Look at this exotic, hairy brute devouring my rose bush! It didn't take long Googling "caterpillar with brushes on its back" to discover that this is a caterpillar of the Vapourer moth. The head is just out of sight at the leftmost end. Here's an alternative photo (not one of mine) that gives a better idea, especially of what the head looks like. Apparently they are quite common in the UK on all sorts of shrubs and can become pests in large numbers.

Wikipedia has a great page on the caterpillar and the moth it turns into, which isn't nearly as exciting to look at as you might think. This is often the way with moths it seems. The female is actually wingless, looking like a fat, furry flea, and attracts males by releasing pheromones.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. We have also found some in our garden. Thought it quite late for them still to be in the caterpillar stage ? (1 August) We live at 600 ft above sea level on a very exposed hillside in Scotland so they are heading north!

  2. I found one last week in Perthshire feeding from a rosa canina bush – amazing brushes on its back.

  3. can also be found on potato leaves

  4. Just seen one on a geranium plant in my garden.

  5. Sharky just found one in the farm yard on top of a gate post…Staffordshire.

  6. Whow! We all know of folk who don’t know their arse from their elbow. I have to confess to being even less knowledgeable than that. I’ve just spotted for the first time a lovely Rusty Tussock/Vapourer Moth caterpillar, and was intrigued to see it apparently nibbling on the four horn-like tufts on its back. I was quickly put right by the Wikipedia article (referred to above) on this caterpillar, which was in fact putting toxins on the tufts with its rear end. Don’t think I’d make a very reliable witness of caterpillar behaviour!

  7. It’s amazing the things that happen in nature, and what you see if you just stop and watch for a while. Just the other day I watched butterflies laying eggs on my brassicas, then a wasp checking all the leaves, presumably hunting for caterpillars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *