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2. Large Yellow Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Yellow Underwings - Noctuinae

A number of British moths have a yellow or orange hindwing, bordered with black. Of these 7 are in the genus Noctua, of which the 5 shown are the most common.

Large yellow underwing

Centre of kidney mark is usually black, particularly towards trailing edge of the forewing.

Black pip-mark (usually 2) at the inner edge of the outer cross-band close to the leading edge of the forewing.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Often has black pip-marks but not always

Cross-bands have sharp, clear edges with striking effect.

Oval and kidney marks are large and rounded.

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Markings and colouring on the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing are much less variable.

Surface of the forewings has a sheen so that areas appear white.

A large triangle on the leading edge of the wing and near the apex is red.

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1. Lesser Yellow Underwing and Least Yellow Underwing

When at rest Least Yellow Underwing and Lesser Yellow Underwing could easily be mistaken for other Noctuids such as the Uncertain Moth (Hoplodrina octogenaria)

Lesser yellow underwing often has similar colour and markings to Large yellow underwing but it does not have the black ‘pip marks’ near the apex of the fore wing.

Also Lesser yellow underwing (wing length about 18mm) is smaller than Large Yellow Underwing (wing length about 24mm).

The Lunar Yellow Underwing is the size of Lesser Yellow Underwing and does have the ‘pip marks’ but it is Nationally Scarce (See Hantsmoths).

A thin collar behind the head is green but gradually fades.

Identify moths


Identify moths


If you are unsure of a Noctuid moth’s identity it is well worth checking the hindwing.

1. Lesser Yellow Underwing, Least Yellow Underwing
2. Large Yellow Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing,
    Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Lesser Yellow Underwing
Larger than many other Noctuids, such as Uncertain, as its wing length is about 18mm or more.
Size also distinguishes it from
Least Yellow Underwing, with a wing length of about 15mm

Larger than many other Noctuids

 Least Yellow Underwing
A similar size to many other Noctuids, such as
Uncertain. Both have a wing length of about 15mm and similar forewing markings (see Rustics page)

This group can often be distinguished from other Noctuids by their shape - the area behind the head (the ‘shoulders’) is very rounded and they often rest with the leading edges of the wings parallel.
Lesser Yellow Underwing and Least Yellow Underwing do sometimes rest with wings farther apart ( see photos ).

Both Lesser Yellow Underwing and
Least Yellow Underwing
have two crosslines just below the kidney mark, the inner one made up of broken arcs and the outer one of dots.

The oval and kidney marks are suffuse

Unlike Least Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing has :-
1.Clearly defined oval and kidney marks

2. A clear row of triangular dots along the outer edge of the wing.

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