As we prowled the side paths bordering Brompton Cemetery’s celebrated Courtoy Mausoleum on an Exploring Butterflies day in June of the this year, we also discovered roughly half a dozen caterpillars. They were unconcernedly munching away on wildflowers or ambling along grass stalks. Usually caterpillars are always so well hidden and camouflaged, especially in long grass, but there they were.
These two attractive specimens would develop into day flying moths whose presence and colouring were very appropriate to a cemetery. In fact they could almost be known as the Goth Moths.
These stripey beasts feasting on ragwort are the caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth. When they transform into moths their colouring is very dramatic in scarlet and black:
The other caterpillar was nearby as it quietly made its way along a long stem of grass. In my opinion, it was another prettily patterned one, which will eventually become the Five Spotted Burnet moth.
This is another dramatically coloured moth in red and black and it gets its name from the number of red spots on its black wings and one appears at the top of this post.
As Goths like to roost in cemeteries and are known for their black clothes which are often contrasted with bright colours such as scarlet and purple it seemed entirely appropriate to find two examples almost named after them. It was also great to see caterpillars doing well in such an urban environment so obviously the cemetery’s management plan of leaving areas uncut and left to grow wild is working well for nature in 2018. Long may it continue!
©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell