Sunday, March 13, 2011

Puss Moth

True Wild Life | Puss Moth | The puss moth is a generally medium sized species of moth that is found across Europe and in parts of North Africa. The puss moth is not to be confused with the cat-like North American puss moth that is well-known for the incredibly hairy appearance of it's caterpillar. The puss moth caterpillar of Europe is not so hairy but is known to have some very distinctive features themselves. The puss moth is most commonly found in incredibly dense woodland throughout the European continent and across parts of Northern Africa. The puss moth inhabits areas where there is plenty for them to eat and so are most commonly spotted among willow and poplar leaves. The puss moth is becoming rarer as much of it's native woodland has been threatened by deforestation or air and noise pollution.

The adult puss moth can grow quite large, with some individuals known to have a wingspan that grew to nearly 10cm. Puss moths are one of the easiest moth species to identify as the dark black markings stand out again the bright white colour of their wings. As with most other species of moth, the puss moth is a generally nocturnal animal that rests during the day and comes out at night to feed. However, it is the caterpillar of the puss moth that has made them so interesting to humans. The caterpillar of the puss moth is generally green in colour with a dark looking spike protruding from one end and a colourful "face" on the other. When threatened the puss moth caterpillar is known to spray formic acid at it's attacker to minimise the chance of it being eaten (it is the most dangerous caterpillar species in Britain).

Puss moths are herbivorous animals that primarily feed on the leaves from willow and poplar trees that grow naturally in the surrounding forest. Puss moths generally remain in the same area where there are a number of decent host trees for these moths to both feast on and rest in. As with other moth and butterfly species, the puss moth has numerous predators to try and avoid within its natural environment. Bats, rats and birds are among the most common predators of the puss moth along with other animals such as frogs and rodents. Despite its best attempts, the aggressive caterpillar of the puss moth is also eaten by many of these animals.

Butterflies and moths are well known for the incredible metamorphic process undergone from the larvae to adult stages. Puss moths start life as caterpillars which eventually fortify themselves in a cocoon where they transform into the adult moth. The puss moth cocoon is known to be one of the hardest of all moth species. Today, the puss moth is threatened in much of it's native range primarily due to changes within its environment including habitat loss and the introduction of non-native predators into their natural environment.

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