CURRENT PUPAE - Chrysalides and cocoons

If you are a beginner and need information on rearing from small caterpillars, or hatching out pupae, please order the All Colour Paperback BUTTERFLIES. INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT SENT WITH EACH SPECIES, you need to acquire basic skills and this book is a simple way of doing so.

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Elephant Hawk elpenor pupae
Availability: NOW

Elephant Hawk Dielephila elpenor

Store winter pupae refrigerated in a plastic box. In the emerging cage it is important to have the pupae moist but well drained. Please see the Pupae Nest on this website. The moths usually emerge in June and July. 

Cage the moths with nectar flowers and springs of Willowherb – you do not see the pairings but fertile eggs are easily obtained. 

An exceptionally pretty moth with amazing and characterful larvae, with eye-spots and probing “trunks”. Young larvae are green, later changing to charcoal black, with occasional rarities remaining green.

Larvae feed on Willowherbs, Fuschia, Creepers.

Highly recommended.

Spurge Hawk H euphorbiae pupae
Availability: Autumn

Spurge Hawk  Hyles euphorbiae 

A very rare migrant to Britain. They have been found on sand dunes on the southern shores of England.

Fine, healthy pupae to emerge soon. In the emerging cage keep as described for the Pupae Nest on this website. 

The moths breed at night and pairings are seldom seen. Provide potted foodplant on which the clusters of green eggs are laid. The larvae are black at first and they are gregarious. As they grow they separate and take on a multitude of amazingly bright and varied colours. The larvae will feed on most Spurges, including the summer weed Sun or Petty Spurge. The moths lay well on the tender shoots and Cypress Spurge Euphorbia cyparissias is a favourite. Larger larvae will feed the coarser Spurges, such as Caper Spurge and Wulfeni.

Pupae are formed on or beneath the surface of the ground. In warm conditions there may be multiple generations. Winter is spent as dormant pupae.

Only a few. They are for breeding in summer.

Dormant pupae are kept cool for the winter. Adults emerge in June/July.

Provide nectar flowers and potted Spurge plants for egg-laying. The best Spurges are Cypress Spurge (cyparissias), Wood Spurge, Sea Spurge, and the annual Sun or Petty Spurges are all suitable.  Eggs are laid in clutches near the tips. The young larvae are black and cluster. 

Soon they take on amazing spots and stripes of yellow, red, white and green.  Some of the most colourful larvae in the world.

Oleander Hawk nerii Pupae
Availability: Spring/summer

Oleander Hawkmoth Daphnis nerii  

One of the finest of all Hawkmoths. They can be bred in captivity. The larvae are very fast growing indeed. Most breeders rear the larvae on Privet Ligustrum. The larvae thrive on Periwinkle Vinca, and in the wild they are found on Oleander Nerium.

Pupae can be kept warm (20ºC) and moist to emerge this autumn/winter, or they can be kept cool to emerge and breed in the spring. 

To overwinter autumn pupae, bury the pupae in light compost that is not too damp but not allowed to dry out. The top of each pupa should be just showing. Store in a cool place (10-12 degrees C) away from predadors. Bring into the warm in April ready for May emergence.

In the emerging cage, underground pupae need to be in moist compost or kept as described for the Pupae Nest on this website.

Convolvulous Hawk convolvuli pupae Pupae
Availability: Autumn

Convolvulous Hawkmoth convolvuli Herse convolvuli

The pupa has an exceptionally large proboscis case protruding, like a jug handle! Keep the pupae warm and they will produce adults this summer. Otherwise you can store the pupae cool for the winter and allow to hatch in May/June. 

The larvae feed on most Convolvulous species. The moth likes to feed from deep throated flowers (Tobacco Nicotiana is a favourite).

Females lay a large number of eggs.

Clifden Nonpareil Catocala fraxini FIVE pupae for breeding.
Availability: July

Clifden Nonpareil or Blue Underwing Catocala fraxini pupae

This is probably only the second time we have been able to offer pupae of this magnificent and very large European Noctuid. Allow the moths some space for nuptual flight. Cover a laying box, or round tub,  with two layers of netting. The females lay eggs on the netting. Store the eggs away from pests in a cool place or fridge for the winter.

This species is now almost extinct in Britain. We are offering European stock of this fine moth, the largest of all Underwings and remarkable for its BLUE hindwings. Store the eggs refrigerated until May. The young larvae are immensely active and care must be taken when transferring them to fooplant on hatching, because they can tangle themselves up if you try to move more than one at a time! Feed on Aspen and other Poplars. The larvae are the larges of this genus and very satisfying to rear. Moths emerge in late summer, laying eggs that overwinter.

£24.95 +vat
Garden Tiger caja Woolly Bears. 10 Larvae
Availability: Late summer

Garden Tiger Moth Arctia caja  

Young larvae that in the wild would hibernate and if kept warm and active, could develop and produce another generation this year.  If young larvae are released into hedgerows, there is the opportunity to introduce Woolly Bears back into the countryside, where once they were abundant each spring.

Garden Tiger larvae Woolly Bears  grow fast on Dock, Dandelion, Dead Nettle, Nettle and many other hedgerow plants, also Pussy Willow Salix caprea and Osier Willow Salix viminalis.  You can also feed them conveniently on Cabbage.

Now a most difficult species to obtain.

In the wild, late summer larvae would hibernate, but if you keep them warm and light, many will produce another generation this year.

If you wish to hibernate Wooly Bears, sleeve them in autumn on Willow or Sallow (Pussy Willow). The falling leaves curl to form a ventilated ball in which the larvae hibernate. If all goes well in winter the larvae emerge in spring and feed from the new spring leaves.


£12.95 +vat
Cinnabar Moth Hipocrita jacobaeae pupae
Availability: Autumn

Cinnabar Moth Hipocrita jacobaeae pupae

Once an extremely common British Moth, less common over most of Europe, but over the last 10 years there has been a marked decline in numbers. The summer of 2016 brought a reversal of this decline and we have a fine stock of pupae available, as a result of breeding.

The larvae feed on Groundsel and Ragwort Senecio. The larvae are ringed in bright orange and black, nature's warning colours, and they absorb chemicals from the foodplant that adversely affect predators who ignore the warning. Ragwort is a mis-understood plant that provides an abundance of nectar to bees, butterflies and other insects. There is evidence that Ragwort plants that are pulled up and left to dry, can be detrimental to cattle and horses if they eat the dried plants. Animals can be seen grazing safely in fields containing growing green plants. There is nothing to be gained from pulling up Ragwort plants, because they are biennials that flower and die in the same year. So a patch of Ragwort can provide valuable nectar to thousands of wild insects, and be host to Cinnabar larvae and, job completed, it dies at the end of summer. 

The Cinnabar moth flies by day, more than by night, and is protected from predators, by the very striking colours of charcoal and scarlet, and bitter-tasting chemicals derived from the larval foodplant, enabling the moth to display its bright colours, yet not be attacked by predators. 

Cinnabar larvae can be raised in sleeves on growing Ragwort. We find the sleeves fitted with a zip are particularly successful. When the larvae are large, if you put in the sleeve several handfuls of springy wood shavings or dried leaf litter, they will form thin silken cocoons in which to pupate.

Could you help to spread this colourful day-flying moth again in your area?

Store pupae cool for the winter, even in a fridge, loose in a plastic box, without any padding.  In May lay them out in an emerging cage and wait for the moths to emerge.


Belted Beauty Lycia zonaria Pupae
Availability: Autumn

The Belted Beauty Lycia zonaria

In Britain this species is very rare indeed, and protected. Found in only about 3 localities on sandy nutrient-poor grassland or dunes. Very scarce in Holland, where it occurs in similar coastal areas. Our stock comes from central Europe, where it is sometimes found on dry limestone slopes where the vegetation is sparse. 

Eggs are laid in batches particularly on grasses where they can be tucked into pockets and hollow stems. The larvae feed on a variety of vegetation - possibly almost anything that is growing amongst the grasses. They are recorded as feeding on Dandelion, Dock, Cow Parsley,Clovers, Kidney Vetch, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Yarrow, Creeping Willows and Sallows, Hawthorn, Coltsfoot, Plantains, Burnet Rose and even Flag Iris. The larva, starting black with prominent white spots, becomes medium green, well camouflaged colour, but with a prominent lemon yellow lateral stripe. This is a Geometer - looper caterpillar. This is one of the few moths that has a wingless female. The female rests sometimes prominently where they more easily attract males, which fly by day and by night. 

The pupa is formed only a little below the ground surface, where it spends the winter. Store winter pupae in a closed plastic box, very cool or refrigerated. To avoid desiccation don't leave in open air. In the emerging cage, keep moist at all times. See the Pupae Nest on this website. Emergence starts in the very early spring.

This is an opportunity not to be missed, to breed a very rare species and see its life history at first hand.


Kentish Glory E versicolora  pupae
Availability: Autumn

Kentish Glory  Endromis versicolora 

Store pupae refrigerated until February/March when the adults emerge and breed. Provide Birch twigs for females to lay their clusters of yellow eggs. In normal cold conditions, the eggs don't hatch before the foodplant buds open.  

This species is now found only in Scotland, and parts of Central Europe. These are European stock. Emerging as early as February. The first eggs and larvae are ready in March.  Clusters of bright yellow eggs are laid on bare Birch twigs.  Just go out and cut some twigs and arrange them in the cage. The eggs gradually change to a deep purple colour which matches the colour of the twigs. In captivity, the eggs can hatch before the Birch buds are open, so keep some twigs warm inside, standing in water, to get them to sprout.

If you can sleeve the larvae on a growing plant, potted or in the ground, rearing is very easy. The larvae, black at first,  cluster on the twigs. Later they are green and spread out a little, clinging on to the twigs, they look just like Birch catkins. Absolute masters of camouflage. In May the larvae pupate in leaf litter and settle down until the new season starts again in February. This is a very easy species: just make sure you have enough growing foodplant (it can be in pots). The male and female moths share the same patterning, but the female is much larger and the male has particularly rich chestnut markings. Pairing is easy. Just leave the moths together and Nature takes care of things.

Note Kentish Glory larvae can also be fed on Hazel, Alder, Hornbeam, and Lime. It is probable that other alternative tree species may be used as foodplant.

Our thanks to Jens Stolt who has kindly allowed us to use his beautiful illustration of the life history of this rare species.


Lackey Moth Malacasoma neustria 6 cocoons for breeding
Availability: NOW

Lackey Moth Malacasoma neustria 

The larvae are very active, and extremely colourful. Easy to rear. The cocoon is particularly unusual, protected by sulphur-like yellow powder. The moths emerge this year, and the female lays eggs in a band round a twig, which overwinters until the larvae hatch in spring.

Not a rare species but seldom offered by WWB. Although considered common, the Lackey Moth is found much more rarely than 20 years ago and it is one that can be encouraged so easily. 

The overwintering eggs are laid in tight bands on the bark of the foodplant. Resulting larvae are gregarious until much larger.  They become amazingly beautiful, striped from head to tail with contrasting hues of orange and blue. The head is sky blue, with two prominent black spots, looking like eyes.

The most used foodplants are Hawthorn and Blackthorn, and the larvae also feed on Plum, Apple, Oak, Rose, Bramble, Willows and Sallows. Try them on alternatives, you may discover new foodplants.

The white silken cocoons contain a curious sulphur-like powder, produced by the caterpillar as it pupates.

The female is a small, quite stocky Eggar Moth. Males are less heavily built and very agile. Pairing is easy.  Provide thin branches for the females to lay their bands of eggs, which should be stored cold from November to April. When leaves are produced in spring, let the eggs hatch in the ambient temperature.


£14.95 +vat
Pine Arches Moth Panthea coenobita cocoons
Availability: NOW

Pine Arches Moth Panthea coenobita 

 Very seldom offered.  A Noctuid that has characteristics akin to the Tussocks. The caterpillar is beautifully coloured and patterned with tufts and tussocks of hair, giving it excellent camouflage on the twigs of its foodplants which are Pines Pinus, Spruces Abies and Larches Larix.

Coenobita is relatively unknown and few breeders have raised it. The species is found over many parts of Europe (excluding Britain) Spain and most of France. Its range extends to the Far East.


Small Eggar Moth Eriogaster lanestris cocoons
Availability: Autumn

Small Eggar Moth Eriogaster lanestris 

The moths emerge in March/April. On receipt of the pupae they should be refrigerated until spring. The moths form inside the cocoon in late winter. The moment the temperature rises, they burst forth, and it is inadvisable to let them do this too early, or any fertile eggs might hatch before there is any foodplant.

Because of modern practice of hedge management, this once common species is nowadays a rare find. Tight clipping of hedges destroys the habitat and undoubtedly the eggs and larvae.

Egg clusters are laid in batches, covered with black fluff from the tip of the female's abdomen, on branches of the foodplant Blackthorn Prunus spinosa or Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna. The larvae cluster, and even large larvae live within, and on the outsite of a prominent white tent of silk, very often at the end of a branch, with no attempt at concealment. It is likely that the larvae in captivity could be reared on Apple and Plum, though we have not tried these.

Don't be tempted to handle the larvae. They have short, decorative hairs, which easily come away and if they penetrate the skin, like short cactus prickles, this can give rise to intense irritation. No doubt this is why the larvae can afford to display themselves in the wild so openly. No predator will try to eat them once they learn, and the larvae are patterned in warning colours to advertise the danger.

To pupate, the larvae descend to form a tight cocoon with a smooth shell-like a nut, in concealed leaf litter or moss, where they spend the winter. In early spring, the moths are fully formed within the pupal shell, ready to emerge the moment they sense that conditions are right. If you take the nut-like cocoons from the cold and put them into room temperature, the moths will suddenly break open the ends of the cocoons and there will be a whole lot of moths in a very short time!

You might help to spread the species locally if you can find thorn hedges that are not regularly trimmed. Cocoons are immediately available. Keep them in the fridge until April. You will enjoy observing this species, in all its interesting stages, and maybe could introduce it to your area.