Moth Night 2021 takes place between 8th and 10th July. The theme for 2021 is Reedbeds and Wetlands; these are important habitats for many species throughout the British Isles, perhaps best known amongst birdwatchers for enigmatic species such as Bittern, Bearded Tit and Marsh Harrier in reedbeds, and breeding wildfowl and waders on wetland habitats. July is a particularly diverse time for moth populations in these habitats so why not get out to your nearest site and see what is on the wing? To encourage daytime activities we are also going to be accepting records made during daylight hours and we will have a range of prizes to give away for some of the more exciting captures and for random participants.

Some of the moths that may be encountered in reedbeds and wetlands include:

© Dave Green

Reed Dagger

Simyra albovenosa

This species is confined to parts of East Anglia and the south coast, where it inhabits reed beds and fenland.

Double brooded, it flies in May,then again during July and August.

The larvae feed on common reed (Phragmites australis) and a number of other plants associated with the habitat.


© Keith Talby

Fenn’s Wainscot

Protarchanara brevilinea

This is a very local species, restricted to a small number of fenland localities in East Anglia, though it can be common where it occurs.  The larvae feed on common reed (Phragmites australis).


© Keith Tailby

Fen Wainscot

Arenostola phragmitidis

A distinctively plain-looking moth with creamy forewings fading to rufous at the outer edge, this moth is distributed mainly in the south and east of England, westwards to Dorset, and also locally in the north-west of England.

Flying in July and August, the adults can be attracted to light.

The caterpillars feed internally in the stems of common reed (Phragmites australis).


© Keith Tailby

White-mantled Wainscot

Archanara neurica

A rare and local species, occurring only in a relatively small number of reedbeds in coastal Suffolk. It has previously been recorded in East Sussex.

There is a single generation, flying in July and August, when the adults are attracted to light.

The larvae feed internally in the stems of common reed (Phragmites australis).


© Nigel Jarman

Striped Wainscot

Mythimna pudorina

Relatively commonly distributed in most of England and Wales, this species inhabits marshland and damp heaths.

The adults fly in June and July and are attracted to light.


© Nigel Jarman

Obscure Wainscot

Leucania obs0leta

A rather local species, with a scattered distribution in parts of England and Wales, occupying marshes and fenland.

The adults fly from May to July, and are attracted to light.

The dull, brownish caterpillars feed nocturnally on the stems of common reed (Phragmites australis), hiding internally in the stems during the day.


© Nigel Jarman

Southern Wainscot

Mythimna straminea

This species has a scattered distribution throughout England and Wales, occupying reedbeds, it is commonest in the south and local further north into Cumbria.

The overwintering larvae feed on reed (Phragmites) and canary grass (Phalaris), hiding in the stems during the day.


© Nigel Jarman

Flame Wainscot

Senta flammea

A scarce and local species, restricted as a resident to a number of fens in East Anglia, and in low density in a small number of freshwater reedbeds in Dorset.  It has occurred as a migrant away from the strongholds.

Flying from May to July, the adults can be attracted to light and can be found resting on reed stems at night.

The larvae feed externally at night on common reed (Phragmites australis), hiding by day in hollow stems of the foodplant.


© Patrick Clements

Elachista maculicerusella

Elachista maculicerusella

Occurring widely in England and southern Scotland, this species is favours damp habitats such as river and canal banks and marshes.

The small white and blackish adult is quite distinctive, and flies between May and August in one or two broods depending on latitude.

The larvae mine the stems of reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundiacea) and common reed (Phragmites australis); occasionally on other grasses. The pupa is anchored externally on the foodplant by a silken girdle.


© Ian Leech

Beautiful China-mark

Nymphula nitidulata

One of the more distinctive and beautiful members of the Pyralidae, the larvae are aquatic (like those of the other China-mark moths), feeding on bur-reed (Sparganium) and other water plants.

Found fairly commonly around lakes, rivers and ponds throughout Britain, the moths are on the wing during July and August.


Moths to Look Out For in July

The following moths have all featured in the 10 most abundant macro and micro-moths recorded during previous July Moth Nights


Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba. © Les Evans-Hill

Uncertain Hoplodrina octogenaria.  © Mark Parsons

Common Footman Eilema lurideola. © Keith Tailby

Flame Axylia putris. © Keith Tailby

Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea. Image © Paul Hill

Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha. © Les Evans-Hill

Riband Wave Idaea aversata. © David Green

Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis. © Paul Hill


Celypha lacunana. ©Patrick Clements

Archips xylosteana. © Peter Maton

Small Magpie Anania hortulata. © Iain Leach

Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis. © Les Evans-Hill

Scoparia ambigualis. © Greg Osbourne

Green Oak Tortrix Tortrix viridana.  © Patrick Clement

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana. © Greg Osbourne

Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata.  © Patrick Clement