Noctuidae : Amphipyrinae
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Copper Underwing
Amphipyra pyramidea

(Linnaeus, 1758) 2297 / 73.062
Photo © Paul Kipling, 30 Aug 2011,  NZ20 Richmond, VC65 - (same spec. as 02)

Immature stages

Similar Yorkshire Species
Svensson's Copper Underwing
Amphipyra berbera
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Yorkshire Status: Fairly common resident.

The two Copper Underwing species were only split in 1968. Porritt called it "local in our larger oak and birch woods" but of course we do not know which species he was talking about. The only old specimen which has proved to be pyramidea was from Gateforth Wood in 1937, and we have no other confirmed records until the 1980s. It seems to have been rare until 2006 after which records have rocketed, and in most parts of the county it is much the commoner of the two species, with two or three times the number of berbera This is not just due to better identification but is a genuine increase, and it also doing well to our north having reached central Scotland. Take care separating these two species. The current mantra that the underside of the hindwings is the main differentiating feature is an over-simplification and is not foolproof. Identification should be done by using a variety of features rather than relying on just one. Pyramidea is a brighter cleaner-looking moth with more sharply defined markings and often this initial impression is proved right on looking further. The most reliable feature is, as we have said, probably to look at the underside of the hindwing but this is not always easy to see on a live specimen and the wings become worn at the end of the flight season making it harder. The much maligned palp method is however usually reliable in fresh moths in the early part of the season though may be confusing towards the end of the flight period and should never be used as the sole differentiating feature. In fresh moths, berbera has marked pale tips to the palps whereas pyramidea has white running down the whole front of the palps. The angle of the points on the antemedian line is another good way to separate these two species. Fresh moths should not prove to be difficult however by mid-September the situation can be different and these features become harder to interpret. If in any doubt, record on MapMate as Copper Underwing agg.. There will always be a proportion of specimens you will not be able to identify to species level unless they are dissected.


Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: A. berbera (Rungs) has recently been separated from this species. There has been considerable confusion as to whether visual methods of identifying the two are really conclusive. P. Q. Winter has carried out a study on the visual characteristics of the two species (Winter, 1988). He concludes that most specimens can be separated by visual methods but some still need genitalia examination for differentiation. In any case the most reliable visual characteristics are not those given in Skinner (1984). Copper Underwings (either pyramidea or berbera have become much more common in recent years in Yorkshire. However, there is only one confirmed and one possible record of pyramidea, suggesting it is rare in the County. Duddington and Johnson (1983) record both species in Lincolnshire. In Derbyshire, however, there has only been one confirmed record of pyramidea, from the very south of the county (Harrison & Sterling, 1986). After the species were split and most Yorkshire records were found to be of berbera there was discussion as to whether any Yorkshire specimen had ever been pyramidea. The specimen mentioned in the last list (YNU, 1970) from Gateforth Wood in 1937 (VC64) has now been re-examined by P. Q. Winter. This has proved to be pyramidea. If any other old specimens are still in existence it would be very interesting to also examine these to chart the history of the two species in the County.

Recorded in 139 (70%) of 200 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1985.
Last Recorded in 2023.
Additional Stats

< Anomalous  |  Svensson's Copper Underwing >
Forewing: 21-26mm
Flight: July - October
Foodplant:   Broadleaved trees and shrubs including hawthorns, Blackthorn, Crab Apple and Hazel
Red List Status: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Verification Grade:  Adult: 2/3
List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
18/10/2023165SE29 - Catterick
12/10/2023164SE24 - Bramhope / Otley
10/10/2023162SE89 - Hole of Horcum
08/10/2023162SE98 - Wykeham
08/10/2023164SE24 - Bramhope / Otley
  Immature   Adult   [Show Flight Weeks]
Show Details | 1990 to 2023 | 2000 to 2023 | Graph Key
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