Pyrausta aurata: the small purple and gold moth

If you have a garden and grow herbs, especially mint and marjoram, then look out for the small purple and gold moth (Pyrausta aurata) visiting them in sunshine in August and September. Its fondness for mint gives it its other common name, the mint moth.
It is one of those species that is aptly named. It is, indeed, small; less than a centimetre from wing tip to wing tip. It is mainly purple and has four small gold dots, one on each wing. It is a very active day flying moth but if you wait it will stop to feed and then you can see it properly. Whilst most often seen in August and September it actually flies from March onwards. It has two broods and the later brood tends to be more numerous and more visible than the early brood.
There is a common purple and gold moth which is slightly bigger and has more golden colouring on the fore-wings. It is less of a garden species, more usually seen on calcareous grasslands. 
Pyrausta aurata: the small purple and gold moth

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