A fairly chunky moth that lives in our region is the Buff Tip (Phalera bucephala). It is often to be seen in flight on a summer’s eve and when resting on a branch, it’s markings can camouflage it as a broken twig.
By autumn time, one may notice groups of reasonably substantial yellow / green patterned caterpillars that are covered in a veritable shrubbery of white hairs. These are the Buff Tip’s caterpillars. Whilst they can be seen on various local trees, such as oak, birch & hazel – their favourites on the farm seem to be willow. The young caterpillars are gregarious, living together in groups & stripping twigs of their leaves.
The caterpillar’s identity may be confirmed by the inverted yellow ‘V’ face marking. As the caterpillars continue to grow they will gradually separate from the group to seek out a fresh part of the tree, leading a more solitary existence. Here they will continue to eat until ready to pupate.
The immature moth will overwinter as a chrysalis in the ground before emerging to fly as an adult moth, early next summer.