Home / Erebidae Moths / Yellow-Tail Moth (Sphrageidus similis)

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.

Yellow Tail Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Sphrageidus
  • Scientific Name: Sphrageidus similis

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.

Yellow Tail Moth Larvae


Yellow Tailed Moth Caterpillar



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.

Yellow Tail Moth Pupa


Adult Moth

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

Sphrageidus similis



The female covers her eggs with wool from her abdomen.

Quick Facts

DistributionFound throughout Europe, mainly in Britain and sometimes in Scotland and Ireland
HabitatWoodlands, scrub, and gardens
Lifespan of AdultsMay to August
Host PlantsDeciduous trees like elm, oak, birch, raspberry, and hawthorn
Adult DietNot 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. 
Goldtail Moth


Swan Moth


Yellow Tail Moth Picture


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