Ear Moth Noctuidae

Amphipoea oculea (Linnaeus, 1761)

Description: Wingspan 29-34 mm. Forewings broad and reddish brown in colour. Reniform stigma usually white, but it can be yellow and orange on some individuals. Orbicular stigma less conspicuous, circular in shape and usually orange or occasionally lemon-yellow. Antemedian and post median lines darker and inconspicuous. Subterminal line faint and darker than the base colour. Hindwings fuscous with a weakly defined discal spot.

Similar Species: Large Ear A. lucens which has a discal spot on the hindwing. The three 'ears' Amphipoea are extremely variable in size and wing pattern and certain identification requires examination of the genitalia.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Mid-July until the end of October.

Status: Uncertain due to the difficulty in identification. The distribution map is not necessarily a true reflection of its distribution in N. Ireland. Since many of the records are not supported by voucher specimens their validity is doubtful. There have been confirmed records from Killard Point National Nature Reserve, Murlough National Nature Reserve and Ballykinler, Down.

Ecology: It has been stated that this species occurs in a variety of habitats. It would appear however based on confirmed records that this species is more coastal compared to the others in the genus. Adults are attracted to light and flowers especially Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea and thistles. According to Skinner the larvae feed from May to July in the stems of Yellow Iris Iris pseudacorus and probably other plants. It overwinters as an egg.

World Distribution: Widely distributed in western Europe from northern Spain to central Fennoscandia.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2360 Agassiz number: 73.128

Additional information:

UK Moths account

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