Transparent Burnet Moth - Zygaena purpuralis

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Zygaenidae

Transparent Burnet Moth, Zygaena purpuralis

Like other members of the Burnet group, this is one of the day-flying moths. Unlike other Burnet species, this moth has red bars on its otherwise silvery-grey translucent wings rather than red spots, and so it is easy to identify even from some distance.

The wingspan of the Transparent Burnet Moth ranges between 2.5 and 3.4cm.

Transparent wings are quite a rare feature in moths and butterflies; however, in many other insect groups such as Diptera, Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera transparent wings are the norm and opaque coloured wings more the exception.

Transparent Burnet Moth, Zygaena purpuralis, top view


This colourful moth is widespread and very common throughout Europe (including Britain and Ireland) and Asia, although in northern countries its distribution is mainly coastal. The specimens shown here were photographed on The Burren, in County Clare, Ireland, and at Gait Barrows NNR.

Transparent Burnet Moth, Zygaena purpuralis, group on Field Scabious


The larval foodplant of the Transparent Burnet Moth is Wild Thyme, Thymus polytrichus. The caterpillars are greenish yellow and covered with tufts of longish white hairs; there are rows of black spots along the sides and the dorsal region.

The Transparent Burnet Moth overwinters as a caterpillar.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Rob Petley-Jones.

Studying butterflies and moths...

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