Gypsy Moths

Critter 1
Not sure which end we’re looking at here…

Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV may no longer be at Greenwich, but, as I discovered when harvesting my blackcurrants, the Gypsy Moth is alive and well…

It took a little while to work out what this hairy beast might be. He was chomping through my blackcurrant leaves at a rate of knots and there appeared only to be one of him. Knowing the spines on very hairy caterpillars can give you a nasty rash in the very least, I was careful not to touch – as you can see, my charming assistant is holding him on the end of a pair of secateurs.

Critter 2
Backside or front end – you decide…

He was moved to a non-crop area of the site and left to munch (hopefully) some of the horsetail/bindweed/alconet that grows freely there.

After peering at a lot of images online, I was 99% sure my little chap was a Gypsy Moth (Lymantria Dispar) and I was rather alarmed to see that DEFRA had begun an eradication venture a few years ago. Maybe I should have squashed him?

I took the precaution of contacting Ian at UK Moths for a second opinion. He told me “in Europe it can be a pest species in some parts, and there was a feeling that it might invade in such numbers here that it needed to be controlled.  I don’t believe that has happened, and there are a few colonies here and there but it hasn’t established itself as a pest species here.”

Lymantria dispar 8-8-2006 19-20-14.JPG
Adult female Gypsy Moth by Opuntia under Creative Commons Licence

Apparently it DOES give you a nasty rash if you come into contact with the spines.

Lymantria dispar MHNT Fronton Male.jpg
Adult male Gypsy Moth by Didier Descouens, Creative Commons Licence

As to my question about whether I should have whopped him, Ian leaves it to my conscience. I guess it will depend on just how much of my greenery the little fella’s consumed by the next time I find him…

critter 4

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