The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Insects >> Order Lepidoptera
Magpie Moth

Abraxas grossulariata


The wings of this moth are predominantly white marked with heavy black spotting, which is prone to much individual variation. There is a pale orange crossline running across the forewing near the outer margin. The hindwing is whiter with a row of black spots on the outer margin. It has a wingspan of 1.3 to 1.75 inches.

magpie moth

Distribution and Habitat

The magpie moth is found throughout Europe, from the British Isles into eastern Siberia. It inhabits a variety of habitats, including gardens, parks, grasslands, meadows, and scrubby areas.

Life Cycle

The magpie moth overwinters as a caterpillar, pupates in the late spring, and is on the wing through the summer. The caterpillar is pale green with bold, black spots and a rusty line down the sides.

magpie moth caterpillar


Magpie moth caterpillars feed on a variety of shrubs, including hazel, hawthorn, privet, and currants. Adults drink nectar from flowers.

Scientific Classification

phylum Arthropoda
class Insecta
order Lepidoptera
family Geometridae
genus & species Abraxas grossulariata

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This page was last updated on June 20, 2017.