None of our five or six overwintering butterfly species normally venture out in winter, being safely tucked up in hibernation.

So it may be surprising to know that out of about four hundred moths regarded as native to Britain, eleven are active intermittently in the colder months.

Most notable of these is the small appropriately named winter moth which flies between November and February.

This is the moth that we may see fluttering into our headlights when driving at night or perched on the outside of our window panes in a lighted room. Sadly I see fewer of them these days as all moths are in steep decline everywhere.

Only the male has wings. The grub-like female cannot fly as her wings have degenerated over time into mere stubby vestiges (picture shows male with female above) because in cold weather flying uses up much energy which she must retain for egg laying duties.

Instead, she sits on the trunk of a tree wafting powerful pheromones into the night air. These carry far and wide and hopefully attract a mate who homes in on her.

The winter flying moths are all rather dull brownish or grey as there is no need for colour as they fly at night. Most if not all of the females are also wingless.

Some of the species have descriptive if rather fanciful names including pale brindled beauty; spring usher; juniper carpet and dotted border.