Back in June 2021, I blogged about the webs I was finding on Spindle trees in a local woodland, the silken creations of the larvae of the Spindle ermine moth (Yponomeuta cagnagella), and I’ve been seeing a multitude of these webs and larvae again in recent weeks. They don’t do a lot of damage to the larger Spindle trees but, as you can see below right, the larvae’s voracious appetites can strip the smaller saplings.
I’d heard that when the larvae are fully grown, they drop to the ground to pupate, often dangling in writhing groups from a silken thread. This was the first time I’d seen the larvae doing just that.
During my most recent visit to this woodland where Spindle trees – and the Spindle ermine larvae that munch on them – are most plentiful, I finally saw some of the adult moths**, and what beautiful little creatures they are. There were four, all sitting on thistles within a few feet of each other, so I assume they had recently emerged from pupation. And so the life cycle begins again.
** A correction: Well, wouldn’t you know it? My Spindle ermine moths turned out to be Thistle ermine (Myelois circumvoluta). Serves me right for assuming they must be Spindle ermine just because of all the larvae in the area.