Identify It > Moth Section > Vapourer Moths >
Scientific name: Orgyia antiqua
Size: Wingspan up to 38mm
Distribution: Found in most parts of the UK
Months seen: July to October
Habitat: Woodlands, parks, hedgerows and gardens
Food: The larvae feed on many different trees and shrubs
Special features: Sometimes called 'Rusty Tussocks', the male vapourer moths are a rich brown colour with two distinctive eye spots - one on each forewing. They can sometimes be seen flying during the daytime.
The female vapourer moth is wingless and resembles an overweight hairy woodlouse. Once she emerges from her pupa she startss emitting pheromones to attract a male. Once mated she lays her eggs on the surface of her cocoon and dies.
The eggs hatch the following spring, and the caterpillars can be seen from May to September. They have a blue-black or purple body covered in small red spots. The whole body is covered in short greyish hairs, plus there are four distinctive tufts of bristles on their backs which are usually a creamy-yellow colour. They also have tufts of black hair sticking out of the front and back ends. The hairs of these caterpillars can cause skin irritation (redness, itching and swelling) so it's best to avoid handling them.
Vapourer Moths are readily attracted to light.