Film ID:
YFA 3096



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A documentary by Betty and Cyril Ramsden, this film shows the life cycle of the Emperor Moth beginning when it is a small caterpillar feeding on heather until it turns into a moth. The couple were semi-professional filmmakers filming both for pleasure and taking on commissions from companies such as the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Title-On the moors in May or early June, the eggs of the Emperor Moth can be found deposited on the heather.

A close up of the heather showing bunches of eggs clinging to it.

Title-A fortnight later

Many little black furry caterpillars are now crawling over the eggs from which they've hatched.

Title-They feed voraciously and growth is rapid. Skins are shed about six times during life as caterpillars.

The caterpillars feed on the small branches of heather.

Title-After the first shedding of skin.

A caterpillar is on a branch and has grown a lot since it first hatched.

Title-After shedding second skin.

The caterpillar is now a different colour, yellow and black and bigger. An extreme close up shows it feeding on the heather.

Title-One month after hatching the protective colouration is more evident.

They now no longer stand out in the branches as they are green and brown and look like the twigs that they feed on.

Title-Prior to casting each skin, the caterpillar fasts for one day, attaching itself to some support by its pre-legs.

The caterpillar is attached to the branch. The shot is filmed in close up on a black background so it stands out. The caterpillar moves along and eventually out of its skin which is left on the branch.

Title-Discarded skins.

A skin is left in a ball on the branch.

Title-As the caterpillars and their appetites become larger, apple and sallow leaves, etc., are eaten in addition to heather' Caterpillar now green with pink spots feeds on heather whilst ones that are green and white striped pink feed on leaves.

About seven or eight weeks after hatching, caterpillars start to spin cocoons by exuding a fluid from a spinneret below the mouth. This fluid hardens into threads.

In the protection of the branches of heather the caterpillar starts to excrete a fine web to build its cocoon.

Title-A completed cocoon with the pupa inside.

On the branches a white cocoon has been formed.

Title-From September to the following May, the pupa remains in the cocoon, apparently dormant, but actually being re-formed into the adult insect.

There is a shot of the cocoon, but it has been cut open to show the insect almost ready to emerge.

Title-A female moth starts to emerge.

Out of another cocoon that is nestled in some branches of heather, the moth starts to push it open from the top. The camera captures this from different angles as the catepillar keeps pulling itself out and finally attaches itself to a branch.

Title-A male, having much thinner body, emerges much more quickly.

The film closes with a close up of a moth on a branch with its colourful wings on view.

Copy of A YEAR AND A DAY just with different titles - MM