20 Types of Moths in England

Types of Moths in England
Photo by Malcolm Baskerville

Have you ever seen a moth and wondered what type it was? There are many types of moths in England, and they are an important part of the ecosystem.

Moths, just like butterflies, belong to the order Lepidoptera. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are even multi-colored! 

From small insignificant brown moths to large brightly colored moths, they each have unique characteristics that help identify them.

A wide range of moths in England can be found during different seasons. This article will look at some common types of moths in England and discuss their features and habits.

Understanding these creatures better means we can learn their importance within their respective ecosystems.

1. Poplar Hawk-Moth

The Poplar Hawk moth is one of the most common types of moths in England.

It has a predominantly brown coloration and distinct pale stripes on its wings, making it easy to identify.

It can be found mainly in England and other parts of western Europe during the summertime, although it may also be seen further south. 

This type of moth is particularly notable for its ability to fly at very high speeds, so much so that the sound of its wings beat resembles a miniature engine.

The larvae of this species on our list of the types of moths in England feed on poplar trees, hence its name.

In terms of size, it usually reaches up to around 4 or 5 cm in length. It has a wingspan of 3 or 4 cm.

Despite its small size, the Poplar Hawk-moth remains an impressive and fascinating insect due to its incredible speed and agility.

2. Lime Hawk-Moth

The Lime Hawk-moth is a large and striking species of moth that can be found in England. It has a wingspan of up to 90 mm, and its forewings are a bright lime green.

They have distinctive yellow spots on the hindwings and can often be seen fluttering around flowers, feeding on nectar during the day. 

The larvae are quite small, ranging between 30–50 mm long, and have distinctive sharp horns that give them their name.

The adults tend to hibernate through winter months, emerging from April to July when it is warm enough for flight.

While most types of moths in England are declining in numbers due to habitat destruction and pesticide use, the population size of the Lime Hawk moth appears relatively stable at this time.

3. Privet Hawk-Moth

The Privet Hawk-moth is a moth species found in Europe and is one of England’s most widely distributed types of moths.

This species has an impressive 6-7 cm wingspan and can easily be recognized by its striking coloration, possessing vivid shades of pink and yellow combined with orange or reddish spots.

As a nocturnal species, it emerges in the evening to feed on flowers like hawthorn and lilac. 

These types of moths in England are particularly active around dusk due to their strong vision at night.

When threatened by predators or during mating season, this moth can produce loud clicking noises from its abdomen to ward off potential danger or attract mates.

In Britain, they are regarded as a rare but fascinating sight!

4. Angle Shades

The Angle Shades is a moth found in England, mainly in the southern half of Britain.

It has an easily recognizable appearance due to the colorful markings on its wings, and a distinctive pattern of spanning black outlines inspired its common name.

These types of moths in Kentucky are most active between dusk and dawn when they feed on various plants, particularly grasses, and herbs. 

Meanwhile, they breed from late spring to early summer, with females laying eggs individually or in small clusters on vegetation.

The larvae can be found between July and September when they feed on low-growing plants such as nettles, docks, sedges, and clovers.

Adults can rest during the day but often become more active when disturbed, so they are usually best seen during nighttime surveying or by shining a light into nearby vegetation.

5. Elephant Hawk-Moth

Of the several types of moths in England, the Elephant Hawk-moth is a large, brightly colored moth native to the state.

It bears a distinctive pattern of purple and white stripes on its wings and has large black eyes at the end of long green snouts.

This moth can be seen in gardens and open fields during the summer months, where it can be attracted to bright lights in the evening and feed on honeydew, fruit juice, or sugar solutions if available. 

The Elephant Hawk-moth is important for pollinating flowers such as willowherb, foxglove, and buddleia.

At the same time, its larvae often eat mint and other plants in vegetable gardens.

In addition to being one of the most recognizable types of moths in England, the Elephant Hawk-moth also serves an important role as a pollinator and food source for many small animals such as birds, bats, lizards, and small mammals.

6. Eyed Hawk-Moth

The Eyed Hawk-moth is a large and colorful insect on our list of the types of moths in England.

It belongs to the family Sphingidae, and it is known for its incredibly agile flight and impressive wingspan.

It gets its name from the distinctive eye-like patterns on its wings’ upper side. This type of moth has three stages: larvae, caterpillar, and moth.

The larvae feed on various trees and shrubs, including birch, hawthorn, willow, apple, plum, poplar species, and elderberry.

These types of moths in England may also feed on garden plants such as ivy or hollyhocks.

During their adult stage, they may be seen in late summer hovering near flowers at night, alighted during the day in sheltered places such as banks or wood sheds where they rest during the heat of the day while feeding at night around dusk and dawn.

7. Hummingbird Hawk-Moth

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth is one of the most beloved types of moths in England.

They have a vaguely hummingbird-like appearance, leading to their common name, and can even hover like a real hummingbird while feeding on nectar from the flowers.

The adults can be found during the day and sometimes at night, feeding on nectar through a long proboscis, extending and retracting with remarkable speed.

Their coloring ranges from grayish brown to pink, with shades of orange and yellow highlights across their wings.

They are generally seen between May and September, but individual specimens have been seen as early as April or October.

8. Elephant Hawk-Moth

The Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar is a species of moth found in England that is distinguishable by its large size and distinctive green, yellow, and purple pattern.

These particular types of moths in Kentucky are typically found in woodlands and meadows, where they feast upon the leaves of trees like willow, poplar, ash, and lime during the summer months.

Their forewings have reddish brown tips that help them camouflage with their surroundings under the darkness when foraging for food. 

The Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar has a wingspan of up to 47 mm wide, making it one of the larger moth varieties found in the country.

As larvae, they exist in pairs when burrowing into the soil to create cocoons where they can transform into adult form within two weeks.

During this period, their bright colors serve as warning signs for predators.

Even contact with them may cause severe irritation due to their stinging hairs used to defend against enemies and attract potential mates from afar.

9. Swallow-Tailed moths

The swallow-tailed moths are not left out of this list of the amazing types of moths in England.

They are medium-sized moths, mostly with a wingspan of 1-2 inches, and display colors ranging from tan to yellow, orange, or even pink.

These moths have distinctive oblong wings with large irregular circles or spots on them. 

Their bodies are fairly slender, usually with white bands near the head and tail end, creating the namesake “swallowtail” look.

The larvae of these moths can be quite damaging to crops such as wheat and rye, so identifying these moths is key to avoiding damage to agricultural production.

Swallow-tailed moths, one of the types of moths in England, love sunny places but also rest in shaded areas during the day. 

They often fly at night around flowers to feed on their nectar or pollen while they search for suitable egg-laying sites such as bark and flower buds.

Though not considered endangered, swallow-tailed moth populations may decline due to increasing pest control measures targeting adults and larvae.

As with all species, efforts should be made to protect this species for present and future generations.

10. Cinnabar Moths

Cinnabar moths are types of moths in England. They have black, gray, and red colored wings, which feature two large, reddish spots near the center.

These moths are active during the day and can be seen flying around flowers or garden plants in search of nectar.

They feed on various flowering plants, including ragwort, hedge mustard, and yarrow. 

The caterpillars live underground, feeding mainly on ragwort roots until they transform into pupae that overwinter under bark or debris.

As Cinnabar moth populations decline due to habitat destruction and pesticide use, they now enjoy protected status in many parts of England under the British Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

11. Puss Moth

The Puss Moth (Cerura vinula) is a nocturnal moth native to England. It is a large, distinctive species with bright white wings with black spots, hence its name.

The underside of the wings is covered in long hairs creating the characteristic ‘puss’ look.

The caterpillars are black and white striped and feed on willow, oak, and birch leaves. 

Adults of these particular types of moths in England are attracted to light in gardens and woodlands, where they lay their eggs between May and September.

The larvae emerge in July, feeding on leaves before entering a state of hibernation during the cold winter.

When spring arrives, they pupate before emerging as adult moths, ready to start the cycle again.

Overall, it’s a fascinating species of moths in England that is an important part of Britain’s natural biodiversity.

12. Pale Tussock Caterpillar

The Pale Tussock Caterpillar, called Calliteara pudibunda, is a moth found in England.

This species has yellowish-brown to orange fur, black spots and streaks on the back, and white residue from pale gray hairs elsewhere.

The caterpillar’s head features two thin stripes of dark markings and six pairs of legs. 

These types of moths in England feed on various deciduous trees such as oak, birch, hawthorn, willow, and poplar.

They are often found near tree trunks or branches and can reach sizes up to 45 mm long when fully grown.

The Pale Tussock Caterpillar is an important species in the English ecosystem, providing food for birds and other predators.

13. Scarlet Tiger

The Scarlet Tiger (Callimorpha dominula) is a species of moth found throughout England.

It is identified by its bright red and yellow colors and eight black stripes lined down the center of its back.

The Scarlet Tiger is noted for its remarkable ability to navigate obstacles.

This makes it one of the most common types of moths in England due to its strong navigational skills and passive and resilient nature towards humans.

Adults drink nectar from flowers in their area and lay eggs on plants just before wintertime.

It serves an important role in the natural environment by providing food sources for many local animals, reptiles, and birds that inhabit England’s woods and gardens.

14. Emmelina monodactyla

This list of the different types of moths in England is incomplete without the Emmelina monodactyla.

This species has distinct brown and yellow markings with gray and brown scales on the wings, making it easy to identify in the wild.

They can be found in fields, gardens, and woodlands throughout England and are often mistaken for butterflies due to their delicate appearance. 

The larvae of this species feed on various plants, such as corn cobs and grasses, while adults typically feed on nectar from flowers.

Although they don’t usually cause extensive damage to crops or other flora, large numbers can be damaging if left unchecked.

Emmelina monodactyla moths are important pollinators of native English plants and flowers; however, their population has declined over recent years due to habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change.

15. Jersey Tiger

The Jersey Tiger is a species of moth found in England and surrounding mainland Europe.

This species is easily identifiable by its characteristic orange and black striped pattern and white markings near the tips of its wings.

The Jersey Tiger is a common sight during the summer when it is most active, although it can be seen throughout the year in warm climates. 

Female moths lay their eggs on plants or trees that host aphids, which their larvae feed on after they hatch.

This species has adapted to many different habitats and has proven to be quite successful in surviving despite human development and habitat destruction.

With some conservation efforts being put in place, this species, of the types of moths in England, should continue to thrive for years to come.

16. Feathered Thorn

The Feathered Thorn is a type of moth found throughout England. They are characterized by their pretty, feathery antennae and brownish to reddish-brown wings.

The Feathered Thorn’s wingspan usually measures 13–19 mm, but the males can be slightly smaller than the females.

Their wings have an intricate pattern of ochre lines bordered by white scales, setting them apart from most other types of moths in England. 

As typical with other types of moths in England, they are nocturnal and prefer to feed on nectar when the sun goes down.

The Feathered Thorn has two generations yearly – one during spring and another during summer.

To protect themselves from predators, they typically rest in sheltered spots such as flowerheads or dead tree branches during the day and emerge only when it is dark out.

17. Convolvulus Hawk-Moth

The Convolvulus Hawk-moth is a species of moth found in England and other parts of Europe.

It has grayish-brown wings with delicate markings, such as thin white lines that are sometimes curved or zigzagged.

Its body tends to be yellowish, with two large eyespots near the moth’s head. The wingspan of these types of moths in England can range from 5.5-7 cm (2 1/4 – 2 3/4 inches). 

This type of hawkmoth usually appears during the late summer and autumn months and can be seen at night flying and hovering near flowers like jasmine, convolvulus, or bramble, where it feeds on nectar.

The adult moths lay their eggs singly on the leaves of plants such as morning glory, scabious, or sagebrush.

The larvae are green and have narrow yellow stripes running down their backs while they feed on various host plants before ultimately changing into adults through pupation after about one to two weeks inside a cocoon

18. Scalloped Oak

The Scalloped Oak (Pyralidae: Selenodes lutescens) is a species of moth found in England.

It has a drab, orange-brown coloration and is marked with distinguishable scallop-shaped markings on its wings.

It is typically found in late summer and early autumn, clustered around the southern region of England, particularly near oak trees which serve as their food source. 

These types of moths in England are nocturnal and feed mainly upon decaying plant matter, including oak leaves and other detritus.

The caterpillars of this species can be found spiraling up young oaks in springtime before they hibernate to pupate under the bark or within nearby hollows of old trees.

Although the Scalloped Oak moth may not seem attractive, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping break down dead organic matter and returning essential nutrients into the soil.

19. Mullein Caterpillar

The Mullein Caterpillar is a type of moth commonly found in England and parts of Europe.

Of all the types of moths in England, its caterpillars feed on common mullein plants, hence the name.

The adult forms are usually light yellow with dark spots, while the larval (caterpillar) form is black and white, with six legs and several pairs of fleshy spines along its back. 

Additionally, they tend to inhabit deserted fields and other patches of grass.

The Mullein Caterpillar pupates in the early summer moths before emerging as a bright yellow moth in late summer or early autumn.

They are an important part of the local ecology since they help pollinate flowers and disperse their seeds to create new thickets of mullein where the caterpillars can feed and provide sustenance for other animals.

20. Lesser Swallow Prominent

Finally, on our list of the types of moths in England is the Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma).

It has two easily distinguishable forms depending on the season, with brown and black forewings during the winter and primarily white forewings during the summer.

This moth species typically resides near woods and prefers areas with trees for shelter or food.

They feed off of decaying wood, tree sap, or small insects, and their larvae can be found from spring to early summer, usually among bark crevices or dead wood. 

Although mostly nocturnal, they will sometimes appear around dusk in gardens or other illuminated areas.

They are also active during cloudier days when lighter levels allow them to fly without excessive exposure to sunlight.

The Lesser Swallow Prominent is an important pollinator for many plant species and plays an integral role in keeping England’s biodiversity alive and flourishing.


There are a great variety of moths in England.

From the small and common red-green carpet moth to the more unusual privet hawk moth, these creatures can be found throughout the British Isles in various habitats, from gardens to meadows.

It is estimated that around 2,500 species of moths exist in England. There are so many types of moths in England.

However, assessing is difficult as many are yet to be classified and documented accurately.

These species play an important ecological role by providing food for other animals, aiding pollination, and aiding the decomposition of organic materials into humus for plants.

Therefore, these fascinating creatures must be protected to maintain the biodiversity in our environment.

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