The females are duller with broad grey-brown bands across the forewings. When at rest their elongated wings are held almost vertically against their body.

The adults have short antennae and have no functioning mouthparts so cannot feed. The caterpillars can be found from June to late the following May, overwintering twice as larvae so the life cycle takes two years to complete.

Size and Family

  • Family – Swift moths (Helialidae)
  • Small Sized
  • Wingspan Range – 24-32mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Local (only found in some areas)

Caterpillar Food Plants

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and probably other herbs and grasses.


Open woodland and scrubby areas as well as Bracken-covered slopes on heathland and rough grassland.


  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Locally distributed in most parts of mainland Britain but rarely in upland areas. Also found on the Isdel of Man, Hebrides and Northern Ireland.
Gold Swift (male) by Bernard Ruelle

Gold Swift (male)

Gold Swift

Gold Swift (female)

Gold Swift (male) - Ben Sale

Gold Swift (male)

Gold Swift (female) - Ben Sale

Gold Swift (female)