52.003 (0371) Lunar Hornet Moth Sesia bembeciformis (Hübner, [1806])

Resident. Rare.
Flight period

William Jardine (1837) says "In Dumfries-shire it is abundant, inhabiting in the larva state S. caprea and the Black Italian poplar. The perfect insect, however, is scarcely ever taken, and specimens are to be procured with certainty only by rearing the caterpillar."
R. S. Gordon (1913) under A. formiciformis (Red-tipped Clearwing) said "I have never seen the perfect insect. Took several larvae and pupae in willow on islands, Drumwalt Loch, Mochrum; along with bembeciformis, 27/6/98." Under T. bembeciformis he adds "fairly common in the larval state wherever willows are plentiful, but I have only taken the imago by tying muslin bags over holes in tree trunks at Drumwalt, Corsemalzie and Dowalton Wood." Unfortunately, these were undated.
In 1979 it was found at Rhonehouse, while at Stroan viaduct on 22nd July 1994 some willows that had been cleared for car parking were found to contain larvae, and these were bred on. On the 13th July 2004 Keith Kirk a stunned specimen was found in the car park at Rockcliffe (VC73).
Life cycle
One generation. Overwinters as a larva where it feeds in the lower trunk and upper roots of willows, especially mature trees in damp situations, probably taking two seasons for development.
Larval foodplants
Sallows and willows.
The black head and collar will separate it from Hornet Moth.
Fens, open woodland, moors and heaths in damp situations.
Recorders' notes
Adults rarely seen, but probably more common than records suggest. Best searched for by checking suitable willow trunks for freshly emerged specimens in the morning. No specific pheremone lure currently available.
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Distribution map displays records from the National Biodiversity Network (See terms and conditions).

The following datasets are included:

  • Butterfly Conservation - Macro-moth provisional distribution for the British Isles (excluding the Republic of Ireland) from the National Moth Recording Scheme
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