Friday, September 19, 2014

Silence of the Lambs...

Death's Head Hawk-moth caterpillar.
 Yesterday, Jane's sister, Victoria sent me a text with a photo of this caterpillar saying she had found it walking across the path, near her home in Northampton, and was it dangerous. As soon as I saw it, I got a tad excitable - its a Death's Head Hawk-moth caterpillar like the moths of Hannibal Lecter fame in Silence of the lambs!

Straight away, I gave her instructions on how to post the creature to me immediately as we must have a go at rearing it to adult hood. The moth is the Holy Grail of moth trappers in the UK and this chance might never come again. Next day, before 9am delivery cost a whopping £25 but to see this monster was well worth it. What a belter!

It was placed in a tank with some Privet and Potato tops to feed on but it just wanted to wander around the edge. This must mean that feeding time was over, it was a big lad after all, and its time to get underground to pupate.

After consulting various internet sources and with help from Alan Fairclough, I gathered some nice molehill soil, gave it a blast in the microwave to clear off any undesirables and laid it in the tank so it could bury itself away for a month or so. We didn't think it would go in so quickly! The whole vanishing act took no more than 10 minutes.

All we have to do now is keep the tank at a nice 25 degrees for a month and hopefully the adult will emerge. I'll never sleep!


Trent Duval said...

Brilliant !

Karen Woolley said...

How exciting. Lucky You!:-)

abbey meadows said...

Look forward to seeing that Stew. Are there many recorded anywhere in the country? Its probably a good county record for Northamptonshire.

The Liverbirder said...

What an absolutely immense post. I reared moths as a kid, Garden Tigers mainly, and this is a belter. £25 very well spent and I look forward to the web cam you will undoubtedly set up so we can all view the birth!! Through ignorance, I am surprised it will emerge in mid to late October, but what do I know! Keep us posted, please.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes!
The madness of the enthusiast.
No doubt there will be another blog or two on this.

Stewart said...

Trent / Karen - Cheers.
Nige - No not many but a few have been found this year in the midlands.
Gordon - Thanks Gordon, This is a first for me, I've never tried to breed caterpillars through before, and what a way to start! The books say they are on the wing Aug - Oct to thats probably about right for my emergence? I will update, good news or bad!
Steve - You are absolutely right, people are saying I'm getting worse...whatever that means ;)