Angle shades moth

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

Angle shades 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 of 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

Where possible tolerate populations of caterpillars, as butterflies and moths are an important part of the garden ecosystem.

Non-pesticide control

  • Encourage predators and other natural enemies in the garden such as birds, hedgehogs and ground beetles
  • Check plants regularly from for the presence of larvae and remove by hand where practical, feeding happens at night so torch-light inspections of damaged plants on mild nights should reveal caterpillars.
  • Angle shades caterpillars also eat common nettle, broad-leaved dock, bramble and many other wild plants, so they can be relocated to continue their life cycle. 

Pesticide control

If populations are too high for hand picking, control may be achieved by spraying with pesticides. Spraying at dusk is likely to give the best results. Shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence and/or systemic action.
 
  • Organic contact insecticides containing natural pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae 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 Bug Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly 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 (link downloads pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

The angle shades moth mainly has two generations a year but caterpillars can be present all year round. Eggs are laid on a wide range of wild and cultivated plants in late May to June and August to October. 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. 

It is also a migratory species, capable of flying long distances. In late summer the resident British population is supplemented with many individuals arriving from mainland Europe.


Gardeners' calendar

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Did you find the advice you needed?

RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.

Join the RHS now

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.