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Vapourer Moth Andy

Wingless female and male with large antennae for locating female. 14/08/10

Male and female Vapourer moth mating.

Males locating female pheromone

Wingless female laying eggs

Vapourer moth wingless female laying eggs.

Vapourer moth wingless female laying eggs.

Vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqua)

Vapourer moth Larvae.

The Vapourer moth has such an interesting life-cycle, the adult moth is wingless from the side of the moth you can see what was once its wings. To me, the adult moth which is fat with eggs looks like a hairy tick. If you did not know the subject you would never believe that it was a moth. I reared a caterpillar and the following year when it hatched I held the empty cocoon with the freshly emerged moth in my garden. In a very short time, there was two day flying male moths flying around my garden, they look like small butterflies in flight. They were trying to locate the female from the scent (pheromone) that she was emitting. In the end, two males settled down each ether side trying to mate with her, or both thinking they had. I placed the branch in a flower pot and I did take pictures of female moth with two males. Over the next few days she laid eggs all over her cocoon, and soon after laying eggs she died. The Caterpillars feed on many different deciduous trees, and develop into a very exotic looking caterpillar covered in tufts of colourful hair which is irritant to predators. When out filming I often see the caterpillars feeding or sunning themselves. This is an unusual moth and one I always enjoy filming even though it is a small species.

Interesting dates of a metamorphosis from larvae to moth and female longevity. On the 2nd August 2010, a work colleague gave me an adult caterpillar. I knew it was a female from its large size, so I decided to place it on my sallow tree at home. Well by the time I got home it had made a cocoon in tissue, so I had to place it in a cage. 14th August - two males flew into my shed one moth was very dark the other light so I then new the moth had hatched already I would have missed it otherwise. As the moth's cocoon was in tissue I placed the moth onto a branch, you could see the end of its body pulsating as she was releasing her pheromone within seconds a male had pitched next to the moth and started to mate. It stayed long enough for me to take some pictures. The female started to lay her eggs immediately died on 16th August. So it lived for only two and a half days which was quicker than I expected, but from the size of the dead moths almost shrivelled body, she had laid most of her eggs.