Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Large White Caterpillars at the end of November ... what's going on?

I had a very excited call from Nanny Moth last night, saying she had Large White caterpillars all over her cabbages. Why is that so exciting? Well it is the third week in November!  The last time I saw Large White caterpillars in my garden was in August - but that may be because they'd eaten my entire patch of broccoli plants, left me with stalks and moved onto somebody else's garden.

Anyway, I popped in this morning to take a look and she was right. There was an army of caterpillars (yes, I did look up the collective noun for caterpillars) happily munching their way through her cabbages. Looks like they had just changed their skins, so I suspect they are in their final instar before they pupate for the winter.

I had a look at the UK Butterflies web site and it says the caterpillars should only be around until the end of September, so these are at least 7 weeks later then you'd expect to see them. According to the Big Butterfly Count, the number of Large White butterflies recorded this year was down 65% from last year, so maybe these late caterpillars mean next summer will be a bumper year. There again, maybe this is just one of those weird and wonderful flukes of nature.

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