The European Sycamore Moth (Actronicta aceris aceris) is an insect in the Noctuidae family of nocturnal moths.
The European Sycamore Moth is pale-grey to dark-grey. The male has white hind (back) wings that sometimes have dark streaks at the margins. The female has grey hind wings.
The adult moth measures about 2 centimetres (1 inch) long, with a wingspan of 4-5 centimetres (1.5-2 inches).
It is found in many countries in Europe, from south-east England to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Morocco, as well as in the Near East, the Middle East, and Asia.
It is nocturnal, active at night. It is attracted to light.
The female adult moth lays eggs on the leaves of the Sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus), the Field Maple tree (Acer campestre), the Horse-Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum), and other deciduous trees. The eggs hatch into larvae called caterpillars.
The caterpillar is very distinctive with long, tufted hairs. It is mainly yellow with some orangish-brown tufted hairs. It has a row of black-edged white spots on its back. Its head is black with yellow and orange markings. The caterpillar grows to about 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) long.
The caterpillar eats leaves and then pupates in winter by making a cocoon from bark and tree litter. An adult moth emerges from the cocoon between June and August. This is called metamorphosis.
The caterpillar is not poisonous, but if humans handle it, the rough hairs may cause itchy skin.
[Location of photographs: Paris, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM