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: Woodland

Goat Moth

(Final instar)

Scalloped Hook-tip

(Final instar)

Pebble Hook-tip

(Final instar)

Yellow Horned

(Final instar)

Poplar Hawk-moth

(Final instar)

July Highflyer

(Final instar)

Red-green Carpet

(Final instar)

Water Carpet

(Final instar)

Northern Winter Moth

(Penultimate instar)

Winter Moth

(Final instar)

November Moth

(Final instar)

Sandy Carpet

(Final instar)

Foxglove Pug

(Final instar)

Brindled Pug

(Final instar)

Brindled Pug

(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 Wave

(Final instar)

Light Emerald

(Final instar)

Large Emerald

(Final instar)

Puss Moth

(3rd instar)

Puss Moth

(Final 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)

The Vapourer

(Final instar)

The Spectacle

(Final instar)

Nut-tree Tussock

(Final instar)

Alder Moth

(Final instar)

Grey Dagger

(Penultimate instar)

The Miller

(Final instar)

The Miller

(Penultimate instar)

Poplar Grey

(Final instar)

Green-brindled Crescent

(Final instar)

Merveille du Jour

(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)

Pale-shouldered Brocade

(Final instar)

Pale-shouldered Brocade

(Final instar)

Purple Clay

(Final instar)

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Lesser Yellow Underwing

(Final instar)

Double Dart

(Full grown)

Dotted Clay

(Final instar)

Green Silver-lines

(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).