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The second photo shows the defensive posture they strike when disturbed. They rear up, assuming an impressive thorny appearance and extend red flagellae from their twin 'tails'. If this posturing is ignored they can squirt formic acid at the attacker from the flagellae. The last photo shows an the early instar, much magnified. With the naked eye, these just look like a dead bit of leaf or twig.
On Creeping Willow - Salix repens
Seeing these caterpillars fulfilled a childhood dream! I had an album of collectors cards from boxes of PG Tips tea, which featured this beauty. I was really into butterflies 'n' beasties as well as all things to do with space travel & sci-fi. The Puss Moth caterpillar looked just like it had a space helmet on to me and I wanted to see one really badly. It wasn't until this year that that finally happened!