Tag Archive: Emperor Moth


The Emperor

There are caterpillars.

And then there are big caterpillars.

21Aug11 Emperor Moth caterpillar

21Aug11 Emperor Moth caterpillar

This is one Fully Grown Emperor Moth Caterpillar, Discovered while Walking with Family in the Mournes, Just Behind Slieve Loughshannagh. (And no, the purple nail varnish is not mine.) This was one slooooowwww caterpillar. He must be saving his energy for avoiding my butterfly net next spring.

As an aside, I have about 5 different species of caterpillar in my back yard which I’m keeping an eye on and which will hopefully appear on the blog in due (or ridiculously late, like 2033) course: Buff Ermines, Large Whites, unidentified loopers, and unidentified micros.

In other news, I saw my 100th British bird at the weekend: the Little Stint.

Emperors and Tigers

17.4.11 Garden Tiger caterpillar

After some correspondence with the Chairman of Butterfly Conservation NI, Ian Rippey, I went to Murlough yesterday (17-Apr) to try and find an Emperor Moth. It wasn’t hard! I saw thirteen of them but boy were they fast! Without a butterfly net I had no hope of catching one. Not that I minded – it was good enough to see them haring across the heather in search of a female (the females fly at dusk, the males in the daytime), free and wild. One whizzed right past me and I saw its bright orange wings but couldn’t get a photo of the magnificent eyespots that give it the rights to such an imperial name.

Thankfully, caterpillars are less inclined to zip around at sixty miles an hour, and so are much easier to photograph. The Garden Tiger, above, (or “woolly bear” for the kids out there) has got to be one of my many favourite caterpillars. It was accompanied, of course, by a huge Drinker moth caterpillar (squashed, sadly) and more Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

The other treat that day was a kestrel, hovering above the heath and looking intently down for any small mammals. I didn’t see it catch anything. Plus, I saw what I think might be a reed bunting, skulking in some gorse bushes. Beautiful day for it too.

And of course a Small Tort popped up for good measure.

I’m off to America tomorrow so if I don’t get much Internet time I’ll report on the wildlife (hopefully including butterflies) and the weather (possibly including thunderstorms) when I get back. I am EXCITED!!!