Buff-Tip Caterpillars

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) Catapillars - Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7060

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) caterpillars – Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7060

A trip away from Somerset to go walking and cycling in the Lake District.  Lots of mountains to climb and occasional breaks in the cloud.  The big surprise for me was when I discovered the buff-tip in a park near Ambleside.

Buff-Tip

The buff-tip moth is not rare but its adults only come out at night so are rarely seen.  During the day they hide in trees using their incredible camouflage that looks just like a cut twig.  Strangely, the caterpillars are black and yellow and so around in groups that are hard to miss.

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) Catapillars - Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7049

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) caterpillars – Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7049

Gangs of these caterpillars can strip the leaves from branches but rarely do any real harm.

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) Catapillars - Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7046

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) caterpillars – Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7046

I saw this group on a oak one evening but I did not have my camera (only a phone which was not much good).  So I returned the next day.

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) Catapillars - Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7099

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) Catapillars – Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. ID IMG_7099

I had googled them the night before so I knew a few basic facts.  When I arrived the next day there was a small group of people sitting on a nearby bench.  They took an interest in what I was doing.  So I explained that I was photographing these caterpillars and shared a few of my new facts.  They immediately assumed I was some sort of expert and called over the rest of the family.  Soon I was surrounded by a crowd who also started to photograph the caterpillars.  I had to give way.  Someone loudly explained that I was a professional photographer and an expert on these moths.  I had to give a speech using those facts I learnt the night before.  Eventually, they dispersed only to be replaced by another family who asked me the same questions.  Out came those facts again. It was a surreal experience!

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