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The wedge shaped mark is long and narrow.

2. Swallow Prominent and Lesser Swallow Prominent
These two species do differ slightly in average size and flying period but, in each case the overlap and so do not usually help with identification.

They are most easily distinguished by the shape of a white mark in the trailing corner of the forewing.

Swallow Prominent

Lesser Swallow Prominent

The white wedge shaped mark is and short and wide.

4. Lunar Marbled Brown,  Marbled Brown and Pale Tussock Moth

Marbled Brown and Dark Tussock are both less common in most areas and do not have the strong cross-lines of the two species dealt with here.

Lunar Marbled Brown


Marbled Brown

Marbled Brown  has no crescent mark and cross-lines are not consistent or clear.

Lunar Marbled Brown has 3 wide cross-bands of different shades divided by 2 clear cross-lines.

Lunar Marbled Brown has a thin crescent mark in the central band of the forewing

Pale Tussock

(Pale Tussock may be confused with Dark Tussock which is less common and is not shown here. Dark Tussock has bright orange markings along the main cross-lines and at the back of the head, whereas markings in Pale Tussock are all greys and browns)

Pale Tussock

Pale Tussock  is very variable in colour and shading, but the wing patterns are fairly constant.

The forewing is divided into 3 wide cross-bands of varying colours.

The cross-lines dividing these bands are very consistent in shape. The one between the base and the centre of the wing is thick and curves gently.
The outer one is narrow and zig-zag.

The central cross-band has a crescent mark but this a ring rather than the bold crescent mark of the Lunar Marbled Brown.

There is a clear line of black dots along the outside of the forewing - unless the wing edge is worn.

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Female Muslin Moth, Yellow-Tail, Buff Ermine and White Ermine
There are other moths with white forewings of this type and which are not included here :
a. Brown-tail which is local - distinguished from Yellow-tail by a brown tuft at the end of the abdomen.
b. White Satin Moth which is similar to Yellow-tail but scarce.
c. Water Ermine which is similar to White Ermine but scarce. It has very few black spots.
d. Four-dotted Footman, which is local and completely different in size and shape from those shown.
e. Male Ghost Moth,  which is common but completely different in shape and markings to those shown.

3. White Macro moths not in Geomitridae or Noctuidae

Crosslines are not straight and point away from the wing-tip.

Body and head are plain and almost devoid of markings.

Two almost straight crosslines on each wing pointing to the wing-tip.

Body and head have strong, clear pink markings.

Hawkmoths, white moths and others

Identify moths


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Identify moths


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Hawkmoths are brightly coloured and distinctly patterned but there are two species which could be confused because of their very similar colour:-

Elephant Hawkmoth


Small Elephant Hawkmoth


Hawkmoths

1. Elephant Hawkmoth and Small Elephant Hawkmoth
These two species do differ in size - with Elephant Hawkmoth wing length about 30mm and small Elephant Hawkmoth only 23mm on average.


Yellow-Tail

Both sexes have a rather humped look at the trailing corner.

The male usually has two black spots near the trailing corner of each forewing - though sometimes there is only one spot and possibly very faint.

The female has no spots and does not have feathery antennae.


Female Muslin Moth - the male is more often seen in traps but is grey or grey-brown  (except in Northern Ireland where it tends to be cream or buff-coloured)

Forewings are shorter and more rounded than in White Ermine.

The pattern of black spots on the forewing are in a consistent and easily recognisable pattern with fewer spots than in most White Ermine.

White Ermine

Buff Ermine

Buff Ermine is normally a clear buff colour but some are pale and may be white

It is distinguished from White Ermine by a clear cross-line of square black spots going towards the wing tip. They usually have very few other spots.

The background of the forewing is white or sometimes light buff.

White Ermine usually has more black spots than Buff Ermine or Muslin Moth and more random in number and position.