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Scientific name: Phalera bucephala

Late May to July. Widespread and frequent throughout Britain, although more local in Scotland. An unmistakable moth which closely resembles a twig from a Silver Birch when at rest.

When at rest, the wings are held almost vertically against the body with two buff areas at the front of the thorax and at the tips of the forewings which look very like the pale wood of the birch. The rest of the wings are the same mottled grey colour of the birch bark.

Occasionally the adults can be found resting in the day on a twig or the ground. They fly at night and comes to light, usually after midnight.

The yellow and black caterpillars can be seen from July to early October before they overwinter as pupae under the ground.

Size and Family

  • Family – Phalerinae (Notodontidae)
  • Large Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 44-68mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

Caterpillar Food Plants

Deciduous trees; most frequently on sallows, birches, oaks and Hazel (Corylus avellana) but also Alder (Alnus glutinosa), limes, elms, Beech (Fagus sylvatica), Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), preferring those in sunny locations.

Habitat

Open woodland, scrub, hedgerows and gardens.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Well distributed and frequent throughout England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. More local in mainland Scotland.