Purple thorn

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Purple thorn
Selenia tetralunaria MHNT dos.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Geometridae
Genus: Selenia
Species: S. tetralunaria
Binomial name
Selenia tetralunaria
(Hufnagel, 1767)
Selenia tetralunaria underside

The purple thorn (Selenia tetralunaria) is a moth of the family Geometridae. It is a species of northern and central Europe. It has a scattered distribution in Britain but is absent from Ireland.

This species is dark purplish-brown, paler towards the termen, with a dark spot at the apex of the forewing. Both wings are marked with a comma-shaped white mark. The margins of the wings are angular, giving the species a distinctive shape. Two broods are produced each year and they differ considerably in size and colour. Adults of the spring brood, which fly in April and May, have a wingspan of 46–52 mm. Moths of the summer brood, flying in July and August,[1] are smaller (wingspan 44–46 mm) and darker. The species flies at night and is attracted to light.

The caterpillar feeds on a variety of trees and shrubs (see list below). The species overwinters as a pupa.


  1. ^ The flight season refers to the British Isles. This may vary in other parts of the range.

Recorded food plants[edit]


  • Chinery, Michael, 1986 (Reprinted 1991). Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe.
  • Skinner, Bernard, 1984. Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles.

External links[edit]