Friday, 30 May 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris mixtus

With a wingspan of more then ten centimeters, Automeris mixtus is one of the largest of the Automeris species. They occur in tropical South America (at least Peru and Ecuador), from sealevel to 400 m. This species is identical to Automeris larra and can only be identified correctly based on DNA analysis. They must be kept warm year round as they have multiple broods. The caterpillars grow very large and have long spikes that sting like nettles. So handle with care, but that goes for all Automeris species.

Automeris mixtus
Automeris mixtus male - Origin: Ecuador

Automeris mixtus
Automeris mixtus L7 on Rubus fruticosa

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Endromis versicolora

I have decided to widen the scope of this blog to the Lasiocampidae and all the families belonging to the Bombycoidea. That way I can also show you some hawk moths (Sphingidae), monkey moths (Eupterotidae) and true silkmoths (Bombycidae). And ... the species of today, Endromis versicolora. A lovely Belgian moth that seems to have become increasingly common over the last few years, while almost all other moth populations are in decline. And you are absolutely right, the caterpillars don't luck very interesting, but wait untill you see the moths, early spring next year.

Endromis versicolora L5 caterpillar
Endromis versicolora L5 on Betula

Endromis versicolora L5 caterpillar
Endromis versicolora L5 on Betula

Endromis versicolora L3 caterpillar
Endromis versicolora L3 on Betula

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Antheraea pernyi

This species is a classic. I've bred them for the first time when I was a kid, a very very long time ago. Usually, they are very easy to breed on oak. However, because this is such a popular species, there is a lot of inbred. When you are going to buy some eggs or when someone is offering you eggs, it's always better to check the origin. If they are inbred they become extremely difficult, with lots of sick animals and lots of disappointments. And that's a shame, because it can be a very nice and uncomplicated species to have.

Antheraea pernyi L5 caterpillar
Antheraea pernyi L5 on Betula
Antheraea pernyi L4 caterpillar
Antheraea pernyi L4 on Betula
Antheraea pernyi L3 caterpillar
Antheraea pernyi L3 on Betula
Antheraea pernyi L2 caterpillar
Antheraea pernyi L2 on Betula

Friday, 23 May 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Saturnia (Caligula) japonica

Houston, we have a problem. Normally this species flies in autumn, while the eggs overwinter in the fridge untill next spring. But, that's not what's happening with mine. All the pupae are eclosing. It's an interesting problem. What if they mate and lay eggs? It's not possible to keep the eggs in the fridge for almost an entire year. None of the eggs would survive that. I'm going to take them out of the fridge after two months (somewhere end of july) and hope that I can trick the species in having a second 'first' generation of this year.

Caligula japonica male
Caligula japonica male - Origin: Japan

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Eriogaster lanestris

People sometimes ask me why I breed Lasiocampidae. The moths are not that spectacular, especially not compared to the Saturniidae or the Brahmaeidae. Their caterpillars however are often very colorful and if not colorful than they usually are quite bizarre. Take the European Eriogaster lanestris for exemple. The moths are brownish and have a wingspan around 4 cm. Nothing special and not worth breeding, untill you see the caterpillars ...

Eriogaster lanestris caterpillar
Eriogaster lanestris L5 on Betula

Eriogaster lanestris L5 caterpillar
Eriogaster lanestris L5 on Betula

Eriogaster lanestris L4 caterpillars
Eriogaster lanestris L4 on Betula

Eriogaster lanestris L3 caterpillars
Eriogaster lanestris L3 on Betula

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The unknown Rothschildia

Sometimes you receive eggs without any information on the species or the origin. The caterpillars I will show you in this post are some of those. They were send to me by my friend Dianne as Rothschildia orizaba, because that was what the company who sold her the cocoons said that it would be. Quickly after hatching of the eggs it became clear that it could not be orizaba. But what species are they? That's difficult to say. Caterpillars of several Rothschildia species look a lot alike. It probably is one of the many subspecies of Rothschildia lebeau, but it could also be Rothschildia hesperus. I guess we will have to wait for the moths to eclose to be sure.

Rothschildia caterpillar
Rothschildia sp. L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia caterpillars
Rothschildia sp. L4 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia caterpillar
Rothschildia sp. L3 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 16 May 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Antheraea jana

This week's silkmoth is a species from East Java. It is a close relative to the American Polyphemus moth. There is very little known about the life cycle of Antheraea jana. Foodplant will probably be oak, although they might do better on Liquidambar or Eucalyptus. I never had this Antheraea before, so I will have to improvise a little.

Antheraea jana male
Antheraea jana male - origin: East Java
Antheraea jana female
Antheraea jana female - origin: East Java

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

... and another

Madness, absolute madness, that's what this is. You've got crazy people and then there is me: Jurgen the first, supreme ruler of planet insanity, surrounded by hundreds of caterpillars.

Periphoba arcaei L1 caterpillars
Periphoba arcaei L1 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L1 caterpillars
Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L1 on Prunus serotina

Attacus caesar L1 caterpillar
Attacus caesar L1 on Prunus serotina
Hyalophora kasloensis L1 on Prunus serotina

Cricula trifenestrata
Cricula trifenestrata L1 on Rhododendron

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

... and another blast ...

Yep, you are right, it is high season now. I tried to spread the number of species to avoid having to many of them together at the same moment, but I failed completely. That's what happens when you have more then a few moths: they multiply. And those eggs can be used to trade. And so one species becomes six. Six become thirty six and so on, until there are so many of them that you hardly have a place to sit in your own home.

Automeris naranja caterpillars
Automeris naranja L1 on Prunus serotina

Antheraea polyphemus caterpillar
Antheraea polyphemus hatchling on Quercus robur

Anisota virginiensis L1 caterpillars
Anisota virginiensis L1 on Quercus robur

Syntherata escarlata L1 caterpillars
Syntherata escarlata L1 on Ligustrum

Saturnia pyri L1 caterpillar
Saturnia pyri L1 on Prunus avium

Monday, 12 May 2014

Another blast of tiny caterpillars ...

It has been three weeks since I last posted some young caterpillars. A lot has happened in that time. Sometimes it seems like cages keep on popping up everywhere in the house. Each day, when I come home from work it is like: my god, another cage, who has put that there? And next to the cages, small plastic tubs. Tubs filled with tiny caterpillars ...

Antheraea pernyi caterpillars
Antheraea pernyi hatchlings on Betula

Actias sjoeqvisti L2 caterpillars
Actias sjoeqvisti L2 on Alnus

Saturnia pavoniella L1 caterpillars
Saturnia pavoniella L1 on Crataegus

Rothschildia caterpillars
Rothschildia sp. L2 & L1 on Prunus serotina

Hyalophora cecropia L1 caterpillars
Hyalophora cecropia L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 9 May 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Saturnia pyretorum

Today's silkmoth is a species that had a post on this blog before. I was able to show you the spectacular caterpillars a few weeks ago thanks to a friend who gave me the eggs. My own cocoons are eclosing much later than hers. Unfortunately, so far not yet a male and a female together.

Saturnia pyretorum female - Origin: Taiwan

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Breeding moths comes with ups and downs. Some species do well, others don't. It doesn't matter whether you are an experienced breeder or a novice, sometimes caterpillars just die. It happens to all of us. That being said, it doesn't make it any more pleasant when it happens. Especially not when it happens with a species you never had before and you were looking forward to see develop and eventually become a moth. Like these Syssphinx heiligbrodti that were send to me. Have a last look at the caterpillars and mourn, because they ain't no more ...

Syssphinx heiligbrodti caterpillar
Syssphinx heiligbrodti hatchling on Robinia

Syssphinx heiligbrodti L2 caterpillar
Syssphinx heiligbrodti L2 on Robinia 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rhodinia grigauti

These Rhodinias are funny creatures. When they feel threatened the caterpillars squeak. Sometimes I push against their cage on purpose, just to make them scream. I know, I shouldn't do that, but it just is such a funny sound, I simply can't resist. This species is from Asia, where it occurs in China and Vietnam. They do very well on hawthorn in mesh cages.

Rhodinia grigauti L2 caterpillar
Rhodinia grigauti L2 on Crataegus

Rhodinia grigauti L3 caterpillar
Rhodinia grigauti L3 on Crataegus

Rhodinia grigauti L4 on Crataegus
Rhodinia grigauti L4 on Crataegus

Rhodinia grigauti L5 caterpillar
Rhodinia grigauti L5 on Crataegus

Friday, 2 May 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Anisota virginiensis

When you first see Anisota virginiensis you wouldn't suspect that these moths are related to giant silkmoths like the Atlas moth or the Hercules moth. The male is so small, that when he's in resting position, he fits almost entirely on my thumb's fingernail. Males have partially translucent wings. Because of this and their fast way of flying during the day, they resemble a bee on first impression. The female is almost twice the size of the male, but you can hardly call her a giant either. This species occurs in the United States. The caterpillars feed upon oak.

Anisota virginiensis male
Anisota virginiensis male - origin: USA

Anisota virginiensis female
Anisota virginiensis female - origin: USA