Mullein Moth Caterpillars

Not so many Great Mullein plants this year in the village. They are the ones with the basal rosettes of grey-green woolly leaves that develop into tall stalks about a metre high with yellow flowers.. They are the main food resource for Mullein Moth caterpillars which are one of the few insects able to eat them.

The larvae make a real mess of the leaves eating lots of holes and depositing black frass everywhere so that affected plants are easy to spot. The caterpillars are beautiful with a satin smooth appearance and distinctive white, black, and yellow markings. Once they have reached their full size, they migrate down the plant and pupate near the roots. Surprisingly, the adult moth that hatches out from the chrysalis is a rather boring brown looking thing with none of the bright colours and patterns of its earlier instar.

Pale Tussock Moth

Thanks again to Marilyn for this picture of a pale Tussock Moth caterpillar (Calliteara or Dasychira pudibunda) on the path near Greenwood House. The adult moth is less colourful. I think I saw a very old and worn female moth on the grass in the CD Nature Reserve in August. The scales had almost entirely disappeared from the wings, leaving only faint markings, so my identification might be wrong.