Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Lappet Show: Dicogaster coronada

I shouldn't have doubted my initial identification (see post from December 30th 2014). The reason why the early instars looked like Dicogaster caterpillars is because they were Dicogaster caterpillars. The reason why they seemed rather small when full grown is because all of them were males. There is a significant difference in size between males and females, seven centimeters wingspan for the males and up to thirteen centimeters for females. And the reason why the collector didn't recognized the moths amongst the pictures on the internet is because this species can be quite variable in color. This strain from Mexico seems to be much darker brown than stock from Arizona. And the explanation why the moths have already hatched instead of in July or August like they do in nature, is that I bred them way to warm. A beautiful species, quite disappointing that I had no females. That is happening a lot lately. A little bit more luck would be nice ...

Dicogaster coronada male
Dicogaster coronada male - Origin: Mexico

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Euproctis bicolor

My god, I can't believe that I went through all that trouble for something inconspicuous like this. Weeks of itching and scratching for a yellowish moth with a wingspan of not even three centimeters. Even worse is that I knew exactly how the imagines were going to look. After all, I collected them myself in Malawi. I still don't know why I kept those eggs. Of course, what I didn't knew at that time was how irritating the hairs on the caterpillars would become in their final instar. Otherwise I simply would not have bred them. I believe this is Euproctis bicolor, but I'm not an expert. There are dozens of yellow Euproctis species in Africa, so I could be wrong. If you think it's something else, just leave a message.


Euproctis bicolor male
Euproctis bicolor male - Origin: Malawi

Euproctis bicolor male - Origin: Malawi

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Archaeoattacus edwardsii

This very large species has a rather bad reputation when it comes to breeding in captivity. So are they really that difficult? Edwardsii is not suitable for newcomers that's for sure, but they are not extremely difficult either as long as you keep a few basic rules in mind. Edwardsii comes from tropical countries but lives at higher elevations, thus does not require very high temperatures. In fact, an average living room temperature in between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius during the day and around 15 degrees at night is fine. Higher temperatures will increase the growth rate, but will also increase the risk of caterpillars dying. Humidity can be an issue. In the wild they live in a very humid environment, however with a lot of air movement. That's quite different from keeping them on washed leaves in plastic boxes with closed lid. That's not humid that's just wet. I don't know of caterpillars that like wet feet all day. Of course they will die when you do this. So here is how it goes. The first two instars are best kept in small plastic boxes with a completely closed lid. Do not wash the leaves or spray them with water. The leaves will provide for a humid enough environment. As soon as they reach third instar you need to replace the closed lid with a mesh cover that allows for more air movement in the box. The box also needs to be larger. Actually, this means that later instars are kept at a medium humidity, while the first two instars have a higher humidity. Suitable food plants are Prunus serotina and laurocerasus, Photinia, Ligustrum ovalifolium and vulgare, Ilex, Ailanthus, Jasminum and Salix. You can stick to one food plant or you can offer a mix of all these plants. In all instars caterpillars will move from one plant to another and seem to be very happy when having the choice what to eat.  It can take more then two months before they start to pupate. 


Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii L5 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii L4 on Prunus laurocerasus

Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii L3 on Prunus serotina

Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii L2 on Prunus serotina

Archaeoattacus edwardsii caterpillar
Archaeoattacus edwardsii L1 on Prunus serotina

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Nudaurelia wahlbergi

This was the first time ever that I had Nudaurelia wahlbergi caterpillars. They are easy to breed at an average living room temperature, but it would be better to provide a little bit more heath. The warmer you keep them the faster they grow. It is a good idea to place the cage close to a window. The caterpillars like to sit in the sun. More important however is to keep them completely dry. Netted cages are better than plastic boxes. They dislike wet conditions and high humidity.  In my living room it took two months before they started to pupate. They accept a wide range of food plants including Prunus, Liquidambar, Salix and Ricinus.


Nudaurelia wahlbergii caterpillar
Nudaurelia wahlbergii L5 on Prunus laurocerasus

Nudaurelia wahlbergii caterpillar
Nudaurelia wahlbergii L5 on Prunus laurocerasus

Nudaurelia wahlbergii caterpillar
Nudaurelia wahlbergii L4 on Prunus laurocerasus

Nudaurelia wahlbergii L3 on Prunus laurocerasus

Nudaurelia wahlbergii caterpillar
Nudaurelia wahlbergii L2 on Prunus laurocerasus

Nudaurelia wahlbergii caterpillar
Nudaurelia wahlbergii L1 on Prunus laurocerasus

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Unidentified Lymantriinae Malawi

No, no, don't get the wrong idea now. I am not expanding this blog to other moth families and I am not that much interested in Erebidae. This is the offspring of a small, yellow Lymantriinae that was very common on the Zomba Plateau in Malawi. Females came in great numbers to the light and immediately after they'd settled on the wall or on the sheet, they started laying eggs. These eggs were hidden in some brownish, foam like body mass. I took one of those piles home. Turned out that there were hundreds of eggs inside. The caterpillars are very easy to breed at an average room temperature, completely dry and in plastic boxes. They really don't care about the quality of the food. Even completely dried out leaves are still eaten. Also, they are extremely social in all instars. Overcrowding is not an issue. Rubus fruticosus was immediately accepted as food plant. This is not that surprising. The undergrowth in the forest on the Zomba Plateau consist mainly out of an African Rubus species, which most likely is the natural host. Nevertheless, they will accept many other trees and shrubs. One caterpillar managed to escape and found it's way to my Pachira aquatica (= Bombax glabra) in the living room and continued eating and growing. I will end this post with a serious warning: do not breed these caterpillars when you have allergies. Even when you usually are not allergic to insects you have to handle these caterpillars with extreme caution. In the final instar the hairs become highly irritating. When cleaning the cage you need to cover as much skin as possible. Wear gloves and do not touch your eyes. Keep them away from your face as far as possible. The hairs come of even without touching. When done, take a shower and change your clothes. Unless of course, you like your skin to be covered with a red rash that itches for hours (even days!). Yep, I speak from experience ...
Probably Euproctis bicolor, see post 2015/02/22


Unidentified Lymantriinae L5  on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L5 on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L5 on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L4 on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L4 on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L3 on Rubus fruticosus

Unidentified Lymantriinae L2 on Rubus fruticosus