What sort of caterpillar is this??

Martin Honey M.Honey at nhm.ac.uk
Mon Sep 27 04:26:32 EDT 1999

Dear CB

At 08:20 PM 9/24/99 +0100, you wrote:
>My wife was collecting some foliage for a floral display for a wedding
>and noticed a caterpillar she had never seen before on an oak leaf.
>About 3 cm long, light green, hairy with four lighter coloured tufts
>about half way down its back. A reddish-brown horn at one end (not sure
>if head or tail). Seems not to move much in the day, but assume busy
>during the night since oak leaf is eaten and copious droppings (approx 1
>mm spherical). If the leaf it sits on is disturbed the creature moves a
>bit and dark brown stripes can be seen in the concertina folds of its

Your larva is that of the moth Calliteara pudibunda (Linnaeus), the Pale
Tussock. Until recently, it was quite difficult to identify the larvae of
British moths as there was no comprehensive, easily obtained, reference
book. That has now changed with the publication of Jim Porter's The Colour
Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles (Viking Books
ISBN 0-670-87509-0), a companion volume to Bernard Skinner's book on the
adult moths.

Hope this helps

Martin R. Honey CBiol MIBiol, Lead Curator (Moths)
Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, Great Britain
EMAIL:     M.Honey at nhm.ac.uk
Museum web page <http://www.nhm.ac.uk>

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