Keep an eye out for rare Swallowtail caterpillar

Swallowtail caterpillar. Picture by Ralph Hobbs
Swallowtail caterpillar. Picture by Ralph Hobbs
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Gardeners in the Rye and Battle area are being asked to look out for a rare caterpillar which may be munching in their vegetable patch.

The caterpillar of the European Swallowtail is a striking bright green colour with black bands and orange spots.

Michael Blencowe,

volunteer conservation officer for the charity Butterfly Conservation, said: “The hot summer has been fantastic for many of the resident butterflies in our county. This year we’ve even had a number of unusual migrant species which have crossed The Channel to visit us in Sussex.”

He added: “The Swallowtail is one of Europe’s most beautiful butterflies and is rarely seen in Sussex but this year we have had sightings all along the coast.

“Some of these migrant Swallowtails would have laid eggs here and those eggs would have now hatched into their distinctive caterpillars”.

Michael is urging gardeners to hunt in their allotments and vegetable patches.

“The caterpillar is very picky about what it eats so you’ll need to check on your carrot leaves, fennel or parsnip leaves.” If you find a swallowtail caterpillar send your sighting, along with a photograph if possible, to sighting@sussex-butterflies.org.uk.”

Butterfly Conservation’s campaign to encourage the public to count common species.

They want to help raise awareness of the plight of the UK ‘s Butterflies, of which 90 percent are thought to be in decline.

Butterfly Conservation is the largest charity of its type in the world. it runs conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org.