I have just returned home from a two week holiday to find the top of my lovely hawthorn tree bare!  On closer inspection (well as close as I can get with a camera) I can see huge caterpillars munching through the leaves!!   They are approx 3 inches long, fat and brown/light brown in colour and hairy with black heads!

Before I went away I had noticed a bare branch but thought little of it as I couldnt see any pests.

Help!  What specials could they be and what do I do about it?  I don't have a clear picture unfortunately so I can't upload anything helpful, but if someone could put forward some suggestions I would be grateful.




  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,250

    If it's 3 inches long it's liketo be one of the hawkmoths. Please don't kill them Your hawthorn will re-leaf next year if not before. The moths aren't so resilient

    See if you can find yours here


    or here


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,221

    If you really don't want them to stay on your hawthorn perhaps you could pick them off, gently, and move them to another hawthorn tree that isn't so precious?image

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,250

    Good idea, plenty around thecountryside and in parks

  • Ok, I think mystery is solved. I managed to get hold of one of the caterpillars. After much searching on line,I am fairly certain that it is a buff tip moth caterpillar.  The colour is not brown as first thought but more of a black and mustard yellow.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,250

    3 inches?

  • I realize this is an old thread but I just fell upon it when searching for 'orange caterpillars with black heads on hawthorn'.  I'm pretty sure this is the larvae of the Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum, not the buff tip moth as their larvae are quite different.  I have the same 'caterpillars' on my hawthorn and found a useful identification on the Natural History Museum forum (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/thread/2044).  I'm sure your larvae, like mine, are the same as these.

Sign In or Register to comment.