This species has a wingspan of 36–46 mm. The forewings are broader than most other noctuids, blackish with a network of fine white lines (supposedly reminiscent of some elements of gothic architecture). The hindwings are grey. The species flies at night in June and July. It sometimes comes to light but is not generally strongly attracted. By contrast it is strongly attracted to sugar and flowers.
The larva, which is gregarious when young, is greyish-brown with dark lines along the side and blackish markings at the hind end. It is polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of plants (see Host-plants below). This species overwinters as a larva.