The Scarce Vapourer is superficially similar to the commoner Vapourer, but can be distinguished on wing colour, that species being a more uniform orange-brown and without white marks near the wing-tips. The grey female is almost wingless with a swollen abdomen.

The male flies by day in sunshine. The female is flightless and found in association with the cocoon from which it emerged.

Size and Family

  • Family – Tussocks (Lymantirds)
  • Medium Sized 

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Priority Species
  • Rare (Red Data Book category 3)

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), Sheep's Sorrel (R. acetosella)


  • Countries – England
  • Restricted to a small number of sites and declining. South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk. Formerly more widespread in central and southern England and parts of Wales.


Damp neutral grassland, limestone grassland, chalk downland, breck grassland, sandy heathland, sand dunes, woodland rides and clearings

Scarce Vapourer (male) by Keith Tailby

Scarce Vapourer (male)

Scarce Vapourer (female) by Keith Tailby

Scarce Vapourer (female)

Similar species