Friday, 31 July 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris tridens

I bought some Automeris celata cocoons from Costa Rica recently. Imagine my disappointment when they hatched and turned out to be Automeris tridens. It's not that this one isn't a beautiful species. But I had my mind set on celata, which is a lot more difficult to get. The central American tridens flies from Mexico south to Costa Rica. They look similar to the related Automeris randa, only smaller and more intensely colored, especially the males. Males have a wingspan in between six and eight centimeter, females between eight and (almost) ten centimeter. Contrary to randa, tridens has multiple broods per year.


Automeris tridens female
Automeris tridens female - Origin: Costa Rica

Automeris tridens male
Automeris tridens male - Origin: Costa Rica



 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hyperchiria azteca

It's rather difficult to see the difference between the larval stages of the Mexican Hyperchiria azteca. The first six instars are all bright yellow. The only difference is their size. Only the seventh and final instar is more greenish yellow and thus somewhat different from the earlier stages. They grow to a length of seven centimeter. The azteca larvae thrive on Robinia pseudoacacia. I kept them completely dry,  in well ventilated, plastic containers at temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius during the day and twenty degrees at night. Mortality was zero percent (no kidding, everything that hatched made it to the final instar). For a species out of the Hemileucinae subfamily, they developed quite rapidly and needed only four weeks before they started to search for a good spot to pupate. The moths will probably emerge within only a few weeks.



Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L7 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L7 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L7 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L7/L6 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L5 on Robinia pseudoacacia


Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L3 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L2 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Hyperchiria azteca caterpillar
Hyperchiria azteca L1 on Robinia pseudoacacia

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Ceratomia amyntor

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillars can be very variable in color. Even offspring of one and the same female may be dark green or more bluish, with a little pink or almost entirely pink. No matter the color, one thing they have all in common: small horns just behind the head. That's something you don't see very often on hawkmoth caterpillars. It gives the amyntor caterpillars a somewhat aggressive appearances, which is not just bluff. The full grown caterpillars try to bite when you pick them up. Be careful when handling them, the bite isn't dangerous, but hurts a little. They grow to about nine centimeter. The first two instars do well in plastic containers, while the later instars grow better in netted cages. However, when you have the space, keep them outdoors sleeved on a birch tree (Betula) for the best results. Tilia and Ulmus are good alternatives.


Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L5 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L5 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L5 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L5 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L4 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L3 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L2 on Betula

Ceratomia amyntor caterpillar
Ceratomia amyntor L1 on Betula

Friday, 24 July 2015

Arsenura species Mexico

I got this stock as Arsenura polyodonta, coming from Laguna Verde (Chiapas) in Mexico at an elevation of 1300 meter. Have a look at the caterpillars below. They are definitely not polyodonta. At first I thought they were Arsenura armida larvae until Bernhard Wenczel pointed out that armida does not have hairy final instar caterpillars. He's right, of course, I should have thought of that myself. Armida caterpillars have a smooth skin. They are not polyodonta, they are not armida, so what are they? I must admit, having an unidentified Arsenura is pretty exciting. I have only few though, the eggs didn't hatch very well and they were not so easy to breed. That they got sick so easily, was maybe because I raised them on Tilia x vulgaris (a cordata/platyphyllos hybrid), which was well accepted as food plant, but which is at best only a substitute and not their natural host. The caterpillars grow large, to a length of twelve centimeter. I'm looking forward to seeing the moths. Maybe that will help identifying them.


Arsenura species Mexico caterpillar
Arsenura species Mexico L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L4 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L4 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L4 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L3/L2 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L3 on Tilia x vulgaris
Arsenura species Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L3/L2 on Tilia x vulgaris


Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L2 on Tilia x vulgaris

Arsenura caterpillar Mexico
Arsenura species Mexico L1 on Tilia x vulgaris

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Callosamia promethea

I don't know what it is with this species, but I always seem to forget I have them. It went well with the first batch of the year, which I raised on Prunus serotina. I even got pictures of the first three instars. But then I moved them outdoors and once out of sight, I did not photograph the later instars. There is a reason why I always keep them outdoors. For such a common species they can be very difficult to breed indoors. Most of the times it goes well until they reach the fourth instar. From then on, they often drop dead. Once the first caterpillar dies, the rest usually follows in the next seventy two hours, leaving you with nothing. Still, the second batch, I raised indoors. It is risky, but not impossible. First, choose one of their favorite food plants like Liquidambar or Fraxinus. Second, keep the cage in an unheated room in front of an open window. The window has to remain open day and night, so that there is always good air movement and a good difference between day and night temperature. Finally, use a netted cage, especially from the second instar on. Breeding them this way has a reasonable chance of success. The pictures of the fourth and fifth instar are the proof.


Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L5 on Liquidambar

Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L5 on Liquidambar

Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L5/L4 on Liquidambar


Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L4 on Liquidambar


Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L2/L3 on Prunus serotina

Callosamia promethea caterpillar
Callosamia promethea L1/L2 on Prunus serotina

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Sphingids: Smerinthus kindermannii

Under the right conditions Smerinthus kindermannii has two flights, one in spring and one in summer. The pupal stage between the spring and summer generation is short, only two to three weeks. They are about the same size as the European Smerinthus ocellata, with a wingspan between six and a half and eight centimeter. As often the case with hawkmoths, the females are larger then the males. Kindermannii occurs in the central Palearctic region from Cyprus and Turkey eastwards through Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to northwest China and western Mongolia. Northwards they are also recorded from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.


Smerinthus kindermannii male
Smerinthus kindermannii male - Origin: Kyrgyzstan

Smerinthus kindermannii female
Smerinthus kindermannii female - Origin: Kyrgyzstan

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Adeloneivaia jason

Lots of Mexican species this year. The Adeloneivaia jason caterpillars are amongst the most beautiful giant silkmoth caterpillars I know. Once they start to eat they aren't difficult to breed at all. Getting them started is the tricky part. I lost most of them in the first twenty four hours. I think Quercus robur may not be such a good food plant, although the surviving caterpillars developed normally afterwards and did grow to a good size. It might be better to use trees out of the Fabaceae plant family like Gleditsia. Full grown they are larger then they look on pictures. The largest caterpillar reached a length of nine centimeter. I treated them the same way as I did with the Othorene caterpillars: first two instars in a well ventilated plastic container, later instars in a netted cage. The pupae will hatch later this summer.


Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L5 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L5 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L5 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L5 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L4 on Quercus robur



Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L3 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L2 on Quercus robur

Adeloneivaia jason caterpillar
Adeloneivaia jason L1 on Quercus robur


Friday, 17 July 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Rothschildia sandimasiana

There really isn't much I can tell about Rothschildia sandimasiana. It is one of those recently described species. So far, sandimasiana is only mentioned from Mexico and may be restricted to the state Durango. However, many is still unknown, so the exact distribution of this species still needs to be established. The pupal stage didn't take very long. After four to five weeks the moths emerged. Probably there are two to three flights a year, in captivity maybe four, depending on how the cocoons are stored. The moths are fairly large with a wingspan in between twelve and fourteen centimeter.


Rothschildia sandimasiana male
Rothschildia sandimasiana male - Origin: Mexico

Rothschildia sandimasiana female
Rothschildia sandimasiana female - Origin: Mexico
 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Copaxa multifenestrata

It is a bit surprising that this Copaxa isn't offered more regularly. Not only are they widespread throughout Central America, they are actually a great species to breed for newcomers. They grow fast, can be kept in large groups and are very forgiving for less ideal breeding circumstances. Nevertheless, although very tolerant for rookie mistakes, best not try how far you can go. Just keep them warm in large plastic containers with a mesh cover, keep things clean and give fresh food every other day. That way they will reward you with very pretty, eight centimeter long caterpillars within only four to five weeks. The growth depends on the temperature. The warmer, the faster they go. You do not need Persea, the typical Copaxa host plant, to breed this species. Multifenestrata caterpillars are equally happy on shrubs and trees that are more easily available to most of us, like Liquidambar and Salix.

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L5 on Salix caprea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L5 on Salix cinerea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L5 on Salix caprea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L4 on Salix cinerea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L3 on Salix cinerea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L2 on Salix cinerea

Copaxa multifenestrata caterpillar
Copaxa multifenestrata L1 on Salix cinerea