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Talkback: Mullein moth

The mullein moth is one of the ever decreasing number of British moths to be found in the wild. It is appalling to recommend the destruction...

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The mullein moth is one of the ever decreasing number of British moths to be found in the wild. It is appalling to recommend the destruction of these caterpillars. I have observed moths for 50 years and I have seen my first mullein moth caterpillars this year. They are happily munching their way through a beautiful verbascum that I planted last year and I am so happy that they have chosen my garden to breed in. You should advise gardeners, and I am a gardener, that wildlife should be treasured and not eliminated. The moth may be seen as a pest in some areas but in other regions a garden may be its last hope of survival.
I still use some chemicals in the garden but indescriminate use against creatures that are in decline is bad advice. Please show some balance where wildlife is concerned.
i agree lovemoths.. there is no need to spray them.. i get them ever year as i love verbascums also.. so i just collect them all up and move them to three plants i planted in garden just for them, in with the veg bed.. so they cant harm the others in my front flower beds.
i grow plants and flowers that encourage bees and butteflies and all manner of british wildlife into my garden.. as monty says there is always a way for both of us to be in our gardens together where we both benefit.. to see the spray that are killing our bees now being banned, to protect them, and then read this, its terrible.
all wildlife should be supported in a way that helps both them and the gardener, the suggestion of total obliviation breaks my heart.

Found these fantastic caterpillars on a self-seeded mullein growing out of the side of a raised bed in our vegetable patch and had to look up on the internet what they were.  Will be leaving them in peace to do their stuff on the mullein and hatch out into the adults.   The caterpillars really are fantastic and voraciouis eaters, if they finish the mullein, there is an old buddleia nearby that they can feast on.  Our gardens are to share and my children will learn from watching these wonderful insects develop!


I actually only grow the native Mullein specifically for the moths. They make a dreadful mess of the plants, but so what. In  a garden this size we can hide things like that at the back of a deep border and no one but us sees it.


My garden is for the native inhabitants. The enjoyment that brings to me and like minded visitors is worth any destruction of leaves


I agree. This is a most beautiful moth and caterpillar and is very important as a pollinator and an utterly harmless species. I would be very happy for it to feed off of my mullein & buddleia in my garden. You have to remember that moths are also pollinators and I would be proud for it to be in my garden. I cannot believe that you recommend zapping it. Destroying it would defeat the purpose of a wildlife friendly garden (after all why would you grow these plants if not to attract wildlife) My garden is beautiful and wild and is there to attract wild creatures not to have a sterile environment. Get real chaps and stop recommending such destructive measures, we should not dominate every part of the world & you should take a more responsible remit to encourage such wonderful species. Do we need to destroy everything?!
hideous advice-
In light of decreasing areas of natural habitat, gardens should be promoted as refuge for wildlife, whilst flowers should be viewed for what they truly are; functional parts of ecosystems, instead of ornaments.
Flowers are intended as a food source for countless organisms, they are not sterile environments that people should continuously police, guarding them against the creatures for which they are actually intended for in the first place. What would become of so many species if everyone behaved this way, this article promotes a very selfish and damaging approach to the natural world.

I've just found a couple of these caterpillars on in my garden....and if I can't share my garden with wonderful wildlife, then I'm not doing very well!  Love plants, love wildlife, everything welcome here!  


I have also found two of these lovely caterpillars on my buddleia.. Now I know what they are, I keep going out to check they are still there! I shall be devastated if the birds find them. Live and let live! 

What plants should I transfer them to?

I would like to see a picture of the moth instead of the caterpillar stage

I was very proud of my mullion moth caterpillers on the verbascum, only to look on the homepage here where they say destroy them with sprays, why ever do that?





I suppose that for some people the plants are more important than the moths, instead of regarding them as complementary 


I have had a glorious collection of the checkerboard caterpillars this year.  Now the plants have been eaten, and cut back, they are starting to resprout.  Can't see any caterpillars at the moment - is that because they are all moths now?  And will there be another generation of caterpillars this year, or are they a spring thing?


They'll be pupating underground - think it'll take quite a while before they appear as moths, according to Wiki it can take up to 5 years, but I don't know how reliable that is 


5 Years! gosh, no digging to be done there then.

My verbascum is now full of holes...after 17 of these beasties had fun munching their way through the plant. But, I never use chemicals, enjoy seeing all sorts of insects & creatures, so I picked off all the leaves with a caterpillar on & then poked them through the wire fence at the bottom of my garden, which seperates me from a field. Hopefully they had enough leaves to feed on, & can easily pupate underground.