Lackey moths

Keen eyed walkers or gardeners may have noticed these caterpillars recently. These are the caterpillars of the lackey moth (Malacosoma neustria).
In May and June they gather in large numbers, usually on blackthorn or hawthorn bushes, spinning large silken webs within which they feed on the leaves of the plant. They also spend time basking together on the outside of the webs. On closer inspection the larvae are beautifully coloured with alternating orange, brown, blue and white stripes down their bodies. The adult moth is less dramatic being a sandy brown colour and is in flight during mid to late summer, before laying its eggs around the stem of the host plant.
Mike – Lead Ranger

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