Vapourer Lymantriidae

Orgyia antiqua (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan of male 35-38mm; female is wingless. Adult males have ochreous-red fore and hindwings. There is a distinctive, white comma-shaped spot at the lower edge of the forewing and two dark-coloured crosslines. The hindwings are unmarked, ochreous-red. The female is light, ochreous-grey with vestigial wings.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside

Flight Period: Generally from early July until the beginning of October, although it is most commonly encountered during August and September.

Status: Widespread, but somewhat local in southern counties. Adults are never seen in numbers, even in localities where it is well-known. Its strongholds would appear to be in Armagh and parts of Down and Fermanagh, which is probably a reflection of recording effort, rather than its real distribution. Well-known haunts for this species in north Armagh, include Peatlands Park, Brackagh Moss NNR, the Argory and Selshion Moss.

Ecology: The Vapourer is found in a variety of habitats but is most frequently seen on bogs and woodland where its foodplants are commonly found. This species tends to be rather elusive and is probably overlooked or mistaken for a butterfly in many areas. Males fly by day in sunshine and are often seen flying at great speed and at height, which makes them difficult to catch. The female is wingless and remains at rest on her cocoon after emergence waiting for passing males. Most of the records are of larvae rather than adults. These are often to be found resting, exposed on the upper surface of leaves during the day. The larvae can be found from May to August on a variety of trees and shrubs. In N. Ireland it has been recorded on willows Salix spp., Bramble Rubus fruticosus, birch Betula spp. and Purging Buckthorn Rhamnus catharticus. It overwinters as an egg.

World Distribution: Throughout the Holarctic region.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 2026 Agassiz number: 72.017

Additional information:

UK Moths account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland