Sep 14 2021

Caterpillars on the move: Part 1

This is one of the best times of year for moth caterpillar spotting! Here is the first of four articles highlighting moths whose caterpillars you have a good chance of seeing. These moths overwinter as caterpillars and, with autumn upon us, they are on the move…

Fox moth

Photograph of a hairy fox moth caterpillar.

Fox moth caterpillar

The caterpillars can sometimes be seen between June and September wandering across tracks as they move between their foodplants. On heathland this is primarily heather and bilberry, but in the wider countryside it can be bramble, meadowsweet, or salad burnet. Most of my observations are in October when they are at their maximum size, fully fed, and probably looking for a good place to spend the winter months, deep in the undergrowth under leaves or moss.

They emerge in the spring, not feeding, but straight away forming a cigar-shaped cocoon from which the adult emerges in May. Males fly during the day and night; females only at night.

Photograph of a light brown moth

Adult fox moth © Václav Dvořák

Find out more on Butterfly Conservation’s website: Fox moth.

Warden Mike



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