Sunday, 29 June 2014

Saturnia (Caligula) simla

These were by far the most beautiful caterpillars I had this year, so I didn't mind that they were slow growers compared to the other Caligula species. I took the eggs out of the fridge at the same moment as the Caligula jonasii eggs. The last of the jonasii caterpillars pupated several weeks ago, while some of the simla are only finishing up right now. Breeding of this species is the same as for other Caligula species: normal room temperature and open (mesh) cages. However, they are more picky about their foodplants. Crataegus for exemple will not work. Plants that are very well accepted are Betula pendula and Salix caprea. They will also eat Prunus padus, but more reluctantly. Eclosing of the moths will be in about 6 to 8 weeks.


Caligula simla L5 caterpillar
Caligula simla L5 on Betula

Caligula simla L4 caterpillar
Caligula simla L4 on Betula

Caligula simla L3 caterpillar
Caligula simla L3 on Betula

Caligula simla L2 caterpillar
Caligula simla L2 on Salix

Friday, 27 June 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Eacles imperialis

Another interesting American silkmoth with a distribution that reaches from Canada south to as far as Argentinia. Several different subspecies exist. The large and fast growing caterpillars eat almost everything. Not only deciduous shrubs and trees, but also conifers. The imagines can sometimes be quite difficult to mate, especially when they are not the offspring of wild parents.

Eacles imperialis male
Eacles imperialis male - Origin: USA
Eacles imperialis female
Eacles imperialis female - Origin: USA

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Phyllosphingia dissimilis

OK, I admit, the first hawkmoth caterpillars posted on this blog, look a bit like large green worms with a hook at the tail. A lot of hawkmoth caterpillars look like this. They simply can't compete with the giant silkmoths. I probably will get a lot of hatemail now from all those hawkmoth lovers out there, so I will also say something positive about them: they are not complicated to breed. In fact, when you are used to difficult silkmoth species, this is a bit the kiddy league. Feed them Juglans and they will grow and grow and grow and after three weeks they are ready to pupate. There's nothing more to it. I will end with one interesting fact: both caterpillars and pupae are very noisy. When they feel threatened they make an angry hissing sound, almost like a snake.



Phyllosphingia dissimilis caterpillar L5
Phyllosphingia dissimilis L5 on Juglans

Phyllosphingia dissimilis L5 caterpillar
Phyllosphingia dissimilis L5 dark form

Phyllosphingia dissimilis caterpillar L4
Phyllosphingia dissimilis L4 on Juglans


Phyllosphingia dissimilis caterpillar L3
Phyllosphingia dissimilis L3 on Juglans

Phyllosphingia dissimilis caterpillar L2
Phyllosphingia dissimilis L2 on Juglans


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cricula trifenestrata

Not the largest species, but with a striking caterpillar like this, very hard to overlook. In the final instar they become about seven centimeters. I keep this Asian species in large plastic boxes. When you do an internet search, you will find a long list of possible food plants. Most of these plants however are not accepted. In reality they seem to prefer Rhododendron. I never got them to eat anything else.


Cricula trifenestrata caterpillar L5
Cricula trifenestrata L5 on Rhododendron

Cricula trifenestrata caterpillar L5
Cricula trifenestrata L5 on Rhododendron

Cricula trifenestrata caterpillar L4
Cricula trifenestrata L4 on Rhododendron

Cricula trifenestrata caterpillar L3
Cricula trifenestrata L3 on Rhododendron


Friday, 20 June 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris randa

I really enjoyed breeding this Automeris species. Compared to many other Automeris this one is quite large (about the size of a Polyphemus moth). Primary food plants of the caterpillars are oak species (Quercus). They will also accept Celtis and Robinia. Automeris randa occurs in Southern Arizona (USA) and Mexico. It has only one generation a year, from late june to august.

Automeris randa female
Automeris randa female - Origin: Mexico
Automeris randa male
Automeris randa male - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Actias sjoeqvisti

This Russian species was previously treated as a subspecies of Actias artemis, but is now elevated to full species status. Caterpillars can be rather difficult to get started. They refuse almost all the foodplants that work so well for Actias artemis. As far as I know, they only accept Alnus and Liquidambar. I kept mine on Alnus glutinosa (black alder). Once they've started to eat, they are not more complicated then other Actias species.

Actias sjoeqvisti L5 caterpillar
Actias sjoeqvisti L5 on Alnus

Actias sjoeqvisti L5 caterpillar
Actias sjoeqvisti L5 on Alnus

Actias sjoeqvisti L4 caterpillar
Actias sjoeqvisti L4 on Alnus

Actias sjoeqvisti L3 caterpillar
Actias sjoeqvisti L3 on Alnus

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Lappet Show: Malacosoma castrensis

Oh yes, it's a small one. The male has a wingspan of only two and a half centimeter. Large females can reach four centimeter. This species occurs all across Europe in dry areas, but is not very common. The caterpillars are very beautiful, bleu with orange. However, I will not be able to show you that this year. The eggs will hibernate through summer and winter, untill april next year. After hatching, the caterpillars will grow very fast and spin their cocoons in a little over a month. They feed on herbaceous plants like Euphorbia, Artemisia, Calluna and Rubus.


Malacosoma castrensis male
Malacosoma castrensis male - Origin: Hungary

Malacosoma castrensis female
Malacosoma castrensis female - Origin: Hungary

Malacosoma castrensis male
Malacosoma castrensis male - Origin: Hungary

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi

Just to show you how variable Rothschildia lebeau actually is. Compare these caterpillars of the forbesi subspecies from the southern USA with those I posted with the title the unknown Rothschildia. The difference are quite remarkable. For starters the forbesi is much smaller then the other ones, with a more compressed body. They also keep the orange bristles in the final instar. Don't worry, I'm not planning on posting all ten subspecies of Rothschildia lebeau, not immediately anyway.


Rothschildia lebeau forbesi caterpillar L5
Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L4 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L3 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi L2 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 13 June 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Rothschildia lebeau

The unknown Rothschildia has a name now: Rothschildia lebeau. This species is widespread throughout the Americas, from the south of the United States all across Central America and further south. About ten localised subspecies exist. But, they all look very much the same. Without knowing the country of origin it's almost impossible to know what subspecies they belong to. They are not the forbesi subspecies, that's for sure (based on the size of the moths and differences in the final instar of the caterpillar). 

Rothschildia lebeau female
Rothschildia lebeau male - Origin: South America

Rothschildia lebeau female
Rothschildia lebeau female - Origin: South America

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Pachypasa otus

They are huge, they are ugly, they are Pachypasa otus, the largest of the European Lasiocampidae. The female can reach a wingspan up to 12 cm. The males are smaller to around 9 cm. Of course, the caterpillars are correspondingly big. And very well camouflaged. Each picture you see is the only sharp one out of a series of about 200. Even the camera had difficulties to determine on what to focus. Breeding of this species comes with a lot of patience. Eggs hatch early October. The entire winter the larvae continue to eat without hibernating, but with almost no growth. They need to be kept cool, but frost free. Ideal temperature is around 10°C. Somewhere in March they can be brought at room temperature. From that moment on it still takes 3 to 4 months before they spin their cocoons. All this time the caterpillars need to be kept in arid conditions. This is a species of dry and hot pine forests in Southeast Europe and the Middle East. Wet conditions will kill all animals. For that reason they cannot be kept in plastic tubs.

Pachypasa otus caterpillar
Pachypasa otus final instar on Pinus

Pachypasa otus L8 caterpillar
Pachypasa otus L8 on Pinus

Pachypasa otus L5 caterpillar
Pachypasa otus L5 on Pinus

Pachypasa otus L5 caterpillar
Pachypasa otus L5 on Pinus

Automeris naranja

Apparently the spring generation develops much faster then the summer generation. Last year the caterpillars took more then two months to grow. This time it was only a month. Or may be it was because I used Prunus serotina instead of Crataegus. In general the black cherry worked much better then the hawthorn, with almost no mortality.

Automeris naranja caterpillar final instar
Automeris naranja final instar on Prunus serotina

Automeris naranja caterpillar L6
Automeris naranja L6 on Prunus serotina

Automeris naranja caterpillar L5
Automeris naranja L5 on Prunus serotina

Automeris naranja caterpillars L4
Automeris naranja L4 on Prunus serotina

Automeris naranja caterpillar L4
Automeris naranja L4 on Prunus serotina

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Anisota virginiensis

On first sight, the caterpillars of Anisota virginiensis are not very impressive, but take some time for a closer look. Although quite small (around 5 cm when full grown), they are actually very colorful. And even better: they are not difficult to breed at all. Put them all together in a small box with good air ventilation, give them enough oak to eat and that's it. When you keep the box in a warm living room the caterpillars are ready to pupate within less then a month.


Anisota virginiensis L5 caterpillar
Anisota virginiensis L5 on Quercus robur

Anisota virginiensis L4 caterpillar
Anisota virginiensis L4 on Quercus robur

Anisota virginiensis L4 caterpillar
Anisota virginiensis L4 on Quercus robur

Anisota virginiensis L3 caterpillars
Anisota virginiensis L3 on Quercus robur





Friday, 6 June 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Antherina suraka

There they are, a little over one month after they have pupated. And as promissed: not only beautiful caterpillars but also a very attractive moth. The distribution of this species is limited to Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands.

Antherina suraka male
Antherina suraka male - origin: Madagascar

Antherina suraka female
Antherina suraka female - origin: Madagascar




Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Antheraea polyphemus

This is one of those really fast growers. The caterpillars shown in this post are the offspring of the moths I posted on this blog April 25th, a little over a month ago. Breeding moths doesn't get any easier. Basically, as long as you keep them clean and give them enough to eat, all caterpillars will make it to the final stage. It will only take a few weeks for the moths to eclose and then the next generation can begin.

Antheraea polyphemus L5 caterpillars
Antheraea polyphemus L5 on Quercus robur

Antheraea polyphemus L4 caterpillar
Antheraea polyphemus L4 on Quercus robur

Antheraea polyphemus L2 caterpillar
Antheraea polyphemus L2 on Quercus robur

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Saturnia pavoniella

This species is almost identical to the small emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia) but when you look closer there are small differences (if you know where to look). Saturnia pavoniella has a more eastern and southern distribution throughout Europe then pavonia. To be honest, I have never seen the difference between caterpillars of pavoniella and pavonia. Some say that the pavoniella caterpillars are more peppermint green, while those of pavonia are more grass green. However, I had caterpillars in several shades of green (from olive green to very bright green), all coming from the same female.


Saturnia pavoniella L5 caterpillar
Saturnia pavoniella L5 on Crataegus

Saturnia pavoniella L5 caterpillar
Saturnia pavoniella L5 on Crataegus

Saturnia pavoniella L4 on Crataegus
Saturnia pavoniella L4 on Crataegus

Saturnia pavoniella L3 caterpillar
Saturnia pavoniella L3 on Crataegus