Caterpillars in May

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Oak Eggar caterpillar fully grown © 2009 Steve Ogden

May caterpillars

In May large numbers of moth and butterfly eggs hatch.

These tiny caterpillars feast on the buds and new leaves of a wide variety of plants.

As well as these young caterpillars there are also species which have overwintered and may already be fully grown and soon be pupating.

These are some of the most commonly found caterpillars in May. Some will also have featured in the March and April caterpillar update.

Hairy caterpillars – The Brown-tail in webs (see warning), Yellow-tail, The Lackey found in webs when small, the Woolly Bear Garden Tiger, the brightly coloured Scarlet Tiger, the very hairy Oak Eggar and Fox Moth, Gypsy moth – can be a pest in the south east, The Knot Grass, The Drinker.

The Magpie Moth caterpillar Abraxas grossulariata

Tufted hairy caterpillars – the extraordinary Vapourer Moth, can be in large numbers.

Large Yellow Underwing and Lesser Yellow Underwing

Extensive Ermine Webs – several species of the micro Ermine moths of the Yponomeutidae family such as The Spindle Ermine and Orchard Ermine.

Mullein caterpillars – boldly coloured and often found on buddleia and mullein plants.

Magpie Moth – bold markings reflecting the adult moth.

Box Tree caterpillars – a real pest of box hedges!

Comma Butterfly caterpillars – resembling bird droppings.


comma-butterfly- caterpillar_(Polygonia c-album) © 2013 Steve Ogden

Caterpillar galleries

More species are featured in these caterpillar galleries –

Moth caterpillar gallery

Butterfly caterpillar gallery

Hairy caterpillars

North American caterpillar galley

Vegetable pest caterpillars

Sawfly caterpillar gallery

Latest sightings