Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 10, 2016

Foxes by the dozen

A curious invasion on the shingle banks of the Suffolk coast.  Furry beasts creeping among the pebbles and the summer-weary grasses of the coastal marshes.  Okay, so the title to this post might be somewhat misleading, but the sight of dozens of fox moth (Macrothylacia rubi) caterpillars among the stones of the shingle ridge near Dunwich was a curious one indeed.  Not that they are unknown from coast habitats, in particular sand dunes, but I have only personally ever seen them on moorlands or rough grassy places.  That they number bramble among their various larval foodplants doubtless aids a widespread taste in habitat.

Neither had I seen them in such quantity, certainly in excess of 50 individuals, without the need to search for them.  These impressive caterpillars feed until September, become dormant until the following spring when they emerge to pupate.  Perhaps seeing them so plentifully during the early days of October signified a concerted effort for the local population to prepare the coming days of inactivity.


Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi) caterpillar. Copyright 2016 Ross Gardner.

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