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06 Dec 2021

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The native Herald Moth is still on the wing

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The native Herald Moth is still on the wing

The Herald Moth. Picture: Nuala Madigan

While doing some autumn gardening in the wildlife gardens of the Bog of Allen Nature Centre, my colleague came across another of autumn’s common moth species that was taking shelter under some decaying wood — the Herald Moth.

This moth is widespread in Ireland and is recorded in flight from June to November each year. This moth species also overwinters as an adult in dark spaces, often taking shelter in sheds and barns.

As a result, the moth is one of the last you will see each year and is one of the first you may encounter in March as the adults from the previous year emerge to mate and lay eggs before they die.

The moth is rusty brown in colour with white markings decorating the wing pattern. The forewing edges are hooked with distinctive curved edges.

This moth can be found living in a variety of habitats including gardens, parks, woodlands, fens and hedgerows.

The habitat of any animal is its home — however, the choice of home is also dependent on a food source. In the case of the Herald Moth, it lays its eggs on willow and poplar tree species.

So while in your local area you may have one of the habitats known for the Herald Moth, if your local area does not have the food plant it is unlikely this moth will be present.

Once the eggs are laid and the incubation period complete, the light green coloured caterpillars emerge and begin feeding.

While many caterpillars are green in colour, the Herald Moth can be identified from distinctive yellow coloured bands between the segments.

This moth can have two broods, the first emerging in May while a later brood emerges in August. The caterpillars will eventually spin a cocoon that is white and silky and carefully hidden, for protection, between two leaves.

Once the adult emerges the lifecycle starts all over again!

If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed like to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch column, contact me on 045 860133 or email bogs@ipcc.ie.

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