A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Watch out round the coast for the prettily-patterned Galium Carpet moth throughout the summer. Although nocturnal, it can be spotted when disturbed from its daytime resting places.
Photo: Terry Thirlaway



Scientific name: Epirrhoe galiata

Cornish name: ‘Gouwan’ is the general word for moth

What to look for:

  • Colouring: Grey-white with dark band crossing centre
  • Size: Wingspan of c. 30 mm
  • Where: Mainly coastal; also localised distribution inland on moors and calcareous grassland
  • Similar species: A field guide will help in distinguishing the different Carpet moth species. Look for the slightly concave shape to the leading edge of the forewing to identify Galium Carpets.

The Galium Carpet is one of many Carpet moths in the UK. A nocturnal moth, after overwintering as a pupa, the adults emerge and are on the wing from May to August. In the south of the UK there are two generations, with the caterpillars appearing in June/July and September; in the north only one generation is produced, and the caterpillars can be seen in August.  Look out for them on their foodplant of various species of bedstraw.

The distribution of the Galium Carpet is mainly coastal, but it is also found inland on lime-rich grasslands and moors.

Did you know…?

…Darker forms of the Galium Carpet occur in western Ireland, while lighter forms occur where it is found on limestone habitats.

…Although nocturnal, you may see Galium Carpets flying in the day when disturbed as they hunt for another hiding place.

More information and references:

Chinery, M., 2005. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.

Waring, P., Townsend, M. and Lewington, R., 2009. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (second edition). British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham, Dorset.


Butterfly Conservation: http://butterfly-conservation.org/1034-1669/galium-carpet.html

UK moths: http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=1740

Published: May 2014
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Terry Thirlaway

Click here for information about other butterfly and moth species you can see on the Lizard.