf with the sunlight shining through from above.

Buff Arches

Buff Arches is a striking species of moth with its patterns and `hair cut` shape.

A brown and white coloured buff arches moth on a piece of wood.

It was once a rare moth in the County but now being found more often as it spreads North. Its caterpillars feed on Bramble leaves.

Burnished Brass

The Prominent moths are a family of moth species that have characteristic humps and bumps on them. This is thought to help break up the moths shape and to fool hungry birds.

A Burnished Brass moth showing a series of lumps on its back and green and black spotted wings.

One of the commonest is the Burnished Brass which has a lovely green metallic sheen to it and amazing `head dress` Its caterpillars feed on nettles!

The Pebble Hook-tip

The most common of the of the hook-tips; it is identified by the pebble-like spot in the centre of the forewing.

Its caterpillars feed on the leaves of Birch and Alder. It is widespread in woodland, heathland and gardens – wherever Birch is found.

A Pebble Hook-tip moth showing its dark, tipped wings.

A curious looking species, especially if viewed from different angles – as birds will come across. One angle gives a distinct appearance of a possible mouse’s face which might just put a hungry insect feeding bird.