• Wildlife Friendly Otley

RUSTY TUSSOCK MOTH

Updated: Nov 27, 2020



Otley resident Emma Dunnett spotted one of these caterpillars in her garden, and my first reaction was “Wow”. They are positively spectacular, looking like something a child might design on a computer – they just don’t look real.


As well as the exotic appearance of the caterpillar, and a great name, there is also an astonishing difference between the appearance of the male and the female adults. The male looks like your average moth, with orangey brown wings and a couple of “eye” spots. The female looks nothing like him, being virtually wing-less and unable to fly. She is mostly made up of a huge, swollen abdomen, and spends her brief adult life clinging to her cocoon. The male doesn’t live long either – neither of them eat – the moth over-winters in its egg stage. Nature, eh?


Photos by Emma Dunnett and Anne Riley

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