Abraxas grossulariata L Magpie moth

This species is rarely of commercial significance but it can cause defoliation of gooseberry bushes in allotments and gardens; currant bushes, plum trees and certain ornamental shrubs are also attacked.


Adults occur in July and August. Eggs are laid on the leaves of host plants and they hatch about 2 weeks later. Young larvae feed briefly and then overwinter. They become active again at bud burst (much earlier than larvae of the common gooseberry sawffy, Nematus ribesii, p. 251). When disturbed, larvae often drop from the foliage but will dangle on a thread of silk, adopting a U-shaped posture. Larvae are fully grown in May or June. They then pupate on the host plant, or on nearby walls and fences, larvae at first spinning a flimsy cocoon. Although this species is usually single-brooded, under favourable conditions there may be a partial second generation.


Adult 35-40 mm wingspan, black and ochreous-yellow; forewings mainly white with large black

Fig. 304 Magpie moth, Abraxas grossulariata (x3).

ish spots, a narrow yellowish-orange cross-band and a partly yellowish-orange base; hindwings mainly white with blackish markings (Fig. 304). Larva up to 40 mm long; body pale yellowish-white, extensively marked with black; two pairs of prolegs; head black (Fig. 305). Pupa 15 mm long, black with yellow cross-bands.

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