COMMENDED - 2014
Having discovered a group of six-spot Burnet moth caterpillars & cocoons on some waste grassland the previous summer and filmed their successive emergence, Martin James returned to the same grassland in May of this year to see if he could repeat the challenge.
Martin collected several of the caterpillars along with some grass stalks, and the following day was lucky enough to capture one of them constructing a cocoon from start to finish. The construction was completed over a period of 3 hours and Martin used time-lapse to take one picture every five seconds in order to construct a moving sequence of the action.
After waiting for 20 to 25 days, the moths started to emerge from their cocoons and with his camera now in video mode, Martin managed to film a few of the ‘re-births’ in their entirety, followed by the wing growth stage and their eventual first flight.
Martin found that "this always seemed to occur at around 06:30 each morning, so I had the camera all set up and waiting. I just had to choose which cocoon to focus on. They usually give around five minutes warning by way of a small hole appearing at the top of the cocoon."