Heart and Dart Agrotis exclamationis

Probably not everyone will interpret the markings on the wings representing a heart and a dagger, but they are more so in this species than in any other. The Heart and Club however is very similar. Most characteristic for the Heart and Dart however is the dark mark on colar. Other parts of the wings are extremely variable. The basic colour may be brownish, yellowish, greyish or almost blackish. Some are dark enough to lack almost all markings. Males usually are paler than females and have whitish hindwings, while females have grey hindwings. Both sexes have unfeathered antennae. Reaching a wingspan of 35 to 44mm, the largest animals are usually slightly larger than similar darts.

The caterpillars of the Heart and Dart may be found on foodplants from the end of May to the beginning of October. They eat by day and hide on the ground, usually in debris or leaflitter by day. By the beginning of October they'll dig a chamber in the ground, where they spend winter. In the same chamber they'll pupate after overwintering. By the end of April the first adults will appear. The larva is brownish on top and greyish below. Three dark lines run on top and there are dark broen spots from which hairs grow. The caterpillar is very similar to the caterpillars of some other darts. It will reach a length up to 38mm.

The Heart and Dart has two broods a year and usually appears from May to the end of September, even though the second generation appears in southern Britain only. Northwards there's just one brood flying in June and July mainly. This species regularly flies during daylight and is often seen on flowers attracting butterflies, such as Buddleia in broad daylight. It is attracted to light and often the most common catch in light traps in July. Catching hundreds of them in just a few hours is not something special. It is this abundant all over Britain and Ireland, except for Scotland, where it is just common and Orkney, where it is rare. Common and often abundant on most of the continent as well.