Brown tail moth
Why is important to control brown tail moths?
- Brown Tail Moth caterpillars have small hairs all over their bodies, which can break off very easily and irritate the skin, in some cases severely. Some people can also suffer a type of asthmatic reaction.
- Minor skin irritations should be washed immediately with hot soapy water and calamine lotion applied if necessary. If you have serious of persistent symptoms, for example of the hairs go in to your eyes or are inhaled, you should see a doctor.
- They can also be a garden pest, quickly stripping trees and shrubs of foliage.
How can you identify a brown tail moth?
About 1" long, with 2 red spots on its back. Covered in brown hair which is responsible for skin irritation.
White winged with a brown body. The female has a bushy brown hairy tail (hence the name). These moths are nocturnal.
In order to identify these moths accurately it is important to know the different stages of the insect throughout the year.
- Mid July - At this time of year the moths mate, laying eggs covered in small brown hairs on the underside of leaves and bushes. These bushes most commonly are of the Hawthorn, Blackthorn or related fruit bush variety, although it can include a wide variety of other trees.
- Late Summer - In August/September time eggs hatch and feed on foliage, turning the leaves a brown 'scorched' colour.
- Winter - Caterpillars weave a web like structure in the bush or tree which they use to hibernate.
- Late Spring - Caterpillars emerge from their hibernation to feed on the surrounding foilage.
- Late June -Caterpillars turn into black chrysalis.
- Mid July - Chrysalis hatches into adult moth (described above).
Prevention and treatment
Because treatment can require specialist equipment and skills, one of our pest control officers will be happy to advise you on the best solution for you. Always wear gloves and goggles and cover exposed areas of skin if you do carry out treatment yourself.
Depending upon the time of year and the stage of development at which the moth is at there are two main methods of eliminating the pest.
- Winter (November - March): During the winter the caterpillars can be destroyed whilst they are in hibernation in their webs. These webs can be completely cut out of trees and bushes, eliminating between 300-400 caterpillars per web, and burnt in a responsible manner.
- Summer (May - September): Another way of getting rid of these moths is to spray the bushes and trees affected, again, eliminating the moth at the caterpillar stage. Pesticides available for this type of treatment are available and can be bought from either pet shops or various DIY superstores.
Note: read the label carefully on all chemicals and pesticides before use.
Service the council provides
The council does not provide a service for the treatment of Brown Tail Moths.
How to contact us
If you would like further advice or need to make a pest control appointment please contact us:
First Stop Shop
If you need help treating a brown tail moth infestation of have any further questions, contact us on 01922 653366. For householders this is a free service.
For further information please view our brown tail moth factsheet (PDF 67KB).
This page was last updated on 22 October 2013