Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The occasional hawkmoth: Paonias myops

More and more pupae are hatching. Amongst them the Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops) from Northern America. This species is found from south-eastern Canada all the way to Mexico and westwards almost to the Pacific coast. The adults have a wingspan of only five to seven centimeters. In the colder parts of its distribution this hawkmoth has only one flight each year. More to the south that can be up to four generations.

Paonias myops male
Paonias myops male - Origin: USA

Paonias myops female
Paonias myops female - Origin; USA

Monday, 27 April 2015

Getting nervous?

This blog started as a way to show my friends some pictures of the moths and caterpillars I have. It's a lot easier this way then emailing pictures each time one of them gets curious and wants to know why on earth I breed bugs. To my surprise many other breeders found their way to my blog and in one year I gathered a small crowd of regular readers. Most of them are somewhat old school and don't follow openly but have saved the url in their favorites. I can see this when I open the statistics of the blog. I can also see who is coming via my Google+ profile and all the other ways like picture searches, etc. I also know in which countries I'm most 'popular'. That's the USA followed by France and the United Kingdom. Don't worry, I cannot see individual IP addresses, so unless you are following the blog publicly, I do not know who you are.

I'm quite happy that other people find this blog interesting enough to come back regularly. And now that spring is in the air and pupae and eggs are hatching, many of you seem to have become nervous. I noticed a spectacular increase in page views since the beginning of April. It looks that not only the moths are coming out of hibernation, but most of the European insect breeders as well. Everybody seems to be searching for interesting new stock. I must admit, I've been doing the same. Many of my new species have not been on this blog before. I'm particularly happy with the large Gastropacha pardale from China and the not so large Phyllodesma americana from Canada, both started well on Crataegus and are growing fast. They are just the tip of the iceberg, a lot more is coming, so keep coming back regularly. Your visits are much appreciated.

Gastropacha pardale caterpillar
Gastropacha pardale L1 on Crataegus

Sphinx kalmiae caterpillars
Sphinx kalmiae hatchlings on Ligustrum vulgare

Samia cynthia walkeri caterpillars
Samia cynthia walkeri L1 on Prunus serotina

Daphnis nerii caterpillar
Daphnis nerii on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Phyllodesma americana caterpillars
Phyllodesma americana L1 on Crataegus

Friday, 24 April 2015

About hybrids

Hybrids, I hate them. They are mistakes of nature. Creatures that shouldn't exist. There, I said it. I consider them to be a waste of space. I really do not know why anyone would like to fuck up nature's great work by creating hybrids. Seriously. Why spend time on breeding something unnatural when there are thousands of magnificent species out there. Take only the scope of this blog. There are about 1500 species of Lasiocampidae, 2300 Saturniidae, 1450 Sphingidae and about 1000 other species divided over several smaller families within the Bombycoidea. That's a total of more then 6000 moth species that I could post on this blog. I didn't count, but I think I managed to publish around fifty different species last year. At this rate it is going to take me another 120 years before I have bred them all. Now tell me, why waste time on hybrids? The only reason why I had the hybrid below is because a friend send me the eggs. I couldn't throw them away, that would have been even worse then breeding hybrids. So, only once and then never again: a hybrid between two North American species, Hyalophora cecropia and Hyalophora kasloensis.

Hyalophora cecropia x kasloensis hybrid male
Hyalophora cecropia x kasloensis hybrid male

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis

I was quite happy when Miguel send me the eggs of the Mexican Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis. Unfortunately it was still rather cold in Belgium. And of course, it is only on days that something nice is waiting in my mailbox that I have to work late. Although it did not freeze that day, the eggs where exposed to temperatures below five degrees Celsius for hours. No wonder that most of them got cold damaged and did not survive the trip from Spain. Only five of them hatched and of those five, two caterpillars died within the first twenty four hours. I first started them on Pyracantha, which they accepted without hesitation. However growth seemed a little slow, so I moved them to Quercus ilex. This was clearly a good idea. After the switch they continued growing normally and six weeks later they started to pupate. They need to be bred under dry conditions. A normal living room temperature and humidity is enough. For those not living in Europe or where it can get cold in winter: a normal living room temperature during winter months is considered to be in between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius during the day (when at home) and in between 10 and 15 degrees at night. Just to be clear what range where talking about. The moths will eclose within a few weeks.

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L5 on Quercus ilex

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L4 on Quercus ilex

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L4 on Quercus ilex

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L3 on Quercus ilex

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L2 on Quercus ilex

Friday, 17 April 2015

The occasional hawkmoth: Sphinx kalmiae

The North American Laurel Sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae) is one of the first of the overwintering hawkmoth species to emerge. As soon as day temperatures come close to twenty degrees Celsius and the nights are above five degrees, the pupae hatch nicely together. With twenty moths together, getting them to pair wasn't a problem. After pairing it takes one or two nights before the females start to lay eggs. I guess they need to feed first in order for the eggs to develop. Eggs are only deposited on the food plant, not on the cage walls. I used Forsythia flowers to feed the moths. Unfortunately they considered this to be a suitable food plant for the caterpillars and the eggs were laid individually, one on each flower. I never realized how many flowers there are on a Forsythia branch until I had to inspect them one by one. The Laurel Sphinx occurs in the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada. In the north they have only one flight each year, in the south of their distribution and in captivity it can be five or even six generations. The wingspan of this hawkmoth is somewhere between seven and ten centimeters.

Sphinx kalmiae
Sphinx kalmiae - Origin: USA

Sphinx kalmiae
Sphinx kalmiae - Origin: USA

Sphinx kalmiae
Sphinx kalmiae - Origin: USA

Friday, 10 April 2015

Here we go again ...

It has been slow going for a while, mostly because I needed a break. But I am ready now for the new breeding season. Actually I've been ready for quite some time, there just wasn't much interesting breeding material available. If only those regular readers from Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Brasil, India, China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Australia, South Africa, Kenya and Congo would contact me when they have eggs or pupae for sale or trade, things wouldn't be so boring in winter. I have been sowing and planting plenty of evergreen plants. I'm now able to handle almost everything, unless the species is a specialist feeder on a really obscure plant, which is rarely the case. So don't be shy and send me a message using the contact form at the bottom of this page. I'm sure we can work something out. Meanwhile, I did manage to obtain some interesting new stock and a lot more is still to come. Special thanks to Miguel and Steve for sharing some of the species below. I'm very excited about the new season. I can promise you that many special species will be on this blog the following months, some of which you probably have never seen before. As always coming from all continents and coming from all families of the Bombycoidea and of course, my favorites, the Lasiocampidae.

Lonomia electra caterpillar
Lonomia electra L1 on Prunus laurocerasus

Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis caterpillar
Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis L1 on Quercus ilex

Langia zenzeroides nawai caterpillar
Langia zenzeroides nawai L1 on Prunus laurocerasus

Hemileuca eglanterina caterpillar
Hemileuca eglanterina L1 on Rosa

Antheraea yamamai caterpillar
Antheraea yamamai L1 on Crataegus

Friday, 3 April 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Imbrasia epimethea

Imbrasia epimethea is a species from tropical Africa that you don't see often in captivity. This is probably because they are not the most spectacular of giant silkmoths. Except for the bright orange eye spots they are quite dull brown and unattractive. I have only a few pupae, so it's very unlikely that I'm going to have fertile eggs, especially when they continue like they have been doing the last few months. Since November I had two females, the rest of the pupae remain dormant. I still hope this is a good sign and that the rest of them will hatch close together in spring.  To be continued ...

Imbrasia epimethea female
Imbrasia epimethea female - Origin: Togo