The male of this species has broad orange-brown wings with a pair of white eye spots. The antennae are strongly feathered. The nearly wingless female has a plump grey-brown body.

Males fly in sunshine, usually quite high, and are rarely seen at rest. An orange-brown moth flying by day in the late summer or autumn is likely to be this species. Occasionally the males also fly at night and are attracted to light traps. The females are highly sedentary and after mating lay a large batch of eggs on the cocoon from which they emerged.

Can be confused with the Scarce Vapourer (Orgyia recens), though this is a very rare species restricted to a few sites in northern England and Scotland.

Size and Family

  • Family – Tussocks (Lymantrids)
  • Medium Sized 

Conservation status

  • UK BAP:  not listed

Caterpillar Description

The caterpillar is very striking with a red and grey body and several large hair tufts. The larval stage occurs from May to September. Full-grown larvae can often be found on bushes in late summer.

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

A wide range of broadleaved trees and shrubs


  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Widespread and common across much of the United Kingdom, although scarce in some western areas.


Woodland, heathland, moorland, hedgerows, parks and gardens.

Vapourer (male) by Shane Farrell

Vapourer (male)

Vapourer (female) by Dave Green

Vapourer (female)

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