Yellow-Tail Moth (Sphrageidus similis)
The Yellow-tail moth, also called the golden or swan moth, is easily distinguishable from its white wings and yellow hairy tufts on the abdomen, replicating a tail. Swiss entomologist Johann Kaspar Füssli first described it in 1775.
Description and Identification
The caterpillar is black with bright red stripes and white blotches, covered with blackish-gray bristles. They can grow up to 43 mm and feed on plants found in deciduous forests. They hibernate throughout the winter.
The larvae begin to pupate at the beginning of June. The pupae encased in a white cocoon found among the host plant’s leaves is blackish-brown.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
The females are larger than the males. The tail-like projections on their abdomen are also bigger than their male counterparts.
The males, on the other hand, have a distinguishable marking towards the end of their forewings.
Color and Appearance: When opened, the wings are purely white, except for a brown or black spot seen only in males. When closed, the color remains unchanged, though the spots are prominently visible in the male yellow-tail moths.
Average wingspan: 35-48 mm
Season: May to August
The female covers her eggs with wool from her abdomen.
|Distribution||Found throughout Europe, mainly in Britain and sometimes in Scotland and Ireland|
|Habitat||Woodlands, scrub, and gardens|
|Lifespan of Adults||May to August|
|Host Plants||Deciduous trees like elm, oak, birch, raspberry, and hawthorn|
|Adult Diet||Not recorded|
Did you know
- Whenever touched or sensing danger, this moth lies on its side and feigns death.
- The bristles on the caterpillar are known to irritate, requiring careful handling.