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Hairy Little Creature on Bickerton Hill

15/04/24

This hairy little creature is a Pale Tussock moth caterpillar which was spotted at Bickerton Hill on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge this weekend.

These bizarre-looking caterpillars feed on a host of broadleaf trees and shrubs, including blackthorn, hawthorn, oak, hazel, crab apple, and birch.

They can often be seen wandering across the ground in autumn, as they get ready to pupate.

They spend the winter as a pupa, in a hairy silk cocoon, tucked amongst the leaves of one of their foodplants, or down in the leaf litter below.

Unfortunately, the hairs on these caterpillars can cause a very itchy rash.

The prickly hairs are a defence mechanism (they are not poisonous or venomous).

(photograph by kind permission, Nick Holmes)