Country diary 1921: on the scent of the rare goat moth

Country diary 1921: on the scent of the rare goat moth

22 July 1921 Destructive larvae which eat their way through timber are said to exude a strong goat-like smell

The large caterpillars from Ainsdale are those of the goat moth, a destructive but not very common insect. They are perhaps half grown, for the larvae spend some three or four years in eating their way through sound timber, various trees being attacked. They are said to smell strongly, hence the name, but I cannot say that I have noticed any objectionable odour. The assertion that this insect confines its ravages to weakly trees is not correct; living wood is eaten, though very soon disease reaches the heart of the tree through the tunnels excavated by the powerful jaws of the grub. The Romans, it is asserted, used to eat this fat caterpillar as a delicacy; I have not tried it, nor heard of anyone who has experimented.

Related: Country diary: Ladycross, New Forest: Life and death in the branches of an old oak tree

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