Netted mountain moth (Macaria carbonaria)

Male Netted Mountain moth
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Netted mountain moth fact file

Netted mountain moth description

GenusMacaria (1)

Adult Netted Mountain moths have blackish abdomens and dark wings with variable white flecks (2). The caterpillar grows to 22 mm in length, and has a brown head and a dingy ochreous-brown or brownish-white body, with wavy dark lines passing along its length (3).

Semiothisa carbonaria.
Adult wingspan: 23 – 25 mm (2)
Caterpillar length: up to 22 mm (3)

Netted mountain moth biology

The Netted Mountain Moth is single-brooded, and adults are active from late April to early June, although the precise time of emergence depends on the weather and the altitude. They fly in sunshine and are attracted to flowering moorland plants such bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) (2). The eggs are laid in May, and the caterpillars are present from June through to August. They feed at night on bearberry, and spend the day hidden beneath leaves (3). Pupation occurs during August or September in dead leaf litter on the ground, and the adults emerge the following spring (5).


Netted mountain moth range

In the British Isles, this moth is known only from the central Scottish Highlands, where it has a fairly scattered distribution. Elsewhere, it is found in northern mainland Europe, where it is relatively common in areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland. In central Europe it occurs on mountains, reaching as far south as the Alps and east to north-east Siberia (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Netted mountain moth habitat

As the English name of this moth suggests, it does indeed occur on mountain sides as well as moorlands (2).


Netted mountain moth status

Classified as Rare in Britain (4).


Netted mountain moth threats

The habitats of this moth are threatened by overgrazing and unsuitable management including neglect (4). Unless controlled burning takes place every few years, the bearberry is swamped by heather (5).


Netted mountain moth conservation

The Netted Mountain Moth is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Species Action Plan aims to maintain all current populations of this moth. Some of the sites supporting this species are nature reserves or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and so the species receives a level of protection in these areas. Further surveys and regular monitoring are required to accurately determine and keep track of the status and range of the species. Detailed research into the ecology of this moth is also required in order to guide conservation action (3).

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Find out more

For more on this species see:
Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books Ltd, Hamondsworth.

For more on butterflies and moths see:
Butterfly Conservation:

Enjoying Moths Roy Leverton (Poyser)



Information authenticated by Roy Leverton with the support of the British Ecological Society:



The process of becoming a pupa, the stage of an insect’s development, when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
(Also known as ‘univoltine’). Insect life cycle that takes 12 months to be complete, and involves a single generation. The egg, larva, pupa or adult over winters as a dormant stage.


  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003):
  2. Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
  3. Carter, D.J. (1986) A field guide to caterpillars of butterflies and moths in Britain and Europe. Collins, London.
  4. UK BAP Species Action Plan (October 2003). Available on-line at:
  5. Leverton, R. (2004) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Male Netted Mountain moth  
Male Netted Mountain moth

© Roy Leverton

Roy Leverton
AB45 2HS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1466 751 252


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