Sunday, 16 February 2014

Ruby, ruby, ruby, ruby

Relentless storms, horizontal rain, gale-force winds and ice cold nights. It is enough to make you want to stay inside and curl up in front of the fire. Plenty of creatures do not have that choice of course, braving out the winter, and it may surprise you to learn that this includes caterpillars no bigger than your little finger.

Ruby Tiger larva

This Ruby Tiger larva was crawling up my wall today, seemingly brought out by the sunshine. It is one of a small number of moths which overwinter in their larval stage. How do they do it without turning to ice? It seems that moths use strategies to survive. One is having their own form of antifreeze, which enable them to survive freezing temperatures, with the larva rolling into tight furry balls when temperatures are below freezing. Ruby Tiger larva are also polyphagous, meaning they literally eat many things, so when they feed they have a wider choice of herbaceous plants.

Ruby Tiger larva

I left the caterpillar to slowly continue on its way, pleased with another addition to the garden moth list.

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