Jonathan Crewe's picture

Caterpillar

Observed: 24th June 2009 By: Jonathan Crewe
2009 0624Grass50011
Description:

This caterpillar was in a school "nature area", others were nearby. I think it might be a 5 spot burnet moth larvae - there was plenty of greater bird's foot trefoil on the site. Can anyone give me an identification?

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) interacts

Comments

JaseJ's picture

Tough call...

Coincidently, I spent a lot of time last night looking at Burnet moth caterpillars to ID my own observations (see http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/2332), so I'm feeling slightly more 'expert' than normal.

I decided my Burnets were Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets, mainly because the caterpillars had quite long hairs. The caterpillar in your image definitely has far shorter hairs, so I'd say you are looking at a Five-spot or a Six-spot Burnet. If you wait for the adults, you'll probably find out for certain (unless you see both!) but with just the caterpillar try looking at the images on http://www.ukleps.org/ I'd go with Six-spot Burnet, because your caterpillar is quite dark and green rather than paler and yellow-ish, although lighting may affect your picture.

Geography could be important too, as the Five-spot Burnets are meant to be mainly in Wales and the south-west of England, although the distribution maps on the National Biodiversity Network website (http://www.nbn.org.uk/) suggest the species is more scattered. Your location would seem to fit with either species.

Jonathan Crewe's picture

Burnet moth larvae

Thanks for the reply - way back in July. I haven't used the ispot site much but was pleased to get the address for the moth id site.

Jon Crewe

Jon Crewe

Martin Harvey's picture

tricky

JaseJ has explained the situation well, and I'd agree that Six-spot Burnet seems the most likely explanation, although it's perhaps a bit late in the year to still be seeing the larvae. How big was it?

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Entomologist and biological recorder

Jonathan Crewe's picture

Burnet moth larvae

Sorry, long time ago now - I think it was between 1 and 2 cm, nearer to 2. Thanks anyway

Jon Crewe

Jon Crewe