Peppered Moth

Biston betularia

About

A medium-sized moth, the Peppered Moth is renowned for its markings which provide camouflage against lichen-covered rocks and tree bark. It is on the wing between May and August in parks and gardens, woodland, scrub and hedgerows. The twig-like caterpillars feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs, including Silver Birch, oak, Bramble and Hawthorn. They have a deep cleft in their heads just like a broken stem, and legs that resemble thorns, making them perfectly camouflaged against the rose species they frequent.

How to identify

The Peppered Moth has a broad, furry body and long, narrow wings which it holds straight out to the side. It is usually whitish with intricate black markings all over, but some individuals are entirely sooty black (melanic forms). The similar Oak Beauty has two brownish bands on the wings, and holds its wings further back.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

Moths such as the Peppered Moth are common in gardens - why not set up a moth trap at night and see who comes to visit? To attract moths and butterflies into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders and shrubs for them to feed on. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Peppered Moth
Latin name
Biston betularia
Category
Invertebrates
Butterflies and moths
Statistics
Wingspan: 3.5-6cm
Conservation status
Common.