Friday, 30 October 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Arsenura armida

... or maybe not. Although this female looks very much like Arsenura armida females, this might just as well be Arsenura arianae. Both species look very similar and the exact distribution of both species is unclear, specially in Central America. And then of course the fact remains that the caterpillars I posted this summer did not had a smooth skin like you would expect of armida caterpillars. They were rough skinned with very short thick hairs.  To help you decide what species it might be: this stock came from Laguna Verde in Chiapas (Mexico), where the female was caught in the last week of May.


Arsenura sp. Mexico
Arsenura armida female - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Sphingids: Macroglossum stellatarum

This is a bit of an odd creature. It's the only European Sphingid that overwinters in the adult stage and not as pupae. They are not very frost tolerant. Everything more than a few degrees below zero will kill the moths. Most adults north of the Alps will not survive a typical European winter. Although recent years some have been known to have survived in Northern France. These strong flyers are very common all across Europe, straying as far north as Norway and Sweden. They already reach Belgium in March or April. Eastwards they are found throughout the entire temperate Palearctic all the way to Japan. Westwards  they have managed to reach the Azores. They not only stray north, but also south. They have captured in southern India and in Africa (this species has been caught as far south as Gambia). They fly during the day, but also at dawn, at dusk and even at night, indifferent to cool temperatures and rain. There are multiple flights per year, one every six to eight weeks, depending on temperature.


Macroglossum stellatarum
Macroglossum stellatarum - Origin: Belgium

Macroglossum stellatarum - Origin: Belgium

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Automeris cecrops pamina

I can't give you any good advice on how to breed this species. I loose every brood of them. For some reason this species is completely incompatible with the breeding conditions in and around my house. I have tried everything. Indoors, outdoors, plastic containers, netted cages, high humidity, low humidity, warm, cool, on oak and on willow, on living plants and on cut branches, .... Really, there is nothing I can think of that I haven't tried already. And no, the caterpillars below will not produce moths either. They failed to pupate. Two of them are still alive, but most likely they will die too. At least I got them to the final stage, which is further then usual. This time everything went well, until one day the leaves I gave were not completely dry. The next day they started dropping dead as always. So probably the best results are when breeding them warm and very dry. That's exactly the problem. We do not have six week periods without rain in Belgium. Unless I start growing an oak tree in my living room, there will always be a moment that they will have to eat leaves that aren't completely dry.

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L7 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L7 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L7 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L6 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L6 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L6 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L5 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L4 on Quercus robur

Automeris cecrops pamina caterpillar
Automeris cecrops pamina L3/L2 on Quercus robur

Friday, 23 October 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Perisomena caecigena

Perisomena caecigena is a very short lived, rather uncommon European species that is found from Italy (east of Venice near the Croation border) and southeastern Austria through Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains, with an isolated population in the mountains of Israel and Lebanon. Moths are on the wing from late September to early November, depending on local conditions, with a peak in October. Emerging of the moths is triggered by low temperatures (night temperature below 10°C) and moist, misty conditions. The moths eclose late afternoon and start pairing already a few hours after dark on the first night. Females attract (and pair with) more then one male. They don't live longer than three days. Eggs overwinter (in the fridge) to hatch early spring. The wingspan is between six and almost nine centimeter.


Perisomena caecigena male
Perisomena caecigena male - Origin: Greece

Perisomena caecigena female
Perisomena caecigena female - Origin: Greece

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Sphingids: Hyles euphorbiae

Yes, there are hawkmoths worth breeding! All 29 species out the Hyles genus are colorful and most of them have caterpillars that are somewhere in between nice and spectacular. Euphorbiae caterpillars are more towards the spectacular side. The wingspan of the moths is between seven and eight and a half centimeter. The spurge hawkmoth can be found from Western Europe, throughout Central Asia, all the way east to Western China and Southwest Mongolia. In the southern Mediterranean the occurrence becomes a bid blurry as this species crossbreeds easily with other Hyles species, especially Hyles tithymali. This hawkmoth has also been introduced into many areas of the USA and Canada. Usually there are two flights (May/June and August./September), however in captivity they will brood continuously as long as the temperature stays above 18 degrees Celsius. It is not recommended though. Late autumn and winter generations are much harder to breed than the spring generation and should be avoided by putting the pupae in the fridge immediately after the offspring of the second generation has pupated.
 

Hyles euphorbiae
Hyles euphorbiae - Origin: Poland

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Citheronia bellavista

The Citheronia bellavista and Citheronia beledonon caterpillars are very similar in many aspects (general appearance, size, behavior, ...). When you look closer, you quickly start noticing the differences in coloration. Fourth and fifth instars of both species are easily recognizable. The bellavista caterpillars grow to a length of ten centimeter. They do this very fast. After only four weeks they start looking for a place to go underground and pupate. Keep them the same way as you would do for beledonon caterpillars: at room temperature in large, well ventilated plastic containers. This species grows well on Prunus, but does equally well on Rhus (and other Anacardiaceae) and Liquidambar. When kept warm and humid, the pupae will hatch after three to four weeks.

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L3 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L3 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L2 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia bellavista caterpillar
Citheronia bellavista L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 16 October 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Hemileuca maia

No luck with this one. The Eastern buckmoth (Hemileuca maia) is a not uncommon North American species that lives from Maine south to northern Florida and west to Kansas and eastern Texas. They have a wingspan between five and seven and a half centimeter, with females being larger than the males. Normally moths are on the wing between September and November, depending on local conditions. However, in captivity it can go wrong. I had some males (1/3th of the pupae) emerging last year early November, but the rest did not hatch. That's not so unusual for Hemileuca species. Their pupae often hatch in the second year. This would not have been a problem, until the remaining pupae started to hatch completely off season, in between June and early August. Evidently no pairs and thus no fertile eggs. So, American readers, if you can sell me some eggs of this species (or any other Hemileuca) please contact me. I'm sure we can work something out. 


Hemileuca maia male
Hemileuca maia male - Origin: USA

Hemileuca maia male
Hemileuca maia male - Origin: USA

Hemileuca maia male
Hemileuca maia male - Origin: USA

Hemileuca maia female
Hemileuca maia female - Origin: USA

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Macroglossum stellatarum

Too much Galium growing in your garden? Get some Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillars. They will deal with it in no time. These caterpillars eat day and night with almost no rest, devouring leaves at an incredible speed, leaving entirely defoliated plants behind. During summer months, growth is extremely fast. Already within twenty days they can be full grown, which is around four and a half centimeter. They will accept other plants out the Rubiaceae family as well. In gardens they can be found on Pentas and in the wild on Rubia, Plocama and others. They will also do well on Epilobium and Centranthus. Maybe not the most spectacular species, but fun to have. The pupal stage is short. The next generation of this Eurasian species will appear in two to three weeks.


Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L5 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L5 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L5 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L5 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L4 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L4 on Galium odoratum

Macroglossum stellatarum caterpillar
Macroglossum stellatarum L3 on Galium odoratum

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Gonimbrasia zambesina

This can be a very frustrating species. I had a large number of pupae. Still, it almost wasn't enough to get eggs. The first pupae hatched November last year. The rest followed during the next ten months. Sometimes one moth, sometimes two, but never a male and female together. Except once in April. My happiness didn't last very long though. The couple refused to pair. Eventually, when I was almost out of pupae,  I managed to get some eggs. Well quite a lot of eggs actually. As with many African species the pairing of this species is rarely observed, so I wasn't sure they were fertile. Until of course I had more than hundred caterpillars. Too much to handle. I kept them on Salix caprea, which is not the best food plant for this species. Better choices are Nerium, Rhus (and other Anacardiaceae like Mangifera and Schinus), Quercus, Fagus and Robinia. On many websites you see Prunus listed amongst the possible food plants. I have never been able to start a brood on Prunus. Not on Prunus avium, not on laurocerasus, not on padus and not on serotina. I'm pretty sure by now that Prunus is not a food plant for this species. Keep them indoors, fairly warm and in netted cages. That way they aren't very difficult to breed. After five to six weeks they are full grown.

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L5 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L5 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L4 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L4 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L3 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L3 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L2 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L2/L1 on Salix caprea

Gonimbrasia zambesina caterpillar
Gonimbrasia zambesina L1 on Salix caprea

Friday, 9 October 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Copaxa cydippe

One cripple female and one with a damaged hind wing vein was the poor final result of this brood. I promise I will try to get fresh stock of this species and try them again next year. It's a lovely small moth. One of the smallest in the Copaxa genus. There isn't much difference in size between males and females. Both have a wingspan around seven centimeter. This species flies only in Mexico. At times they are common enough to become a minor pest on pines. In captivity they have multiple broods per year, with a pupal stage of three to four weeks between flights.


Copaxa cydippe female
Copaxa cydippe female - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Lappet Show: Lasiocampa serrula

There are twenty-three Lasiocampa species present in the Palearctic region. Most of them are not nearly as widespread or common as Lasiocampa quercus (see the posts earlier this year for the moths and caterpillars). Quercus is the most colorful of the Lasiocampa species. The rest is more like this one, dull brownish grey. Most of them are also a lot smaller. Serrula is not even half the size of quercus. The males have a wingspan around two and a half centimeter, females in between three and four centimeter. This species is restricted to the south of the Iberian peninsula and the Maghreb, where they fly in autumn, after the summer heat. My contact promised me a good number of cocoons, but couldn't deliver. I only got five. And even though there were males and females, I never had them together at the same time. With only five cocoons, that would have been like winning the lottery. They only live for two to three days and females already start depositing eggs the first night, after that they no longer mate. So no eggs. Spanish readers: if you come across a female of this species, please please please, send me some eggs. Like all Lasiocampa they have very beautiful caterpillars. I hope, one day,  I will be able to show them.

Lasiocampa serrula female
Lasiocampa serrula female - Origin: Spain

Lasiocampa serrula male
Lasiocampa serrula male - Origin: Spain

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Copaxa lavendera

Although closely related to Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis which I posted on this blog earlier this year, the lavendera caterpillars are very different. The moths on the other hand not so much. This Copaxa is one of the larger species in the genus, with caterpillars that grow easily to eight centimeter or even a little more. They grow well in fairly dry conditions. This means that only the first instars can be kept in plastic containers. Later instars should be moved to netted cages for best results. Temperature and light conditions are less important. Everything above twenty degrees Celsius during the day and above twelve degrees at night will do. They start making cocoons after five weeks. Best food plants are oak species, especially those out the white oaks group (including Quercus robur and ilex). The moths emerge after only a few weeks.


Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L5 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L5 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L5 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L5 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L5 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L4 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L4 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L3 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L3 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L2 on Quercus robur

Copaxa lavendera caterpillar
Copaxa lavendera L1 on Quercus robur