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Vapourer Moth caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua

Orgyia antiqua

Recently I set off to look for the Ivy Bee Collettes hederae, no luck but as soon as I crossed the river I found this spectacular looking caterpillar. It’s the larva of the Vapourer Moth Orgyia antiqua which are sometimes called Rusty Tussock Moths. The males, which can sometimes be found flying during the day, are a rich chestnut brown colour and have two distinctive white spots on the wings. The female is unusual in that she is completely wingless and resembles an overweight furry grey grub. There’s more info and images here on the excellent UK Moths website.

As I ambled on up the hill towards the railway crossing I found this little fella munching on hazel. This is the caterpillar of the Grey Dagger Acronicta psi. The dagger moths get their names from the small cross or dagger-like markings on the forewings.

Grey Dagger caterpillar, Acronicta psi

Acronicta psi

Then as I pushed on into the woodland that is the centre of Jones’s Mill Nature Reserve I found this little chap on a reed. This is the caterpillar of the Drinker Moth Philudoria potatoria see below. Drinker moths get their name from the caterpillars which are supposed to drink droplets of rainwater or dew. Again the adult moths are rather drab in comparison. The slightly larger yellowish female and the orangey-brown male can be identified by the two small white spots or blobs that sit side by side in the middle of each wing and by the characteristic diagonal line running from the centre out to the wing tip.

Drinker Moth caterpillar, Philudoria potatoria

Philudoria potatoria

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice, really nice shots!

    October 7, 2014
  2. Love that first shot. Didn’t realize the rusty tussock was from over your side of the pond either…

    October 7, 2014
    • Thanks Michael. It’s certainly a very exotic-looking caterpillar. How’s your caterpillar hunt going?

      October 7, 2014
      • Caterpillar (and insect-hunting in general) is pretty much at zero right now for me. Autumn has settled in with heavy, dreary coat here in Massachusetts. I never found the giant swallowtail caterpillars after they disappeared, though a giant swallowtail butterfly was spotted in the backyard just about two or three weeks after the first one went missing. We had some unusually warm weather that week, and I’m thinking unfortunately the pupa may have been fooled into eclosing. Thankfully, we’ve had some right dreary weather since the other one disappeared, so maybe it’ll make through to next year.

        October 7, 2014
  3. Autumn has kicked in here too. All it will take now is for a few cold nights to put the stragglers to sleep.

    October 8, 2014
  4. Very nice pictures Marc. You were lucky to find such a good collection at this time of year. I have kept a close watch for the Ivy Bee here, ready to photograph anything that looked remotely possible but no luck I am afraid.

    October 9, 2014
    • Thanks Colin, it was a very dull day so the ISO went through the roof but I guess it shows just how good the lack of noise is on the Nikon D800. The Ivy appears to be quite late in flowering so maybe there is time yet. Let me know if you do get lucky.

      October 9, 2014

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