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Caterpillar  Green Oak Tortrix

Green Oak Tortrix - Photo  Copyright 2001 Gary Bradley
Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
A great way to see all the details on these caterpillars and other small creatures is with a special magnifier box - click here

Latin name: Tortrix viridana

Special features: The life of the green oak tortrix caterpillar is one that is ruled by split second timing. The caterpillars need to hatch from their eggs in spring, at just the same time as the oak tree forms its first leaves. When the oak leaves are young they are the ideal food for the hungry young caterpillars. As the oak leaves mature, they fill up with tannin, which makes them indigestible to the caterpillars. If the caterpillars hatch too early there are no leaves on the tree at all, and it starves to death.

In addition to this problem, the young caterpillars have to avoid being eaten themselves. They are a favourite food of blue tits, which are hatching in their millions at the same time of year. For protection they roll a leaf around their body, and stick it in place with a fine silky thread.

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  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved