I was on a landscape photography workshop in Dorset and was supposed to be making photographs of an avenue of beech trees when I was distracted by this caterpillar climbing up one of them. It is the larva of a Rusty Tussock Moth, also known as the Vapourer, and has the strange scientific name of Orgyia antiqua. The caterpillar has two black tufts of hair on its head, four bright yellow tufts along its back and an orange tuft at the rear.
The adults exhibit extraordinary sexual dimorphism, meaning that the two sexes look very different. The male is a handsome orange-brown moth with a white comma-shaped mark on each wing. The female looks like a furry woodlouse and is flightless. For more details and pictures of the adult moths click here.
I never did get a good photo of the beech trees.