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For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

NORWICH: Oak Eggar caterpillar

2nd August 2015

Whilst we were out on Sunday Cathy received a call from her parents to say they had found a large hairy caterpillar in the garden. From the description I suspected that it might be a Drinker moth, but we asked them to keep it until we got back from Heigham Holmes. When we called in it became apparent that it wasn't a Drinker caterpillar, something I see fairly regularly, but in fact an Oak Eggar caterpillar, something I've only seen once before. Not only that, it was a huge one, quite probably longer than most of the hawk moth caterpillars that I've seen before. I tried to get it to walk past a ruler, but it wouldn't play ball and kept climbing on the ruler. Nonetheless it gives an idea of how big it was. It was only when I wondered about the lack of a big oak tree nearby when I found out that they don't actually eat Oak, and are named because the cocoon looks a bit like an acorn.


  1. What a monster! Must admit I would probably have dismissed this as a drinker so thanks for the info. I was also going to help out at Heigham over the weekend, but domestic duties won the day. Shame because otherwise we could have had a chat. Enjoying the insect safaris and I have been trying to record some of what I see in my own garden. Hope to post some pics soon. There are bound to be many insects I cannot identify, so any help you can provide would be most welcome. Cheers.

    1. I'm sure we'll bump into each other at some point! Yes I'm happy to help try to identify any insects that you aren't sure about. I have found some of my caterpillar photos and put together an impromptu blog post which may be useful to others finding similar caterpillars over the summer.