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Lackey Moth

Malacosoma neustria

Lackey Moth, Common Province Rose, European Lackey Moth, Tent Caterpillar, Motschulsky Tent Caterpillar

A close up of a Malacosoma neustria lackey moth wingspan to scale

Malacosoma neustria MHNT CUT 2011 0 446 male Mussidan dos

by Didier Descouens. CC BY-SA 4.0

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Lackey Moths are brown-orange insects with a fluffy thorax belonging to the family of Eggar moths. Males possess slightly different wing patterning to females and are smaller. They are most likely to be seen in or near areas of open woodland, hedgerows, gardens and wasteland. Caterpillar food plants are general, where a female will lay her eggs on any small, deciduous tree, such as blackthorn, hawthorn and rose. Eggs are laid as distinctive egg bands late summer. They look like hundreds of grey/white eggs stuck to the whole circumference of the branch, that are a few inches thick. These moths won't affect the long-term health of trees.
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Traits

Thick layers of silk webbing may be seen covering the branches of small deciduous trees.
Overall tree health will not be impacted by the presence of this moth.

Appearance

Male wings at rest are light brown with a thick brown band that horizontally crosses the centre. The rears of the wings are fringed with brown and white hairs. The male wingspan is only around 2-3cm. Females are larger than males (4.5cm), and wing scales more faded, with banding less defined. Caterpillars are quite large, reaching 5cm long. They are very orange and hairy, with white and blue dorsal stripes. They produce extensive webbing, referred to as 'tents', which they use as protection while they feed on the host plants' foliage. Once fully grown, caterpillars spin a solid yellow silk cocoon. Eggs are laid as distinctive egg bands. They are mainly grey and white and will encircle stems of host plants. Clusters range from 100-250.

Symptoms

Egg bands are notable during late summer. Dense, webbing may be evident April-July. At this point, caterpillar fest on foliage. Caterpillars form cocoons in August, and it's this point defoliation is most notable.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Lasiocampidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Asia and Europe.

Biological treatment

Although defoliation can be severe, longterm vigour will remain unaffected. These caterpillars have many natural enemies, including various fungi, birds and mammals. Eggs can be removed by hand if desired, but natural enemies will likely remove them.

Chemical treatment

It's not advised to use pesticides to control this species.

Attracts

Hawthorn

Crataegus spp.

A red rose on a Rosa plant

Rose

Rosa spp.

A Prunus spinosa plant with green leaves and black purple berry fruits

Blackthorn

Prunus spinosa

A Quercus robur tree in front of a house

English Oak

Quercus robur

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