The caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) is large and very visible.
Which is just as well. Otherwise, I would have trundled over this one with the ride-on mower.
It seemed out of place somehow and far too exotic for a Sussex garden.
The caterpillars feed on a range of tree leaves including elm, birch, hazel, lime and oak. And hops … which explains (a bit) its colloquial name of ‘hop dogs.’ Here on the meadow, it was probably chomping on fruit trees – also part of its diet.
I didn’t pick it up as those hairs looked defensive and sure enough, when I got home, I read that they can cause irritation and a nasty rash.
It is always interesting to come across a new creature at the Priory – especially one so colourful. And the adults are quite ridiculously cute – for a moth. In fact, it is probably the cutest moth you’ve ever seen. Don’t believe me? Well, have a look – there’s a photo of one here.