I misidentified the caterpillar in our garden

I recently did a post about an unusual caterpillar in our garden. I put a description into google and came up with Eastern black swallowtail. The caterpillar looked very similar and this was the only result that came up so I took it that this was what it was.


In the comments Jenny said that she had had it in her garden last year and that it was a mullein moth caterpillar. I then googled mullein moth and sure enough she was right. Thank you Jen!

I couldn’t look at them side by side so I sketched the pattern of the black dots then went back to my photo. Sure enough it was a match. The black dots on the Eastern black swallowtail are in neat pairs whereas these black dots are more frequent.

This makes much more sense, although less exciting, as it says that the caterpillars are found in southern England in May and June and feed on, among other things, verbascum.

The moth has light and dark shades of brown that blend into woody stems.

So, not such an amazing visitor after all, although it is the first time we have seen one. I felt that I must post again as I don’t want to give out incorrect information.

I would like to credit this post to Jen as I wouldn’t have known of my mistake without her comment. Once again, thank you Jen.

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5 Responses to I misidentified the caterpillar in our garden

  1. marion.pharo says:

    Easily done.

  2. Jenny says:

    It is so easily done and I think it’s even worse now with the internet because you can look at species from all over the world. It was the pattern of dots I went in too. Glad you got a positive id though – it’s always nice to know isn’t it?

    Hope the chicks are doing well. Mine are 4 weeks old now and I think out of 5 at least 3 and possibly 4 are cockerels 🙁 They’re all very cute though and I think I have homes for them all.

  3. Jenny says:

    I’ve got one now!!

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