Sunday, 31 August 2014

Loepa oberthuri

The caterpillars of Loepa oberthuri look like a cross between a giant silkmoth and a woolly bear. They grow quite large, to about nine centimeters. Normally they feed upon plants out the Vitaceae plant family, like Vitis (grape) and Parthenocissus (Virginia creeper). Probably the reason why they are not so often kept in captivity. These plants are not commonly available in Europe. However, what is less known is that many Loepa species can be bred on Salix (willow) without any problem.


Loepa oberthuri caterpillar
Loepa oberthuri L5 on Salix caprea

Loepa oberthuri caterpillar
Loepa oberthuri L4 on Salix caprea

Loepa oberthuri caterpillar
Loepa oberthuri L4 on Salix caprea

Loepa oberthuri caterpillar
Loepa oberthuri L3 on Salix caprea

Loepa oberthuri caterpillar
Loepa oberthuri L2 on Salix caprea

Friday, 29 August 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Actias ningpoana ningtaiwana

These ningpoana moon moths are like a paler version of Actias selene. When kept warm they have a generation every two to three months. There dstribution is limited to China and maybe Vietnam. The subspecies ningtaiwana lives only on Taiwan, hence the name. Not the most challenging species and if you really want to breed this kind of moth, you should go for Actias selene, which is just as easy and more rich in color. Unless of course, you're a collector like me, then you have no other choice and you have to do both.


Actias ningpoana ningtaiwana female Taiwan
Actias ningpoana ningtaiwana female - Origin: Taiwan

Actias ningpoana ningtaiwana male
Actias ningpoana ningtaiwana male - Origin: Taiwan




Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Acherontia atropos

When I started this topic I had no intention breeding this many hawkmoths in such a short period of time. But after the first came many more and at a certain point it almost seemed that I had more hawkmoth species then silkmoths. This has been corrected now. I returned to my first passion: Lasiocampidae and have again a good number of those. I also augmented my stock of silkmoth species. Thus everything is back as it should be. I will continue to breed hawkmoths on occasion, but not as many as this summer. Still, I did enjoy the death's-head hawkmoth, both the caterpilars and the moths.



Acherontia atropos
Acherontia atropos - Origin: Austria

Acherontia atropos
Acherontia atropos - Origin: Austria

Acherontia atropos
Acherontia atropos - Origin: Austria

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Smerinthus planus

There really isn't much to tell about this species. They look like the typical eyed hawkmoth, slightly larger then the European Smerinthus ocellata. There is also a minor difference in color pattern. But, if you don't look to carefully these are easily mistaken for their European relatives. Hybrids between the two species are not uncommon in captivity. Breeding is easy. There are two flights each year. Smerinthus planus occurs in Eastern Russia, China, Korea and Japan.


Smerinthus planus male
Smerinthus planus male - Origin: Japan

Smerinthus planus female
Smerinthus planus female - Origin: Japan

Friday, 22 August 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Periphoba arcaei

After going through all the trouble of breeding caterpillars with a truly painful sting, you expect to be rewarded with some spectacular moth. That is not the case for Periphoba arcaei. It's a medium sized moth, brownish with pink. Their fluffy appearance does make up for their more dull colors though. Still, not in my top ten of most beautiful silkmoths. The distribution of the species goes from Mexico south to Colombia. They have multiple generations each year and don't hibernate through winter. Keeping them warm at all times is a must.


Periphoba arcaei male
Periphoba arcaei male - Origin: Mexico

Periphoba arcaei male
Periphoba arcaei male - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Samia cynthia

Samia cynthia and Samia ricini are probably the two most easy species of giant silkmoth to breed. They are most certainly the two most easy moths to obtain. The European market is flooded with eggs and cocoons. Probably because the male moths pair with almost everything that has wings and because females lay hundreds of eggs. Then there is of course the fact that you can only kill the caterpillars by not feeding them, otherwise mortality is usually less then five percent. But it is a fun species, especially for kids.


Samia cynthia caterpillar
Samia cynthia L5 on Prunus serotina

Samia cynthia caterpillar
Samia cynthia L5 on Prunus serotina

Samia cynthia caterpillar
Samia cynthia L4 on Prunus serotina

Samia cynthia caterpillar
Samia cynthia L2 on Prunus serotina

Samia cynthia caterpillar
Samia cynthia L1 on Prunus serotina



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Smerinthus planus

Ah, there they are. I bed you were starting to wonder when I finally was going to publish them. The excitement to see some more green worms must have been unbearable. The caterpillars in this post are from the Asian Eyed Hawkmoth Smerinthus planus. They look a lot like the European S. ocellata but are significantly larger. As many of the green worms they are easy to breed in netted cages. They do very well on Salix caprea.



Smerinthus planus caterpillar
Smerinthus planus L5 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus planus caterpillar
Smerinthus planus L5 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus planus caterpillar
Smerinthus planus L4 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus planus caterpillar
Smerinthus planus L3 on Salix caprea

Smerinthus planus caterpillar
Smerinthus planus L2 on Salix caprea

Friday, 15 August 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Antheraea pernyi

Talking about classics, this species must be in the top five of most bred silkmoths. When looking at the large moths, it's easy to understand why it's such a popular species. It's one of the first giant silkmoths I've ever bred. I must have been fifteen or something. Ah, memories, memories, those were the days. Originally this species only occurred in China. For their silk they have been introduced by men in Japan, Korea, Russia and India. They have also established healthy populations in South and East Europe. 


Antheraea pernyi female
Antheraea pernyi female - Origin: China

Antheraea pernyi male
Antheraea pernyi male - Origin: China

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Copaxa siriae

I'm always happy when I find something I have never had before. This was definitely the case for Copaxa siriae, a species from Mexico that is almost never on the European market. I can really recommend this one: the caterpillars are very colorful and breeding is not difficult. Finding the food plants in Europe may be less easy. As far as I know they only eat Persea and Liquidambar. They require 'normal' conditions. There is not something special you need to do, besides cleaning the cage and giving them fresh food. A warm living room with a quite low humidity worked well for them, without any water spraying. First three instars were kept in a plastic box. Later instars on a living plant in a netted cage.


Copaxa siriae
Copaxa siriae L5 on Liquidambar

Copaxa siriae
Copaxa siriae L4 on Liquidambar

Copaxa siriae
Copaxa siriae L3 on Liquidambar

Copaxa siriae
Copaxa siriae L2 on Liquidambar

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Theretra oldenlandiae

Don't say I'm not trying to find you some great looking hawkmoth caterpillars. And although they don't make it easy, most of them being ugly green worms, I think this Theretra hawkmoth has a caterpillar that is actually worth breeding. They are very easy to keep, grow fast and are quite large for the size of the moth. I raised them on Oenothera. They do equally well on Epilobium, Impatiens, Zantedeschia, Colocasia, Vitis, Ampelopsis, Cissus, Fuchsia, Clarkia and many other plants. 


Theretra oldenlandiae caterpillar
Theretra oldenlandiae L5 on Oenothera

Theretra oldenlandiae caterpillar
Theretra oldenlandiae L5 on Oenothera

Theretra oldenlandiae caterpillar
Theretra oldenlandiae L4 on Oenothera

Theretra oldenlandiae caterpillar
Theretra oldenlandiae L3 on Oenothera

Friday, 8 August 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Syntherata escarlata

The Australian Syntherata escarlata moths eclose fast after pupating. The first moths emerged already two weeks after spinning their cocoons. It's not a very large species. The wingspan is somewhere between ten and twelve centimeters. Sorry for showing only female moths. The hyperactive males were impossible to photograph. This is one of those species that can start flying without prior warming up. After running after them a few times a gave up trying. The only way to get a decent photo of the males is by killing them and that's something I do not do for just a picture.


Syntherata escarlata female
Syntherata escarlata female - Origin: Australia

Syntherata escarlata female
Syntherata escarlata female - Origin: Australia

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Anisota stigma

It's always nice to have a few species that don't require a lot of space. The Spiny Oakworm Moth (Anisota stigma) from North America can be bred in small plastic boxes with a mesh cover to allow some air movement. They feed in groups their entire lives. Under natural conditions the final instar lives solitary, in captivity it does not seem to bother them at all to stay in groups. The primary food plants are many different kinds of oak. They will also accept Castanea and Corylus. Full grown the caterpillars reach a length of around 6 cm.


Anisota stigma caterpillar
Anisota stigma L5 on Quercus

Anisota stigma caterpillar
Anisota stigma L4 on Quercus

Anisota stigma caterpillar
Anisota stigma L3 on Quercus

Anisota stigma caterpillar
Anisota stigma L2 on Quercus

Anisota stigma caterpillar
Anisota stigma L1 on Quercus

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Theretra oldenlandiae

Theretra oldenlandiae is in every aspect a typical hawkmoth, hardly worth a second look. The caterpillars are quite nice though. I think I will show you them next week. The distribution of this species reaches from Afghanistan to Japan and southwards throughout Tropical Asia as far south as Australia. They have a wingspan of 54 to 80 mm. Males and females are almost identical, only the males look slightly more silverish.


Theretra oldenlandiae
Theretra oldenlandiae - Origin: Tropical Asia

Monday, 4 August 2014

Actias ningpoana

What happens when entomologists find no more new species to describe? They start elevating subspecies to species level. They always seem to find a reason why it's no longer a subspecies. Same for ningpoana, for years a subspecies of Actias selene, until some entomologist needed to publish a paper to keep his grant. Worse is that this former subspecies has already subspecies of its own. You're looking at the ningtaiwana subspecies from Taiwan. Breeding the species is exactly the same as for Actias selene, easy and on a wide variety of food plants. I used Crataegus and Salix caprea. 


Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L5 on Salix caprea

Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L5 on Salix caprea

Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L4 on Salix caprea

Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L3 on Salix caprea

Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L2 on Salix caprea

Actias ningpoana caterpillar
Actias ningpoana L1 on Crataegus

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris frankae

You may have noticed it by now, I'm a huge fan of the Automeris genus. And amongst all those beautiful moths, Automeris frankae has just that little bit extra to make them stand out. Although clearly an Automeris in appearance, the coloration is quite distinct, giving them something extra appealing. This species has only recently been described and belongs to the maeonias complex, a group of species occurring in Mexico. It is very difficult to identify each species solely by looking at the moths. In size they are somewhere in the middle between Automeris randa and io. They have only one flight a year.


Automeris frankae male
Automeris frankae male - Origin: Mexico

Automeris frankae female
Automeris frankae female - Origin: Mexico