Oak Processionary - Thaumetopoea processionea


Wingspan 25 to 35 mm. It can be distinguished from related species by the pale basal area of the forewing.

Identification difficulty
Recording advice

In view of the rarity of this moth in our area, please provide a photograph and retain the specimen in case it is required by the County Recorder.


It is a pest species, in Europe feeding in large numbers on oak (Quercus), causing severe defoliation of oak and creating a health hazard. Minute, severely urticating hairs on the dorsum of the larger larvae, can cause persistent or severe (occasionally life-threatening) symptoms, and are readily dispersed on local air currents.

When to see it

A central and southern European species, adult males of this moth occasionally appear as vagrants, usually from late July to mid-September, and most frequently on the south coast.

Life History

Both the English and scientific names refer to the behaviour of the larvae, whose habit of forming a long nose-to-tail procession is quite peculiar.

UK Status

Since 2006, adventive populations have been discovered in west London (now considered to be established in several boroughs) and in a small area of Berkshire. It is also considered to be resident in the Channel Islands. In a recent survey to determine the status of all macro moths in Britain this species was classified as a vagrant.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland.  The specimen taken at Rutland Water, Lyndon reserve on 30th July 2020 was the first record for VC55.

71.001 BF2022

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map