The night-flying peppered moth is widely seen as a “proof” of natural selection. There are two main forms of adult: the “typical” variety is white with a dense speckling of black; the other is sooty black. Before the Industrial Revolution, the species was predominantly white with black speckles. By the end of the 1800s, most were predominantly charcoal grey. The change was a result of natural selection after pollution-stained trees affected the moth’s camouflage potential: birds apparently prey on light-coloured moths in polluted forests, and on dark moths in non-polluted forests. The green-brown caterpillar has a twig-like head. It measures up to 5 centimetres long and belongs to a group known as “loopers” that have only two pairs of abdominal legs. They move by stretching out and grabbing twigs with their front legs, then arching their body and drawing up their rear end.
These moths can be found in woods, hedgerows, parks and gardens in almost the whole of Europe, except the far north.
The moths can be observed in flight between May and August, while winter is spent as a chrysalis in the soil. The caterpillar feeds on a range of shrubs.