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There Be Dragons...

  • Fri 19th Oct, 2018

The ancient legends of old tell of dragons, or monstrous worms, which would roam the earth, devouring all that stood in their path. This is what came to mind the first time I ever encountered a puss moth caterpillar. The ferocious beast, certainly thicker than my finger, if not longer in length, had been tenuously described as inhabiting a bush, beside a bench, not far from the pools, near Thornwick Bay.

Puss Moth caterpillar © Ben HurstPuss Moth caterpillar © Ben Hurst

Never would I believe the creature would be found, yet there it was exactly, on a bush, beside a bench, not far from the pools. The infamous brute was stunning, greener than any green of the leaves, steadily munching its way along, on its many feet, with its strangely alien, squared round face seemingly to peer into another dimension. The patterns along its back gave the impression it was split open, where its spine had been removed, yet at the same time, the camouflage was ingenious, making it disappear entirely if you looked away for even a moment.

Puss Moth caterpillar © Ben HurstPuss Moth caterpillar © Ben Hurst

It is hard to imagine that such an intricate and beautifully grotesque creature will turn into the softest looking, stylishly swirling grey shaded moth, one you would happily have resting upon your finger for as long as it wanted. So long did I watch the mesmerising caterpillar that ever after that summer when I went to pick peas from my garden, I mistook the pods for puss moth dragons!

Puss Moth adult © Richard BainesPuss Moth adult © Richard Baines

Susie O'Neill

Susie works for the RSPB based at the Bempton Cliffs Reserve. She is also a local author. We are very pleased at YCN to welcome her on to our writing team, look out for more encounters on our news section soon! You can read her YCN profile Click Here.