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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: Moorland

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)

Common Carpet

(Final instar)

Grey Mountain Carpet

(Final instar)

July Highflyer

(Final instar)

Winter Moth

(Final instar)

Twin-spot Carpet

(Final instar)

Narrow-winged Pug

(Final instar)

Satyr Pug

(Final instar)

Wormwood Pug

 

The Streak

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Final instar)

The Magpie

(Pupa)

Early Thorn

(Final instar)

Scalloped Oak

(Final instar)

Common Heath

(Final instar)

Dark Tussock

(Final instar)

Dark Tussock

 

The Vapourer

(Final instar)

Ruby Tiger

(Final instar)

Ruby Tiger

(Penultimate instar)

Wood Tiger

(Final instar)

Scarce Silver Y

(Final instar)

Sweet Gale Moth

 

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Red Sword-grass

(Final instar)

Hebrew Character

(Final instar)

Antler Moth

(Early final instar)

Antler Moth

(Final instar)

Beautiful Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

Broom Moth

(Final instar)

True Lovers Knot

(Final instar)

True Lovers Knot

(Final instar)

Lesser Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Neglected Rustic

(Final instar)

Neglected Rustic

(Final instar)

Heath Rustic

(Final instar)

Heath Rustic

(Penultimate instar)

Square-spot Rustic

(Final instar)

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