An Irruption of White Satin Moths at Ainsdale

983 b Adult Moth

On Monday 6th June I visited Ainsdale Sandhills Local Nature Reserve to witness a spectacular event. An Irruption of White Satin Moths. This moth Leucoma salicis has a wingspan of 37 – 50 mm and the wings have a beautiful white satiny sheen.

The moth is quite rare in the UK and also very localised. The thousands of moths are all concentrated in an area of about 200 metres by 150 metres

5727 Caterpillar

On 24th May I found the caterpillars devouring the leaves of the Scrub Willow bushes in the dune slacks south of the Discovery Centre. The young caterpillars over-winter on these bushes and somehow survive when the slacks are flooded. They resume feeding when the new leaves appear and when I visited some had started to pupate.

Caterpillar of White Satin Moth

The caterpillars spin a loose cocoon between leaves and the pupa are glossy black.

5691 Pupa

I now had to be patient and wait 10 –14 days until the adult moths began to emerge.

On 1st June when I visited there were very few caterpillars, most had pupated and I counted just four adult moths.

By the  6th June everything had changed. The moths had started to emerge and were flying around in their hundreds. it was like walking through a snowstorm. I wanted to get an image of a moth emerging from the pupa but although I was there early in the morning I did not manage it. I did though see several in the process of expanding their wings.

Wing Expansion phase

During this wing expansion phase the wings are a beautiful buttery yellow in colour.

983 b Adult Moth

As soon as the wings are dry the males take to the air in an eager search for a mate.

Mating Pairs


Soon the females are laying their eggs and the cycle recommences.

985 b

It was a fantastic event and I could indulge my two passions, walking and photography. I feel very fortunate that this all occurs within 10 miles of my home. What will I find next?

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, Sefton Coastline. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Irruption of White Satin Moths at Ainsdale

  1. crosbyman66 says:

    Thank you.
    It’s well worth a trip up to Ainsdale.

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