Anania hortulata, otherwise known as the Small Magpie moth, belongs to the family Crambidae which includes the so called Grass Moths. This is a large Family with 140+ species recorded in Britain alone.
A medium sized moth with a 24-28mm wingspan(1). An easily identified species. It is single brooded and flies May-Sep (2).
It’s place in the Garden (Possible Resident)
The larva/caterpillars mainly feed on Nettle, on spun/rolled leaves. As Nettle is present in the garden this is potentially a resident species and is regularly seen as an adult both during the day but mainly as a visitor to the moth trap.
All stages of a moths development are subject to a wide range of predators. Including small mammals, birds and amphibians. Other invertebrates are also a major threat, including dragonflies, beetles, lacewing and wasps. As such whilst many view certain caterpillars as a pest, these small packets of protein help support a wide array of other beneficial and interesting species. Moths are of course interesting in their own right and are very welcome in the Garden.
How to encourage the species to your garden
A common species across England and Wales but more local in Scotland (2). With such an abundant food plant it is likely to be present across most parts of the country and with the aid of a moth trap is likely to visit / be lured to most gardens. If you want to attract them as residents you will need to ensure you have its main food plant, Nettle and then just hope a female selects your garden for her eggs.
- UK Moths: Species Account Page. https://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/Anania-hortulata/ – Accessed online 20th December 2022
- Sterling, P & Parsons, M (2012): Bloomsbury Wildlife Guides: Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd