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Ground colour pale straw to mid-brown. Larva is creamy with black and yellow spots.
Habitat - Scrub and gardens.
Habits - Completely strips leaves of host plant.
Eggs are laid singly on the under-surface of leaves of food-plants. Initially white, they turn grey before hatching.
The caterpillar is the most commonly encountered part of the life cycle, clearly visible as it feeds on leaves of its host plants (Waring et al., 2003). In the UK at least, the caterpillar is distinctive (see images on this page), liable to confusion with only Water Betony (C. scrophulariae), which is a rare immigrant to the UK (Porter, 1997; Waring et al., 2003).
The fully grown caterpillar is 44–48 mm long (Porter, 1997).
The pupa is the longest part of the life cycle (up to 5 years in captivity). It lives underground in a strong cocoon. (Waring et al., 2003)
The species displays much variation in size: wingspan ranges between 45 mm and 56 mm. They also show minor variation in colour.
The moth flies from late April to June depending on the location.
- Buddleja – Buddleia, "butterfly bush"
- Himantoglossum hircinum – Lizard Orchid
- Scrophularia – figworts
- Verbascum – mulleins
See Robinson, G. S. et al. .
Subspecies and variation
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- Bretherton, R.F., B. Goater and R.I. Lorimer (1983) Noctuidae: Cucilliinae to Hypeninae. Pages 49–52 in John Heath, A. Maitland Emmet et al. (Ed.) The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 10: Noctuidae (Cucilliinae to Hypeninae) and Agaristidae. Harley Books, Colchester, UK.
- Waring, Paul, Martin Townsend and Richard Lewington (2003) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing, Hook, UK. ISBN 0-9531399-1-3
- Chinery, Michael Insects of Britain and Western Europe. Collins. ISBN 0-00-219137-7