69.003 (1981) Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi (Linnaeus, 1758)

Resident. Common.
Flight period

In August 1858 Somerville (1858) found the larvae on willow near Moffat (VC72) for our first notification of this widespread Hawk-moth. Lennon (1860) stated he had bred ten on, presumably from larvae he had collected from around Dumfries whilst out rambling. By 1863 Lennon had already noticed it at Caerlaverock (VC72) and Lochaber, Mabie Forest (VC73).
Buchanan White of Perth (1895) listed it as occurring in Colvend and Southwick parishes (VC73).
Gordon (1913) found that it was common around Corsemalzie until many of the poplar trees died, then it became scarcer. He also found it where willows were plentiful. On the 10th June 1896 he had found about thirty flying around some sallow bushes on the high road at Corsemalzie, evidently they were getting something from the green shoots. Several were netted. He found that both light and dark forms of larvae occurred.
Sir Arthur Duncan (1909-84) during his lifetime had found it at Closeburn, Tynron and Castlehill, Dumfries (all VC72).
During 1974-93 there were 145 records from all of the Rothamsted station, proving it a widespread moth. Irvine House Lodge at Auchenrivock provided a series of records from 1974, while during the early 1980s nearly forty records were recorded.
From 1989 to 2010 over 800 records were logged from a wide scattering of sites across the region, normally a handful of specimens in a trap, but a high of eighteen in one night has been met with.
Life cycle
One generation. Overwinters as a pupa, close to the larval foodplant, underground. Larvae are present June to September.
Larval foodplants
Aspen, poplars, sallows and willows.
Woodland, moorland, heathland, fens and gardens where the foodplant is present.
© Keith Naylor, Wood of Cree RSPB, 20 June 2004

Local distribution map

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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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