Brown Tail Moth

The council does not provide a treatment service for Brown Tail Moths or their caterpillars but this page is provided for advice.

The incidence of Brown Tail Moths and their caterpillars has increased over recent years. The caterpillar is a voracious eater of vegetation and can cause significant damage to trees and shrubs.  The caterpillars are also covered in small barbed hairs which can irritate the skin, in some cases severely.  Some people may even suffer a type of asthmatic reaction.  If you come across these insects you should avoid contact.  Minor skin irritations can probably be treated with proprietary products.  For more serious or persistent reactions you should seek advice of a pharmacist or GP.

What do they look like?

Brown Tail Moth

The caterpillar is a blackish grey colour with tufts of ginger brown hairs and two orange spots near the tail.  The moth has greyish white wings with a brown tail. In winter months the caterpillars hibernate in silky greyish 'tents' usually found at the tips of branches.

 Life cycle

The caterpillars emerge from their 'tents' to forage for food around May/June as the weather warms. They may return to  their tents in te evening or during bad weather.  They emerge again in September/October and their feeding may cause the leaves at the top of trees and bushes to turn brown. In winter they stay in their tents and these become very visible as the leaves drop.

Control

Infestations can be DIY treated or a private pest control contractor can be used.  If DIY treating, precautions should be taken including protective clothing.  Chemical products may be purchased from hardware stores and DIY stores and any instructions should be carefully followed.  Further advice on suitable products can be provided by our pest control officers if required.

If you have a pest control problem and would like advice, please contact us.