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Shuttle-shaped Dart

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There are a large number of species in the family Noctuinae which have a cross-line on each forewing about a third of the way from the base, with a dart shaped mark coming from it pointing to the outer edge. Many, but not all, are called Darts. This page shows differences between the six most common of these.

Darts, etc - Noctuinae

1. Turnip moth, Heart and Dart,  Heart and Club, Dark Sword-grass

The wing markings and background colour of these four are so variable that other characters are needed as well. Some moths are very dark so the markings are not clear.

The distinguishing character for Heart and Dart is a wide black ‘collar’ behind its head.

Heart and Dart

Usually on Heart and Dart:

1. The ‘dart’ on each wing is large and sharp with clearly defined edges.

2. The background colour is plain with no spots.

Turnip moth     

For Turnip Moth usually:

1. The ‘dart’ on each wing is quite small.

2. The ‘dart’, oval mark and kidney mark are each ringed by a dark boundary line.

Photos of a moth in this group should include one taken from in front of the head so the collar is not obscured.

Heart and Club

The Heart and Club does not have the clear black collar of the Heart and Dart, although there may be some black behind the head.

The hindwing of the Heart and Club is grey and is not the bright white of the Turnip Moth.

The ‘dart’ on the forewing is usually rounded with a fuzzy edge and the background of the wing is often very spotty

Dark Sword-grass

extra ‘darts’ on each forewing  

1 below the Kidney mark pointing to the outer edge of the wing

2 at the outer edge of the wing pointing up.

The Dark Sword-grass is an immigrant to the British Isles but is abundant in some years. It has similar markings to the other 3 moths in this group but it also has:

Other related moths have dark, even black, collars but very different wing markings see Black Collar Moth (very rare) and Shuttle-shaped Dart (Below)

2.  Shuttle-shaped Dart and Flame

Shuttle-shaped Dart


The Shuttle-shaped Dart has an extra ‘dart’ near the leading edge of the forewing which the other Dart moths shown don’t have.

This ‘dart’ shows up more on darker female forms.

Flame - side view

From above the Flame looks similar to a light form of the Shuttle-shaped Dart but from the side they look quite different.

Shuttle-shaped Dart -side view

The Flame does have some wing markings similar to the male shuttle-shaped dart but does not have the ‘shuttle’ mark.
Instead it has a small, dark, fairly rounded, oval mark

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