Moth Larva & Pupa
There are hundreds of moths in the British Isles, most go unseen as they are nocturnal, only coming into view at lighted windows and around outside lamps. Some of the prettiest are mistaken for butterflies. One of the most spectacular is the Hummingbird Hawk-moth or Clearwing, which is quite large, flies during daylight hours and resembles a humming bird as it hovers while inserting its long probosis into flowers to reach the nactar.
As some of the more numerous types of invertebrates in the garden they are very important in the food chain, providing a large part of the diet of bats and birds. A decline in the moth population and their larvae can have a devastating effect on the ability of birds to feed their young.
The right-hand picture shows the transition stage to a pupa
That's the charming side of these creatures, but as for their cousins, the butterflies, it is the earlier forms in their life cycle which do not endear them to gardeners since they feed on plant material. Most of the caterpillars which attack garden plants belong to moths, either eating leaves, friut or roots; eg. Codling Moths, lay their eggs in apples and the grubs which hatch ruin the fruit.
They start as eggs laid on the underside of leaves, inserted into plant tissue or on the ground. These hatch into larvae (caterpillars) which go through several instars before pupating then finally emerging as adult moths.
The pupae of some moths are found while digging as the larvae were previously feeding on roots (The one shown is a Noctuid moth).
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