On the 31st July 2013 at 9.45pm so just turning dusk I was inspecting my Poplar trees which I grow in pots in my garden with a small torch, it’s the best time to find feeding insects. I was surprised to see a large Poplar hawk female fly around me and hover amongst my trees to lay an egg. I quickly but carefully captured the female, as she would only lay one egg under a leaf. I placed her into a netted cage which was already hanging in my summer house and hung it in the shade near my poplar trees for two nights until I had a few eggs to hatch and rear in sleeves. I released the moth back into the wild at dusk to continue the rest of its short life laying eggs.
The female Poplar hawk moth was from a first generation and it is the first time I have witnessed wild Poplar hawks laying eggs at night, quite exciting to see my favourite hawk moth visiting my garden. I sprayed the eggs with a fine spray to loosen them from the netting and carefully place them into a temporary plastic container. As expected all the eggs were fertile and fed naturally in sleeves on my poplar trees. I now have a dozen pupae waiting to hatch, I will breed some but all will be released back into the wild, this must be done at dusk or birds will chase and eat them.
The Poplar hawk male on the right with its lovely contrasting markings is also from a first generation from an egg I found on my poplar trees earlier in the year I protected the egg and larvae from parasites by covering it with a sleeve and reared to an adult moth. So the male Poplar hawk in the picture above is a perfect specimen because it has never flown, unlike the female. The female has lost some of its scales, but still in good condition considering what it’s been through. The male was also released back into the wild to find a few females to mate with. I now have a few nice pictures and a fresh wild stock to rear. Looking forward to seeing the moths this year before releasing them back into the wild.
Both moths from the first generation found at different stages and it does show how easy it is to attract large hawk moths and other insects just by planting a few trees in pots you do not even need a garden.