move around on three pairs of legs on the thorax and five pairs of
prolegs. Another characteristic of caterpillars is the ability to
produce silk which is often used to protect the larvae as well as
the pupae, by the construction of a tent. The pupae are usually
hidden in sheltered places among plants, in crevices or in the soil.
Other larvae and pupae are protected inside the leaves which they
most caterpillars feed on foliage, others are stem borers or live in
the soil. Many of the foliage feeders are defoliators which feed
voraciously on leaves, making holes and ragged edges until often
only the tattered leaf skeletons are left. Among these some are
leaf-tying species which feed between or inside leaves which they
have fastened with silk. Some of these are webbers, colonies of
which live inside a communal tent.
the defoliators are a number of very damaging caterpillars. One of
the worst is that of the angle shades moth (Phlogophora
meticulosa), a moth that has pinkish-brown wings with a central
triangular band and marginal line of olive green. This caterpillar
is somewhat variable in colour, from brown to dull or bright green,
usually the latter predominates —
dotted with white, with pale lines along the sides and back. Two or
three generations can be found on a great variety of ornamental
outdoor and glasshouse plants and many weed species, but are
especially damaging to the buds and flowers of gladiolus and iris
during late summer.
caterpillars pupate in the soil in cocoons built from silk and soil.
Colonies of the yellow short-haired caterpillars of the buff-tip
moth (Phalera bucephala) can
strip the leaves from a range of trees and bushes, including cherry,
rose and viburnum, if they are not destroyed in time. As well as
causing severe damage to cabbages, the greenish caterpillars of the
familiar black and white cabbage white butterflies (Pieris
spp.) attack a number of ornamental plants including mignonette,
nasturtium and stocks.
tomato moth (Lacanobia
oleracea) can be a major pest of glasshouse carnations and
chrysanthemums. The multicoloured, yellow tufted caterpillar of the
vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqua)
feeds on many trees and shrubs.
are three species of winter moths whose looper caterpillars
defoliate many trees and shrubs and may injure their buds and
flowers. These are the winter moth (Operophtera
brumata), the March moth (Alsophila
aescularia) and the mottled umber moth (Erannis
defoliaria). As well as these there are several other
defoliating caterpillars which are occasionally troublesome. Several
caterpillars belong to species that tie the leaves of their host
plants with silk. In addition to a number of other tortrix moths
which injure a wide range of outdoor and glasshouse plants, the
caterpillar of the carnation