Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Cinderella moment?

It's the morning of 18th Jun and I am up early to close down the moth trap before it attracts too many day-flying,undesirable insects.
Checking the contents,I notice a pair of large,green moth eggs....


An examination of the catch from the previous night reveals that there can be only one culprit; the large,female,poplar hawk moth. I check my reference books and they confirm that these are a 'reasonably easy' species to raise and so I decide to save the eggs for observation.

Within a few days the caterpillars were already visible through the eggs...

I prepared a suitable home for them and collected lots of poplar ready for their emergence and then....waited...

As soon as the tiny caterpillars emerged,they began to have their first feed by eating the whole of the eggshell...

I guess at this stage,they were around 3mm long

When this was done,they began to wander in search of the food plant that would sustain them through to pupating. I made sure they climbed on to the poplar leaves and then photographed them once more...

By just seven days following my discovery of the eggs,they had already moulted for the first time...

And now look...only 2 weeks since I found the eggs-talk about a Cinderella moment!

This photo (above) was taken this morning-the 4th July 2013 and what a change there has been.

I am now hoping to be able to continue caring for these until and beyond pupating so that I can then complete the life-cycle by photographing the moths emerging next year.

Aside from the pure enjoyment of watching these creatures, there is so much knowledge to be gained from observing natural behaviour in a controlled environment. It is something that would be impossible to do in the wild and I now feel I know so much more about these fascinating critters.

I hope you have shared in both my enthusiasm for the subject and the joy of seeing what I saw?

Until the next time then...


  1. Wow! How fortuitous was that?? Amazing how quickly they've developed and a privilege for us to be able to see it happen too! Look forward to seeing how they progress!
    I found one some years ago and it was HUGE!!! Hope you've got plenty of poplar nearby to keep them happy! ;-)

  2. Hey Maria...
    Yes,fortunately there is a row of poplar at the back of the house! As for size...I guess they are around 35mm at present and becoming more impressive with each moult...not sure which one they are at now? Still got some growing to do though.

  3. Good luck getting the emerging shots JJ, 7 out of the 8 Elephant Hawk Moths that I had have emerged and I missed every one ! Now got a collection of Garden Tiger Moths so will have another go !

  4. Thanks Jason. Yeah...lots of patient watching and waiting required. I was given an orange tip to look after and hopefully photo but I missed it...and I was in the same room when it emerged! Good luck with the tiger moths though-that sounds good.

  5. Super caterpillars to raise and photograph. Looking forward to seeing their development!

  6. Thanks Rachel..they are starting to look quite spectacular...

  7. Hi JJ,
    Hope all is well with you & yours,
    Just a quick note to let you know the Heath Fritillarys are in full flight now down East Blean Wood,
    Thought id mention it as I know you usually try to get down.
    All the best
    Mark Milham.

  8. Hey Mark,

    Thanks for this information. I have been to Blean already but there were very few butterflies. It was a rough weather day though and the food plant was not in full flower. I should try and find time to go again. Hope you got some good shots?

  9. Hi JJ,
    If I my blow my own trumpet I got some cracking shots of Ringlets at Blean woods (Rough Common) but only some half decent shots of Heaths at East Blean, something to note was I saw a couple of White Admirals at East Blean but never got a shot.

  10. Hi again Mark,
    Well done on that anyhow,will try and find some of your photos then. I went to Pluckley woods and there were loads of White Admirals there...once again though, much too flightly to get pictures.

  11. About the image of the caterpillar visible in the egg: I am speechless. Would love to see more of these.

  12. Thanks for your comment...I have been very much enjoying your blog too...


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