Help us achieve our goals:
make a donation »
Join the RHS today and
support our charity
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Make a donation
Join the RHS today and support our charity
I have forgotten my password
Keep me signed in
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
See what events are on near you and browse your bookmarked pages.
The large orange, white and blue striped brown caterpillars of this moth feed in groups and can consume large areas of foliage on a wide range of deciduous trees. The damage is not often serious and the caterpillars can be tolerated.
Common name Lackey moth Scientific name Malacosoma neustriaPlants affected A wide range of deciduous treesMain symptoms Defoliation, webbing and orange, white and blue striped brown caterpillarsMost active April to July
Lackey moth adults are mid-brown in colour and have a wingspan of approximately 30mm. They lay eggs in bands of 100-250 that encircle the stems of host plants.
The hairy orange, white and blue striped brown caterpillars are up to 50mm long. They feed gregariously under silk webbing and can cause a significant amount of defoliation on their deciduous tree hosts.
The egg bands of this moth are often noticed on deciduous tree hosts in late summer. These hatch in April and the caterpillars feed gregariously under silk webbing and can be present until July when they pupate in leaf litter. The silk webbing and defoliation can be obvious at this time.
The adults emerge from July to September and soon lay eggs.
Defoliation is most severe on small trees, however it should not affect the long term health or vigour of host plants. If the eggs or caterpillars are spotted early on small trees they can be destroyed or removed to a larger tree. On larger trees whilst some parts of the plant may be defoliated this will have no effect on the long term health of the host. Therefore as the caterpillars and associated moths can be considered an important part of garden wildlife and can be tolerated.
Angle shades mothBrown tail moth Buff-tip mothCotoneaster webber caterpillarsElephant hawk mothEncouraging wildlife to your garden Moths: encouraging into your gardenOak processionary mothRHS Perfect for pollinatorsSmall ermine mothsSwift moth caterpillarsVapourer mothWildlife in gardensWinter moth caterpillars
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
Register for the site or sign in to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.
Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9