Last week we had a closer look at a couple of butterfly eggs; today we have some Lepidoptera larvae. First up, the caterpillars of the beautiful Small tortoiseshell butterfly, which has two generations of eggs and larvae each year – these will be second generation. The eggs are laid in batches and, when they hatch, the caterpillars stay together to create a communal web where they shelter when they’re not out basking in the sun or munching on nettles. The caterpillars go through five stages (instars) before pupating – these look to be 3rd instars.
In total contrast to the Small tortoiseshell larvae, which are subtle and subdued in their colour and patterns, the larvae of the Cinnabar moth are vibrant, even flamboyant. Their bright orange and black stripes are designed to be seen, warning predators not to eat them as they are poisonous.