miked's picture

Strange catterpillars devouring meadowsweet

Observed: 4th June 2009 By: miked
iSpot team
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catterpillars on meadowsweet

watch the strange opening and closing of the skin on its back. choose the option to watch in HD if you have broadband as the movements show up better

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Symphyta interacts


Martin Harvey's picture

possibly a sawfly?

I can't think of any moth caterpillar that looks like this and feeds on Meadowsweet, and I suspect this is a sawfly of some sort - the shape looks right for a sawfly (one way of confirming it would be to see how many oparis of fleshy prolegs it has behind the three pairs of true legs at the front of the body - Lepidoptera never have more than five pairs, sawflies usually have at least six). There are about a dozen sawfly species that feed on Meadowsweet, don't know which one this might be.
I'm not sure the video shows "opening and closing of the skin on its back", I think it is more a pulsing of liquids through the caterpillar's body, but it's certainly intriguing to see.


Entomologist and biological recorder

charlieb's picture

Resembles some Pterophoridae

Resembles some Pterophoridae larvae - but I agree with Martin, I think it is a sawfly - looks similar to Periclista sp. but I believe these are oak feeders.

DavidNotton's picture


shows the dark green heamolymph (=insect blood) passing along the dorsal vessel, which is what passes for a heart in insects. The cuticle is translucent as in many insect larva.

miked's picture