Lackey moth cocoon and caterpillars photographed in England in May

by Stephen Hewitt | Published 10 June 2022

Figure 1 A crowd of of lackey moth caterpillars (Malacosoma neustria) with yellow, black, blue and white stripes along their bodies, on their communal cocoon, viewed from above, 12 May 2022, England.

The photographs here show dozens of lackey moth caterpillars (Malacosoma neustria) with black, blue, yellow and white stripes along their hairy bodies, on a communal cocoon in the English countryside in May 2022. The cocoon was attached to a blackthorn (sloe) bush in a hedge of blackthorn next to a footpath (Figure 5).

Some of these caterpillars were swinging the head and the front part of the body from side to side constantly at a rate of more than once a second.

On this day with some sunshine, a few hours after the photograph in Figure 1, there were fewer caterpillars on the top of the cocoon and a carpet of caterpillars on the underside (Figure 3).

Figure 2 Dozens of lackey moth caterpillars (Malacosoma neustria) piled on top of each other on the top of their communal silk cocoon, 12 May 2022, England.
Figure 3 Dozens of lackey moth caterpillars on the underside of their communal silk cocoon, in bight sunshine, some hours after the Figure 1 photograph, on 12 May 2022, England.
Figure 4 One of dozens of lackey moth caterpillars (Malacosoma neustria) clinging upside down to the underside of their communal silk cocoon, 12 May 2022, England.
Figure 5 The lackey moth (Malacosoma neustria) communal cocoon in its surroundings, a hedge of blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) along a countryside footpath, 12 May 2022, England.

Related