A knot grass moth caterpillar photographed in England in June
by Stephen Hewitt
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The photographs here show a caterpillar
of the knot grass moth (Acronicta rumicis) as found feeding on creeping thistles
(Cirsium arvense) in the English countryside in June 2022.
Most of the caterpillar's body was black, with tufts of
light brown hairs,
two lines of white blotches along its back
a wavy stripe of alternate red and yellow along each side,
Close to this stripe were small white points.
Each alternation of red and yellow and each white point corresponded to one segment of the caterpillar.
It was about 30mm long.
The last photograph shows the immediate environment of the caterpillar, a patch of creeping thistles and grass.
It remained on the same thistle or a nearby thistle less than 50cm away over the course of a week while I revisited it.
This caterpillar sometimes made itself quite conspicuous, remaining on top of the leaves of the thistle
or climbing up and down the plant, and only sometimes clinging to the underside of a leaf.
On revisiting on multiple days I was usually able to spot it again within about thirty seconds.
Despite the conspicuousness of this caterpillar, repeated cursory surveys of the patch of thistles did not find another one.