When did you last see a caterpillar? They’re often cryptic creatures, with patterns that provide perfect camouflage as a piece of leaf, twig or bark. An unwary eye could pass right over one without even noticing it – which is exactly the point, as so many birds like to eat them. Many are also nocturnal, spending the day hiding in cracked bark, amongst grass, or even underground! Finding caterpillars can take a lot of luck, or patient searching.
But some species become easier to spot as they reach their full size and wander in search of a place to pupate. Every August and September, The Wildlife Trusts are inundated with messages about elephant hawk-moth caterpillars, with people excitedly sharing their sightings or asking for help with identification. These chunky trunk-like caterpillars are searching for a sheltered spot on the ground, where they’ll burrow into the soil or leaf litter and pupate, spending the winter within their cocoon. They won’t emerge as adults until around the following May.