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any of several species of insects belonging to the family Yponomeutidae (order Lepidoptera). Ermine moths are widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere. The hairy caterpillars feed on dandelions and other weeds, cultivated shrubs, and trees, particularly fruit trees. Ermine moths have a wingspan of 3 cm (1.2 inches). Adult females have brilliant white or cream-coloured wings with dark fleck marks and possess a fluffy thorax and abdomen, resembling a stoat's winter ermine coat, hence the common name.