Magpie Moth Geometridae

Abraxas grossulariata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 42-48mm. A highly variable species with many different forms. The wings are predominantly white marked with heavy black spotting, which is prone to much individual variation. There is a pale orange crossline running across the forewing near the outer margin. The hindwing is whiter with a row of black spots on the outer margin. Quite a variable species with many different aberrations which appear in captive-bred individuals but which are seldom encountered in the wild.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Beginning of June to early September.

Status: Widespread and frequently encountered over most of N. Ireland especially in eastern counties. Also recorded from Rathlin Island, Antrim.

Ecology: A large, distinctive moth found in a wide variety of habitats particularly woodland, coastal dunes, grassland and often gardens. The larvae can be found from September to May on currant Ribes spp., Gooseberry Ribes uva-crispa, Blackthorn Prunus spinosa, Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna, Hazel Corylus avellana and possibly other trees and shrubs. It overwinters as a larva.

World Distribution: Throughout Europe as far as eastern Siberia.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1884 Agassiz number: 70.205

Additional information:

UK Moths account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland