The Vestal is a migrant species, occurring primarily in southern England but in varying numbers. In good immigration years, several hundred may appear, almost anywhere in Britain.

The amount and intensity of the pink pigmentation varies. Native to southern Europe and North Africa.

It flies mainly at night and is regularly attracted to light.

Flight Season

Most UK records are from August to October.

Flies from dusk into the night when it is attracted to light.

Flight Season

Flies from June and July, and again in August and September in two generations.

Size and Family

  • Family – Erebidae
  • Small Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 18-22mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Relatively common

Caterpillar Food Plants

Caterpillars feed on various grasses


Damp meadows and woodland

Not found in the UK. There have been several records of this butterfly in the UK from over the past 150 years but the species is not considered to be migratory and their presence has been attributed to passage by ship.

This is a large and distinctive butterfly, even in flight, as the white wing borders are unmistakable. The adults live solitary and, as such, migrate singly rather than in the swarms associated with other migrant species.

A small sandy-brown moth with a rather pointed forewing, often fading to a lighter shade of brown.

Easily disturbed by day from grass swords, where it rests on the stems. Flies from late afternoon, at dusk and after dark. Comes to light, sometimes in large numbers. Overwinters as a part-grown caterpillar, on stems near the ground.

Flight Season

Flies from Mid-June to early August in one generation, usually ending by the third week of July.

This species has an annual life cycle. It flies by day in a spinning motion that can be difficult to follow. Adults are seen in May, June and into July, but has been recorded in late April, August and September. The caterpillar feeds from July until autumn on the leaves and flowers of the foodplant, goldenrod, inhabiting a slight silken web under the lower leaves.

An unmistakable and attractive moth whose English name comes from the heart-shaped markings in the central part of the forewings. The scientific names refer to the two circular markings next to the ‘heart’ on the forewings, Dicycla meaning ‘two-circle’, and oo literally meaning ‘double O’.

One of the most familiar of the Pyralidae moth, the Small Magpie is common, easily disturbed by day and often attracted to light.

The caterpillar feeds from a rolled or spun leaf in August and September before spending the winter in a tough silk cocoon in a hollow stem or under the bark. Without further feeding, pupation occurs in the following May in the same cocoon.

Flight Season

Flies from May to September in a single generation but can be recorded as early as February and sometimes as late as November.

The Large Tortoiseshell was once widespread across Britain and most common in the woodlands of central and southern England but while its numbers were always known to fluctuate, it declined to extinction by the 1960s. This butterfly has not been recorded from Ireland.

It is still common in some parts of Europe, but declining in others. There continue to be sporadic records in Britain, the majority from the south coast but some are considered to be of specimens released from reared stock rather than genuine immigrants.

A large white or greyish-white furry moth, the Puss moth is named after the cat-like appearance of the adult. The female is generally larger and also differs in having a grey hindwing and sometimes forewing.

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