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Saturday, 5 August 2017

These Lobsters are definately not on the menu!!

I thought you may be interested in seeing some photos of the Lobster moth larvae I have been raising since end of June, early July.  I belong to one of the moth groups on fb 'Moths UK flying tonight', and as is often the case, eggs are often laid from potted moths, or laid in or on the moth trap.

One of the lads had trapped a female lobster which had laid eggs, and asked if anyone was interested in having a few. As I had already trapped a lobster, I knew they were in my area, so said yes. He sent me 7 of the eggs and out of the 7 only one egg did not hatch.

It has been incredible seeing  these lobsters develop, and have fed them on apple leaves with the twigs attached so they can use to climb on. I have been thrilled to see them grow and shed, and have learned so much from raising these. Out of 4 people that had the eggs, I am the only one that hasn't lost any of the larvae, they have thrived, and can only think that it's all down to this lovely Welsh air. One of the Lobsters have already pupated, so there are five more to go, which should follow very soon.

I also have Muslins, Buff Ermine and December Moths in pupation (those have been eggs laid in tubs from females I potted after a night trapping in the garden this year).  Hope you enjoy the photos.

Lobster eggs

                                                 Newly hatched Lobster with its casing (1st meal).
                                                           Hatched approx. 2 wks after eggs laid.

                                                                              Lobster at approx. 2 wks

                                                                               Lobster at approx. 3 wks

                                               Lobster taken 19 July- shedding his head (it looks
                                                        like a loose Dai cap on its head).

                                                      Lobster taken 22 July - the head casing splits
                                                                 and the Lobster grows into its head

                                                      Critical time - Lobster head shedding - they stop eating
                                                      leading up to shedding, during and a day or so after

                                                        Lobster on the move, out-stretched on apple 27 July

                                                                                    The tail - 27 July

                                                 The Lobster showing flexibility in the body


                                                          The Lobster showing its grip, shape & defence

Lobster showing its defence - Taken 27 July

Day 2 of orange fluid and 1st pupation has taken place.
1st Aug - The Lobster has encased itself between lower
leaf, and large central leaf, with upper leaf also attached.

1st August - 1st of the Lobsters have pupated. All from
same female and all laid at the same time.

4th August -Another Lobster nearing pupation

4th August - Lobsters kept separate. Especially until
after the 1st/2nd instar as they will fight, but I have
continued to keep them separate. Tubs from The Range.

The Lobster in all its glory in its defence stance.
My hand in shot to show size comparison.

Incredible things, I am so glad I had the opportunity
to raise these.

This photo and the three Lobsters below - taken 6 August 2017

It looks like this Lobster will be the next to pupate

Happy trapping, thank you for looking at my photos. Click
on the photos to enlarge.


  1. No enlargement necessary, Jacqueline, the monsters are big enough already! Seriously though they are very impressive photos and an excellent project ensuring that you'll get some of the moths next year. Several turned up here this year so hopefully they'll continue to thrive in the excellent Llandysul climate!!

  2. Yes, well done and beautifully presented too!
    It`s given me more confidence to rear a caterpillar that I collected yesterday.

  3. Ha ha, cheers Chris, I know what you mean!! They terrify me, wouldn't want to meet them down a dark alley at night! I think pupation through to emergence will be a fine balancing act, as one of the chaps from the fb page raised them last year, but they became too dry and didn't emerge, so I'll have to work something out.

    1. I raised white ermines a couple of years ago, they pupated in a large tub containing soil & leaf litter and I kept them over winter in the greenhouse. It seemed to work OK.

    2. I've only got the Buff Ermines (with 2 White Ermines found in garden), Muslins and the first of the Lobsters in their own 'pop up (butterfly) tents' in amongst last years leaf litter, but with no soil??? The first of the lobsters (the one in the photo) pupated a week ago, hopefully the rest will follow soon.

    3. I put soil in the tub in case the ermines pupated underground, but they probably don't need it. You've got an impressive breeding programme! I let my Muslin larvae go when they were half-grown on a bramble bush in a corner of my polytunnel. Got fed up with changing their nappies, so to speak! I'll be on the look-out for the moths next Spring.

    4. My very first lot of eggs was laid by a December moth last year. I overwintered them in the fridge, within a week to ten days of removing them from the fridge they hatched, so hopefully, if I've done it right, I should see some emerge October, fingers crossed! If so, they will be the first caterpillars I have that will have emerged. Nature truly is a wonderful thing.

  4. Thanks Ian, yes I would definitely give it a try. If you know which caterpillar it is then you can check in the Field Guide for the larval food plant, otherwise, put in some willow, blackthorn, hawthorn, dock, apple etc., and see what it prefers, and keep with that food. Make sure the food is clean and bug free to stop the caterpillar becoming parasitized, you probably know all this anyway. The caterpillars I have raised to pupation have been the ones that pupate in leaf debris, so I had plenty of leaf litter around the garden from last autumn! Good luck, and give it a go.