Sunday, 30 August 2015

Lemaireodirphia albida

... or are they Paradirphia hoegei? Back in the days, when we were still young and beautiful, it would have been Paradirphia hoegei without any doubt. But that was before the great plague. That was before the entomologists went insane. It is still a mystery what happened exactly during those dark times full of misery and despair. Some say that their excessive use of DNA research had something to do with it. Some say that one of them accidently snuffed some fungus infected moth DNA which rapidly grew inside the researchers brain and which turned out to be highly contagious. Luckily, because entomologists are too boring to have real life friends, the fungus spores did not spread into the general population, but only jumped from one colleague to another. At first we didn't noticed that they were sick. After all who ever listens to entomologists? And when they started to rename entire genera we just thought it was a desperate attempt to get some attention from us, the more popular and successful people. By the time we realized that there was something seriously wrong with the entomologists, it was already too late...

The further the disease spread the more damage they did to the taxonomy. Subspecies got upgraded to species, entire insect families were merged into larger families and perfectly fine species were divided into many new species. The difference between the new species being only clear in the delirious head of the entomologist.  Most of the entomologists are now in quarantine, but some of them are still at large, so don't be surprised that one day you find out that your favorite species is no longer one species but a complex of closely related and completely identical ones. It is going to take decades to undo all the damage and to sort out the mess they made. But one day we will have restored everything back to its rightful place and we will be able again to say that a hoegei is a hoegei when we see one and not an albida, a hoegei or something entirely different but not yet described because still being DNA researched.

Oh and by the way, they are very easy to breed on Quercus, Salix or Robinia in large plastic containers. A bit slow growing maybe, but that may have had something to do with our relatively cool summer this year. Just to help you decide whether they are albida or hoegei, this stock originates from San Jose de Pacifico in Oaxaca (Mexico).


Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida final instar on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida final instar on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida final instar on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida final instar on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L5 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L5 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L5 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L5 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida L5 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L5/L4 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L4 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L3 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida L2 on Quercus robur

Lemaireodirphia albida caterpillar
Lemaireodirphia albida  L1 on Quercus robur

Friday, 28 August 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Copaxa rufijaliscensis

The Mexican Copaxa rufijaliscensis has an extremely short pupal stage. Less then three weeks after spinning their cocoons the first moths already eclosed. It's a lovely species, larger than one would expect when looking at the caterpillars. The wingspan is ten to twelve centimeter. The males are a little smaller than the females and more intensely colored. There is very little known about this species. It is one of many recently described species, in this case quite similar to Copaxa rufinans. The moths in the pictures below originate from Loberas in Sinaloa (Mexico).


Copaxa rufijaliscensis male
Copaxa rufijaliscensis male - Origin: Mexico

Copaxa rufijaliscensis female
Copaxa rufijaliscensis female - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Sphingids: Eumorpha achemon

The Eumorpha genus is widespread in North and South America. There are a little over twenty species. Unfortunately they are rarely available in Europe, although today's species has been offered several times this year, reason why I managed to get not one but two broods. So, I am going to repeat my desperate appeal to all the readers of this blog, no matter where you live, if you have species that have not been shown on this blog and belonging to the Sphingidae, Saturniidae, Brahmaeidae (including the Lemoniidae), Eupterotidae, Endromidae, Bombycidae, Apatelodidae, Anthelidae and Lasiocampidae and if you are willing to sell pupae and cocoons please feel free to contact me by using the contact form below. It is the only way to keep this blog going. I will run out of species one day, probably sooner than I anticipated.

Back to the Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon), a fairly large hawkmoth that can be found in parts of the United States (except the Pacific northwest, most of the southeast and the Great Basin), southern Canada and Mexico. The moths have a wingspan in between eight and almost ten centimeter. Usually there is only one flight per year from June to August. In the south and in captivity there are two fights from as early as May to the end of August.


Eumorpha achemon
Eumorpha achemon - Origin: USA

Eumorpha achemon
Eumorpha achemon - Origin: USA

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Paradirphia semirosea

The central American Paradirphia semirosea is quite fun to breed. Unless of course you get stung by them, which is a lot less pleasant, but not as painful as some other members of the Hemileucinae subfamily. These caterpillars grow to about seven or eight centimeter. They did quite well in relatively small, well ventilated plastic containers at temperatures around twenty five degrees Celsius during the day and around twenty degrees at night. I raised them on Quercus robur. Robinia would probably have been a better choice. Nevertheless, the oaks worked well and were a lot more convenient to use than those Robinias. I'm always a bit reluctant to combine thorny plants with urticating caterpillars. I expect these pupae to hatch in a few weeks.

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea final instar on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea final instar on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea final instar on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L5 on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L4 on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L4 on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L4/L3/L2 on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L2/L1 on Quercus robur

Paradirphia semirosea caterpillar
Paradirphia semirosea L1 on Quercus robur

Friday, 21 August 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Anisota assimilis

Many of the Mexican Anisota species look very much alike. However, because the moths in this post are coming from Sonora they are most likely Anisota assimilis. Assimilis flies in Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango. It is possible that they can also be found in other Mexican states. A correct identification is not always easy and because of that the exact distribution of the different species is still somewhat unclear. This is a small species with a wingspan in between four and five centimeter, that has only one flight per year, normally in May or June. In captivity they emerge very irregular with pupae hatching from June to the end of August. So don't be surprised that your friends have already full grown caterpillars early July while your own pupae haven't produced any moths yet. Don't throw them in the garbage. It's exactly what happened with my own two broods. From the first I received eggs early July, while the moths in this post are from the second brood which is only starting to hatch right now. So yes, I am very sure that I can post the beautiful caterpillars in a few weeks. Actually, I could post them tomorrow if I wanted to. They have already pupated a while ago. Currently there is a queue for being published on this blog. I'm having more species then time to sort out the pictures ...


Anisota assimilis male
Anisota assimilis male - Origin: Mexico

Anisota assimilis female
Anisota assimilis female - Origin: Mexico

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Sphingids: Theretra alecto

The Levant Hawkmoth (Theretra alecto) is one of the larger species in the genus. The wingspan of these moths is somewhere between eight and ten centimeter. There is not much difference between males and females except for the body shape and of course the genitalia. This is a fairly common species throughout the warmer parts of the Central Palearctic. Its distribution reaches from Greece, the islands in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East  through  southern and eastern Turkey and most of Iran further east to Taiwan and Indonesia. Northwards they can also be found in Turkmenistan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. This is a strong flyer that is sometimes found far from its natural range. The species is reported from Sicily and Romania. They have at least three flights per year between April and September, with sometimes a fourth in October/November.



Theretra alecto
Theretra alecto - Origin: Greece

Theretra alecto
Theretra alecto - Origin: Greece

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Citheronia beledonon

It's always great to have some Citheronia caterpillars. They grow large and they will not keep you occupied for months. In less then four weeks they grow from hatchling to a ten centimeter long creature. Like most of the larvae in this genus the beledonon caterpillars are quite spectacular, although not as large as those of Citheronia regalis. This Mexican species grows very well on Juglans. In the past I've also used Prunus serotina and Ligustrum with success. Other plants that can be used are Gossypium, Liquidambar and Rhus. Given their size, they are best kept in large, well ventilated plastic containers. They usually do not do well in netted cages. Occasionally there can be a second generation in autumn, but most likely these pupae will diapause and hatch somewhere in May or June next year.


Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L5 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L5 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L5 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L4 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L4 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L3 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L2 on Juglans

Citheronia beledonon caterpillar
Citheronia beledonon L1 on Juglans

Friday, 14 August 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Eacles imperialis anchicayensis

The nominate subspecies of Eacles imperialis has already large moths. The anchicayensis are even larger. It may not show that much in the pictures below, but the male has a wingspan of thirteen centimeter, while the female is sixteen centimeter. Contrary to the imperialis subspecies, this one has at least two flights per year and will in captivity brood continuously as long as the right conditions are met, namely high temperatures combined with high humidity. Anchicayensis flies in Colombia and Ecuador.


Eacles imperialis anchicayensis male
Eacles imperialis anchicayensis male - Origin: Ecuador

Eacles imperialis anchicayensis female
Eacles imperialis anchicayensis female - Origin: Ecuador

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Sphingids: Marumba amboinicus celebensis

With an average wingspan of ten centimeter and an ocher brown or grey brown ground color, Marumba amboinicus is quite striking for a hawkmoth. There is not much information available about this species. Their distribution includes the Philippines and a large part of Indonesia. There are at least four subspecies. The celebensis subspecies seems to be restricted to Sulawesi (Indonesia). In captivity they have at least two generations per year, probably more.

Marumba amboinicus celebensis male
Marumba amboinicus celebensis male - Origin: Indonesia

Marumba amboinicus celebensis female
Marumba amboinicus celebensis female - Origin: Indonesia

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Automeris excreta

No, no, these are not Automeris randa caterpillars. But you are right, they do look very similar. That is not such a big surprise as Automeris excreta belongs to a group of closely related species to which also Automeris randa and Automeris tridens belong. Breeding excreta is similar to Automeris randa. They do well on Quercus, Robinia and Prunus. The larvae are best kept in well ventilated plastic containers and appreciate somewhat higher temperatures. Temperatures above twenty five degrees will make them grow faster. Still they need six to seven weeks before they are full grown. Eventually they become as large as randa caterpillars. Depending on temperature and humidity they may or may not eclose before winter.


Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta final instar on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta L5 on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta L4 on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta L3 on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta L2 on Quercus robur

Automeris excreta caterpillar
Automeris excreta L1 on Quercus robur