|Adult of Cerura vinula|
Cerura vinula has a wingspan of 58 millimetres (2.3 in) to 75 millimetres (3.0 in) – the males are slightly smaller. They have white or yellowish-gray forewings with dark lines. The hind wings are light gray and in the females they are almost transparent. The body is whitish-gray and bears black bands on top of the abdomen. The flight period extends from April to August depending on the altitude, in one generation. The host plants are the willow and the poplar, especially the aspen, Populus tremula.
The females lay their chocolate brown, 1.5 millimetres (0.059 in) wide, hemispherical eggs on the upper side of the leaves of their food plants.
The caterpillars grow to about 80 millimetres (3.1 in) long. They are bright light green and have a blackish-brown dorsal pattern outlined in white. Young caterpillars are completely black. The abdomen ends in a tail fork with two long, dark-colored tips bearing red extendable flagellae. The moth survives the winter as a pupa in a very solid wood-reinforced cocoon, attached to a tree or pole.
The caterpillars have a remarkable defensive behavior. When disturbed, they strike a defensive pose raising the head with a reddish area and tails with extendable flagellae. They might squirt formic acid at the attacker if the defense warning is unheeded.
Video of Cerura vinula
This moth mostly lives in very dense woodland areas.
- South R. (1907) The Moths of the British Isles, (First Series), Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., London & NY: 359 pp. online
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cerura vinula.|