Shark (moth)

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Cucullia umbratica
Cucullia umbratica01.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Cucullia
Species: C. umbratica
Binomial name
Cucullia umbratica
  • Phalaena umbratica Linnaeus, 1758

The shark (Cucullia umbratica) is a moth of the family Noctuidae.


This species is widespread throughout much of the Palearctic ecozone (Europe, Russia, [1] Afghanistan, Turkestan, Mongolia [2]), but has recently also been reported from North America, from the Magdalen Islands in Canada. [3]


These moths inhabit a range of open environments such as heaths, meadows, forest edges, gardens, parks and suburban areas. [4]

Technical description[edit]

Cucullia umbraticais a fairly large species, with a wingspan of 52–59 millimetres (2.0–2.3 in). These moths have long, narrow wings giving a 'streamlined' appearance. The forewings are dull brownish grey, the cell and space beyond are paler, with dull greyish buff. A fine black line runs from the base below cell. The usual lines and stigmata are ill-defined. Orbicular is represented by 2 or 3 dark points, reniform by a curved black line at lower end. Slight black dashes are present before termen, above vein 3 and below vein 2, and a longer black streak appears above middle of vein 4. The hindwings of male are white, with the veins and termen narrowly fuscous, while in the female thy are wholly brown, with paler base.[5] The larva is grey or brown with black spots.

This species is quite similar to the Chamomile Shark (Cucullia chamomillae), but it shows two bands, one pale and one grey, on the fringe of the hindwing, whereas in the last there are three bands. [4]


Adults fly in the dusk and in the evening from mid-May to mid-August [1] and feed on nectar of a variety of flowers. They are attracted to light. Larvae feed mainly on sow thistles [4] and lettuces and others. The main recorded food plants are lady's bedstraw (Galium), hawkweed (Hieracium), catsear (Hypochaeris), lettuce (Lactuca), hawkbit (Leontodon), campion (Silene), sow thistle (Sonchus) and dandelion (Taraxacum). [2][6] There is one generation per year (univoltine species). This species overwinters as a pupa.

  1. ^ The flight season refers to the British Isles. This may vary in other parts of the range.



  1. ^ Fauna Europaea
  2. ^ a b Funet
  3. ^ Mississippi Entomological Museum
  4. ^ a b c UK Moths
  5. ^ Seitz, A. Ed., 1914 Die Großschmetterlinge der Erde, Verlag Alfred Kernen, Stuttgart Band 3: Abt. 1, Die Großschmetterlinge des palaearktischen Faunengebietes, Die palaearktischen eulenartigen Nachtfalter, 1914
  6. ^ Robinson, G. S., P. R. Ackery, I. J. Kitching, G. W. Beccaloni & L. M. Hernández, 2010 HOSTS – A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants. Natural History Museum, London
  • Chinery, Michael Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe 1986 (Reprinted 1991)
  • Skinner, Bernard Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles 1984

External links[edit]