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Holy Vale's silk spinners

Posted: Tuesday 2nd June 2015 by The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

On a walk through Holy Vale Nature Trail in early June, it was apparent that a number of silk spinning caterpillars were busy for their upcoming transformation

 

What more could you want? Glorious sunshine, wind that's finally calmed down to a gentle breeze, and the lush green canopy of the Dutch Elm woodland that grows in Holy Vale providing a calm environment through which to wander. I had gone with the intention of going on a bit of a bug hunt, the damp undergrowth and variety of plant life being ideal for all sorts to be found, and it wasn't dissapointing.

There was an abundance of fantastic little caterpillars Depressaria daucella, that were all to be found on the hemlock water-dropwort. They were spinning their silk coccoons amongst the flowering heads of the plant, pulling in each flower head and sticking it together with its' silk. The plant itself is poisonous, so wrapping yourself up within it is a pretty smart move for this caterpillar, which will help it stay protected from potential predators.

 

The caterpillars spin these webs thanks to two glands either side of their mouths.

These caterpillars will eventually turn into a rather unassuming moth later in the year, hopefully I'll see them again then.

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