It is amazing what a huge variety and range of moths are in Bulgaria. Some, such as the Hummingbird Moth and the Emperor Moth are quite unusual. We are lucky enough to see them in large numbers at the campsite. They love the white of our Reception building, so it is a good place to start looking for them.
Hummingbird Moths in Bulgaria
Hummingbird moths are fantastic imposters that can look strikingly similar to the popular birds. So how can you tell the difference between the large insects and tiny birds?
About Hummingbird Moths
There are more than 1,200 species of these moths worldwide. These insects are hawk moths, sphinx moths, clearwing moths, bee moths, and bee-hawk moths. And, in the caterpillar stage, they are hornworms.
Hummingbird moths share many common characteristics with hummingbirds. Both of these creatures are effective pollinators. Hummingbird moths also sip nectar from many of the same blooms hummingbirds prefer.
Moreover, their body shapes are similar. And hummingbird moths are also agile fliers. They can hover, fly sideways, and fly backward just like hummingbirds. These moths can have brightly coloured bodies similar to the birds. Plus, their wings make a blur in the air just like flying hummingbirds, even creating a humming noise.
Both the birds and the insects developed these characteristics independently through eons of evolution, and they both fill similar ecological niches. However, birders who know what to look for can easily learn to distinguish between these moths and the birds they mimic.
Emperor Moths in Bulgaria
It is the largest European moth, with a wingspan reaching 15–20 cm (6–8 in). They are sometimes call the Giant Peacock Moth.
It is a Southern European species. Its range includes the warmer regions of Europe: from Portugal and North Africa, southern France, through Alps (Austria and Switzerland) to Balkans, Italy and Ukraine. It is across the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia, Azerbajdan to Turkey, north Iraq, Syria, Mountains of the north Iran, Lebanon, Israel and the Alborz and Zagros Mountains of Iran. Populations are present also in the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia.
Saturnia pyri habitat consists in dry, hot and open landscapes with small trees and shrubs of the rose family (Rosaceae) like Prunus, Pyrus and Crataegus.
The giant peacock moth eggs are whiteish-grey, they lay them on the underside of the leaves (or everywhere in the netting cage) in rows of up to ten. They hatch in about 11-20 days depending on the temperature.
Young caterpillars are usually black with brown nodules, in the second instar the nodules turn orange. Later they become more greenish with yellow-blue hairy nodules.
Caterpillars usually take a while before starting to feed. They wander around looking for a good place to settle down under a leaf with the characteristic “U” position. While growing, the larva tends to move along the plant to avoid a quick defoliation, easily spotted by predators. That’s why they consume a large quantity of leaves and young-tender twigs.
Pre-pupae caterpillars of the giant peacock moth become orange with brighter spots. They spin their cocoons between twigs, in the bark or between ground and the base of the tree. It can also spin its cocoon between rocks, dead wood and in the crown of the trees
The cocoons are brownish and up to 5 cm. In some cases, the pupae can overwinter for more than one year.
To find out more about nature at the campsite see our #Nature blog posts. For more information about Moths in Bulgaria see Wikipedia.
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