Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Angle Shades caterpillar

After several weeks of frost and snow, and the coldest December for 120 years, we venture in the devastated garden to get some fresh air. Despite the frost, while brushing the leaves from the path, we came across a lively and fat Angle Shades caterpillar (Phlogophora meticulosa). Larvae of this common species of moth can be found all year round, while adults fly from May to October. Although, considered a pest in gardens due to the wide range of caterpillar feeding plants, the adults are large, handsome moths with unusual curled wings which make them look like a shriveled leaf, with neat brown and pink patterns. The larvae, which can be green or brown, are active during the winter, and hide under the leaf litter feeding on whatever green plants happen to be around. Come the end of March, they are ready to pupate and the fresh generation of moths will appear from mid April. In the summer, these local moths will be joined by migrant ones from the continent, as this species is also a common UK migrant.
Below there are a series of images illustrating the life cycle of this moth.
17/03/07. A large, drowsy caterpillar...
 Falls on its back, and within 24 h...
it has pupated.
The pupa took half an hour to reach the deep brown colour from the photo above.
16/04/07. A freshly emerged Angle Shades dries up on Cytisus bloom.
16/05/08. An adult found in the house quenches its thirst on Iberis.
For more information on moths see UK moths.