Sunday, 17 September 2017

Molippa flavodiosiana

Nope, they are not photoshopped. The caterpillars of Molippa flavodiosiana really look this neongreen. Add a good size (around nine centimeter) to the mix and you get a quite spectacular final instar. Like Molippa nibasa, which I displayed earlier this year, this species does very well on Robinia pseudoacacia. The growth is relatively fast. Depending on the temperature, they are full grow within four to five weeks. Summer temperatures are a must. I wouldn't go below 25°C during the day or below 15°C at night. It's not going to kill them immediately, but it will slow down the growth and will make them more vulnerable for diseases. Larvae like these are best kept in well ventilated plastic containers. Start with a small container and switch to larger ones while they grow, so that the container remains adapted to the size and number of the animals you're rearing. The pupal stage will be variable. Moths can hatch over a longer period of time, depending on temperature and humidity, but they will not entirely diapauze.


Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana final instar on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana final instar on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana final instar on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana final instar on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana final instar on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L6 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L6 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L5 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L5 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L4 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L4 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L3 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L2 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Molippa flavodiosiana caterpillar
Molippa flavodiosiana L1 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Friday, 15 September 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris lemairei

No luck with these. Males and nothing but males. I'm going to have to redo this Mexican species another time to get some females on picture. They were also surprisingly late in the season. A more normal flight time for this univolutine species would have been June/early July. My males only started to emerge late August. This is a species with a very restricted distribution. So far, they have been reported from the Mexican states Oaxaca and Guerrero.The wingspan is between six and eight and half centimeter. Females are larger then males.


Automeris lemairei male
Automeris lemairei male - Origin: Mexico

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Antheraea jana

Each year there are plenty of cocoons for sale and still you don't see pictures of full grown jana caterpillars that often. Reason? Probably because they are not nearly as easy to breed as there cousins pernyi, yamamai and polyphemus. The good news is that once they are past the second instar they will probably make it to the pupal stage, however getting them started can be brutal. Already after a few days it can look like a mass slaughtering. I've had this species several times before, with very variable results, going from total failure to a reasonable success. I've never had a complete success though. Always there were at least some dead in the first two instars. Rearing this species will be trial and error until you've found something that works for your breeding conditions. The caterpillars are fairly small for an Antheraea. I've tried in the past Quercus robur, Ligustrum ovalifolium and recently Carpinus betulus. None of these plants seem very much to the liking of these animals. Next year or so, I will try Liquidambar. At least Antheraea mylitta does better on Liquidambar, so that might also be the case for jana. We shall see. In captivity this species broods continuously.


Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L5 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L5 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L5 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L5 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L4 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L4 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L3 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L3 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L2 on Carpinus betulus

Antheraea jana caterpillar
Antheraea jana L1 on Carpinus betulus

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Monkey Moths: Phiala species Malawi

At last, there they are! Nine months after I caught the female in the Dzalanyama forest in Malawi, the first moths are finally emerging. Given the long egg stage (approximately five weeks), the slow growth of the caterpillars (more then three months) and the fairly long pupal stage (another four months), it's obvious that this species has only one flight per year. I'm still searching for the name. It might be Phiala fuscodorsata (thanks RR for showing me this one). It's the only species I've seen so far with the extra patch of black scales near the basis of the fore wings. Not that I'm very confident this is the correct name. There are an awful lot of Phiala species and many of them look more or less the same. All of them are relatively small moths, all pure white, creamy white or grayish white with a variable amount of black markings on the upper side of the wings. Even on species level there is a lot of variation. Some moths can have a lot of black scales, while on other moths of the same species the black is almost entirely absent. On top of that the entire monkey moth family (Eupterotidae) is poorly studied. It is very likely that at least some, if not many of the Phiala will turn out to be synonyms for the same species. The wingspan of this particular species is around five centimeter, with little difference between males and females.


Phiala sp. male Malawi
Phiala sp. male - Origin: Malawi

Phiala sp. female Malawi
Phiala sp. female - Origin: Malawi

Phiala sp. female Malawi
Phiala sp. female - Origin: Malawi

Phiala sp. male Malawi
Phiala sp. male - Origin: Malawi

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Pseudodirphia mexicana

The hardest part of rearing Pseudodirphia mexicana is getting breeding stock. This is not a species that is available very often. Too bad, these larger larvae (up to ten centimeter when full grown) are quite spectacular with a strange combination of dark brown, dark pink and green. As long as you manage to keep them entirely dry for the entire caterpillar stage you should not have any problems. They like it somewhat warmer. A day temperature around twenty five degrees Celsius will do. Keep them in spacious, well ventilated plastic containers. I used hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), but they can be reared on a number of related plants like oak (Quercus), hazel (Corylus), birch (Betulus) and also willows (Salix). They are fairly slow growers. It takes seven to eight weeks before they start to pupate. The pupae will overwinter in an unheated room.


Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana final instar on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L6 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L6 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L5 on Carpunus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L5 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L4 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L3 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L2 on Carpinus betulus

Pseudodirphia mexicana caterpillar
Pseudodirphia mexicana L1 on Carpinus betulus

Friday, 1 September 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Molippa nibasa

Molippa nibasa is probably the best known of the more then thirty members out the Molippa genus. They occur from Mexico, throughout Central America, south to Colombia and (maybe) Ecuador. Further south nibasa is replaced by other, very similar species. This one is multibrooded, with in captivity two to even three broods annually. These are medium sized moths. The males have a wingspan between six and eight centimeter. The females are larger and heavier build, with a wingspan ranging from seven to nine and a half centimeter.
 

Molippa nibasa male
Molippa nibasa male - Origin: Mexico

Molippa nibasa female
Molippa nibasa female - Origin:Mexico

Molippa nibasa female
Molippa nibasa female typical resting position

Molippa nibasa male
Molippa nibasa male - Origin: Mexico

Molippa nibasa male
Molippa nibasa male - Origin: Mexico