The Ennomines (Ennominae) is the largest subfamily of the Geometer Moths (Geometridae). They are usually quite small butterflies, although some can grow a bit larger. The absence of vein M2 in the rear wing is characteristic of this subfamily.
Clouded Magpie – 2017 (NL)
The Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata) flies in one and sometimes in two generations from May to September. This geometer moth rests with partially spread wings. The body is yellow with a black dot pattern and the wings are mainly white with a black and orange spot pattern on the inner edge of the front wings. The wingspan is 35-44mm. They fly as soon as it starts to get dim. In 2017 I came across around 15 at the same time early in the morning fluttering around some beeches. Host plant: Elm and Beech. Dutch name: Porseleinvlinder. Frisian name: Porsleinflinter.
Magpie – 2017 (NL)
The Magpie (Abraxas grossulariata) is a very strikingly coloured butterfly. The body is, like its relative the Clouded Magpie, yellow with a black dot pattern. However, the wings are even more dotted with black dots along all edges of the wings and along the centerline over the wings. An orange colour can be seen between the dots and stripes on this centerline, as well as close to the head in the wing-tips. The wingspan is 36-50mm. It flies in one generation from May to September. Host plant: Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Garden Privet, Spindle and Bramble. Dutch name: Bonte bessenvlinder. Frisian name: Bûnte beiflinter.
Scorched Carpet – 2017 (NL)
The Scorched Carpet (Ligdia adustata) is an easily recognized geometer moth that is active at night. The top of the forewings are white and the wing root has a black spot. At the end is a wide black cross band. The wingtip is white with some ocher. The rear wing is white. The chest piece is dark followed by a white band. The abdomen is white with dark rings. The flight period is from April to September in two generations and the wingspan is 20-25mm. Host plant: Spindle. Dutch name: Aangebrande spanner. Frisian name: –
Peppered Moth – 2018 (NL)
A fairly large carpet that can come in two completely different colour forms is the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia). The normal colour of this geometer moth is the characteristic black with white salt and pepper drawing. However, there are also specimens whose wings are black-brown where you can see the dark veins in the wings, the “carbonaria”. These specimens were once dominant in industrial areas with high levels of pollution. The abdomen is fairly wide and a large bunch of hairs can be seen on the thorax. The flight period is from May to mid-August in one generation and the wingspan is 44-56mm. Host plant: Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Birch, limes, allows, poplars, and oaks. Dutch name: Peper-en-zoutvlinder. Frisian name: Bjirkespanner.
Willow Beauty – 2014 (NL)
The Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) is a fairly large grey geometer moth with a characteristic outer transverse line on the top of the front wing. This line makes a strong deflection at the front edge and runs straight on the inner wing half. The middle and outer transverse lines start wide apart and run towards each other towards the inner half. On the underside, the forewings have a distinctive pale square patch at the tip. The wingspan is 34-48 mm. This moth flies in one generation from May to September. Host plant: various trees and plants including Hawthorn, Garden Privet, birches, and Ivy. Dutch name: Taxusspikkelspanner. Frisian name: Taksusspikkelspanner.
Small Engrailed – 2017 (NL)
The Small Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia) is a species that is very variable in colour. This makes it difficult to determine, just like with other geometer moths. The Small Engrailed varies from white or brown-white to brown or grey-brown. It is a relatively large geometer moth with the inner veins on the top of the forewing marked with thin black stripes. A white line is visible beyond the outer transverse line. He flies in two generations from February to September and the wingspan is 30-40mm. Host plant: various deciduous trees. Dutch name: Gewone spikkelspanner. Frisian name: Gewoane spikkelspanner.
White-tipped Black – 2017 (CO)
The White-tipped Black (Melanchroia chephise) is a geometer moth I spotted in Medellin (Colombia). This diurnal butterfly is not found in Europe. It is a black carpet where you clearly see the white veins. There is a white spot on the wingtips. The head and thorax is orange, which is sometimes almost absent, while the rest of the abdomen is black-grey. Host plant: Snowbush, White Sapote, and Gooseberry. Dutch name: Witvlekspanner. Frisian name: –
Common Heath – 2018 (NL)
The Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria) is a day-active moth that flutters mainly on and around heather. In warm days they are quickly rushed to rest a few meters further. The colours of this carpet are very variable. The ground colour ranges from white, especially in the female, to warm light brown, yellow-brown or dark grey. On both the front and rear wings are several dark brown transverse lines in the form of narrow bands that vary in width. The central transverse lines merge or sometimes intersect at the inner edge of the front wing. The bands are not always clear. Sometimes only dark freckles are present. The flight period is in two generations from April to August and the wingspan is 24-30mm. Host plant: Heather, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, and clovers. Dutch name: Gewone heispanner. Frisian name: Heidespanner.
Pale Oak Beauty – 2020 (NL)
The Pale Oak Beauty (Hypomecis puncinalis) is a fairly large, usually grey to grey-brown-coloured, tensioner that resembles the Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria). However, it is smaller and lacks the dark ringed centre spot with a lighter core on the hindwing. The outer transverse line on the forewing, a combination of a dark and white wave line, runs straight from the trailing edge towards the leading edge where it deflects slightly. The outer and middle transverse lines are never joined at the trailing edge. This distinguishes him from the Great Oak Beauty (Hypomecis roboraria). Another distinguishing feature between the two is the underside of the wingtip of the forewing. The light spot is missing from the Pale Oak Beauty. The wingspan is 46-55mm and the flight period is from April to the end of July. Host plant: Oak, Birch and other trees. Dutch name: Ringspikkelspanner. Frisian name: –
Bordered White – 2020 (NL)
During a moth session in a nature reserve with many trees, the Bordered White (Bupalus piniaria) was attracted to the bright light. In the resting position, this geometer moth keeps its wings folded up, unlike many other geometer moths. The white longitudinal stripe and dark transverse lines on the bottom of the hindwing are clearly visible. In the male, the ground colour of the top of the wings varies from white to yellow. A brown zone can be seen along the trailing edge of both wings, which extends broadly at the wingtip of the forewing towards the leading edge. The female is more yellow-brown and does not have those dark edges and dark wingtip. The wingspan is 34-40mm and the flight period is from May to the end of July. Host plant: Pine. Dutch name: Dennenspanner. Frisian name: Dinnespanner.
Common Wave – 2015 (NL)
The Common Wave (Cabera exanthemata) is a light brown to brown-grey speckled white moth. The wings have light brown curved transverse lines, three on the front wing and two on the rear wing. The speckle on the wings varies in intensity. The speckling is usually stronger in the female. This moth differs from the white-grey belt tensioner because of the more wavy transverse lines. The wingspan is 30-35mm. The flight period is in two generations from April to September. Host plant: willow and poplar. Dutch name: Bruine grijsbandspanner. Frisian name: –
Common White Wave – 2018 (NL)
The Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) resembles the Common Wave, but has greyer transverse lines that are also almost straight on the front wing. The three silver-grey cross lines on the front wing are more clearly visible than the two on the rear wing. Sometimes one or more lines may be missing. The wingspan is 25-28mm. The flight period is from April to September in two generations. The one I spotted first had just crawled out of the cocoon. The wings were not yet fully unfolded and dried. Host plant: Birch and Alder. Dutch name: Witte grijsbandspanner. Frisian name: –
Light Emerald – 2018 (NL)
After I reacted very enthusiastically to the first spot of the summer butterfly in 2017, now I am enthusiastic about such a big green geometer moth flying around in my garden at night. The Light Emerald (Campaea margaritaria) is a striking green butterfly with two white transverse lines on the front wing and one on the rear wing that is edged on one side with a green-yellow line. The green colour is best seen in fresh specimens. After a few days that green colour fades and can even completely change to a white colour. A red spot can be recognized at the slightly hook-shaped wingtip. The flight period is in two generations from May to September and the wingspan is 36-52mm. The second generation is often smaller and darker in colour. Host plant: Oak, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Silver Birch, and Beech. Dutch name: Appeltak. Frisian name: Griene wytbânspanner.
Clouded Border – 2017 (NL)
The Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) is a white geometer moth that stands out due to multiple irregular black-brown spots along the edges of the front and rear wings. The extent of the border marking can vary, sometimes extending to the centre of the wings towards the body. It flies in several generations from April to September and the wingspan is 22-28mm. Host plant: Aspen, polars, sallows, willows and Hazel. Dutch name: Gerande spanner. Frisian name: Rânespanner.
September Thorn – 2020 (NL)
A geometer moth that has smooth, rarely faintly speckled, orange-yellow or light brown wings is the September Thorn (Ennomos erosaria). Two brown cross lines run across the forewings, which run slightly towards each other in the direction of the inner edge. The outer transverse line has no twist, which distinguishes it from the August Thorn (Ennomos quercinaria), and which points towards the wingtip at the leading edge. Another characteristic distinction with the August Thorn is that the September Thorn raises the wings more obliquely in a resting position. The easiest way to distinguish them is the colour of the legs. The September Thorn has completely yellow legs and the August Thorn has white ‘knee socks’. The wingspan is 30-35mm and the flight period is from June to mid-October in one or sometimes two generations. Host plant: Various deciduous trees. Dutch name: Gehakkelde spanner. Frisian name: –
Bordered Beauty – 2017 (NL)
The Bordered Beauty (Epione repandaria) has an orange forewing with a broad brown-pink hem that tapers towards the wing-tip. The shape of the dark border helps to distinguish this species from the Dark Bordered Beauty (Epione vespertaria). This geometer moth flies in two generations from June to October and is often seen flying as soon as it starts to get dark. Host plant: Willow, Alder, Poplar and Blackthorn. Dutch name: Puntige zoomspanner. Frisian name: Puntseamspanne.
Brimstone Moth – 2017 (NL)
The Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) is a striking yellow butterfly with a chestnut-brown spot along the front edge near the wingtip and a kind of brown-lined white crescent or dash halfway down the wing. The leading edge itself is sometimes brown and the fringe has dark brown dots. The flight period is from April to October in two generations and the wingspan is 28-42mm. Host plant: Blackthorn, Hawthorn, and Rowan. Dutch name: Hagedoornvlinder. Frisian name: Hagedoarnspanner.
Scorched Wing – 2018 (NL)
When you look at the wings of the Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria) you think it is a burnt piece of paper with its crumpled appearance. Adults are rarely seen by day, possibly roost in the tree canopy, but are attracted to sugar. The base colour is creamy with a pattern of many light brown curved lines. There is a dark brown spot halfway the back edge of the front wing. The male holds the end of the abdomen up in the resting position. The inner edge corners of the front and rear wings lie against each other in the resting position. The flying period is in one generation from May to July and the wingspan is 28-32mm. Host plant: Oak, Birch, Beech, Sweet Chestnut, and sallow. Dutch name: Lindekonotsvlinder. Frisian name: Linebeamknotsflinter.
Brown Silver-line – 2017 (NL)
The Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata) has light brownish wings with two brown-edged silvery spots with a dark middle spot in between. At rest, this moth keeps the front wings back over the rear wings. The wingspan is 31-37mm. It flies in one generation from April to July and overwinters as a puppa. Host plant: Bracken. Dutch name: Varenspanner. Frisian name: –
Peacock Moth – 2017 (NL)
The Peacock Moth (Macaria notata) has a whitish grey-brown speckled front wing with a black paw-print. The rear wing is strongly pointed. The wingspan is 28-32mm. This butterfly flies in two generations from April to September. Host plant: Birch. Dutch name: Klaverblaadje. Frisian name: Klaverbledsje.
Latticed Heath – 2017 (NL)
The Latticed Heath (Chiasmia clathrata) is an easily identified geometer moth that flies around during the day. It has a nice network of brown veins and transverse lines on a yellowish background. The transverse lines are thick and the veins thin. The edges of the wings are alternately brown and white checkered. Rarely, a melanic form can occur. The adults fly in the sunshine and are also readily disturbed from vegetation. The Latticed Heath flies in two generations from April to September and the wingspan is 22-30mm. Host plant: clover, trefoils, and Lucerne. Dutch name: Klaverspanner. Frisian name: Klaverspanner.
Sharp-angled Peacock – 2018 (NL)
The Sharp-angled Peacock (Macaria alternata) is very similar to the slightly larger Peacock Moth (Macaria notata). The front wing often shows a clear grey transverse band that is missing from the Peacock Moth. The Peacock Moth has a narrow transverse line on the inside of the “paw print”. The grey transverse band of the Sharp-angled Peacock runs through the black spot resembling a “paw print” and continues across the rear wing. The hollowing at the trailing edge of the front wing, like the fringe, is very dark. The brown spot at the leading edge is narrow. Regular broken or a dotted line usually runs along the edge of the rear wing. The flight period is in two generations from April to September. Host plant: Sallow, Alder, Blackthorn, and Sea-buckthorn. Dutch name: Donker klaverblaadje. Frisian name: Donker klaverbledsje.
Tawny-barred Angle – 2020 (NL)
It is quite difficult to photograph geometer moths at daylight. They often fly away restlessly to sit in the vegetation at the bottom of a leaf. The Tawny-barred Angle (Macaria liturata) chose to rest on the ground. On the top of the grey forewing, you can see three dark transverse lines that end slightly thickened at the front edge. Striking is the orange-brown band in the zoom field on both the fore- and hindwing and the orange-brown head. The orange-brown band ends at the leading edge of the wing in a more dark colour, which remains clearly visible in older specimens with a fading of the colours. Near the wingtip of the forewing, there is a recess in the trailing edge and the hindwing is slightly pointed. The wingspan is 22-27mm and the flight period is from May to September. Host plant: Various conifers. Dutch name: Gerimpelde spanner. Frisian name: Rimpele spanner.
Swallow-tailed Moth – 2017 (NL)
The Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria) is an easily recognizable moth because of its strikingly pointed tail on the rear wing on which there are two brown-red dots. Both wings of the fresh specimens are light lemon yellow and become whiter with time. Two dark transverse lines are visible on the front wing with a small stripe in between. One transverse line runs across the rear wing. The wingspan is 44-60mm. The elder butterfly flies in one generation from May to August and overwinter as caterpillars in a bark crevice. Host plant: Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Goat Willow. Dutch name: Vliervlinder. Frisian name: Flearespanner.