Noli me tangere!

The colours of this caterpillar scream it loud and clear – Don’t touch me!

It is a general assumption on my part that those insects with are coloured most brightly and garishly are sending a warning to us and to other creatures that it would be unwise to meddle with them. Of course, it may also be simply an evolutionary ruse to make us and others keep our distance but, whichever it is, it gives us a very interesting and attractive creature.

The caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth

This one was walking across the tarmacadam this afternoon as I was blowing the leaves and, with those colours, I could hardly have missed seeing it which was just as well as it probably saved it from being blown away with the other debris. It also gave me the opportunity to look more closely at it and to photograph it. I noticed that when it was disturbed it assumed a posture of putting its head in the sand, so to speak, and stayed in that position for some time before resuming its perambulations.

The caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth is what I assume is a defensive position, head tucked under and remaining still.

A little Googling has told me that the hairs of the caterpillar may cause a skin reaction and that contact is best avoided, which fortunately I did. I also noticed that the adult moth is not at all as strikingly coloured and it quite dull in contrast.

It is always a great thrill to come across something so beautiful in the garden.

8 thoughts on “Noli me tangere!

  1. How lovely. Those thicker tufts remind me of shaving brushes 🙂 The moth may be pale – and quite small judging by some of the images I’ve just looked at, but they look cute with their fluffy legs. I’m surprised I haven’t seen one with all the trees surrounding my garden. Perhaps they’re not the right kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely find, Paddy and great photos. I rather like the adult moth too, particularly its feathery antennae which are some of the best, (although ‘The Drinker’s’ even better😊) as just one of the myriad of well camouflaged adults which hang around, in profusion in our gardens if we’re lucky, but which we rarely see unless we specifically go looking.
    Plus a wonderful title phrase for me to go and look up and fill a gap in my education. Thank you,
    Best wishes
    Julian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My friend and I saved one intent on a precarious crossing on a popular walkers’ path on Maynooth campus yesterday. Google lens to identify and then came across your very enjoyable post – thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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