Paul Wilkins reports: Like everyone else the Moth Group has had to cancel their planned moth traps at various sites around the district so far this year, but despite not being able to meet up, this hasn’t stopped the group being just as active, thanks to modern technology, with many photographs and experiences being shared as well as members being able to help with identification of the more difficult species.

Some members have also taken advantage of the extra time during the lockdown to rear a few different species of moths from an accommodating female who has laid eggs before being released. To this end we tried to rear species that had two generations in a year so that we could see the whole life cycle in a reasonably short time frame.

Mike Bailey has put together a short sequence below showing the results of rearing Flame Shoulder larvae from eggs laid by a female at the end of April.

Flame Shoulder First generation appeared in April, May and June with a peak around the mid to end of May. This batch would seem to be from one of the earliest females to appear. Eggs laid on 28 April and the whole cycle completed in about 55 days by 20 June.

2nd April First Flame Shoulder of the year. Probably a male although difficult to tell the sexes apart. © Mike Bailey

Eggs laid 28 April 2020. © Mike Bailey

6 May 2020. Eggs hatched. Caterpillars a few hours old. © Mike Bailey

17 May 2020. The caterpillars had been given a choice of food plants between Dandelion and Dock with Dock being their clear preference. © Mike Bailey

22 May 2020 having completed a moult (old skin on the left) © Mike Bailey

5 June 2020 pupating © Mike Bailey

4/5 June 2020 pupating and one on the point of pupating. © Mike Bailey

Pupa kept in un-lidded container in slightly dampened conditions of Soil and moss. Given a very light spray every couple of days. © Mike Bailey

Pupa kept in un-lidded container in slightly dampened conditions of Soil and moss. Given a very light spray every couple of days. © Mike Bailey

Pop-up food cover used as cage for emerging moths. Kept indoors away from sunlight. Note: Only put on window sill to photograph. © Mike Bailey

Adult moths emerged around 19/20 June 2020 and were released. © Mike Bailey

Richard Pooley and I have been rearing Emperor Moth larvae from eggs kindly posted to us by Hilary Raeburn. These have been reared through their various stages (instars) on Hawthorn and at the time of writing have now constructed their pupal cocoons. Below are a few photos showing their change of ‘costume’ from one moult to another.

Emperor Moth larvae © Paul Wilkins

Emperor Moth © Paul Wilkins

Emperor Moth  © Paul Wilkins

Small Elephant Hawkmoths © Robert Kelsh

Abundant species this year have included Small Elephant Hawkmoths and some members have recorded double figures in one night! Robert Kelsh managed to get them in ‘formation’ for a photograph before releasing them somewhere safe!

Robert also recorded the stunning Puss Moth below.

Some very interesting micro moths have also turned up during lockdown.

Puss Moth © Robert Kelsh

This minute micro moth called Ectoedemia argyropeza which is just 3mm long emerged at the end of April from a tiny cocoon on an Aspen leaf collected last autumn at Hollow Marsh, Farrington Gurney.

John Aldridge took this stunning photo of Nemophora metallica whilst out walking in Keynsham recently