Sunday, 17 March 2013

Vapourer Moth

An article by Heather Martin

Vapourer Moth eggs
When we were checking to make sure our dormouse nest boxes were clean and secure ready for the spring, we came across a cluster of creamy-white eggs attached to the outside of Box 44.

I was really pleased because this was a stage in the life cycle of the Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) that to date I hadn't managed to find. In June I had photographed a male when it flew into our moth trap. The male is normally diurnal flying during the day but is occasionally attracted to light.

Male Vapourer Moth
In August I had watched the very distinctive larva with its tufts of yellow and black hairs feeding on oak leaves. The caterpillars can be found feeding on a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs from May to September.

Vapourer Moth Caterpillar
The glossy black, hairy pupa forms in a cocoon in a crevice or attached to a hard surface like a fence or wall.  The adult female usually emerging July to October is virtually wingless and attracts a male by releasing a pheromone. She lays several hundred eggs on the outside of what remains of her own cocoon.

I will be watching carefully from late April because I would like to witness the eggs hatching.

Distribution Map




All photogrpahs by Heather Martin; Distribution map from the NBN Gateway and Butterfly Conservation