12/06/18. Garden Tiger Moths eating Hawkbit; Barpa Langais, North Uist.

Beautiful woolly, hairy moth caterpillars in large numbers to be found on the grounds of the Barpa Langais (ancient burial mound at Langass, near Lochmaddy).   I had been recording the sound from a nearby fence when I saw these caterpillars at my feet, voraciously consuming hawkbit leaves.  The yellow hawkbit flowers look a little like dandelions, but look more closely and you’ll see a slightly more refined flower, a sharper cut leaf, and a rosette closer to the ground.

This recording was an experiment.  I thought I’d see if by putting the contact microphone in contact with the leaves of the plant on one side, that I might pick up the sound of the leaves on the other side being devoured.  And indeed, it seems to have worked.  I guess the fluids within the plant transport the sound of the caterpillar’s chewing from one side of the plant to the other.

IMG_4721These caterpillars are very beautiful, and have that long-haired look about them that suggests they shouldn’t be touched!   The literature confirms this; they are indeed toxic to predators, and their hairs can cause irritation to humans.  Their name is interesting; I’ve never seen one in my garden.  But I have seen them in several spots in North Scotland.   The Latin name is also interesting,  Arctia Caja, and indeed suggest a northern home. They are also protected  under the UK’s 2007 Biodiversity Action Plan.





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