Mint Moth

9 September 2013

Have you seen a tiny moth flying around your mint plants? If so, it may be one called Pyrausta Aurata, also known as the mint moth. If you see one, do have a good look at it: it’s a pretty little thing.

Pyrausta Aurata moth

Pyrausta Aurata moth

Pyrausta Aurata has two broods each year, though you may not notice the gap, as the first is in May/June and the second in July/August. I didn’t spot one until August this year, but we might have temporarily reduced its numbers by digging up most of the spearmint in our herb garden, which had completely taken over (see my earlier blog ) and only letting a small amount come back. We do, however, have some other mint in the garden, which I think is buddleia mint: it has a very furry leaf and the lilac-coloured flowers you can see in the picture above, and the flowers are always covered with small insects, including lots of hoverflies and, of course, the mint moth. Pyrausta Aurata does use other plants for breeding as well: Marjoram, meadow-clary, lemon balm and catmint, most of which we also have in the garden.

Small Copper on mint flower

Small Copper on mint flower

You may know you have the mint moth before you actually see the adult flying around. If the tops of your mint/catmint etc. plants looks a mess – leaves curled together and with a bit of a web – it may well be the caterpillar of the mint moth noshing away from within the safety of his rolled-up leaves (see earlier blog on curled leaves). If you see this, leave it alone – the moth will hatch out and your mint will recover. If you can, leave some of your mint to flower (culinary advice is always to remove the flowers to get better leaves), as the flowers will attract other butterflies and moths – like the Small Copper in the photo above, which is on a spearmint flower.

In my experience, you rarely have a little bit of mint in the garden, you have lots, so use some for cooking and leave some to flower and you and the Lepidoptera will be happy.

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2 Comments to “Mint Moth”

  1. Lovely article !

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