Angle shades moth

The caterpillars of angle shades moth can feed on a wide range of wild and cultivated plants. They can be particularly damaging when they eat unopened flower buds.

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 caterpillars of the moth cause problems by eating foliage and flower buds. The adult is not a pest and has an interesting wing pattern and shape that resembles a withered autumn leaf.

Symptoms

The caterpillars of this moth can cause damage to plants at all times of the year but are most common in May-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-chemical control

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. 

Chemical control

If infestations are too heavy for hand picking, control can be achieved by spraying at dusk with synthetic pesticides such as deltamethrin (e.g. Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer), lambda cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer) or the organic pesticide pyrethrum (e.g. Py Spray Garden Insect Killer). The older caterpillars are more tolerant of pesticides than young larvae. Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.

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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 many other plants

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