Caterpillar of Tortoiseshell butterfly

Caterpillar of Tortoiseshell butterfly

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.

Caption: Larva (caterpillar) of the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae, attaching itself to a stinging nettle leaf, Urtica dioica at the start of pupation. During the larval stage they live socially, spinning a silken tent around a group, from behind which they feed on the host plant (nettle). They are fully grown by four weeks & measure approximately 20mm long. At pupation they move off the food plant (not here perhaps because a captive specimen) & suspend themselves from posts, walls, sheds & tree trunks. Despite this uncharacteristic pupal home, the caterpillar attaches itself using silk & hangs down from the substrate. Magnification: X1.1 (at 35mm size).

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Keywords: aglais urticae, animal, butterfly, caterpillar, insect, insecta, invertebrate, invertebrates, nature, pupation, small tortoiseshell, wildlife, zoology

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