Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hornet Moth, 21/06/2009

After last years encounter, I decided to head back to the Hornet Moth site in Loughborough to check on the colony. I knew that there were some changes planned for the site, but wasn't expecting to find the building site that confronted me on arrival although the infected trees were still there. John Hague pitched up as well looking to see this superb moth. We started checked the poplars at c07:00 - initially no sign of anything but we then found a pupa just poking out from the bark. We had no idea how long it would be before the moth emerged, so went back to checking when John found a freshly emerged adult scurrying up the base of a trunk at c07:30. We found a further two freshly emerged adults at c08:00. All three went through the same initial process of climbing up the trunk, then resting to inflate and dry out the wings. By the time we left at c08:20 no further adults had emerged and the three we saw were still drying out. As we looked a bit harder, we eventually found six more exuviae that we must have missed on first checking. The larvae makes the exit tunnel and caps it before pupating - most of the exits are at the very base of the tree but some are in the roots and come through to the surface from the ground. Superb moths - must be more around but they are amazingly easy to overlook unless specifically looked for. Click for big! Emergent pupa - you can see the 'cap' that would have covered the tunnel Pupal exuviae poking our from a trunk base Pupal exuviae poking out from the ground Two exuviae at the trunk base First adult, freshly emerged with limp wings Same adult about 15 minutes later, wings almost fully inflated Same adult, wings being held out to dry Same adult, nearly there Second adult freshly emerged Third adult freshly emerged


thedrunkbirder said...

A great morning. I'll have to go back with camera next time. When you blow up the exuviae it's amazing the detail that you just don't really see a real time.

You can also make out the adult moths facial features in that first shot still in its pupal case.

Skev said...

Superb isn't it. When you handle mature moth pupae for a close look, you can see a lot of detail of the adult features - eyes, antennae, legs & wings.

There are some micros that can be identified to species from the pupal exuviae - I'll post something later as an example.