Monday, 30 November 2015

The Lappet Show: Paralebeda vritra

My Paralebeda species from southern Sulawesi turned out to be more interesting than expected. When even the experts respond with enthusiasm after seeing the images, you know you have something special. Have a look at the pictures. This is Paralebeda vritra, a species endemic to Sulawesi (Indonesia). Have a really good look, it probably will take a very long time before you will see them again. This stock was identified by Dr Vadim Zolotuhin. He should know, after all he was the first to describe the species (together with J.D. Holloway) in 2006.  The pupal stage only takes two weeks, indicating that there are multiple flights per year. In addition to the food plants I already mentioned when I published the caterpillars (Liquidambar and Alnus), I can also confirm that they accept Corylus and that they switch from Alnus to Corylus and back without any hesitation. 

Paralebeda vritra female
Paralebeda vritra female - Origin: Indonesia

Paralebeda vritra female
Paralebeda vritra female - Origin: Indonesia

Paralebeda vritra male
Paralebeda vritra male - Origin: Indonesia

Paralebeda vritra male
Paralebeda vritra male - Origin: Indonesia

Paralebeda vritra male
Paralebeda vritra male - Origin: Indonesia

Friday, 27 November 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Attacus suparmani

Wow. Attacus suparmani. Have you ever seen these alive? Probably not. This species comes from the Lesser Sunda Islands (Indonesia), from Alor to be more precise.  They are a little smaller than the Atlas moth, but still an impressive twenty two centimeter for the females and around nineteen centimeter for the males. Although they can be found pretty much year round, the peak flight is somewhere between november and february. And with this, you know everything I know about this species.


Attacus suparmani female
Attacus suparmani female - Origin: Indonesia


Attacus suparmani male
Attacus suparmani male - Origin: Indonesia

Monday, 23 November 2015

Manduca sexta

Going completely against my own advice not to breed hawkmoth species late autumn, I decided to keep some tobacco hornworms in November. Usually a very easy species, so this brood did not gave me too much trouble, although they were slower growing than spring or early summer broods. Still, four weeks isn't that long. These caterpillars were fed with black nightshade (Solanum nigrum), but I could have used almost every plant out of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). These are the preferred hosts, especially Solanum, Nicotiana and Datura. In captivity they can sometimes be convinced to accept other food plants like Vigna and Brassica. I have never tried this. Why make things more difficult when there is nightshade growing everywhere? Early instars are best kept in small well ventilated plastic containers. Later instars do better in netted cages. The larvae grow up to seven centimeter in length.
 

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L5 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L5 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L4 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L4 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L3 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L2 on Solanum nigrum

Manduca sexta caterpillar
Manduca sexta L1 on Solanum nigrum

Friday, 20 November 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Gynanisa maja

The Chipumi (I love that name) or Speckled Emperor (Gynanisa maja) is one of the most widespread African Saturnids. They can be found from coastal southern Kenya to South Africa. Depending on the local conditions, they have one or two flights during the wet season between November and February. The wingspan is somewhere between ten and eleven centimeter. Like always with African species, they can be a bit difficult to hatch nicely together. Getting them to pair isn't so easy either, although easier then most other African relatives. It only took twenty two pupae before I finally had a first pair. Obviously, as is the case with most of the Afrcan species, I did not see the pairing. It happens somewhere late at night and does not take very long. They have finished before daybreak. And then, when two hundred eggs hatch on the same day, the only thing you can think of is: damn, I should have sold some. How am I supposed to handle this many?


Gynanisa maia male
Gynanisa maja male - Origin: Kenya

Gynanisa maia female
Gynanisa maja female - Origin: Kenya

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Lappet Show: Philotherma rosa

There they are! One year after I caught the female on the Zomba Plateau in Malawi, the offspring is finally emerging. Apparently, this species has only one flight per year. Emerging of the moths is triggered by an increase in humidity. If you ever have rosa pupae, place the cage a few weeks in your bathroom, that should wake them up. This is a beautiful pale brown colored lappet with a wingspan between six and eight centimeter for the males. The females are even larger with a wingspan between eight and ten centimeter. The general appearance is like they are a cross between a large Lasiocampa and a Trabala. The females have that same heavy body like the Trabala species, while the coloration of the moths reminds more of a Lasiocampa. When they feel threatened they fold their wings together above their bodies and curl their abdomen towards their torax, very much like the members of the Hemileucinae, one of the giant silkmoth subfamilies. This is one of the most common members of the Philotherma genus. They occur mainly in the eastern half of Africa, from Eritrea to South Africa, although Pinhey also mentions them from Cameroon in his book Moths of Southern Africa (1975). This is either a mix up with other members of the genus or this species is very widespread throughout a large part of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Update 23/11/15: Dr. Vadim Zolotuhin had a look at these pictures and thinks it is P. jacchus. I quote 'Concerning Philotherma - the genus is still unrevised, but your specimens are seemingly Ph. jacchus. Rosa is only a form together with cineresnas and fusca etc...'


Philotherma rosa male
Philotherma rosa male - Origin: Malawi

Philotherma rosa female
Philotherma rosa female - Origin: Malawi

Philotherma rosa female
Female playing dead when threatened

Friday, 13 November 2015

Silkmoth of the week: Copaxa lavendera

Copaxa lavendera is one of the larger species in the Copaxa genus. Females have a wingspan up to eleven centimeter. The males are a little smaller, but still nine to ten centimeter. The moths are widespread throughout Central America from Mexico to Guatemala. Or shall I say, were widespread? Ah, you guessed it. Yes, this species has been divided into a complex of five closely related species. It is possible that true lavendera is restricted to Mexico. Usually, I would have some snappy comment about insane entomologists, but this time I agree. No, I am not feeling feverish. When you look at the caterpillars of this species and those of Copaxa lavenderohidalgensis which I posted months ago, you must admit that the differences are quite obvious, suggesting that these are indeed different species. So, if not five distinct species, then at least two. In captivity lavendera broods continuously.


Copaxa lavendera male
Copaxa lavendera male - Origin: Mexico
 
Copaxa lavendera female
Copaxa lavendera female - Origin: Mexico

Monday, 9 November 2015

Hyles euphorbiae

Large, colorful and constantly hungry, that's how Spurge Hawkmoth caterpillars are best described. Especially the eight centimeter long final instar animals are extremely colorful. They accept many species of Euphorbia, including most of the evergreens like Euphorbia characias and myrsinitis. On the internet you can find recommendations to start the young caterpillars first on an Euphorbia species with thinner leaves like for example Euphorbia cyparissias. To my experience this isn't necessary at all. Young Spurge Hawkmoth caterpillars have no problem to chew thicker leaves and can be bred on Euphorbia myrsinitis already from the first instar on.  The caterpillars are very 'economical' with their food and devour not only the leaves but also most of the stems.  Technically they can be bred during the winter months, because when kept above 18°C, pupae will continue to hatch. I emphasize technically here, because you should really try to avoid having autumn and winter broods. Those are much more difficult to keep alive then the spring broods. Just put the pupae in the fridge to safe yourself a lot of trouble.


Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L5/L4 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L5 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L5 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L5 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L4/L5 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L4 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L3 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L2 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Hyles euphorbiae caterpillar
Hyles euphorbiae L1 on Euphorbia myrsinites

Friday, 6 November 2015

A random display of silkmoths

You may have noticed it: the breeding is slowing down. From here on, there will still be frequent postings, just not as frequent as before. Until the end of the year I probably can do two messages per week, after that -while we go through the coldest part of our winter in January and February- posts will become irregular. Unless of course I manage to get some fresh stock.  The slowing down isn't voluntarily, there just isn't much to breed. I would continue all winter if I had non dormant species. Have I mentioned that I'm buying eggs and pupae of all species belonging to the Lasiocampidae and all families of the Bombycoidea that have not yet been displayed on this blog? Well, I am, so don't be shy and contact me when you have something for sale (or trade).  There is a contact form at the bottom of this page. Very easy to use and it works very well, other people have used it before...

OK, it doesn't have to be as much as this summer. Each year I promise myself I will breed less, but instead it gets worse year after year. I now have this rule that I will only breed the species when I don't have the caterpillars and both the male and female on this blog. All the rest I will ignore. I think this way I will have some free time one day. It probably is going to take ten more years, but I'm sure the day will come that I can go to the movie theater, sit down, relax and enjoy a caterpillar free evening. On the other hand, you guys seem to appreciate the large number of species I'm publishing. With each new species I display, the number of regular readers grows. Now I feel more or less obligated to continue. No enjoying movies in my near future. Thank you very much for that ...


Rothschildia lebeau forbesi female
Rothschildia lebeau forbesi female - Origin: USA

Rothschildia lebeau forbesi male
Rothschildia lebeau forbesi male - Origin: USA

Adeloneivaia  jason female
Adeloneivaia  jason female - Origin: Mexico

Automeris hesselorum male
Automeris hesselorum male - Origin: Mexico

Automeris randa male
Automeris randa male - Origin: USA

Monday, 2 November 2015

Paralebeda species Sulawesi

The stock in this post originates from Sulawesi (Indonesia). I'm not sure yet which Paralebeda species it is. The Indonesian Lasiocampidae are still poorly examined. Not so long ago, three more Paralebedas where described from Indonesia, so I have to wait until I have the moths to be sure which one they are. My friend Steve C. had the original stock earlier this summer on Liquidambar. I tried something different and more easily available: black alder (Alnus glutinosa). Mortality: zero percent. Already from the start this plant was very well accepted. That's probably because Alnus is one of the last of the deciduous trees around here to drop it's leaves in autumn. In October most of the leaves are still of superb quality (better than most other trees). At an average living room temperature, the caterpillars develop relatively fast (for a Lappet) and are full grown in six to seven weeks. They reach a length of ten centimeter. I kept them in spacious, well ventilated plastic containers. Most likely the moths will eclose in only a few weeks.
Update 30/11/2015: Identified by Dr. Vadim Zolotuhin as Paralebeda vritra, see post from 30/11/2015

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi final instar on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi final instar on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi final instar on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L7 on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L6 on Alnus glutinosa


Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L5 on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L4 on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L3 on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L2 on Alnus glutinosa

Paralebeda sp Sulawesi caterpillar
Paralebeda sp Sulawesi L1 on Alnus glutinosa