Swallow-tailed Moth Geometridae

Ourapteryx sambucaria (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 50-62mm. Adults are large and butterfly-like in appearance and named after the small projections on the apex of the hind wings. The vast majority of adults trapped at light show signs of damage and appear faded. The bright lemon yellow so distinctive of fresh specimens fades quickly. Adults have two widely spaced cross-lines on the forewings.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Mid-June to mid-August.

Status: Widespread and frequent in the south and east. Less frequent in the north and west particularly in north Antrim and Londonderry.

Ecology: A conspicuous insect found frequently in a variety of habitats particularly woodland rides, clearings, bogs and gardens, but never abundantly. Adults have a skittish nature and often fly at the least sign of disturbance. The larvae can be found from August to May of the following year on ivy and various other species of trees and shrubs. It overwinters as a larva.

World Distribution: Across central and southern Europe as far east as Siberia.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1922 Agassiz number: 70.243

Additional information:

UK Moths account


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