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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Moths and moth caterpillars seen recently

When I say recently some of these are dating back about four weeks, but I haven't been able to fit them into other posts. I thought I'd have a bit of coherence for a change. :-) 

This first caterpillar is one that I knew existed as I've seen enough photos of it on the internet whilst trying to ID other ones, so recognised it immediately. This first one was on a raspberry leaf (and welcome to eat it) and the second one I saw was just mooching around in my weedy grass.

Lackey Moth (Malacosoma neustria) caterpillar.

Lackey Moth (Malacosoma neustria) caterpillar again - it's a big one!

One of my favourite caterpillars which I only discovered last year chomping on one of those enormous hairy grey leafed Verbascums is the Mullein Moth caterpillar. This time though I was surprised to find a number on a tall wildflower in my chicken run. This plant only appeared last year and is now in large numbers in the runs, and although it has only tiny insignificant flowers, it's loved by honey bees and all sizes of bumble bee. It's too tall for the hens to get at any of these insects so a good plant to have there. It is Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) and is of the same family as Verbascums (aka Mulleins), Scrophulariaceae.

Mullein Moth (Cucullia verbasci) caterpillar.

Mullein Moth (Cucullia verbasci) caterpillar showing its back end.

And here's one I took last year when it was munching Verbascum.
This time the
Mullein Moth caterpillar is showing its front end.

This is the Yellow-tail Moth (Euproctis similis) caterpillar which turns into a pretty moth which
I've not yet seen. Quite often the colourful and hairy caterpillars turn into rather drab adults!

Here are a few moths that I've snapped here and there over the last few weeks. Without their wings spread out I couldn't begin to try to ID them, but I managed to get the one on the right! They are all small ones.

Left and middle, no idea, but right I believe is the Balsam Carpet Moth (Xanthorhoe biriviata)
which was on the bench beside my pond. It must have come from quite a way as the
larval foodplants (various wild Impatiens) are ones I have never heard of,
or seen to my knowledge, anywhere around here.

I was happy to find this little cutie whilst weeding!
It's a Small Mapgie Moth (Eurrhypara hortulata) and I disturbed it whilst weeding.
It's sheltering under a cranesbill geranium leaf.

Large Yellow Underwing Moth (Noctua pronuba) whose larvae are those pesky pests called
cutworms! I've disturbed two whilst weeding recently so I did get to see
those beautiful underwings, but unfortunately not for a photo.

But the star of the show and a very exciting find was the one below. I could squeal and say it's a lifer but most moths would be lifers for me so I am only going to count new butterflies and birds as lifers .... or maybe hawkmoths.... or a Clifden Nonpareil. I think you get the picture, anyway! :-)

A Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Epicallia villica) on my hand.

Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Epicallia villica) - from what I read the females fly during the day
as well as at night, but the males only fly at night. So I can deduce that this is a female.

Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Epicallia villica) - just love those antennae!

So now I have seen three different Tiger moths, the Garden Tiger once last year and the Jersey Tiger which is a common visitor to my garden in the summer.


  1. Some lovely shots here again and great moths/caterpillars. I have always wanted to find the lackey moth larvae but they don't seem to turn up much inland, perhaps they are more of a coastal species? Anyhow, wonderful looking larvae. The mullein I haven't seen for a couple of years now but then I have only ever found them on mullein itself and I haven't seen any of that either.

    I see most of your moths in my trap here in the south of the U.K. but don't often see them out during daylight as you have. Another interesting update, thanks for sharing...

    1. I'm not really coastal, I always think of us as inland, but given the size of France, about 40kms to the nearest mud flats of the bay of Mont St Michel is fairly close!

      I would love a moth trap and am going to try to cobble something together with a light and a sheet, just to have a look see at what is about here. I know little about moths and obviously only see the ones I see during the day! Thanks for your visit JJ and nice comments. :-)

  2. Hi Mandy, lovely photos in your post, Caterpillars are something I really don't get to see, had some tiny ones but that's about it.. Had a Mapgie moth in the house last night, first time I have seen one.
    Have you been watching "I Bought a Rainforest" BBC 2 might need to catch up on I player, by Charlie Hamilton James, well worth a watch..
    Amanda xx

    1. Hi Amanda and thank you! I love hairy and interesting caterpillars so always happy when I find one. My problem is half of the ones I do find, I can never remember their names!

      I did see a bit of that programme, the bit where he was talking to the medicine man about the healing plants but I haven't been watching it. So busy in the garden I haven't watched much telly and am still catching up with some recorded episodes of Springwatch! Can't use I Player because it is only available to those in the UK, unfortunately. :-(

  3. Great shots of the colourful caterpillars and moths Mandy. We don't seem to get such vivid examples. My furry caterpillar up at LochRannoch is the most colourful one I've seen in years. While we were at Rannoch, moth hunters were putting out traps to try and estimate numbers of the Rannoch Sprawler moth. Not sophisticated traps - go on, you can make one.

    1. Thanks Nick - love finding moth caterpillars as they are often more stunning than the moths. I keep meaning to do something simple like a sheet over an airer with a torch, just to see what might appear, but it's not dark until late here now and I'm way too tired to do that sort of thing gone 11pm. :-( And I'm not getting up at 4.30am either (not start of dawn until about 5.30am here thankfully so unlike in SW England when I get woken with sun streaming through the window at 4.30 silly o'clock in the morning!)