Hainault Forest Website

 Written and Designed by Brian Ecott


Moth and Butterfly Caterpillars and Sawfly larvae

Photos Brian Ecott unless otherwise stated.

Moth and Butterfly larvae or caterpillars have three pairs of true legs and four pairs of prolegs, one of each pair can be clearly seen in the picture below. All other caterpillars have variable numbers of prolegs, such as five pairs or more in the Sawfly larvae.

Caterpillar of the Cinnabar moth. It is a very avid eater of Ragwort and will eat a plant to the ground before climbing another.

17th July 2014. Michael Rumble.  

Hungry striped orange and black caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth Tyria jacobaeae feeding on ragwort. They will eat a plant down to the ground and move on to the next. Their bodies contain poison accrued from the Ragwort plant and many predators avoid them.  21st July 2015. The Cinnabar moth caterpillar Tyria jacobaeae feeding on its foodplant Ragwort in the meadow. 4th August 2016. Found between July - early September when it pupates in the soil and emerges as a moth May to July. 

Caterpillar of Cinnabar moth on ragwort 21st July 2012

Cinnabar moth caterpillars 21st July 2013

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar  (40mm.).2nd October 2005

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar 5th October 2004


Sycamore moth caterpillar. 28th September 09


The Buff-tip Phalera bucephala. Caterpillar feeding on Oak leaves near the lake. Feed from July to September, when they pupate in the soil. 35mm.

10th September 2014.

Buff-tip moth  caterpillar 22nd September 2016 Photo Raymond Small.

Buff-tip moth caterpillars stripping oak leaves. Photo: 21st July 2006.

Above and below: Tortrix moth caterpillars dropping to the ground on the ends of gossamer threads were being investigated by black ants- 31st May 2013

Figure of Eight caterpillar

Mottled Umber caterpillar

Attached to a leaf stalk of Garlic mustard is a tiny orange egg 1.2mm tall. Scanned at a high magnification shows vertical red ridges around the egg which will soon hatch and feed on the leaves and stems. Scan 24th April 2014 Four days after the egg left was scanned the young caterpillar 5mm. of the Orange tip butterfly was found in the flower head.  Scan 28th April 2014.

 VAPOURER MOTH Cocoon with eggs on the outside. 20th August 2005

 Attractive Vapourer moth caterpillar 31 August 2005


The Drinker moth caterpillar Euthrix potatoria on meadow. The caterpillar overwinters in grass tussocks and resumes feeding in mid April. It pupates in June and emerges as a moth in July. 7th May 04

The Drinker moth caterpillar  (25mm) on sheep wire fencing. 28th Sept

Caterpillar of the Lackey moth Malacosoma neustria 29th May 2016.

Photo Brian Ecott. Normally found on hawthorn or blackthorn.

May have fallen onto the bramble leaf from from the hedge.

With thanks to Colin Plant, Moth recorder,  London Natural History Society.

Purple Hairstreak butterfly caterpillar on oak stem on Cabin Hill June 2001. Photo Iris Newbery

Knotgrass caterpillar on Borage in the wildlife garden

Common Quaker moth caterpillar on maple 24th June 2010

Common white wave caterpillar Cabera pusaria on Hazel leaf 13 Sept 2012.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing moth caterpillar Noctua fimbriata, found in the wildlife garden 11th May 2009.

Caterpillar on willow leaf 29 6 13 Lake edge

Poplar Grey moth Caterpillar

Garden Tiger caterpillar 30th June Michael Rumble

Dot moth caterpillar Melanchra persicariae  ox-eye  19th June 2016.

    Sawfly larvae

Rose sawfly Arge ochropus larvae devouring the leaflets of wild rose.

10th July 2015

 Larvae of the Rose Sawfly feeding on the leaves. 15th July 2012

Rose sawfly larva. 28th September  2008

Oak Sawfly larva

 Oak sawfly larva Periclista lineolata a pest of oak trees.

Photo   Michael Rumble

Oak sawfly larva  on oak leaf. 8th June

Voracious larvae of Hazel Sawfly Croesus septentrionalis on Hazel leaf.

Close up of Hazel sawfly larvae above. 13th September 2012.

Willow sawfly larva 12th June 2013  Photo Michael Rumble

Iris Sawfly larvae feeding on Yellow iris plants on the edge of the lake. 5th July 2004. Individual larva above

I found this "slug" eating the upper layer of cells on a pear leaf. On further examination I identified it as a Pear slug-worm, It is the larva of a Cherry sawfly  Caliroa cerasi. It is neither slug nor worm but an insect larva which is covered in a thick black slime. Fruit trees by the farm. 17th July 2014.

A Slug worm,  the larva of a Sawfly Caliroa annulipes on oak leaf.  It is feeding on the soft tissues on the underside of the oak leaf leaving skeletonised patches. 10th July 2015.