Country Corner

Dew covered caterpillars
Dew covered caterpillars

Don’t worry, these Garden Tiger caterpillars are not frozen solid, they are simply coated in a heavy dawn dew.

Autumn’s more frequent and heavy dawn dews are one of the many problems nature has to contend with at present.

Many insects die off, including most of our species of butterflies and moths. So, how do they survive to appear again next spring?

Most will go through winter as caterpillars or pupae. In mid-winter, when snow and frost hold all in their icy grip, it is hard to believe something as small and delicate as a caterpillar could survive.

Maybe that is one of the reasons for the Garden Tiger caterpillar’s fur coat?

Among the others are to make it difficult to swallow and to give the impression it is much bigger than it really is – again to stop it being eaten.

Species such as Garden Tiger, which spend winter as caterpillars, tend to be fairly dormant except in mild spells.

Usually they will feed well in autumn but go into dormancy while quite small.

Hidden deep in a grass tussock or some such protective micro climate, they can withstand all winter has to throw at them only to emerge and resume feeding in spring.

By early summer they will be full grown caterpillars ready to pupate.

It is then you will often see the big hairy caterpillars scuttling across paths and roads in search of somewhere safe to spin their cocoons and enter the pupal stage.

As autumn approaches, the beautiful adult Garden Tiger moth I showed you recently will fly, mate, lay eggs, and start the whole amazing cycle again.

Nature is intricate, incredible, and in great need of your interest and support.

It is all around you – just start looking.