Say “Hi!” To Pudibunda

Caterpillars, Insects, Moths

x5 images. Double click to enlarge.

About a month ago my neighbour calls round (he hit 80 this year and is as fit as a fiddle), and in the palm of his hand he had this little critter. He wondered what it was (he really has an interest in wildlife), and he thought it had fell from a bush he had cut back. I identified it as the larva for the moth the Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda).

Later he came around again with another he had found on his apple tree. They feed on a large variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, and I was quite amazed to discover, like paint, they come in a variety colours, from yellow, green, to orange, pink and red. Don’t think they do any shades of blue though.

Below is the familar adult, which I have featured before, which is also quite an odd yet interesting character. Who would have thought that, that would turn into that, eh?

In case you was wondering, the caterpillars where put back safe and sound to continue their feedathon.

Over 250 Moths Over 16 Years

Insects, Macro Moths, Micro Moths, Moths

x16 photos. Double click to enlarge

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum
Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) – taken August 2005

It was when I purchased my first digital camera back in 2005, a Sony Cybershot compact camera, that my love for nature and the side of the natural world, that is not always often seen but is always there to be found, became rekindled. My interest in moths – ‘moth mania’ I call it – began from a young age when I used to stay up a little at night with my older brother Steve, looking out for these nocturnal insects. In those days I used to paint and draw them, especially those with vivid patterns and colours like the Garden Tiger, which has sadly declined over the years since, and I have not yet seen one here to photograph.

Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) – taken August 2006
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria – taken June 2007

So since 2005, I have photographed over 250 (and still counting with lots of past images still to go through and positively identify) species of moth and have uploaded them to this site. 250 is small fraction of the 2,500 or more species of moth to be found throughout Britain. Not all are attracted to light. Some are attracted to feromones or sugar. Some are day-fying moths, and some are rare and localised to different areas of the country.

The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) – taken September 2008
Common Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma truncata) – taken May 2009

Oddly enough, in the year 2010 I apparently did not take one single moth photo, but a year later moth mania hit me again and I photographed over 150 different species of moth!

Yellow-tail Euproctis similis
Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) – taken July 2011
Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) – taken October 2012
Scarce Silver-lines Bena bicolorana
Scarce Silver-lines (Bena bicolorana) – taken July 2013

After buying different compact cameras over the years, it was in 2014 I purchased my first DSLR camera the Nikon D3200.

Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) – taken March 2014
Common Yellow Conch Agapeta hamana
Common Yellow Conch (Agapeta hamana) – taken July 2015
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata f. remutata)
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) – taken July 2016

2016 was the year I upgraded my camera to the Nikon D7200 (which I still use to this day) , and in 2017 it was another year the moth mania got to me. It was a very bountiful year for moths.

Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana
Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) – taken September 2017

The thing with moths is that they can be seen all year round, even during the winter months where most other insects are hibernating.

Sycamore Piercer Pammene aurita
Sycamore Piercer (Pammene aurita) – taken June 2018
Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) -taken July 2019
Azalea Leaf Miner Caloptilia azaleella
Azalea Leaf Miner (Caloptilia azaleella) – taken May 2020
Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) – taken July 2021

Spotlight on The Grey Dagger Acronicta psi 

Caterpillars, Insects, Moths

There are two very similar ‘dagger’ species in Britain, the Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) and the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). The adults cannot be accurately identified visually without genital dissection and microscopic scrutiny – but I don’t like to harm them so this adult would be recorded as an aggregate species Acronicta psi/tridens. The adult is readily attracted to light, and is seen in June and August in most habitats, including woodland, hedgerows and gardens. Sadly its numbers have significantly decreased in recent decades.

The caterpillar is quite an odd thing, and on first discovery I thought it had been parasitised! But the long and prounced ‘hump’ or fleshy projection is one of its defining characteristics and which visually separtes it from the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens) which has a shorter ‘hump’. A visually striking moth larva with long hairs and a yellow or white dorsal strip. The orange side patches offer quite a contrast in colouration. It feeds on a large range of broad-leaved trees and shrubs, and overwinters as a pupa amongst bark, in rotten wood or in the ground.

Can’t See The Wood For The Trees? … What About The Leaves?

Insects

x8 images. Double click to enlarge.

Stigmella aurella found on Bramble

It was a fellow blogger Sconzani who runs a wonderful blog with the lovely tiltle Earthstar ~ a celebration of nature who got me looking much more closely at the leaves on not only the trees, but most anything else which has leaves.

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella larvae leaf-mines
Cameraria ohridella on Horse Chestnut

Leafminers can be from different insect groups. Many species of Lepidoptera (moths), Diptera (trues flies), Coleoptera (beetles) and Symphyta (sawflies), have larvae which mine plants. It is the larvae of these insects which produce these mines within the leaves of plants, feeding on the plants’ tissues as part of their development cycle.

Stigmella microtheriella on Hazel

Mines tend to be restricted to a certain range of host plants and so the identification of a miner is facilitated by correctly identifying these plants. The shape of the mines (gallery or blotch) and the patterns of the droppings (frass), besides characteristics of the larvae and pupae, can be diagnostic. Even the location of where the egg is layed on a leaf can be diagnostic and can help to separate similar species.

Phytomyza ilicis

The Holly Leaf Miner (above image) forms quite a wide gallery on Holly (Ilex), and is only one of two holly leaf miners to be found in the wholes of Europe, and the only one to be found in the UK. The adult female Agromyzid fly Phytomyza ilicis lays its eggs in May or June at the base of the petiole of a young leaf (on the underside). The oviposition scars can be seen on the midrib on the underside of the leaf. The larva initially feeds in the mid-rib, later producing the characteristic irregular upper surface linear-blotch.

Phytoliriomyza melampyga

The fly Phytoliriomyza melampyga mines the leaves of Impatiens species (Balsams). Here it was found on Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), an invasive plant species here.

Lyonetia clerkella on Wild Cherry

The larva of the micro-moth the Apple Leaf-miner (Lyonetia clerkella) feeds on a variety of Rosaceae (rose family) and Betula (birch) trees in small, long and winding leafmines.

Profenusa pygmaea on English Oak

The larva of the sawfly Profenusa pygmaea mine the leaves of various species of oak (Quercus) creating a large blister or blotch mine on the upper surface.

Stigmella microtheriella on Hazel

So next time you are out in the woods … or even in the park or garden … take a closer look at those leaves and see what squiggly patterns or blotches have been created within them.

A Moth That Mimics A Leaf.

Insects, Moths

x2 images. Double click to enlarge.

This is Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa), and its is quite an extraordinary looking moth. Very distinctively shaped and patterned which make it resemble a withered leaf. It rests with its wings folded in an unusual fashion.

It is often seen during the day resting on walls, fences and foliage.

200 Moths

Photography

I have just uploaded the 200th species of moth to A Nature Journey, and when you consider there are around 2,500 species in Great Britain that is but a drop in the ocean. Anyway, here are selection of moths, some you have seen before, and some perhaps you have not.

If you wish to visit the moths page you can journey from here’


The Spectacle Abrostola tripartita
The Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)

Alder Kitten Furcula bicuspis
Alder Kitten (Furcula bicuspis)

White Satin Moth Leucoma salicis
White Satin Moth (Leucoma salicis)

Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria
Waved Black (Parascotia fuliginaria)

Buff Footman Eilema depressa
Buff Footman (Eilema depressa)

Early Thorn Selenia dentaria male
Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) male

Scalloped Oak Crocallis elinguaria
Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)

Small Quaker

Insects, Moths

Orthosia cruda – This is a common spring species here, so its flight time has now come and gone. This small moth has a plain appearance with light colouration, but has fairly distinct kidney-shaped markings on the forewings.


Small Quaker Orthosia cruda

Double-click image for a closer look.


For further interest visit the ‘Moths’ page and also the ‘Noctuidae’ page.


The Coronet

Insects, Moths

Craniophora ligustri – This is the first time I have seen this beautifully coloured and patterned moth. It appears to be a nice fresh specimen expressing olive hues, which I intially found resting on my garage wall. It is widely distributed across most of Britain, but it is not a common species.


The Coronet Craniophora ligustri

The Coronet Craniophora ligustri

Double-click images for a closer look.


These Are Big

Insects, Moths

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) – You hear them first coming out of the dark like a quickening purring without any sense of direction. You then feel them as the air from their rapidly moving wings wafts around you as they circle. Then you see them, then you don’t, for they are so, so very quick and powerful in flight you can lose track of them quite easily. They are the supersonic jets of the moth world. And these are big with a wingspan of up to 90 mm (3 1/2 in). Yet in the light of day they are like daft kittens, and they will happily sit on the end of your finger, even your nose if you wanted to take things that far. The cover of night is their world, and they are masters of it. It is just they have a thing for our artificial lights. They are bedazzled and befuddled by them, sitting hoplessly in a trance-like state beneath their glare, sometimes for many hours until daybreak. Double-click image to enlarge.


Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

© Peter Hillman ♦ 20th May 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Common Carpet Moth

Insects, Moths

Epirrhoe alternata – And another moth that adores my garage light. This is a Geometer moth, so called because the caterpillar, called an inchworm, appears to measure the earth as it crawls along, arching and ‘looping’ its body. That is why they are also known as ‘loopers’. They are the 2nd largest family of macro-moths in the UK, with around 300 species – over 20,000 worldwide. Double-click image to enlarge.


Common Carpet Epirrhoe alternata

© Peter Hillman ♦ 10th May 2020 ♦ rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Azalea Leaf Miner

Insects, Micro Moths, Moths

Caloptilia azaleella – This is a tiny moth which loves my garage light. There were a few hanging around it, mesmerised by its glow. It is a naturalised adventive species which is steadily spreading northwards, and was probably introduced with azalea and rhodedendron plants. It is around 5mm (1/4in) long, and I could barely see it with the naked eye, so didn’t know what I had got until I saw it on the big screen. Double-click images for a closer look.


Azalea Leaf Miner Caloptilia azaleella

Azalea Leaf Miner Caloptilia azaleella

© Peter Hillman ♦ 10th May 2020 ♦ rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Green Long-horn

Insects, Moths

Adela reaumurella – This is a female … the males antennae are a lot, lot longer than hers – three times the length of the forewing! I found her basking in the sunshine, flashing her shiny scales. Double-click image to enlarge.


Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella female

© Peter Hillman ♦ 21st April 2020 ♦ Local woodland path, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Grey Dagger

Insects, Macro Moths, Moths

Acronicta psi – This moth gets it name from the black dagger-like markings on its forewings. It is not possible to tell apart from the Dark Dagger (A. tridens), without genitalia dissection (which is not my thing) and is normally recorded as an aggregate species. It is found in most habitats, including woodland, hedgerows and gardens.


Grey Dagger Acronicta psi

© Peter Hillman ♦ 20th July 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Mottled Beauty

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Alcis repandata – This was the one that nearly got away, but thankfully landed and rested on the side of the garden shed at the time. Quite an attractive moth beauty this, which can be extremely variable. A regular visitor to light sources.


Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata

© Peter Hillman ♦14th June 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Oak Eggar

Caterpillars, Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Lasiocampa quercus – I came across this striking hairy caterpillar as it crawled over a sea wall when I was on a visit to Llandudno, Wales. They do not feed on oak as the English name leads us to believe, but its cocoon looks much like an acorn. The hairs may cause skin irritation, which is the caterpillar’s defense mechanism. They can grow up to 80mm (3 -1/8in) long.


Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus

The larva can take a year to grow in the south, and two years further north where it is cooler. They feed quite rapidly and change appearance as they grow which can make them hard to identify compared to other Eggars. It feeds on a variety of plants, including heather and bramble.

Double-click images to enlarge.


© Peter Hillman ♦ 24th April 2014 ♦ West Shore, Llandudno, Wales ♦ Nikon D3200


Brindled Pug

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Eupithecia abbreviata – This attractive moth must have been bedazzled by my garage light and I found it on the door the next morning. Like most pugs they are only small with a wingspan of around 22mm (7/8in). It is an early spring species, and usually inhabits deciduous woodland where the caterpillars feed on oak and hawthorn. Double-click to enlarge images.


Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

© Peter Hillman ♦ 11th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Dark Arches

Insects, Macro Moths, Moths

Apamea monoglypha – This moth really like your house lights, and you certainly know when one is around because they whiz around you like crazy. Yet they are mostly well behaved during the light of day and will let you photograph them wthout flying off, which is good because there would be no point in this post otherwise. The ground colour of the forewings is quite changeable, but the distinctive pattern always remains more or less the same. Double-click to get closer.


Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Heart & Dart

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Agrotis exclamationis – You can clearly see why they call this moth the Heart & Dart. Double-click for a closer look-see.



Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Satin Grass-veneer

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Crambus perlella – Out in the fresh summer fields I often disturb these moths and others of their kind from the grasses and low vegetation as I pass through. They don’t usually fly far and soon settle back into the growth. You do have to watch very carefully where they land as you can easily lose them.


Satin Grass-veneer Crambus perlella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 7th July 2019
Place: Local field, Staffordshire


Two Fan-foots

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

At first glance these two fairly well-defined macro-moths from the family Erebidae – subfamily Herminiinae – look quite similar. But look more closely … see how their finely drawn lines are different? Double-click to peer closer …


The Fan-foot Herminia tarsipennalis
The Fan-foot (Herminia tarsipennalis)

Small Fan-foot Herminia grisealis
Small Fan-foot (Herminia grisealis)

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019 & 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Codling Moth

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Cydia pomonella – Although the caterpillar of this small moth can be quite a pest to fruit trees, the adult has quite some fine detail over all, and a lovely coppery finish to the bottom end of the forewings. Double-click for a closer look.


Codling Moth Cydia pomonella

Codling Moth Cydia pomonella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Orange Swift

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Triodia sylvina – This is from a primitive moth group called Hepialidae, which contains just 5 species found in the British Isles. The adults cannot feed for they have no functional proboscis. The images featured are that of the male. The sexes look quite different from one another.



Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Orange Swift Triodia sylvina

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 2nd August 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet

Insects, Macro Moths, Moths, Photography

Zygaena lonicerae – An attractively bright day-flying moth, with yes, you guessed it, five red spots on each forewing.


Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D3200
Date taken: 21st June 2014
Place: Local field, Staffordshire


Willow Ermine

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Yponomeuta rorrella – These small moths can be a fair challenge to photograph because of their pale and reflective scales, so best done out of direct sunlight with the exposure turned down a couple of clicks.


Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 18th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Diamond-back Moth

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Plutella xylostella – A very common micro-moth with a fairly distinct diamond pattern on its … well – its back. Double-click on images to get closer.




Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Wainscot Smudge

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Ypsolopha scabrella – Quite an extraordinary looking little moth with distinctive raised tufts which can be seen when the moth is at rest.


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Garden Rose Tortrix

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Acleris variegana – An extremely variable micro-moth species in patterning and colouration. A melanic form also occurs. Like other similar species of Tortrix, it mimics bird-droppings to evade predation. The larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs, including roses, brambles, hawthorns, cherries and apples.


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Old Lady

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Moths, Macro Photography, Moths

Mormo maura – You know when this one pays a visit because it is fairly large with a wingspan of up to 65mm (2 1/2in). Not one of the brightest of moths, but it has an interesting, fine-lined pattern.


Old Lady Mormo maura


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 26th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Ash-bark Knot-horn

Insects, Micro Moths, Moths

Euzophera pinguis – Quite an unmistakable micro-moth with distinctive zig-zag markings. The larvae feed under the living bark of ash, which if becoming infested may kill the tree. This is a localised species in England.


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Common Plume

Insect Macro, Insects, Macro Photography, Micro Moths, Moths

Emmelina monodactyla – An odd-looking moth which often rests with its wings rolled tightly up. It is quite a weak flier, and will only travel a short distance before settling down again.


Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire