Fox Moth

  • Fox Moth (male)
    Fox Moth (male)
  • Fox Moth (male)
    Fox Moth (male)
  • Fox moth caterpillar
    Fox moth caterpillar
  • Fox Moth (male)
    Fox Moth (male)
  • Fox Moth (male)
    Fox Moth (male)
  • Fox moth caterpillar
    Fox moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Macrothylacia rubi

May - June. Britain and north and west Ireland. Large brown moth found on heathland, downland and coastal grassland.

This moth is named after its colouration; males are usually foxy-red/brown and females grey-brown.  However, moths from cooler upland areas tend to be darker and less red than those from southern areas.  Females are larger with considerably longer forewings and lack the feathered antennae of the males.  This moth can be distinguished from similar species by the absence of a central white spot on the forewing. The male flies rapidly on sunny afternoons just above the ground searching for females which are nocturnal.

Size and Family

  • Family – Eggars (Lasiocampids)
  • Large Sized 

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Heathers, Bilberry and Creeping Willow on moors and heaths, Bramble and Meadowsweet in wet habitats and Salad Burnet on downland.

Caterpillars from July to April. Britain and north and west Ireland. Large hairy caterpillar  found on heathland, downland and coastal grassland.

Fully grown caterpillars are up to 7cm in length. They have long brown hairs on the sides of the body and shorter dark orange hairs on the upper surface. Young caterpillars are darker brown with light orange bands along the body. The caterpillars hibernate fully grown, but emerge to bask in the spring sunshine before pupating in April.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland
  • Widely distributed throughout most of the British Isles except Orkney and Shetland.

Habitat

Frequents a variety of grassland habitats including moorland, downland, damp meadows, sand dunes and open woodland.