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East Scotland Branch

 

Scottish Moth Caterpillars by Habitat

These pages show a variety of moth caterpillars that can be found in typical habitats. This is unlike the organisation of adult moths as they tend to have a recognised and restricted flight period, often only a couple of months. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are around much longer. The larval stage of many species lasts maybe ten months, with part-grown larvae hibernating over the winter. There are caterpillars you would be almost guaranteed to find on heather moorland but would never see in your garden, and vice versa. Other categories include coast, scrub, carr & hedgerows, woodland, roadsides & waste ground. Some species overlap habitats, inevitably. A selection of the most likely species to be found in each habitat are shown.

It should be emphasised just how hard it is to find most larvae, and then how difficult it is to identify many without rearing them. Comments alongside many photographs provide guidance on identification and confusion species (many of which make then indistiguishable) and also the likelyhood of finding them and when they might be found.

When looking for moth caterpillars, note that moth caterpillars may have up to five pairs of abdominal prolegs (unsegmented legs, usually found in pairs on the rear segments), but never have more than five pairs. Sawfly larvae, which can look similar, will have six or more pairs of abdominal prolegs. Different families of moths have their own characteristics, such as the Geometers often being 'looper' caterpillars with only two pairs of prolegs; Noctuids typically have five pairs. As a reference resource and a description of some of these family characteristics visit the excellent ukleps website.  When taking photos for identification purposes then side on as well as dorsal photos of the elongated (not curled up) body are likely to be required.

All photos copyright Roy Leverton, unless otherwise stated.

Habitat: All habitats

Ghost Moth

 

Goat Moth

(Final instar)

Six-Spot Burnet

 

Scalloped Hook-tip

(Final instar)

Pebble Hook-tip

(Final instar)

Peach Blossom

(Final instar)

Peach Blossom

(Penultimate instar)

Yellow Horned

(Final instar)

Pale Eggar

(Final instar)

Northern Eggar

(Second Instar)

Northern Eggar

 

Fox Moth

(Final instar)

Fox Moth

(Penultimate instar)

The Drinker

(Early instar)

The Drinker

(Final instar)

Emperor Moth

(First instar)

Emperor Moth

(Second instar)

Emperor Moth

(Third instar)

Emperor Moth

(Fourth instar)

Emperor Moth

 

Emperor Moth

(Final instar)

Poplar Hawk-moth

(Final instar)

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

(Penultimate instar)

Elephant Hawk-moth

(4th instar)

Elephant Hawk-moth

(Final instar)

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

(Penultimate instar)

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

(Final instar)

Garden Carpet

 

Common Carpet

(Final instar)

Shoulder-stripe

(Final instar)

The Streamer

(Final instar)

Grey Mountain Carpet

(Final instar)

July Highflyer

(Final instar)

Pine Carpet

(Final instar)

Spruce Carpet

(Final instar)

Grey Pine Carpet

(Final instar)

The Phoenix

(Final instar)

Small Phoenix

(Final instar)

Red-green Carpet

(Final instar)

Water Carpet

(Final instar)

Northern Winter Moth

(Penultimate instar)

Winter Moth

(Final instar)

November Moth

(Final instar)

Twin-spot Carpet

(Final instar)

The Rivulet

(Final instar)

Sandy Carpet

(Final instar)

Green Pug

(Final instar)

Foxglove Pug

(Final instar)

Brindled Pug

(Final instar)

Brindled Pug

(Final instar)

Narrow-winged Pug

(Final instar)

Lime-speck Pug

(Final instar)

Satyr Pug

(Final instar)

Wormwood Pug

(Final instar)

Wormwood Pug

 

Currant Pug

(Final instar)

The Streak

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Pupa)

Tawny-barred Angle

(Final instar)

Brimstone Moth

(Final instar)

Brimstone Moth

(Final instar)

Canary-shouldered Thorn

(Final instar)

September Thorn

(Final instar)

Early Thorn

(Final instar)

Lunar Thorn

(Final instar)

Scalloped Hazel

(Final instar)

Scalloped Hazel

(Final instar)

Scalloped Hazel

(Final instar)

Scalloped Oak

(Final instar)

Swallow-tailed Moth

(Final instar)

Feathered Thorn

(Final instar)

March Moth

(Final instar)

Pale Brindled Beauty

(Final instar)

Peppered Moth

(Final instar)

Scarce Umber

(Final instar)

Mottled Umber

(Final instar)

Willow Beauty

(Final instar)

The Engrailed

(Final instar)

Common Heath

(Final instar)

Bordered White

(Final instar)

Common Wave

(Final instar)

Light Emerald

(Final instar)

Barred Red

(Final instar)

Barred Red

(Final instar)

Large Emerald

(Final instar)

Puss Moth

(3rd instar)

Puss Moth

(Final instar)

Sallow Kitten

(2nd instar)

Sallow Kitten

(Penultimate instar)

Iron Prominent

(Final instar)

Iron Prominent

(Final instar)

Pebble Prominent

(Final instar)

Pebble Prominent

(Final instar)

Swallow Prominent

(Final instar)

Swallow Prominent

(Final instar)

Pale Prominent

(Final instar)

Coxcomb Prominent

(Early final instar)

Buff-tip

(Early final instar)

The Herald

(Final instar)

The Snout

(Final instar)

Yellow-tail

(Final instar)

Dark Tussock

(Final instar)

Dark Tussock

 

The Vapourer

(Final instar)

Buff Ermine

(Final instar)

Buff Ermine

(Penultimate instar)

White Ermine

(Final instar)

Ruby Tiger

(Final instar)

Ruby Tiger

(Penultimate instar)

Wood Tiger

(Final instar)

Garden Tiger

(First instar)

Garden Tiger

(Final instar)

The Cinnabar

(Final instar)

Common Footman

(Final instar)

Mother Shipton

(Final instar)

The Spectacle

(Final instar)

Silver Y

(Final instar)

Beautiful Golden Y

(Final instar)

Scarce Silver Y

(Final instar)

Gold Spot

(Final instar)

Lempkes Gold Spot

(Final instar)

Nut-tree Tussock

(Final instar)

Alder Moth

(Final instar)

Grey Dagger

(Penultimate instar)

The Miller

(Final instar)

The Miller

(Penultimate instar)

Sweet Gale Moth

 

Knot Grass

(Final instar)

Poplar Grey

(Final instar)

Chamomile Shark

(Final instar)

Chamomile Shark

(Penultimate instar)

Green-brindled Crescent

(Final instar)

Angle Shades

(Final instar)

Angle Shades

(Final instar)

Bulrush Wainscot

(Final instar)

Dusky Brocade

(Final instar)

Clouded-bordered Brindle

(Final instar)

Dark Arches

(Final instar)

Lesser Common Rustic

(Final instar)

Blairs Shoulder-knot

(Final instar)

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Merveille du Jour

(Final instar)

Grey Chi

(Final instar)

Pine Beauty

(Final instar)

Clouded Drab

(Final instar)

Clouded Drab

(Final instar)

Common Quaker

(Final instar)

Small Quaker

(Final instar)

Hebrew Character

(Final instar)

Twin-spotted Quaker

(Final instar)

Antler Moth

(Early final instar)

Antler Moth

(Final instar)

Beautiful Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Pale-shouldered Brocade

(Final instar)

Pale-shouldered Brocade

(Final instar)

Bright-line Brown-eye

(Final instar)

Dot Moth

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

Cabbage Moth

(Final instar)

Broad-barred White

(Final instar)

The Lychnis

(Final instar)

Smoky Wainscot

(Final instar)

Shore Wainscot

(Final instar)

Sand Dart

(Final instar)

Purple Clay

(Final instar)

True Lovers Knot

(Final instar)

True Lovers Knot

(Final instar)

Large Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Large Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Lesser Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Double Dart

(Full grown)

Dotted Clay

(Final instar)

Neglected Rustic

(Final instar)

Neglected Rustic

(Final instar)

Heath Rustic

(Final instar)

Heath Rustic

(Penultimate instar)

Square-spot Rustic

(Final instar)

Double Square-spot

(Final instar)

Green Silver-lines

(Final instar)

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