Hunt on for rare caterpillars

The swallowtail caterpillar. Photo by Ralph Hobbs
The swallowtail caterpillar. Photo by Ralph Hobbs

Gardeners in the Observer area are being asked to look out for a rare visitor which may be munching its way through their vegetable patch.

The striking bright green caterpillar of the European swallowtail butterfly is likely to be scoffing carrot, fennel or parsnip leaves – and wildlife charity experts want to know where they are.

The swallowtail butterfly. Photo by Leigh Prevost

The swallowtail butterfly. Photo by Leigh Prevost

“The hot summer has been fantastic for many of the resident butterflies in our county,” said Michael Blencowe, volunteer conservation officer for Butterfly Conservation, who is urging gardeners to hunt in their allotments and vegetable patches.

“This year we’ve even had a number of unusual migrant species which have crossed the Channel to visit us in Sussex.

“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 hatched into their distinctive caterpillars.”

If you see a caterpillar, which is bright green with black bands and orange spots, send your sighting, along with a photograph if possible, to sighting@sussex-butterflies.org.uk