Buff-tip Moth

©Tom Marshall

Buff-tip Moth Caterpillars

©Chris Lawrence

Buff-tip moth

Scientific name: Phalera bucephala
A widespread moth of gardens, woods and hedgerows, the buff-tip looks just like the twig of a birch tree when it is at rest. It flies at night, and can be seen from May to July.

Species information


Wingspan: 4.4-6.8cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to July


The buff-tip is a medium-sized moth that is on the wing at night from late May to July. It is quite a common moth in parks and gardens, as well as along woodland edges and hedgerows. The caterpillars are striking: large, hairy and yellow, with a black head and a ring of short black stripes on every segment. They often gather together in large numbers, eating the leaves of lime, birch, hazel and willow trees; they sometimes defoliate whole branches, but rarely cause serious damage. This moth pupates on the ground and overwinters as a chrysalis.

How to identify

The buff-tip holds its wings against its body and looks remarkably similar to a birch twig. It is mainly silvery-grey in colour, with a square-cut, buffy head, and a buff patch at the end of the wings which gives it the common name.



Did you know?

When it sits motionless, the colouring, shape and buff-coloured wingtips of the buff-tip moth make it perfectly camouflaged: it looks just like a broken birch twig.

How people can help

To attract butterflies and moths into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.