Anthophila fabriciana belongs to the family Choreutidae which is also referred to as the ‘Metalmark Moths’. It is one of 6 members of this family recorded in Britain. Its English name being the Nettle Tap Moth, on account of its larval food plant.
A small moth with a 10-15mm wingspan(1). Very common, we see them every year in the Garden, possibly more obvious due to it being predominantly a day flying species, although it has popped up in the moth trap on one occasion. Two or more broods and flies May-Nov (2).
It’s place in the Garden (Possible Redissent)
The larva/caterpillars feed on the leaves of Nettle, hence the English name Nettle Tap Moth. It feeds on the outside of the leaf within a protective web (2)
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
Current distribution maps place this species across the entire UK (2), so by allowing a small patch of nettles to develop somewhere in the garden you will always have a good chance of it becoming an occasional resident. However, being so common you are likely to come across an individual just passing through.
A predominantly day flying species so less likely to be lured using a light trap of any sort, but we have had these guys in the trap before.
- UK Moths: Species Account Page. https://ukmoths.org.uk/species/anthophila-fabriciana/ – Accessed online 17th December 2022
- Sterling, P & Parsons, M (2012): Bloomsbury Wildlife Guides: Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd