This species occurs in a huge range of colour types and is one of the most variable species in the family. Forewing colour ranges from very pale straw-coloured to very dark brown, with the pale forms predominant in the south of the range and the darker forms prevalent further north. The best way of identifying the species is the relatively (to most other noctuids) short and broad forewings usually marked with two large stigmata. The hindwings are pale to dark grey. The wingspan is 28-36 mm. This moth flies at night from June to August and is attracted to light.
The larva is brown with black triangular markings along the side. It feeds on a wide range of plants (see list below). The species overwinters as a larva.