Species of the Month - February 2016

Dotted Border

Agriopis marginaria

The Dotted Border is a cold-tolerant moth that regularly visits lit windows in late winter and early spring, most often in February and March.

Agriopis marginaria

The patten is rather variable but basically consists of three lines going across the wings.  The upper line, near the head, is rather jagged.  The middle line is almost straight, and the lower line is straight in the inner half but has a step going down at 45 degrees to its outer part.

Often the area below the lower line is darker than the rest of the moth, as in the example above.

Agriopis marginaria

In this example the background colour of the wing is uniform; it is not darker below the lower line.  This one was caught by Noelle Odling in a moth trap on Lismore at the very early date of 15 December.  All our other Dotted Border records are ones that came to house lights in February or March.

Agriopis marginaria
Dotted Border photographed by Judith Witts in Glen Aray
  Agriopis marginaria

The main confusion species are its close relatives Mottled Umber, Scarce Umber and Spring Usher, all of which occur in our area in winter, though the first two are unlikely as late as February.  The Dotted Border can be told from all these by the middle line across the wings which is more or less midway between the upper line and the lower line.  The Scarce Umber has the middle line much nearer the upper line, and the other two don't have anything like a straight middle line going right across.

Also the Dotted Border has a line of dark dots along the bottom of the wings.  The other species lack this, but beware of Mottled Umber which has chequered fringes, i.e. alternating dark and light along the fringe of hairs at the end of the wing.  The Dotted Border's dots are on the wing membrane, not on the hairs fringing the wing.

Agriopis marginaria   Agriopis marginaria

Front and rear view of a specimen from Taynuilt.  On this one the middle line is unclear, and the dark area below the lower line does not go all the way to the end of the wing.  But the black dots along the wing margin leave no doubt that this is Dotted Border.

Agriopis marginaria

On this one the upper and middle lines are missing, probably due to wear, but the lower line with its angled step, and the black dots along the wing ends are clear enough.

This worn specimen also has one of its antennae missing, but the remaining one is well feathered, showing it to be a male.  Indeed all Dotted Borders that fly to windows are males, since the females are flightless, in common with many other winter moths.


Please send in your Dotted Border sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your moth, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen  
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g came to window or
found outdoors


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous February species:

Feb 2015 - Tree Lungwort
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry

Next month's page
Current month's page

Complete list of Species of the Month

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The secpnd photo is Noelle Odling and the third is Judith Witts.