This film is part of Free

A Year and a Day

The metamorphosis of the eating machine which is the caterpillar, into an Emperor Moth, revealed in all its detail and presented in 15 minutes.

Nature and Science programme 1954 14 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This remarkable early wildlife film reveals the dedication of its makers, Leeds amateur filmmakers, the Ramsdens. Made over a period of two years in 1953 and ‘54, it shows the entire life cycle of an Emperor Moth, winning a national film award. 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.

Betty and Cyril Ramsden made several wildlife films among their extensive collection. This film is featured on a BBC/Open University television programme about their collection of films, Nation on Film, made in 2006, narrated by Sir David Jason. It was Betty who had the idea and Cyril who designed and made the equipment to film close up –presumably utilising his skills as a dentist – which he had used previously for ‘Winged Workers’. It was shot in their basement, with Cyril developing the film in their bath.