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First Encounter with a Vapourer Moth

Vapourer Moth Caterpillar
02 Aug


Vapourer Moth CaterpillarThe shrubs in the garden had been growing voraciously over the past few weeks. They had now reached the point that you couldn’t really see where one ended and the next one began.  Time for action!

Vapourer Moth Adult

Vapourer Moth Adult

Whilst executing some serious pruning at the weekend this handsome specimen turned up attached to the underside of a dogwood leaf.  It looks very like the white marked tussock moth caterpillar.  But as this is native to North America and my feet are firmly planted in the British Isles it is undoubtedly the caterpillar of the Vapourer Moth ( Orgyia Antiqua ).  It  is one of the weirdest looking out there, very colourful, very hairy and very tufty

The female Vapourer Moth does not fly. She looks a bit like a woolly woodlouse and emits a powerful sex pheromone that attracts male moths to her. Her job is to stay rooted to some deciduous shrub, lay eggs and produce more and more vapourer moths. Unusually, the males are daytime flyers, although they can be attracted to lights at night like any other moth. Typically, however, the adult male moth is much more lugubrious than the multi-coloured caterpillar, being a monotone chestnut colour.  

Most creatures in nature that are brightly coloured and hairy tend to be worthy of avoiding.  Upon doing a little more research I realise that I had a lucky escape in not being tempted to touch the caterpillar or let it crawl across my hand.  The hairs have poisoned tips and can cause a nasty and prolonged reaction, involving a lot of itching,  raised bumps on the skin and a lot of antihistamine!!  

I was glad I encountered this handsome beast in the garden last weekend but was more than happy to put it back on the dogwood to get on with its business. 

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