Monday, April 18, 2011

Instant Garden Assembly 15/04

After a long year of nurturing, feeding and storing Emperor Moth caterpillars it was finally time to see the fruits of our labours. That day came on 15th April when the usual morning recce around the rearing container presented more than just a few motionless cocoons. Out of the 7 left from the original 12 larvae there were 2 newly emerged females and 1 male.

Newly emerged female 1

 Female no. 2- also newly emerged
After a few hours they are fully developed and ready for action. They have got to be one of the most striking moths in the British Isles.

Female 1
They are quite variable too, in size and colour. Even though they were fed at the same rate from the same food source. In this case Hawthorn.

Female 2
I kept the male back in a pot inside for the time being and took the females outside. After which I let him go to find his way in the wide world. 

Captive bred Male
What happened next really took me by surprise. Whilst working, Louie came in with a grin on his face saying " I've just caught an Emperor". So I took a look and indeed he had caught a male. The mesh container with the two females in couldn't have been out more than 15 minutes.

Male attracted by the females
This is the '1st on the scene' male. Shortly after that all hell broke loose as I decided to take the females out of the mesh container and put both on a garden table.

Within about 10 minutes we had 5 male Emperors winging their way around the garden, slowly spiraling there way towards the females.

At one point, female 1, the smaller of the two had three suiters all fighting furiously for her attention. But there can only be one winner and after both females were successfully paired, the others melted away almost as quickly as they had arrived. Shortly after mating I put the females on the Hawthorn hedge and as dusk approached they flew off into the gloom. Later on a female (presumably one of mine) came crashing into the trap! I let her go outside the front of the house and haven't seen them since.

In nature there are always winners and losers, unfortunately I found this male in a spider's web the next morning.


  1. Still bugger-all success here in VC55 - they must be all down your way.

  2. I couldn't believe it! If I get another female, I'll be charging 'tenner a tick' to all other local moth-ers. Still 3 cocoons left, I have a feeling they all could be males though.....