The latest in a series of posts which begin with the phrase: “Dad, come and look at This!”
I can’t find this striking caterpillar in my field guide, but a bit of internet sleuthing reveals it to be a Buff-Tip Moth, Phalera bucephala.
Probably not most likely to be seen crawling down our pebble-dashing, these caterpillars are usually gregarious and feed on a variety of plants together. The fact that this one was seen alone, on our wall, on a sunny day in September makes me think that it was searching for a place to pupate.
I hope that my identification is correct, and that I’m also right in thinking that this caterpillar has pupated in and around our garden, because this is a fascinating moth. In it’s adult form it does a stunning impersonation of a chip of birch twig…
This is a photo I took back in 2010 at one of the excellent Moth Breakfast events at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. We have two birch trees in our garden, so it seems reasonable to assume that we might have these moths in our garden. It makes me determined, next May and June, to finally getting around to improvising a simple moth trap to see just what we can find in our garden. At the moment I’m reading ‘The Fly Trap’ by Fredrik Sjöberg – it’s a delightful book, though I’m hard-pressed to explain why I’m enjoying it so much. The book has several themes – the motives of collectors, the joys of living on an island, the life and works of the naturalist and explorer René Malaise. Sjöberg is an entomologist, specialising in Hoverflies and one of his themes is about the joys of sitting put and letting nature come to you. Sounds like a plan.
http://ukmoths.org.uk/species/phalera-bucephala/eggs/ More images and information about Buff Tips
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fly-Trap-Fredrik-Sj%C3%B6berg/dp/184614776X ‘The Fly Trap’ by Fredrik Sjöberg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Malaise Wikipedia’s entry on René Malaise.