Time of the year for biggest caterpillars
It is that time of the year when I start to get phone calls and emails, plus tubs being delivered to my home and the office with an enormous caterpillar in it, which someone has found in their garden. The background story is usually that it was found crawling across the path or when tidying up in the flowerbed. The caterpillar is the elephant hawk moth caterpillar and it is one of the largest caterpillars that can be found in the UK. It has a little horn on the back of the caterpillar. The caterpillar itself is a dark brown with big whitish circles or “eyes” on either side of the head end. These are used to confuse and possibly scare off would-be attackers. The caterpillar through September has munched its way through either willowherb species in the wild or, in suburban gardens, the fuchsia. The caterpillar goes on a walkabout to find a suitable place to pupate, which is ideally some soft soil. From there it emerges the following late spring into a beautiful pink and olive brown hawk moth to start the whole life cycle again.
For more information contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership, telephone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk