Thursday, 31 July 2014

Automeris io

Automeris io is probably the most commonly available Automeris species. Usually they are very easy to breed. This however depends greatly of the food plant you're going to offer them. If you have the irresistible urge to make your life complicated then you really should give them Prunus serotina. They will eat it, but growth is extremely slow and caterpillars remain smaller then usual. That is, if they don't get sick and die, because on Prunus serotina the animals are very weak and susceptible for diseases. There are definitely better food plants to breed them on, like Salix or Rubus. 


Automeris io caterpillar
Automeris io final instar on Prunus serotina

Automeris io caterpillar
Automeris io L5 on Prunus serotina

Automeris io caterpillar
Automeris io L4 on Prunus serotina

Automeris io caterpillar
Automeris io L3 on Prunus serotina

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Smerinthus ocellata

The Eyed Hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocellata) is one of the most common hawkmoths in Western and Central Europe. They almost always have two generations a year, one in spring and one in midsummer. Allthough the caterpillars are not worth looking at, the moths themselves are not so bad, for a hawkmoth... They have a wingspan between 75 and 95 mm. This species prefers wet areas like borders of rivers and lakes, but can be found everywhere where there is enough willow growing.


Smerinthus ocellata female
Smerinthus ocellata female - Origin: Belgium

Smerinthus ocellata male
Smerinthus ocellata male - Origin: Belgium

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lebeda trifascia

Oh no, not those Lebedas again. Now sssst, it's my blog, I can post whatever species I want, as often as I want. If you don't like it, start your own blog. Besides, why don't you try breeding these stubborn creatures? See if you can manage to get them to eat. Because that's not something that is going to happen easily. It can take up to three days before they start, if they start at all. Some of my friends gave them Quercus like I had advised them, but they just died without eating. Same for Rubus. I used Rubus fruticosus in winter. They grew very slow on it, but at least they ate it. However, one of my friends tried that and they also never started to eat. I tried many other plants like Ligustrum, Rhododendron, several Prunus species, Salix and so on, without any luck. Once they start to eat the rest is easy. During the day they hide all together underneath something. At night they walk back to the food to eat, only to crawl back in their hiding place in the morning. In the summer months it takes around two months of growth, a lot faster then in winter (7 months!). The moths emerge shortly after pupating, usually within less then two weeks.


Lebeda trifascia caterpillar
Lebeda trifascia final instar on Quercus robur

Lebeda trifascia caterpillar
Lebeda trifascia L7 on Quercus robur

Lebeda trifascia caterpillar
Lebeda trifascia L6 on Quercus robur

Lebeda trifascia caterpillar
Lebeda trifascia L5 on Quercus robur

Lebeda trifascia caterpillars
Lebeda trifascia L4 on Quercus robur

Lebeda trifascia caterpillars
Lebeda trifascia L2/L3 on Quercus robur

Friday, 25 July 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris hesselorum

Today, another small Automeris species from South Arizona and North Mexico. This used to be a subspecies of Automeris iris, but entomologists now think that there are enough differences to grand them full species status. Don't ask me what those difference are, can't tell, but it's all in their DNA. Hesselorum has only one flight each year from july to early august and need a lot of warmth before they eclose. 


Automeris hesselorum male
Automeris hesselorum male - Origin: Mexico

Automeris hesselorum female
Automeris hesselorum female - Origin: Mexico

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Surgery

Ah, the less pleasant things in life. While you are reading this I'm undergoing surgery. No, no, it's nothing life threatening. It's just a sign of old age. Unfortunately I will not be able to walk properly afterwards. So there will not be much breeding for some time. Don't worry, since I know this was coming, I kept back quite a few species and pictures. I finished writing those posts yesterday and placed them on a timer. They will be published automatically. You will not even notice that I'm out for a few weeks. While I'm recovering, one interesting species after the other will make it's appearance on this blog. I can assure you, it's going to be worthwhile visiting regularly. The only thing that might be a little bit odd so now and then is that I show you moths one week and their full grown caterpillars the next. Just remember this blog is out of sync with real life for a while, some species develop fast, but not this fast. I hope you will enjoy the parade of beautiful and sometimes rare species that I have lined up for you. And yes, I think there will even be some of those green worms with hooks at their tails.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Acherontia atropos

Applause, applause, for the first time on this blog: a decent looking hawkmoth caterpillar and not the least. It's the caterpillar of the famous Death's-head Hawkmoth, the only true star of the Silence of the Lambs movie. My god, did I just made a nineties reference? I'm getting old. Before you know I start telling stories on how everything was so much better when I was younger. Anyway, these caterpillars grow large, to around twelve centimeters. There are also green and brown forms of the caterpillars, but I have never seen those in real life, only on pictures. For some reason I always have the yellow ones. These caterpillars feed upon a wide variety of plants including Ligustrum, Fraxinus, Solanum, Nicotiana and Lantana.


Acherontia atropos caterpillar L5
Acherontia atropos L5 on Ligustrum

Acherontia atropos caterpillar L4
Acherontia atropos L4 on Ligustrum

Acherontia atropos caterpillar L3
Acherontia atropos L3 on Ligustrum

Acherontia atropos caterpillar L2
Acherontia atropos L2 on Ligustrum









Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Phyllosphingia dissimilis

I seem to remember saying something like most of those hawkmoths are just brown moths. This is what I meant. With a wingspan around ten centimeters, these moths are quite large, but you can hardly call them spectacular. They look a lot like a larger version of the European Laothoe populi with a coloration that is more rich in contrast. This species occurs from the Russian Far East and China east to Japan and south to Taiwan. In captivity they usually have two generations a year.
 

Phyllosphingia dissimilis pair
Phyllosphingia dissimilis pair - Origin: China

Monday, 21 July 2014

Periphoba arcaei

The caterpillars of Periphoba arcaei look a lot like those of large Automeris species. But, be carefull, they sting even worse. During their lives the caterpillars change color several times, going from brown over red to green. Once they are ready to pupate their backs become brownred. Then you can move them to a box filled with dry leaves. They will spin some of those leaves together before pupating. The caterpillars grow well on Prunus serotina. In fact, they have a wide spectrum of acceptable foodplants, including Cassia, Eugenia, Rhus and Quercus. Experimenting will probably reveal even more foodplants. This species has to be kept warm as it broods continuously.

Periphoba arcaei caterpillars L7
Periphoba arcaei final instar on Prunus serotina

Periphoba arcaei caterpillars L5
Periphoba arcaei L5 on Prunus serotina

Periphoba arcaei caterpillars L4
Periphoba arcaei L4 on Prunus serotina

Periphoba arcaei caterpillars L3
Periphoba arcaei L3 on Prunus serotina

Periphoba arcaei caterpillars L2
Periphoba arcaei L2 on Prunus serotina










Saturday, 19 July 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Eacles oslari

Don't try to find the differences with Eacles imperialis based on these pictures. The more pink ground color of the female below is merely a coincidence. Eacles imperialis can have these colours just as well. That is probably why oslari was longtime considered to be a subspecies of imperialis. The only visual difference is on the underside of the wings. Oslari has pronounced dark lines over both wings, imperialis has not. This species occurs in Mexico and South Arizona (USA).

Eacles oslari female
Eacles oslari female - Origin: USA

Eacles oslari male
Eacles oslari male - Origin: USA

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Syntherata escarlata

Syntherata escarlata is a species that you don't see very often in Europe. I don't know exactly why it isn't offered more regularly. It's not a particularly difficult species to breed. A bit slow growing that yes, but difficult no. Maybe it's because the Australians are quite strict about who can export livestock to the rest of the world, making it rather difficult to get their species into Europe. My god, would I love to breed some of their Lasiocampidae or Carthaea saturnioides one day. I'm afraid that's all I can do: dreaming. At least I got this species from North Australia that willingly accepted the Ligustrum.


Syntherata escarlata caterpillar L5
Syntherata escarlata L5 on Ligustrum

Syntherata escarlata caterpillar L5
Syntherata escarlata L5 on Ligustrum

Syntherata escarlata caterpillar L4
Syntherata escarlata L4 on Ligustrum

Syntherata escarlata caterpillar L3
Syntherata escarlata L3 on Ligustrum

Syntherata escarlata caterpillar L2
Syntherata escarlata L2 on Ligustrum

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Lappet Show: Phyllodesma tremulifolia

Don't they look a bit like something out of the Angry Birds games? As expected in my post earlier this month, the pupae yielded a second generation. All of them eclosed over the last two weeks. Given the rapid development of the caterpillars it wasn't much of a surprise. Pairing of this species must be short and somewhere in the middle of the night. I checked several times a day, but didn't see it. Yesterday however the eggs started to hatch.


Phyllodesma tremulifolia
Phyllodesma tremulifolia male - Origin: Italy

Phyllodesma tremulifolia
Phyllodesma tremulifolia female - Origin: Italy

Monday, 14 July 2014

Smerinthus ocellata

I don't know why I have deserved friends like this. Seriously, what kind of friend gives you green worms when you go visit him? OK, they are the caterpillars of the European Eyed Hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocellata) and thus one of the larger moths of Western Europe, but still, who does something like that? And if they were a challenging species then at least it would have been a little bit interesting. But, no, they are indestructible eating machines that devour willow leaves at an alarming rate. These caterpillars did grow so fast that there will be most certainly a second generation later this summer. At least the moths will not be entirely unpleasing to the eyes...


Smerinthus ocellata caterpillar L5
Smerinthus ocellata L5 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus ocellata caterpillar L4
Smerinthus ocellata L4 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus ocellata caterpillar L4
Smerinthus ocellata L4 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus ocellata caterpillar L3
Smerinthus ocellata L3 on Salix caprea

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Hyalophora cecropia

Now, this is something to impress your neighbours with. These very beautiful caterpillars grow to almost a tumb thick. Surprisingly enough it's not a tropical species. They are the caterpillars of the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), the largest moth native to North America. They are definitely worth a try, although they are not the easiest species to breed. Overcrowding them will almost certain lead to a premature dead of all your caterpillars. You really have to give them enough space. I have bred them on Prunus serotina, but I could have used almost every other tree that is growing here. If you don't have Prunus species, try Betula, Alnus, Salix, Malus, Acer, ... .

Hyalophora cecropia caterpillar L5
Hyalophora cecropia L5 on Prunus serotina

Hyalophora cecropia caterpillar L4
Hyalophora cecropia L4 on Prunus serotina

Hyalophora cecropia caterpillar L3
Hyalophora cecropia L3 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 11 July 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris patagoniensis

Automeris patagoniensis is a smaller Automeris species that occurs only in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona. They are closely related to the Io Moth (Automeris io), but remain a little bit smaller. This species seem to have only one generation a year. In the wild the caterpillars feed on grasses, with a preference for Poa species. In captivity they also do well on bamboos.


Automeris patagoniensis male
Automeris patagoniensis male - Origin: USA

Automeris patagoniensis female
Automeris patagoniensis female - Origin: USA

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Citheronia regalis

Everybody should try these at least once. The Hickory Horned Devil or Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis) has caterpillars that are huge, even for a giant silkmoth. The best thing is that they are also suitable for beginners, with their rapid growth they have pupated before you manage to do something stupid with them. It will only take 3 to 4 weeks to get full grown caterpillars. They will accept a wide variety of plants: Juglans, Carya, Prunus, Rhus, Liquidambar, Fraxinus and Ligustrum to name a few. When they are ready to go underground they turn blueish and start to walk around on the bottom of the cage. That's the time you move them to a large tub with garden soil. After two weeks you can gently dig up the pupae. They will produce a second generation later this year when kept warm enough or will hibernate untill late spring next year.

Citheronia regalis caterpillar L5
Citheronia regalis L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia regalis caterpillar L5
Citheronia regalis L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia regalis caterpillar L5
Citheronia regalis L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia regalis caterpillar L4
Citheronia regalis L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia regalis caterpillar L2
Citheronia regalis L2 on Prunus serotina

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Paonias excaecata

Aah, more of those green worms, must be some sort of hawkmoth. Yes, it is the Blinded Sphinx (Paonias excaecata) from North America. This species can be bred in plastic tubs or in netted cages, it really doesn't matter much. As long as you don't forget to feed them so now and then they will be perfectly fine. Any kind of Salix, Populus, Malus or Crataegus will do. These are ridiculously easy creatures. When breeding them the result is always the same. You end up with too many pupae and thus too many moths and too many eggs which nobody wants to buy from you. After all, who is crazy enough to breed green worms, even if they have hooks at their tails?

Paonias excaecatus caterpillar L5
Paonias excaecatus L5 on Salix caprea

Paonias excaecatus caterpillar L4
Paonias excaecatus L4 on Salix caprea

Paonias excaecatus caterpillar L3
Paonias excaecatus L3 on Salix caprea

Paonias excaecatus caterpillar L2
Paonias excaecatus L2 on Salix caprea