Locally common on sea cliffs, undercliffs, gardens, rough ground and hedgerows, mainly in south-western England. Predominantly coastal, it is probably most common in Devon but the 21st century has seen an increase in range along the coast to Dorset and the Isle of Wight, and increasingly on mainland Hampshire, and it continues to extend its range eastwards. There are also populations in London and Somerset, both of which may be as the result of accidental (or in the case of Somerset, deliberate) introduction.
First recorded on the Isle of Wight as a migrant in 1935, there were no further sightings in our area until one in Fareham, Hampshire on 12 August 1987. Low level residence was first suspected in the early 1990s, since when it has increased year on year on the island and is now locally frequent there (light traps in Ventnor have turned up 50-100 individuals on one night). With this, it was to be expected that frequency of sightings would increase on the mainland across the Solent, and it appears now to be resident (supplemented by dispersal from Wight) across the south Hampshire coast. It is making inroads inland and is occasionally reported in North Hampshire.
Wingspan 52-65 mm. Unmistakable. Larva feeds on herbaceous plants such as Stinging Nettle, Hemp-agrimony, White Dead-nettle, Ribwort Plantain, Greater Plantain, Ground-ivy and Bramble.