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Kentish Glory Moth by Andy
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Kentish Glory caterpillars few days old.

Kentish Glory caterpillars in a cluster.

Absolute masters of camouflage Kentish Glory caterpillar mimicking a Silver Birch catkin.

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Kentish Glory moth pupae.

Kentish Glory Moth (Endromis Versicolora)

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Full-grown Kentish Glory moth caterpillar.

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First Kentish Glory female hatched in December. I found her laying infertile eggs in January 2012 even though the cage is hanging in a very cold garage and another male hatched later, too late for any mating.

My first attempt at rearing Kentish Glory's sleeved on a young silver birch tree was a complete failure. I believe they were killed by my neighbours smoke burner when I lived in my first house in Chandlers Ford in Hampshire,  at that time he was also burning chemically soaked crates. 

Well one year later on the 29th March 2011 I received two batches of eggs from Worldwide Butterflies. Half of these hatched in the post, but no harm was done as they were sent very quickly. They were packaged in such a way that if they hatched the young larvae had room to move around rather than the packed plastic tubes normally used.

This time I moved my two Silver Birch trees to the top of my long garden, I would have brought some cut Birch twigs indoors if my trees were not in leaf. Using garden twine I fixed the two batches of eggs to branches on my trees and used a small brush to place the hatched larvae to a leaf close to the eggs that were left. I then covered both branches with home made black netting sleeves and cut out a thin peace of clear plastic bag fixed to the top with pins, this just helps to protect the young larvae from getting too wet when it rains especially when young. The following morning I checked the eggs to find most had hatched and the caterpillars were resting on a small leaf in batches as I had hoped. The camouflage of this species is amazing at all stages of development even the eggs, which are bright yellow at first change to a deep purple to match the colour of the twigs. The young caterpillars are black at first, they stay in a cluster while young and then spread out as they increase in size.

The mature caterpillars look so much like birch catkins, with markings similar to a hawk moth. I lost count the number of times I moved the caterpillars to a new sleeve, only to find out later that I had missed one and found it eating outside my sleeve. When the caterpillars had grown to almost full-grown I placed cut branches into milk containers and blocked the entrance with paper. And placed the caterpillars and the branches into a large Exo Terra insect cage, it was even more difficult to find the caterpillars hanging with the birch catkins. By placing my cut branches into a workbench I was able to get some nice pictures, showing their brilliant camouflage.
My healthy pupae will be the first to emerge as early as February, and I will probably take these to a forest to film them if all goes well.
Really looking forward to seeing and photographing the moths for the first time.
Now only found in Scotland and parts of Central Europe, as well as Silver Birch the Caterpillars will also feed on Hazel, Alder, Lime and Hornbeam.

Andy Newman images© 11/11/2011.