The Herald Moth (Scoliopteryx libatrix)
The Herald Moth is widely distributed throughout much of the UK, although less common in the northern half.
The species can be found in a wide variety of habitats containing the main larval foodplants of willow, sallows, aspen and poplar.
In the south west there are two generations between July and November when it may be attracted to light
The species overwinters in a dormant state before becoming active again in early Spring
The Herald Moth is one of the most easily identified species.
The grey/rusty brown forewing is c 20 mm in length with bright orange markings and sharply incised outer edge.
The Herald Moths featured were either attracted to light, recorded at overwintering roosts in Cornwall or reared from larvae.
The Herald Moth overwintering roost (Scoliopteryx libatrix)
Herald Moths hibernate overwinter in communal roosts in sheltered places.
In Cornwall, with its rich mining history, they are frequently found overwintering in the caves of old mine workings as well as garden sheds and old farm buildings.
Those roosting Herald Moths featured were recorded in a wood store in the Marsland Valley Nature Reserve on the Devon and Cornish border.
Recommended reference books
The Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles – Jim Porter.
Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland – Waring, Townsend and Lewington.
Moths of the British Isles – Bernard Skinnner.
The Provisional Atlas of UK’s Larger moths -Randle, Fox and Parsons
The Herald Moth caterpillar (Scoliopteryx libatrix)
The fully grown Herald Moth caterpillar is c 40 mm in length.
In Cornwall the caterpillars are most commonly found feeding on sallows and willows. Other larval foodplants are Aspen and Poplar (ref Porter’s )
In the milder south west there are two generations and the caterpillars may be recorded by beating the larval foodplant between May and September
Those featured were recorded on The Lizard Peninsular and Penhale on the north Cornish coast feeding on sallow.
More caterpillars can be seen in the caterpillar galleries
The Herald Moth cocoon and pupa (Scoliopteryx libatrix)
The Herald Moth caterpillars pupate inside a slight silk cocoon spun between leaves.
The moths emerge within 2-4 weeks.
In captivity the caterpillars are very easy to rear.