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14 June 2021

12 June 2021 – Yorkshire Larvae Crawling Tonight

Mullein (Shargacucullia verbasci)  

There are two Mulleins in the photograph, one is the caterpillar and the other is the plant.  

The Mullein (insect) is not recorded as a Mullein Moth – like the Ghost Moth (Hepialus humuli) or the Goat Moth (Cossus cossus) it is just Mullein; the food source is not described as the Mullein Plant either but their scientific names will ensure that identification is accurate – Verbascum thapsus is the plant.  The two mullein larvae on the leaves of the plant will find there should be enough foliage to keep them satisfied as they grow.  The arrival of the caterpillars is right on time for this species but what will have happened to other species during the frosts and the cold and the rain of early Spring?  Will their internal clocks alter to compensate?  The roses are just appearing in the garden and they are at least 3 weeks behind their regular time. 

Reading the entry in the Field Guide for (Shargacucullia verbasci) I learn that the pupa can remain underground for up to five years. That is one way to avoid seasonal inconsistencies.  Remember that Yorkshire Moths Flying Tonight is an excellent introduction to what you might be seeing in your moth-trap or on your kitchen window after dark.

NB: the scientific name of Shargacucullia verbasci has been shortened to Cucullia verbasci just to keep everyone on their toes.