An Irruption of White Satin Moths

01. White Satin Moth03 White Satin Moth02. White Satin Moth

During the past week there has been an irruption of White Satin Moth, (Leucoma salicis) at Ainsdale Local nature Reserve. The event is very localised occurring in an area of just 200 square metres, south of the Ainsdale Discovery centre.

A fortnight ago whilst walking in the area I noticed that many of the creeping Willow shrubs had been stripped of their leaves. On closer examination I discovered hundreds of caterpillars which had eaten the leaves and were now beginning to pupate. I knew that in a couple of weeks time they would begin to emerge and I did not want to miss the event.

12 Pupa11. Caterpillar of White Satin Moth14. Pupa cases

I returned early in the morning of 10th June to find that many moths had emerged during the night and were now expanding their wings.

21 Wing expansion33 Wing expansion phase

As soon as they were able to fly the males were eager to mate and tracked down the females as soon as they had emerged.

42 Mating Pair41 Mating Pair

                                                            Mating Pairs

51 Mated Pair52 Mated pair

                                                               Mated Pairs

I went back again two days later and almost all of the moths had emerged leaving the empty pupa cases. The females lay their eggs on the scrub willow bushes. The caterpillars emerge and begin to feed but then overwinter in the caterpillar stage. They resume feeding in the spring and the cycle continues.

The adult moth has a wingspan of 40 – 50 mm. The glossy satin surface of the wings give rise to the moth’s English name. The moth has black and white ringed legs and the female is larger than the male.

62 Adult moth61 Adult moth

                                                       The adult White Satin Moth

This annual Irruption of White Satin Moths now seems to be an established event on the Sefton Coast and is a memorable occasion.


About crosbyman66

My aim is to create a photo diary of my walks and my travels. I have two main hobbies, walking and photography and these complement each other. I am a senior citizen, what used to be called an old age pensioner, but I don't feel old. Since retirement I have had more time to pursue my hobbies and the opportunity to travel more. My philosophy now is - Do what you can, while you can. My other interests are fine wines and keeping fit. These may not complement each other but keep me happy.
This entry was posted in Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve, Macro, Moths, Natural History, Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An Irruption of White Satin Moths

  1. They look so fluffy and soft !

  2. WOW! how good is that – and what stunning pictures.

  3. crosbyman66 says:

    Yes, they were so fluffy. I had several of them crawling on my hands as I got in close.

  4. crosbyman66 says:

    It’s all over in a couple of days so I was pleased to have seen it. The Bee Orchids are just starting to bloom so I will be back up there soon.

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