Skip to main content

Buff-Tip Moth

Phalera bucephala

Buff-Tip Moth, Buff-Tipped Moth

A close up of a Phalera bucephala brown-tip moth larva on a tree leaf

Phalera bucephala (caterpillar)-9333

by Hedwig Storch. CC BY-SA 3.0

1 of 5
The Buff-Tip Moth is a common moth, widespread across Europe. They're recognised for their superb camouflage, where at rest, they look almost identical to a twig broken from a Silver Birch tree. Buff-Tip Moths eat the leaves of deciduous trees when caterpillars. A female most may lay her eggs on Oak, Sallows, Hawthorn, Hazel, Lime, Birch, Rose, Blackthorn and more. Buff-tip Moths can be seen in gardens, woodland and countryside habitats between July to October in Europe and the UK.
Free download for your phone or tablet
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Traits

Caterpillars can defoliate parts of plants.
Caterpillars and moths are food for bats, birds and other predatory insects.

Appearance

Adults: Moths are distinctively twig-like! They imitate a broken branch of silver birch. The wingspan can reach 3.5 cm. Larvae: Bright yellow with black chequering. They have long whispy white-yellow hairs that cover the whole body, with black heads. Pupae: Dark, shiny, brownish-red. Eggs: Laid in large clusters on the underside of leaves. They are spherical, white with a black dot per egg.

Symptoms

Numerous black and yellow caterpillars on plants. May defoliate branches of the tree. Most healthy trees survive. Young shrubs and trees most at risk.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Notodontidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Europe and the UK

Biological treatment

Defoliation is more prominent where trees are younger. Caterpillar feeding does not start until later in the summer, so by this point, shrubs should be more established. However, if you do see these caterpillars on smaller plants and trees, it's probably best to move them onto more established plants. Trees which have already been subject to damage by other pests and disease may be more prone to long-lasting damage. It is extremely rare for a plant to become severely defoliated as a direct result of these caterpillars feeding. Birds and bats eat the caterpillars and moths. Why not attract these natural predators to your garden by providing boxes, feeders and perches?

Attracts

Hornbeam

Carpinus spp.

Lime

Tilia spp.

Birch

Betula spp.

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides

Hazel

Corylus spp.

Laburnum

Laburnum spp.

Poplar Tree

Populus spp.

A close up of some pink Prunus flowers

Cherry

Prunus spp.

Oak

Quercus spp.

A red rose on a Rosa plant

Rose

Rosa spp.

Free download for your phone or tablet
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Plant Knowledge

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play