Angle shades moth

The caterpillars of angle shades moth can feed on a wide range of wild and cultivated plants. 

Angleshades moth (Phlogophora meticulosa). Credit: RHS/Entomology.

Angleshades moth (Phlogophora meticulosa). Credit: RHS/Entomology.

Quick facts

Common name Angle shades
Scientific name Phlogophora meticulosa
Plants affected Many herbaceous and woody ornamental plants
Main symptoms Holes eaten in foliage and flower buds
Most active All year

What is angle shades moth?

The angle shades is one of many species of moth that can be found in gardens. The caterpillars this species eat the foliage and flower buds of a wide range of plants. The adult is has a colourful wing pattern and shape that resembles a withered autumn leaf. 

Symptoms

The caterpillars of this moth can be found feeding on plants plants at all times of the year but are most common between May and October.  

  • Holes are eaten in the foliage and flowers of a wide range of plants, including unopened flower buds, especially on chrysanthemums, red valerian and barberry 
  • Young growth at the shoot tips is particularly favoured
  • The caterpillars are up to 45mm long (1¾in) and vary in colour from brownish yellow to bright green
  • They hide during the day, emerging to feed at night

Control

Non-pesticide control

Some plant damage from these caterpillars can be tolerated. The caterpillars are fed upon by a wide range of other creatures including parasitoid wasps, ground beetles, birds and hedgehogs. 

If thought necessary torch-light inspections of damaged plants on mild nights should reveal caterpillars; these can be removed by hand. The caterpillars can be placed on wild plants such as nettle and bramble to continue their life cycle. 

Pesticide control

  • If infestations are too heavy for hand picking, control may be achieved by spraying with pesticides. Spaying at dusk is likely to give the best results
  • Organic contact insecticides containing natural pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Ecofective Bug Killer). Several applications of these short persistence products may be necessary to give good control
  • More persistent contact insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
  • Follow label instructions when using pesticides. On edible plants make sure the food plant is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number applications, spray interval and harvest interval
  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener

Download

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

  • The angle shades moth has two generations a year
  • Eggs are laid on a wide range of wild and cultivated plants in late May to June and August to October
  • It is also a migratory species, with many individuals arriving from the continent in late summer 
  • Larvae of the second generation overwinter and can feed whenever night temperatures are above 5ºC (41ºF)
  • Once fully grown, the larvae pupate in a cocoon just under the soil
  • Larval food plants include: common nettle, hop, red valerian, broad-leaved dock, bramble, hazel, birches, oak, barberry and in gardens many other plants


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