The Sallow Noctuidae

Cirrhia icteritia (Hufnagel, 1766)

Description: Wingspan 32-40 mm. Forewings are normally pale yellow but some individuals are a deeper orange-yellow. Some adults have entirely yellow forewings with a small dark coloured discal spot. These are referred to as ab. flavescens. The median fascia is purple and widest at the costa, extending almost to the apex of the forewing. Individuals show some variation in the amount of purple shading on the forewings. The antemedian and post median lines are purplish brown but they are not always clearly defined. The subterminal line is irregular comprising of a series of well-defined black dots. Hindwings pale yellow-white.

Similar Species: Pink-barred Sallow X. togata, which has a large area of its head purple.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Beginning of August to mid-October.

Status: Common and widespread across southern counties but scarcer further north and apparently confined to coastal localities. It has also been recorded from Rathlin Island, Antrim.

Ecology: A late summer species found in similar habitats to the closely related Pink-barred Sallow X. togata. Adults are attracted to light and are also said to feed at flowers, such as red-hot poker Kniphofia spp., and overripe berries. The larvae feed from March to early June, initially on the catkins of willow Salix spp. and later on low-growing herbaceous plants. It overwinters as an egg.

World Distribution: Throughout western Europe from Spain to the Arctic Circle.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2274 Agassiz number: 73.182

Additional information:

UK Moths account


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