I thought I would explain about Colin the caterpillar (<click to see yesterday’s video). He appeared on my living room carpet about a week ago (I almost stood on him!) and I can only assume he somehow hitched a ride home on some part of my clothing or my backpack. Like the Winter caterpillars I blogged about on 15 January, Colin is an Angle shades moth larva. At the moment, he’s living in a jar on my desk – I wasn’t sure how long he’d been on the carpet so wanted to feed him up before I took him back to the wild. He’s just been through a moult, from 2nd to 3rd instar I think, so he’ll need to be released soon so he can pupate in more natural surroundings.
I was heading home from Cosmeston after a lovely wander but not having seen much in the way of wildlife when this superb creature appeared on the pavement in front of me – actually, it was lucky I didn’t stand on it!
There was a family walking along not far behind me and I feared their combination of feet, pushchair and trike wheels might squish the creature so I quickly scooped it up and walked to a small area of waste ground where it might take shelter amongst the tall grasses, wildflowers and low scrub.
If you’ve never seen one, this is the caterpillar of the Elephant hawk-moth. It feeds on a variety of plants, particularly Rosebay willowherb, but also the other willowherbs, bedstraws, even Himalayan balsam, so can be found where those wildflowers grow. This particular caterpillar looked very well grown so may have been seeking a place to pupate (remember that pupal case I found back in April?). Let’s hope it found a cosy spot under the leaf litter in its new location.
The Butterfly Conservation website says the dagger moths get their name from the dagger-like markings on their wings but check out the hump on the back of this Grey dagger larva – in the infamous words of Lady Macbeth from the Scottish play, ‘is this a dagger I see before me’?
This tiny tufty character was a surprise find during yesterday’s walk.
I guessed it was a moth caterpillar but had no idea which, so posted some photos on Twitter. It only took a few minutes for my moth-er contacts to give it a name – this is the larva of the Knot grass moth (Acronicta rumicis).
I’ve never seen the adult moth but it looks to be a beauty – you can see photos, and read more about both moth and larva, on the UK Moths website.
It may be late autumn, with shortening days, chill winds and cooling nights but, when the sun comes out as it did yesterday, the insects also come out to warm themselves and feed. During my walk around Cosmeston I spotted a late Red admiral butterfly and then, further on, where ivy was still flowering, a host of flying mini-beasties: hoverflies, various bees and wasps. And, near them, tucked away further down on a bramble leaf, even a caterpillar, probably a moth larva though I’m not sure which species.
This afternoon I realised I was not living alone in my new flat – this tiny creature very stupidly decided to climb one of the walls, thus bringing upon itself a level of attention that would ultimately lead to its demise. It’s the larva of one of the Case-bearing moths (possibly Tinea pellionella or Tineola bisselliella, or maybe something else entirely) that likes to chew your carpets threadbare or devour the fibres in your favourite woollen jumper.
As you can see it’s constructed itself a cosy little home which it can very easily move around. The case is open-ended so, as I discovered when waiting for it to poke its head out one end, it can actually turn around inside and poke its head out the other end if danger (or a gigantic human with a camera lens) threatens.
I actually had the carpet professionally cleaned before I moved in here so this little fellow must’ve been hiding somewhere, or it came along for the ride from my old abode. Sweet as that may sound, I do not want to be its friend, and it has now left the building!