Colourful Caterpillars

At Compton Verney yesterday I caught sight of a hazel shrub with a branch tip that wasn’t looking quite as it should – a little tattered and torn. On closer inspection the culprits were still at the scene, and what a sight they were.

Buff-tip Caterpillar. © Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

Although the foliage damage was significant, it was confined to a relatively small, very colourful area. On further investigation it seems that these larvae are likely to turn into Buff Tip moths, which on emergence are very different to these brightly coloured specimens; being masters of disguise.

Caterpillar of Buff-tip Moth. © Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

Spotting wildlife of this type is one of the treats of working in horticulture, and makes gardening and visiting garden locations an absolute pleasure – despite the foliage damage being at first sight quite serious! Viewing these caterpillars close up, their structure, colour and single-minded focus on devouring each leaf before them is mind-boggling. It’s just as well we have plenty of hazel to go around!

If you’d like more information on this species, please follow the Wildlife Trust link, which shows the adult moth in all its understated glory – they become masters of disguise!

You might also like to check our grounds Flickr page showing more hidden colours of our garden and parkland – Click here.

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