The broom moth caterpillar

Nature’s patterns can be amazing!

Just look at the intricate scribbling within the purple brown stripe on this yellow, purple and pink Broom Moth caterpillar.

I have found these big colourful caterpillars on Greater Knapweed before, though this one and two others were on a shrubby wild apple bush in mid-September.

As so often with moths, the larvae are much more colourful and attractive than the adult moths.

Broom Moth caterpillars, like the adults, are nocturnal. So when you find one it is usually static, roosting for the day.

They often do this upside down, dead straight and tight against a vertical bit of stem, making them surprisingly camoflauged.

In fact the bush this trio were on is one I check regularly for caterpillars as it is on an area where we carry out wildlife surveys and reports for a client.

Although I had found numerous young Garden Tiger caterpillars on the bush, it seems I had been missing the Broom Moth larva, only finding them later, once they had grown to full size. By now they are no doubt in the ground where they spend the winter safe in their earthen cocoons.

It will be June or July before they again see the light of day, or more probably night, as they emerge and take to the air as adult moths. Of course the purpose of adult moths is simply to mate, lay eggs and die.

Then, perhaps next September a nosey naturalist may stare hard into some random bush and, if lucky, break their camoflauge to recognise once more the amazing pattern of the Broom Moth caterpillar!