Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Eumorpha achemon

This is how we like the hawkmoth caterpillars best: easy to breed, very fast growing and relatively colorful. This species may not have the most attractive caterpillars of all Eumorphas, but they were definitely amongst the more appealing hawkmoths I had this year. Especially the third and fourth instars are quite nice. Those come in several color forms within the same brood, from pink to green.  A green fifth instar form also exists, but mine where all brownish, the most common color form. They are super fast growing. The fastest grower went from hatchling to ready to pupate in nineteen days. The slowest needed twenty-two days.  I don't think it matters much how you keep them. Plastic containers or netted cages will work both, as long as you don't give them wet leaves.  Most plants out the Vitaceae family can be used as food plants. They will do particularly well on Parthenocissus and Vitis. The pupae will now diapause and hatch next spring.


Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L5 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L5 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L5 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L5 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L4 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L4 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L3 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L3 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L3 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L2 on Parthenocissus

Eumorpha achemon caterpillar
Eumorpha achemon L1 on Parthenocissus

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Automeris tridens

No, I don't see the difference with the excreta caterpillars either. Or at least, not when looking at the pictures. When having them before you, the difference is quite obvious. There is a slight difference in color. The tridens caterpillars are even more blueish green than the excreta. It is subtle, I admit and it probably is more a feeling than a reliable difference. I bet that the natural variability of both species will make this a very unreliable characteristic. Probably there are excreta caterpillars that are also more bleuish and tridens that are green. What really gives it away is the size. Tridens is obviously smaller, both the larvae and the morhs. Breeding is exactly the same for both species: warm, dry and in well ventilated plastic containers. When it comes to food plants, they are equally polyphagous. Oak (Quercus), willow (Salix), fruit trees (Malus, Pyrus, Prunus), Privet (Ligustrum), Bramble (Rubus) and Hawthorn (Crataegus) are amongst the suitable food plants. I recommend using Prunus serotina. They really thrive on the stuff, growing faster and larger than on any other food plant. And when you have them late in the season they switch easily from Prunus serotina to the evergreen Prunus laurocerasus. I haven't decided yet what to do with the cocoons. If I keep them warm they will produce a next generation in three weeks, if I place them cooler and drier they will hibernate through winter to hatch next spring.


Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L7 on Prunus serotina

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L7 on Prunus serotina

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L7 on Prunus serotina

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L6 on Prunus serotina

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L5 on Salix caprea

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L5 on Salix caprea

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L4 on Salix caprea

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L3 on Salix caprea

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L2 on Salix caprea

Automeris tridens caterpillar
Automeris tridens L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 25 September 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Hemileuca chinatiensis

This Hemileuca is a north American species that even most of the American readers have never seen before. Coming from Texas and New Mexico (USA) and Chihuahua (Mexico), it is very rare in captivity. Wingspan is between five and seven centimeter. There is no difference in size between males and females. Usually this species flies in one flight per year from September to November. The hatching of the pupae is triggered by an increase in humidity and not so much by changes in temperature. That's why in countries with a fairly high humidity like Belgium, moths can hatch completely of season and even during a heat wave with temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius. The daily thunderstorms at the end of July and early August were enough to make all the moths emerge, months before their normal flight time. This is somewhat inconvenient as the eggs of this species overwinter. I never feel comfortable placing eggs in the fridge for not weeks, but months longer than normal. The longer they stay in the fridge, the lower the hatch rate. But, at least I did get them to pair, which happened early morning. It is going to be one of the most challenging broods I had in years with very little chance of success...


Hemileuca chinatiensis
Hemileuca chinatiensis male - Origin: USA

Hemileuca chinatiensis
Hemileuca chinatiensis males - Origin: USA

Hemileuca chinatiensis
Hemileuca chinatiensis male  typical resting position

Hemileuca chinatiensis
Hemileuca chinatiensis female - Origin: USA

Hemileuca chinatiensis
Hemileuca chinatiensis female - Origin: USA

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Marumba amboinicus celebensis

These pictures don't do them justice. This is actually a quite beautiful caterpillar, despite the green base color. The yellow, almost golden stripes and purple dots along the side (not very visible in these pictures) combined with a fairly large size make these animals very attractive. They grow to a length of ten centimeter. In captivity they eat basswood (Tilia) species, indicating that wild amboinicus caterpillars can probably be found on various Malvaceae.  Like most hawkmoths they are not too difficult to breed. I kept them in large well ventilated plastic containers while it was fairly warm (in between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius during the day). This worked very well. After five weeks they changed color and started to search for a good spot to go undergound and pupate. The pupal stage is relatively short. Moths appear after three weeks.


Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L5 on Tilia x vulgaris
 
Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L5 on Tilia x vulgaris


Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L5 on Tilia x vulgaris

Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L4 on Tilia x vulgaris

Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L4 on Tilia x vulgaris

Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L2 on Tilia x vulgaris

Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L2 on Tilia x vulgaris

Marumba amboinicus celebensis caterpillar
Marumba amboinicus celebensis L1 on Tilia x vulgaris

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Hylesia praeda

I'm publishing a bit more pictures than usual, simply because this might very well be the first time ever that all instars of this south American species are displayed on a public website. Needless to say that I was quite excited when receiving the eggs. They were part of a batch of several species from French Guyana. Huge was my disappointment a few days later, when turned out that most eggs never survived the trip. Only five eggs of this Hylesia hatched, all the rest ended up in the garbage bin. It took a very long time before the young caterpillars started to eat. This is what they don't eat: Robinia, Gleditsia, Salix, Coffea, Galium, Miscanthus, Fargesia, Ceanothus, Crataegus, Prunus, Rubus, Euphorbia, Rhus and Schinus. After more then 48 hours they finally settled on Quercus robur. The rest was easy. If you ever have the chance of getting some stock, just keep them warm and dry, in closed plastic boxes. They need around five to six weeks before they spin a few leaves together and pupate. Most likely the moths will emerge later this year.

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L7 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L7 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L7 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L7 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L6 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L6 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L5 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L5 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L4 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L4 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L4 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L3 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L2 on Quercus robur

Hylesia praeda caterpillar
Hylesia praeda L1 on Quercus robur

Friday, 18 September 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Adeloneivaia jason

Ha, are you also getting the feeling that there are just too many Mexican species on this blog? There are, but these were the only ones I managed to get this year. I wouldn't mind having a bit more species from other countries as well. I'm starting to loose my Asian readers. Well you know how to fix this: I'm still buying pupae and cocoons from all species within the scope of this blog and which have not yet been displayed before. I am going to repeat this all winter (your summer), until there is a better balance between Mexican and other species. Hmm, absolutely, that does indeed require a whole lot of new species. Don't worry, I have plenty of evergreen stuff to continue all winter. The only thing I don't have is enough species. 

Adeloneivaia jason is for example a species that flies during our winter. This lovely moth has at least three peak flights per year, but can be encountered almost year round. Surprise, surprise, this species has recently been divided into several very similar species. Jason used to have a distribution that went all the way from Mexico into the upper half of south America. Today entomologists agree that true jason moths fly only in Central America, from Mexico to Panama. In the rest of the former range it is replaced by other closely related species. The wingspan of these very bright orange moths is between six and nine centimeter for the males and eight to twelve centimeter for the females.


Adeloneivaia jason male
Adeloneivaia jason male - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Unidentified Lasiocampid Mexico

One of the (many) highlights of this breeding season and I don't have the slightest idea which species this is. I got them as eggs with the only clue that the female looked a bit like Dendrolimus pini. If you know anything about Lappets, you know that doesn't get you any further in identifying them. Many Lappets look a bit like pini. But that's the fun part. I hope I can ID the moths later when they eclose. It always causes some excitement, having eggs of something unknown and no idea what the food plant can be. Although, these caterpillars spoiled the fun a little by immediately starting to eat the oak I offered. The first instars are quite colorful, until the fourth instar when they turn into brown caterpillars with a lot of white hairs. From then on they no longer change appearance, only the size differs. They were slow growing, like the typical Lappet. After four months they reached a lenght of more than ten centimeter. Based on the impressive size of the caterpillars, it's going to be a fairly large moth. This stock comes from Oaxaca, Mexico. I am going to keep the pupae warm. Once they hatch I will post them on this blog and you can all help me identifying them.


Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid final instar on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid final instar on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid final instar on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid final instar on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid final instar on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L7 on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L6 on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L5 on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L3 on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L2 on Quercus robur

Unidentified Lasiocampid caterpillar
Unidentified Lasiocampid L1 on Quercus robur