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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

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


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.


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











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?



Carpinus spp.


Tilia spp.


Betula spp.

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides


Corylus spp.


Laburnum spp.

Poplar Tree

Populus spp.

A close up of some pink Prunus flowers


Prunus spp.


Quercus spp.

A red rose on a Rosa plant


Rosa spp.

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