Small Eggar Lasiocampidae

Eriogaster lanestris (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 36-47mm. Adult moths have light reddish brown forewings with a white basal patch and pale postmedian line. There is also a distinctive white spot located centrally in the forewing and a dusting of grey scales towards the termen. The males have feathery antennae.

Sets:  male upperside female upperside

Flight Period: Late February.

Status: Extremely local; the vast majority of records refer to larvae and until 2000 no adult had been found in the wild in N. Ireland. There are records from the Umbra and Magilligan, Londonderry, where larvae are regularly found, and also Monmurray in Fermanagh. It was recorded at Ely Lodge, Fermanagh and at Bohill, NNR, Down, in the early 1970's but recent fieldwork in both these areas has failed to produce any more recent records.

Ecology: An extremely scarce species which has probably suffered as a result of recent changes in agricultural practice as well as increased use of pesticides and unnecessary cutting of natural hedgerows. Any surviving populations may well be fragmented especially in Fermanagh. The early flight period of adults may also account for its scarcity as little fieldwork is undertaken at this time of year. The larvae which are communal living within a web, have been found feeding on Hawthorn in N. Ireland. The webs are often conspicuous on the foodplant in late May or June. The larvae often bask in sunshine. The pupae overwinter sometimes for more than one winter.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1633 Agassiz number: 66.005

Additional information:

UK Moths account

Caterpillar: 

 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland
http://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/lepidoptera/species.asp?item=5702

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