Garden Tiger (Woolly Bear) at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve

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Garden Tiger caterpillar (Arctia caja) © 2010 Steve Ogden

Garden Tiger caterpillars, also known as ‘Woolly Bears’ are on the prowl at this time of the year following winter hibernation.

We found one of the early instars sitting on top of a nettle leaf at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on The Lizard in Cornwall (above left).

Despite being well distributed throughout most of Britain this moths numbers have declined alarmingly in recent years.

The caterpillar feeds on a variety of herbaceous plants and when fully grown it has a very hairy body which has given rise to it also being known as the Woolly Bear (above right) .

The adult moths are boldly marked with black and white forewings and brilliant orange red underwings that, it is thought, warns off predators. The Garden Tiger completes its life-cycle by pupating inside a silk and hair spun cocoon in late spring with the adult moth emerging in July and August.

See other common hairy caterpillars

See also caterpillars in Recommended Moth reference booksmoth and caterpillar reference books

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