Sunday, 28 September 2014

Nudaurelia krucki

Nudaurelia krucki has one of the prettiest caterpillars of all African silkmoths. It is also a very easy species that can be kept in relatively small boxes for the size of the caterpillars. These animals like company. Keep them in larger numbers together even in the last instar. As long as they are kept warm and dry they have a very low mortality rate. This species can be fed with many different types of plants. For me the most convenient plant is Prunus serotina. Leaves keep fresh very long and I always feel great after cutting down some of this noxious weed. Switching them from serotina to Prunus laurocerasus goes without problem later in the season when the serotina drops its leaves. Caterpillars take about six weeks before they go underground to pupate. 


Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L5 on Prunus serotina

Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L4 on Prunus serotina

Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L4 on Prunus serotina

Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L3 on Prunus serotina

Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L2 on Prunus serotina

Nudaurelia Gonimbrasia krucki caterpillar
Nudaurelia krucki L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 26 September 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Melanocera menippe

The number of African silkmoth species on the European market remains very limited. This probably is because Africa is not the most popular holiday destination. And thus everybody depends on the few sellers that import large numbers of always the same species, raised on only a few butterfly farms, mainly in Kenya. This Melanocera menippe is one of those species. Pupae are easily available. Strangely enough I have rarely seen offers for eggs, even though this is a colorful and very attractive species. Probably it's because they don't pair easily in captivity. I must admit, so far I didn't got them to pair either, although I tried everything.


Melanocera menippe male
Melanocera menippe male - Origin: Kenya

Melanocera menippe female
Melanocera menippe female resting position

Melanocera menippe female
Melanocera menippe female - Origin: Kenya

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Automeris iris

There is no such thing as having too many Automeris species. There is always room for one more. Especially when they are not so large, like the caterpillars of Automeris iris. They don't become larger then six centimeter. The best food plant is Robinia. On this plant the caterpillars grow faster and larger. They can also be bred on Quercus species, but not always. It happens that they reject the oak. So, always keep some Robinia in reserve. The pupae overwinter in a cool room (temperatures around 10 °C), not in the fridge. Moths emerge in july.


Automeris iris caterpillar
Automeris iris final instar on Robinia

Automeris iris caterpillar
Automeris iris L5 on Robinia

Automeris iris caterpillar
Automeris iris L4 on Robinia

Automeris iris caterpillar
Automeris iris L3 on Robinia

Automeris iris caterpillar
Automeris iris L2 on Robinia

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The occasional hawkmoth: Manduca sexta

I know, I know, I said I was going to do less of those hawkmoths. Well that plan isn't going so well. Can I help it that my mailbox has become a hotspot for hawkmoth sightings. Almost every day I find fresh eggs or pupae in it. Like for exemple this Manduca sexta, an American hawkmoth that is widespread in the warmer parts of the United States and southwards into central America. They have two to four generations a year. This is a quite large hawkmoth with a wingspan between nine and twelve centimeters.


Manduca sexta
Manduca sexta male - Origin: USA

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Actias sinensis

Actias sinensis is one of the easiest silkmoths to breed. That is if you can find the proper food plant, which can be a bit problematic in Europe. These caterpillars feed exclusively on Liquidambar and Eucalyptus, two plants that are not so easy to find around here. Early instars can best be kept in plastic containers, later instars do well in netted cages. Keep them in your living room and they will be full grown in four weeks. The moths eclose only a few weeks later. Pupae have the bad habit of not going dormant, not even in winter. They can be kept in the fridge to slow down the development, but it is not really recommended, not all the pupae survive this treatment.


Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L5 on Liquidambar

Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L5 on Liquidambar

Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L4 on Liquidambar

Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L3 on Liquidambar

Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L2 on Liquidambar

Actias sinensis caterpillar
Actias sinensis L1 on Liquidambar

Friday, 19 September 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Copaxa siriae

Copaxa siriae can only be found in Mexico. In captivity it has two generations, one in summer and one in autumn. Cocoons can be overwintered same way as many of the other Mexican Saturniidae; in a cool room (around 12°C) and dry. Don't put the cocoons in the fridge, that will not end well. The moths are not very large, females have a wingspan around nine centimeters, males are a little bit smaller. My moths didn't pair 'naturally'. Handpairing was the only option and surprisingly easy. They connected in less then 30 seconds. This was one of the 2014 broods that I enjoyed most. Next year I'm going to try to find more Copaxa species to breed. 


Copaxa siriae female
Copaxa siriae female - Origin: Mexico

Copaxa siriae male
Copaxa siriae male - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis

Not as impressive as the related Citheronia regalis I showed a few months ago, but still something worth breeding. The caterpillars rush through all stages; in slightly over four weeks they are full grown. Full grown means up to a twelve centimeter long monster with an enormous appetite. I raised them on Prunus serotina. Other suitable food plants are Juglans, Gossypium and Rhus. The pupae of this species will hibernate through winter. Moths will emerge somewhere end of june or july depending on the breeding conditions.


Citheronia splendens sinaloensis
Citheronia splendens L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis
Citheronia splendens L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis
Citheronia splendens L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis
Citheronia splendens L3 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis
Citheronia splendens L2 on Prunus serotina

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sphinx pinastri

Of all dull colored European hawkmoths, Sphinx pinastri is probably the most boring of them all. It''s nothing more then a large grey moth. The caterpillars on the other hand are some of the more colorful ones. This is a rather sensitive species to breed. They really dislike company and get sick very easily because of stress. Still, this year I willingly overcrowded the cage with only one purpose: taking pictures of the brown form of the caterpillars, which I knew that existed but which I had never seen before. I succeeded to take those pictures. Needless to say that the rest of the brood was a complete disaster, with only 6 pupae out of 100 eggs. You simply do not overcrowd Sphinx pinastri without consequences.


Sphinx pinastri caterpillar
Sphinx pinastri L5 on Pinus sylvestris

Sphinx pinastri caterpillar
Sphinx pinastri L4 brown form on Pinus sylvestris

Sphinx pinastri caterpillar
Sphinx pinastri L4 on Pinus sylvestris

Sphinx pinastri caterpillar
Sphinx pinastri L3 on Pinus sylvestris

Sphinx pinastri caterpillar
Sphinx pinastri L2 on Pinus sylvestris

Friday, 12 September 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Actias sjoeqvisti

The first brood of this Russian Actias species refused to eat everything accept Alnus. A few weeks later I obtained eggs from another source and those caterpillars did very well on Salix caprea. So probably this species accepts all the same food plants as Actias artemis, only it may depend on the origin your eggs are coming from. Some broods will prefer Alnus, while others need Salix or Juglans. I think I will do some experimenting on that. I have to start this species all over again anyway. There is a reason why I show only a male moth. That's because I only had males, not one female. No kidding. You probably can imagine how happy I was about that ...


Actias sjoeqvisti male
Actias sjoeqvisti male - Origin: Russia

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Lappet Show: Lebeda trifascia

One last time and then we shall speak of them no more and only because I liked their caterpillars a lot. They were a bit of a challenge to breed. I admit that the moths are not all that spectacular. The females though are large. They have a wingspan of ten centimeters which is larger than many 'giant' silkmoths I had this year. Lebeda trifascia is a common species in the warmer parts of continental Asia, from India east to Vietnam and Southern China. There are two generations each year. You definitely want to breed the summer generation because that one grows very fast. The winter generations takes months to finally pupate, from September to Mai or even June.


Lebeda trifascia female
Lebeda trifascia female - Origin: Thailand

Lebeda trifascia male
Lebeda trifascia male - Origin: Thailand

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Not the usual stuff part 2

If only the moths would have been as colorful as their caterpillars, then this would actually have been a nice species to breed. But look at those moths, really, why would anyone like to keep something like this? The wingspan is like four centimeter or so. By the way, I was right about that this would be an Euproctis species. My friend Michal found the correct name. It's Euproctis inornata. That's the only thing I know about them and that they are from Taiwan and eat Salix. I don't even find them interesting enough to google them ...


Euproctis inornata female
Euproctis inornata - Origin: Taiwan
Euproctis inornata
Euproctis inornata - Origin: Taiwan

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Lappet Show: Pachypasa otus

The Pachypasa otus has started to eclose, one by one. At this rate it's going to be difficult to get a pairing out of them. This is the largest of the European Lasiocampidae and a very elegant colored species, especially the males. They are very light grey with black markings and cream colored rear wings. The females are darker grey, but grow a lot larger. Very large females have a wingspan up to 12 cm, most of them however are around ten centimeter. This species occurs in Southeast Europe and the Middle East. There is only one generation each year.


Pachypasa otus male
Pachypasa otus male - Origin: Rhodos

Pachypasa otus female
Pachypasa otus female - Origin: Rhodos

Friday, 5 September 2014

Silkmoth of the week: Anisota stigma

The Spiny Oakworm Moth (Anisota stigma) is one of the 'larger' Anisota species. Males have a wingspan around four centimeters, females are a lot larger to six centimeter. There are usually two generations, but in captivity it is possible to get three generations a year, one every six or seven weeks. Allthough, not all pupae will hatch. About half of the pupae of the summer generation hatched, the rest seem now in hibernation mode. They will probably remain dormant untill next spring. 


Anisota stigma male
Anisota stigma male - Origin: USA

Anisota stigma female
Anisota stigma female - Origin: USA

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Not the usual stuff part 1

Many people already know that I'm quite passionate about the Lasiocampidae. So I have everyone on the look out for females. My Taiwanese friend thought he caught a smaller species. He did send me a blurry picture and asked me if I wanted the eggs. The moth in the picture could have been almost every dark colored moth in Taiwan, so to be on the safe side I replied, sure send them, I will figure out later what species this is. After hatching, the young caterpillars started eating Salix caprea immediately. From the start it was clear that it was not a Lappet species. But, as they started to eat I decided to breed them anyway. And they became nice, colorful caterpillars. I'm pretty sure they belong to the Erebidae, subfamily Lymantriinae. If I would have to guess, I would say it's one of the many Euproctis species.


Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) final instar on Salix caprea

Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) L5 on Salix caprea

Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) L4 on Salix caprea

Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) L3 on Salix caprea

Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) L2 on Salix caprea

Euproctis sp. (?)
Euproctis sp. (?) L1 on Salix caprea