Gardening Magazine

Pale Tussock Moth

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

The caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) is large and very visible.

Which is just as well.  Otherwise, I would have trundled over this one with the ride-on mower.

It seemed out of place; far too exotic for a Sussex garden.


The caterpillars feed on a range of tree leaves including elm, birch, hazel, lime and oak.  And hops, which explains (a bit) its colloquial name of ‘hop dogs.’  Here on the meadow, it was probably chomping on fruit trees – also part of its diet.

I didn’t pick it up; those hairs looked defensive.  Sure enough, when I got home I read that they can cause irritation and a nasty rash.


It is always interesting to come across a new creature at the Priory – especially one so colourful.  And the adults are quite ridiculously cute – for a moth.  In fact, it is probably the cutest moth you’ve ever seen.  Don’t believe me?  Well, have a look – you can see a photo of one here.

Told you.

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