Film ID:
YFA 3089



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A documentary film by Betty and Cyril Ramsden, this film shows the life cycle of an Emperor Moth. Shot in close up, the film follows the insect from its beginnings as a small caterpillar feeding on heather through to its transformation into a moth. The film won an award from the Leeds Camera Club.

Acknowledgement is made to Mr George Hodgson, without whose help and co-operation this film could not have been made.

Title: A Year And A Day.

Intertitle 'On the moors in May or early June, the eggs of the Emperor Moth can be found deposited on the heather'

There is a close up of a bunch of moth eggs attached to heather.

Intertitle: A fortnight later.

Many little black furry caterpillars now crawl over the eggs from where they have been hatched.

Intertitle: 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.

Intertitle: After the first shedding of skin . . .

A caterpillar, now larger, crawls along a twig and feeds on the leaves.

Intertitle: After shedding second skin . . .

The caterpillar has now grown more and has yellow and black markings. It feeds on the heather.
Intertitle: One month after hatching the protective colouration is more evident.

The caterpillars no longer stand out in the branches as they are green and brown and look like the twigs on which they feed.

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

A caterpillar is attached to a twig, and only on a black background does it stand out. It slowly emerges from out of its old skin which is left on the branch.

Intertitle: Discarded skins

Two discarded skins are left still attached to twigs.

Intertitle: As the caterpillars and their appetites become larger, apple and sallow leaves, etc., are eaten in addition to heather

A caterpillar, now green with pink spots, feeds on heather whilst ones that are green and white striped feed on larger leaves.

Intertitle: 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.

Intertitle: A completed cocoon with the pupa inside.

On the branches, a white cocoon has been formed. It is rotated around 360?.

Intertitle: From September to the following May, the pupa remains in the cocoon, apparently dormant, but actually being re-formed into the adult insect. The cocoon is cut open, to show the insect almost ready to emerge.

Images as described in the intertitle follow.

Intertitle: A female moth starts to emerge

Out of another cocoon that is nestled in some branches of heather, the moth starts to slowly push it open through the top. The camera captures this from different angles as the moth pulls itself out and finally attaches itself to a branch, showing its distinctive markings.

Intertitle: 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 spread out.

The End