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Puss Moth Moth450h2A

 Plustek OpticFilm 7300, 35mm Negative Film Scan.
 

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Puss Moth Larvae450w CNS1 Puss Moth Larvae450wDSCF7266

 Plustek OpticFilm 7300, 35mm Negative Film Scan.

Puss Moth (Cerura Vinula)

FujiFilm S1 Pro. 1/0.3 F23 + flash gun, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.

I still find it exciting to find Puss moth larvae in the wild, just like the first one I found as a school boy or finding one of the moths in my moth trap. They are on the wing from May to July. This moth is interesting to rear in all stages of development. The female and male look similar except the female is larger with a thin antenna the males have wide feathery antennae which are used for finding females, the moths do not feed. The moth's body is covered in a cat-like soft fluffy hair from which it gets its name with creamy white wings and grey marbled markings make this a very attractive moth. The eggs can be found unusually on top of the leaves, which is quite an easy way to find them if you know where to look. The eggs resemble notches on the leaf and feed on poplars, sallow, willow and aspen. I will never forget the first time I watched them hatching as they are fascinating, the newly hatch larvae look very unusual waving their tails around wildly and their heads look like they have ears.

 The larvae when disturbed have two bright red filaments which extend and twirl from their forked tail which they wave about. If this does not deter a predator then the larvae can also squirt out formic acid which I once found out when poking it with a soft brush to display while taking pictures I got it straight in the face.  I remember washing my face in water as it felt a bit hot. The full-grown larvae are large and spectacular bright green with black saddle markings bordered with white with two eye spot markings above its head, its head is also bordered with red. When it is time to pupate this caterpillar makes a cocoon on a branch or bark by chewing bits of wood and mixing it with silk, it matches tree almost exactly and hardens making it an excellent camouflaged cocoon to stay safely in through the winter. This amazing moth is often available from collectors and butterfly farms and is highly recommended.

Puss moth caterpillars damaging bedroom furniture.

When I was very young I had some Puss moth caterpillars feeding in a box in my bedroom, when it was time for the moths to pupate some of the caterpillars went walkabout in my room in search of somewhere to make their cocoons.  Well, one made a cocoon under my bed chewing a hole through the bed joining the material with the wooden frame. Another larvae made a cocoon on my dressing table top it chewed through the varnish and wood of the dressing table and joined the bottom of a resting picture frame, joining the two together. Later when it had changed into pupae I cut it out and ended up with a large deep hole on my dressing table and my mum was not too pleased. The moth hatched safely the following year, the best thing for them to make their cocoons in captivity is egg cartons; these can later be cut out and hung in cages.

In 2017 I found three large Puss moth larvae feeding on my poplar trees which was a nice find. One chewed through my netted sleeve to make its cocoon elsewhere in my garden. But I did take some nice pictures and video of the eating a leaf on my iPhone.

Puss Moths Mating450h1

Plustek OpticFilm 7300 35mm Transparency Film Scan.

Puss Moths mating.