Monday 14 September 2009

A Poplar Hawkmoth story

One night of early July, a large female hawkmoth heavily laden with eggs got in our laboratory through an open window, attracted by lights. Before she died, she laid her eggs on the window glass.
 It was lucky somebody noticed the dead moth and eggs and kept an eye on them. Tiny pale green caterpillars with disproportionately large heads, started to emerge on the 27th of July, and proceeded to eat their egg shells.
After a quick internet search we identified the hawkmoth as a Poplar Hawkmoth, Laothoe populi, one of the commonest in the UK. After bringing in some poplar branches, the caterpillars started munching away and growing, and growing. After four weeks they were full size, beautiful velvety green caterpillars with yellow and red markings.
Nineteen of them have now pupated and I'll keep you posted when/if they emerge some time next May.

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