The extraordinary Pale Tussock moth caterpillar

A friend of mine Caroline sent me a picture of a caterpillar she found by the River Otter near Budleigh Salterton yesterday and asked me what it was.

It is the caterpillar of the Pale Tussock moth (photo Caroline Muggridge). It is a very distinctive and showy green caterpillar with lateral white hairs and 4 distinctive clumps of white hair on its back along with one clump of red hairs. The caterpillars hatch in late June and slowly grow until early October. They feed on the leaves of a wide variety of deciduous trees. The animal overwinters as a pupae.

The adult moths emerge in May and fly until June. It is a common and widespread species.



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