The Vapourer Moth

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October is often a great time for rare birds in Cornwall but they’re not the only creatures of interest flying. During recent birding trips in the Cornish coastal valley migrant hot spots several male Vapourer moths were seen flying in the afternoon sunshine.

Latest complete Vapourer Moth species page with complete life cycle.

While clusters of birders were staring up at the Red-breasted Flycatcher I became distracted by a Vapourer moth fluttering by. No doubt, the ardent twitchers amongst them, many of whom may have travelled a long way, thought I’d completely lost it as I rushed off down the lane in pursuit of what must have seemed to them little more than a falling autumn leaf.

The Vapourer is a moth with a fascinating life-cycle as shown in the images at the top of the Caterpillar Life-cycle page.

The males have comb like antennae which they use to detect the pheromones given off by recently emerged flightless females. The males can often be seen flying in late summer and early autumn, appearing quite orange when highlighted by sunlight.

Once the female has been located in the vegetation the male mates with her before moving on to find another female The Vapourer. No comments please, ladies.

The fertilised female then promptly lays a large batch of eggs on the outside of the cocoon she’d just emerged from and then dies. The eggs normally overwinter as an egg and the emerging caterpillars soon develop into fantastically colourful, bristly jobs.

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Illustrated Guide to British Moths

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