Small Magpie Moth
The beauty of many crambid moths is subtle and subdued and is more readily appreciated by specialists in the family. The Small Magpie Moth is exceptional, however, and few would deny that it is a strikingly pretty moth. The caterpillars are to be found in rolled-up nettle leaves (the species has been called E. urticata in the past) in late summer. I am not sure how they overwinter. According to a nineteenth century writer, the caterpillar "hibernates in a cocoon in the dried stalks of nettles becoming a chrysalis in the spring". Two late twentieth century writers wrote that "they leave the host plant to pupate, often wandering far and frequently turning up in houses; they have even been found in large numbers at the tops of tall tower blocks". I can shed little light on the matter. Some caterpillars that I was rearing in August vanished from their rearing cage, and I assumed that they had somehow escaped, for a thorough search of the cage did not reveal them. Yet the adult moths turned up in the cage in the spring. Whatever they had done, they had hidden themselves very effectively.