Join Donate Identify
Butterflies Moths How you can help Our work Events  
 

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: Grassland & Marsh

Ghost Moth

 

The Drinker

(Early instar)

The Drinker

(Final instar)

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

(Penultimate instar)

Small Elephant Hawk-moth

(Final instar)

Common Carpet

(Final instar)

Water Carpet

(Final instar)

Twin-spot Carpet

(Final instar)

White Ermine

(Final instar)

Mother Shipton

(Final instar)

Silver Y

(Final instar)

Gold Spot

(Final instar)

Lempkes Gold Spot

(Final instar)

Knot Grass

(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)

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Grey Chi

(Final instar)

Hebrew Character

(Final instar)

Antler Moth

(Early final instar)

Antler Moth

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

Broad-barred White

(Final instar)

Smoky Wainscot

(Final instar)

Large Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Large Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Lesser Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Square-spot Rustic

(Final instar)

Copyright Butterfly Conservation 2016 East Scotland Branch
Privacy and Copyright Statement

Butterfly Conservation is a registered charity and non-profit-making company, limited by guarantee.
Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP.
Charity registered in England and Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268).