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70.105 (BF1800)

Northern Winter Moth   

Operophtera fagata
Adult: 2
Resident, scarce, local. Widespread but local across much of mainland Britain. Thinly scattered in west of Scotland, more widespread in the east. Has been declining in distribution and abundance since 1970.


Care required to separate from Winter Moth so check the hindwing which is whitish, compared to brown in Winter Moth. The male is larger than Winter Moth with a glossy sheen on the forewing. If uncertain record as Winter Moth agg (Operophtera sp.).

Female has vestigial wings and is flightless.

Recording method

Both sexes can be found by searching suitable trees and hedges with a torch by night.  Males come to light.

Life cycle

One generation. Overwinters as an egg on its foodplant. Larvae are present April to June, with pupation taking place underground.

Larval foodplants

Mainly woodland with Alder and birches.


Gardens, heathland, woodland and scrubby areas.


First recorded for Dumfries and Galloway in 1862 for VC73  in Mabie Forest by Lennon who stated that it was ‘not common’, in 1815 for VC74 at Corsemalzie by Gordon who stated that it ‘seemed scarce, having only taken a few at Corsemalzie’ but not until 1975 for VC72 at Sanquhar and Scaur Water by Pelham-Clinton.

145 record(s) from 17 hectad(s) in D&G

VC74 VC73 VC72
Last recorded 1977 2019 2021

 UK Moths website - further information on species (with photos)

 East Scotland Butterfly Conservation website - national distribution maps and phenology

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