Species of the Month - June 2017

Transparent Burnet

Zygaena purpuralis

Zygaena purpuralis

The Transparent Burnet is one of several rare Burnet moths that are restricted to a few localities on the Scottish west coast and islands.  Some of these species are hard to tell apart, but the Transparent Burnet is easy to recognise as it has red bars instead of spots.  Be careful not to confuse it with the Cinnabar Moth whose wings each have one narrow line and two spots in red on a black background.  The Transparent Burnet has 3 broad bars on each wing and no round spots.

Zygaena purpuralis   Zygaena purpuralis

This moth inhabits south-facing slopes below rock outcrops that support Wild Thyme, its larval foodplant.  It has colonies on Mull, Skye and the Small Isles, and mainland colonies in Lorn and Kintyre.  Colonies are usually near the coast.  Even in dull weather the moths sit around conspicuously on the vegetation, and in sunshine they are very active.  Like all Burnet moths they are a day-flying species.  The flight period is from early June to early July.

Zygaena purpuralis

The black part of its wing is not exactly transparent, but is certainly translucent, as this photo shows.  Andrew Masterman, the county moth recorder, is conducting extensive survey work on this species, and has asked LNHG to help with this project.  We have pheromone lures which we can lend out to anyone who's interested.  It is likely that new colonies remain to be discovered.

Zygaena purpuralis

This one, taken in late June, is getting on a bit and showing signs of wear.

Zygaena purpuralis larva

The larva is distinctive, hard to spot but easy to recognise once found.  Most sightings have been in early May, when the larva is full-grown and about to pupate, which it usually does in an exposed position on bare rock, risking predation to maximise heat intake.  Some pupate in the colder but safer soil layer at the base of the foodplant.


Please send in your Transparent Burnet 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 
Flowers visited  
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g numbers, habitat,
 weather conditions, behaviour


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 June species:

Jun 2016 - Beautiful Demoiselle
Jun 2014 - Forester Moth
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Mouse over photos to see credits.