73.058 The Mullein Cucullia verbasci – rediscovered after 69 years!

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Jul 192021
 

On Mon 12th July I noticed a large white larva with black and yellow markings feeding on Figwort in my garden. Knowing we don’t have Mullein, Toadflax Brocade or Striped Lychnis in Ireland I was surprised and excited. Many photos later, which I submitted to the Mothsireland FB page, I got confirmation that it was a Mullein Moth larva.

 

My garden is large and in rural north Co Dublin surrounded by tillage farms. The garden is managed for insects and, this year, has the best growth of Figwort I’ve ever had. Mullein/Verbascum grows in the front garden. While I’ve longed to see the larva of a Mullein Moth and always examined the Mullein plants, I never expected to see one here. A bigger surprise came on Tuesday evening when another larva was discovered on a poor specimen of Figwort in another part of the garden. That one has gone down into the plant pot and hopefully will be OK. The original larva is happily munching away. I will keep watch on the larva and continue to photograph it as it matures. This has to be the highlight of the year for me.

Mullein Caterpillar, Co.Dublin. July 2021

Mullein Caterpillar, Co.Dublin. July 2021

Mullein Moth has not been recorded in Ireland since 1952 and was classified as Regionally Extinct in the Red List of Ireland’s macro moths published by the NPWS in 2016. In GB, Mullein Moth is common and widespread across the south of England, becoming more patchy in its distribution in north England and Wales.

Fionnuala Parnell