Red-necked Footman (Atolmis rubricollis)

Unmistakable species: a black footman with a nice orange to red collar. The entire body when seen from above is black, except for the last 1/3rd part, which is yellowish or orange. The wingspan is somewhere between 28 to 36 mm.

Most eggs are laid in July and hatch in August. The larvae stop feeding towards the second half of October. Then they spin a brownish cocoon, in which they pupate and as such hibernate later on. The cocoons are attached to twigs or leaves or in crevices in tree trunks. However also found among or under mosses and plant debris. Usually the cocoons are found in small groups. The caterpillar of the Red-necked Footman is greyish green with dull orange blobs on the sides. It is similar to the caterpillars of other footmen, but has less, but longer hairs. The larvae grow to some 25 to 28 mm. They feed on algae, moss and lichen growing on trunks and branches of trees (especially oak, beech, firs), but also on those growing on rooftops and walls.

The Red-necked Footman is on the wing in June and July mainly. May sporadically be encountered in other months as well. Regularly flies around in broad daylight. This however is not often observed, as this species like to fly around the top of trees. However, quite often seen basking or mating on leaves or flowers in sunshine. Is attracted to light in the evenings, but usually in very small numbers only. The Red-necked footman prefers woodlands, but is sometimes also found in towns and even cities where it feeds on lichens on rooftops. Common and abundant in South-west England. In other parts of England, Northern Ireland and Wales not uncommon, but rather local. Scarce in the Irish Republic and Southern Scotland. On the continent a locally abundant species, but not to be encountered in Northern Europe.