Buff Tip moth caterpillars (Phalera bucephala)

Buff Tip moth eggs are laid in batches on various deciduous tree species. The caterpillars feed gregariously in the summer and often defoliate whole branches. The ones shown here are feeding on Hornbeam.

Buff Tip moth caterpillars on Hornbeam, Bliss Gate, 6 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Helcystogramma rufescens

This attractive caterpillar of the Gelechid micro moth Helcystogramma rufescens feeds inside rolled leaves of some grasses such as Cocksfoot, False Oat Grass and False Brome. This one measured just 1 cm and was very active as it moved around amongst the grass stems, perhaps looking for a pupation site. The adult moth flies between June and August.

Helcystogramma rufescens caterpillar, Bell Coppice, 18 June 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

The Alder Moth caterpillar (Acronicta alni)

The Alder Moth is a close relative of The Miller (as seen below). Its distinctive caterpillar can be found occasionally on various deciduous trees between June and August. The black and yellow colouration probably acts as a warning to deter predators, because the final instar larvae sit out on the tops of the leaves in conspicuous posture.

Alder Moth caterpillar, Wimperhill, 28th July 2013

The Miller moth caterpillar (Acronicta leporina)

The Miller moth is in its larval stage between July and October, and can be found occasionally on its usual foodplants of birch and alder. It rests up on the underside of the leaves as seen here, where it appears, with its long white hairs, to mimic spider spinnings. It overwinters as a pupa and the adult is on the wing from June to early August.

The Miller moth caterpillar, Wimperhill, 28th July 2013

Purple Hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) caterpillar

Purple Hairstreak caterpillars develop up in the oak canopy, but when they have completed their growing, they drop down to the woodland floor to pupate. Two were found on logs on the ground in a clearing in Shelfheld Coppice on 15th June 2013.

Purple Hairstreak caterpillar, Shelfheld Coppice, 15th June 2013

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) caterpillar

After hibernation in a crack on the bark of a tree, the tiny Silver-washed Fritillary caterpillar descends to the ground in the spring and sets off to search for violet leaves on which it feeds. By June it has grown, moulted several times, and spends much time basking in shafts of sunlight as shown here. It will soon pupate and spend two to three weeks as a chrysalis before emerging in July to fly through Wyre woodland in orange splendour.

Silver-washed Fritillary caterpillar, New Parks, 5th June 2013