Species Account

Select species and region:



Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Local

Local Status: Uncommon and thinly distributed resident.

Local Record: Grade 3   See here for explanation

Flight time: Jul-Aug.

Forewing: 13-15mm.

Foodplant: Bird's-foot Trefoil.

IMPORTANT - Please note that the maps and accounts are provisional, subject to change and further update.  The whole dataset still needs to go through the final verification process and it is likely that a very small number of records will not satisfy the present requirements and there are other records that have not been formally submitted.  The information is for guidance only.

Record breakdown:

Year first recorded1893200020011893
Year last recorded2011200320082011
Number of records15935334
Number of individuals288813666060
Unique positions9813204
Unique locations7813164
Adult records12534264
Immature records140130

For the region, we have a total of 334 records from 164 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1893.


0170 Five-spot Burnet 01 in cop
© Kate McCusker

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: Two races of this species occur in the British Isles and each occupies a different biotype. Until recently, confusion has reigned over the status of all five spotted Burnets in Dorset because adults closely resemble one another. The larva of the Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet171 is 'hairy' relative to the other Burnet caterpillars, and this difference is a useful determining factor. Furthermore, the distribution of the respective host plant species of the Five-spot Burnets tends not to overlap, so the nature of the habitat is usually helpful in telling the two races apart.

ssp. decreta Verity 1926
A local sub-species found in England and Wales, commonest in the south-west and declining in the south-east, the larva feeding on greater bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus). In Dorset, the moth is decidedly local forming scattered and small colonies on marshy ground and wet flushes on sandy soils, and within unimproved grassland and broad woodland rides on ill-drained clay soil. In such places it may be common wherein it is often seen visiting greater bird's-foot trefoil plants and flowers.

ssp. palustrella Verity 1926
A local and decreasing sub-species that is confined to the chalk and limestone soils south of the Thames, the larva feeding on common bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). In Dorset, this, the smallest burnet, colonises unimproved chalk downland harbouring good stocks of the foodplant. On the best sites it is abundant, and easily observed visiting flower-heads of knapweed and scabious. The overall impression is that this sub-species is doing rather well, albeit locally, and may be bucking the national trend. The adult tends to be on the wing up to a fortnight earlier than ssp. decreta.

See background to species accounts.  Index of Vernacular names - Search - Random Species