Large Yellow Underwing Noctuidae

Maps updated: April 2008

Noctua pronuba (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 50-60mm. Adults variable in pattern and colour, however the males are normally darker and females much paler. Forewing base colour variable from pale to dark brown; darker stigmata, crosslines weakly marked and a dark coloured double spot near the costa. Hindwing orange yellow with a black border; conspicuous when in flight.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: End of May to late September.

Status: A common and widespread species found in all counties and on Rathlin Island.

Ecology: Found in a wide variety of habitats, but more abundant in lowland sites including urban gardens. Adults appear commonly at light, often in large numbers. They also visit the flowers of Ragwort Senecio jacobaea, Red Valerian Centranthus ruber and Buddleia Buddleja davidii. Adults are often disturbed from grass and other vegetation during the day. The resident population is increased by migrants. The larvae feed from September to April on various grasses and plants.

World Distribution: Throughout western Europe, Iceland, central Scandinavia and North Africa.


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