Malacosoma neustria L Lackey moth

Minor infestations of this polyphagous species sometimes occur on fruit trees. The gregarious larvae can cause extensive defoliation, and this can have a detrimental effect on crop yields.


Adults occur from late July to September. Eggs are deposited in a batch around a twig and then coated by the female with a varnish-like secretion. The eggs hatch in the following spring and the larvae then feed within a silken web which is gradually extended as the larvae develop. When leaves in the vicinity of the web are devoured the larvae move to another branch and again form a communal web. Pupation occurs in tough double-walled cocoons on the host tree or amongst debris on the ground. Adults emerge about 3 weeks later.


Adult 30-40 mm wingspan; forewings pale ochreous-brown to dark brown, often with a broad, pale-bordered, median cross-band (Fig. 303); hindwings pale ochreous brown to dark brown; antennae bipectinate, more strongly in male. Larva up to 50 mm long; body blue with a white line along the back, and black-edged red longitudinal lines along the back and sides; body hairs gingery; head blue, with two black spots.

Fig. 303 Lackey moth, Malacosoma neustria (x3).

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