Copper Underwing final instar caterpillar (Amphipyra pyramidae) on elm © 2018 Steve Ogden
June is a time of plenty.

The caterpillars of many species of moth, butterfly, sawfly and beetle have hatched and are feeding ravenously on new plant growth.

Featured left is a fully grown Copper Underwing caterpillar gorging on elm leaves and soon to pupate.

Some of those caterpillars seen in May will still be actively feeding.

Below are some of the most commonly seen caterpillars in the Uk in June.

Others feature in the moth caterpillar gallery and butterfly caterpillar galleries.


Comma butterfly caterpillar (Polygonia c-album) on nettle - © 2013 Steve Ogden

Hairy caterpillars – many of those overwintered species will have pupated but others such as Drinker, Oak Eggar, Garden Tiger and infamous Brown-tail caterpillars are still around.
Numbers of other recently hatched hairy species are increasing dramatically. Localised Gypsy Moth caterpillars sometimes appear in large numbers in gardens. Other hairy caterpillars likely to be found in gardens include the Yellow-tail, Vapourer, Knot Grass, Buff Ermine and White Ermine.

Large brightly coloured caterpillars – Mullein caterpillars feast on garden buddleia and mullein plants. There are always some sightings in gardens of the less common but spectacular Chamomile Shark caterpillar.

The first Hawkmoth caterpillars begin to show. Although many Lime, Eyed, Poplar and Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars will still be small.

June sees the distinctive orange and black caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth becoming increasingly common in more open areas containing ragwort.
The first magnificent Puss Moths of the year are sighted both in gardens and the countryside.

Silk webs – some species of tiny Ermine moth caterpillars spin extensive silk webs. And the distinctively marked Lackey Moth caterpillar is often seen in numbers in hedgerows and orchards.

Butterfly caterpillars – large numbers of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock caterpillars feed gregariously on nettles. Red Admiral eggs laid in singles on nettles hatch with the emerging caterpillars forming leaf tents. Single Comma Butterfly caterpillars resembling bird droppings favour elms, nettle, hops and currant bushes. More unwelcome are the white butterfly caterpillars found on vegetables.

Many different species of looping caterpillars of the Geometrid moth family are in gardens but are well camouflaged and difficult to see.

Sawfly larvae – many garden plants are the favourite foodplants of defoliating sawfly larvae. See Sawfly caterpillar gallery