Mother Shipton

Mother shipton moth

Mother Shipton moth by Janet Packham

Mother Shipton

Scientific name: Callistege mi
This striking day-flying moth is named after a 16th century witch.

Species information


Wingspan: 26-32mm

Conservation status


When to see

Adults fly from May to early July


The Mother Shipton is a day-flying moth, on the wing from May to early July. It can be found on a variety of flower-filled grasslands, where its caterpillars feed on clovers, trefoils, and other plants. Mother Shiptons are often seen flying alongside burnet companion moths and dingy skipper butterflies. They are only usually seen flying on sunny days, but are easily disturbed from resting spots in long grass and on plants.

This moth is named after a prophetess (sometimes regarded as a witch) called Old Mother Shipton, who according to legends was born during a thunderstorm in a Yorkshire cave in 1488. Old Mother Shipton is described as having a long, crooked nose and a big, pointed chin. The moth was named after Mother Shipton because the markings on its forewings are thought to resemble her face - they do look just like a cartoon witch!

How to identify

This brown moth is unmistakeable, thanks to the dark markings on its forewings that look like a cartoon witch's face, with a clear eye, a long, curving nose and a pointed chin.


Found throughout the UK, though more locally distributed in Scotland. Rare on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Did you know?

Despite the obvious and striking pattern on the forewing, the Mother Shipton takes its scientific name from a much more subtle marking. The species name 'mi' comes from the Greek letter for 'M', as there is an 'M'-shaped marking on the underside of the hindwing.