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2160 Views 3 Replies Last post: Jan 20, 2013 11:59 AM by MikeHardman RSS
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Jan 20, 2013 9:36 AM

I need help identifying a moth


this moth was found in November as a caterpillar by my children in our garden in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. It was the same colour as the moth and hairy. They kept it in a glass tank with lots of greenery. At the beginning of December it rapped itself in a silk cocoon on the side of the tank and it came out 2 days ago. I don't know anything about moths so have not been able to identify it and the children want to feed it but we don't know what type of food to put in. Many thanks.


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    Jan 20, 2013 10:07 AM (in response to sanxz)
    Re: I need help identifying a moth



    Please congratulate your kids being observant enough to notice the caterpillar, and on being curious enough to rear it and observe its progress, resulting in the satisfaction of seeing the adult. Well done, too for keeping records.


    I suspect it may be a ruby tiger moth (Phragmatobia fuliginosa).

    Your photo is a little fuzzy; you may be able to confirm my tentative identification better than I can.

    Have a look here -


    To feed the adult, try a dilute sugar or honey solution, soaked-up into a small wad of cotton wool or toilet tissue. You may find, however, it is not interested.


    Now what will you do with the moth?

    If it is a ruby tiger moth, this is not the time of year when it would normally be on the wing, so if you released it now, a) it may have difficulty finding food (nectar or maybe juicy rotting fruit), b) it would not be able to find a mate.


    For future reference, note that Ian Kimber's UK Moths web site has a useful search facility, where you can enter keywords, eg. +black+yellow if you had a black and yellow moth you were trying to identify. Read the explanation for more detail on how to search


    If your kids collect other caterpillars in future, have them note the food plant. They should use the same foodplant when rearing the caterpillars, because some species are particular about what they eat. For subsequent identification purposes, it can also be useful to know what that foodplant was; include that in your records.

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        Jan 20, 2013 11:59 AM (in response to sanxz)
        Re: I need help identifying a moth

        Hi Paul,

        That's great



        I hope both teachers and kids like your show and tell.

        As part of that show and tell, you will need to decide what to do with the adult moth.

        Beforehand, while you are still planning it, why not ask your teacher(s) what they think you should do with the moth. If they suggest you release it, you can point out to them the two problems that I mentioned. They might be impressed by your argument. You might make them think again:)

        After the event, why not post here to let us know how it went.



        • The adult might not live very long - maybe only a few days. So if it dies soon, don't be too surprised and don't think you might have killed it. 
        • In captivity, it may also loose many of the scales on its wings, so it will not look as nice. So if you want to include the living moth in your show and tell, do it fairly soon!




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