Brown-tail moths - PEST UK

Providing pest control services in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Midlands, West Sussex, Wiltshire. Est. 1985.

Brown-tail moths

In Pests

brown-tail moths

Brown-tail moth caterpillars

If in your garden you find a large web mass with many caterpillars on it do not approach. The caterpillars are the young form of brown-tail moths. They are most commonly found around the south and east coasts of England, but can become abundant in warmer temperatures. The caterpillar form of these moths has urticating hairs, which cause extreme irritation when in contact with human skin.


Brown-tail moths have white wings and bodies, apart from a tuft of brown hairs at the end of the abdomen. The females use this brown tuft to cover their eggs when lain. The wingspan is between 36-42 millimetres, flies at night and is attracted to light.

The caterpillar form has the greatest amount of the urticating hairs, used as a defence against predators. They can be identified by there brown with red and white markings on their bodies and are very hairy.

Life cycle

The stages of the brown-tail moth life cycle are as follows-

  • Pre-diapausing larvae- They emerge from the eggs and feed for about 3 weeks in August.
  • Diapausing larvae- The dormant state, where they build communal nests in trees and hedges to hibernate or more accurately, over winter.
  • Post-diapausing gregarious larvae- From early April they emerge and begin feeding again, returning to the nesting, colony, area every night for safety.
  • Post-diapausing dispersive larvae- Once the caterpillars have reached the late stages of growth, or instars, the larvae will disperse and begin feeding solo.
  • Pupate- The larvae, after six to eight instars, usually around June will become cocooned and change into the adult form, the moth. The irritating hairs are retained through all stages of the life cycle.


The technician will use a mixture of Provado, a synthetic contact insecticide containing Deltamethrin, this is used on ornamental and edible plants. Safely treating the caterpillars and leaving food vegetation safe. PEST UK are BPCA registered and fully insured and qualified to handle all pest problems,

To book an appointment or to speak to an operative please call PESTUK on- 0330 100 2811


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