Cabbage Moth Noctuidae

Mamestra brassicae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 34-50 mm. Forewings normally reddish brown with poorly defined crosslines. Reniform stigmata outlined in white. The moth has an overall marbled appearance. Hindwings fuscous, with a small darker discal spot and pale fringe. A distinguishing diagnostic feature is the curved spur on the tibia which separates it from other similar species.

Similar Species: White Colon N. albicolon, which lacks the curved spur and white lined reniform stigmata.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Late May until mid-August.

Status: Widely distributed but more commonly encountered in Down and Armagh. In recent years it appears to have become scarce in areas where it once was common. This may be related to changes in farming practice and the reduction in garden allotments.

Ecology: Associated mainly with cultivated plants. Adults are attracted to light and flowers, especially Red Valerian Centranthus ruber. The larvae are nocturnal and polyphagous but they have a particular preference for cabbages and related Brassica spp. and they can be a serious pest of these. The larvae can be found throughout the summer and autumn.

World Distribution: Throughout Europe as far north as Finland.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2154 Agassiz number: 73.274

Additional information:

UK Moths account


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