Sunday, 31 July 2016

Citheronia laocoon

No matter your level of experience, when you can get your hands on stock of the South American Citheronia laocoon, don't hesitate and buy them. This is one of the easiest species in the Citheronia genus and suitable for everyone, even those who haven't bred any silkmoths before. Like most of the Citheronia species I like to rear them on Prunus serotina, but that is just a matter of availability. Laocoon does well on lots of different plants. You could use Liquidambar, Juglans, Rhus, Malosma, Schinus, Gossypium, Ligustrum, Psidium, Rosa and many more. Keep them in large, well ventilated plastic containers. Especially the later instars need good air movement to avoid diseases. Never give them wet leaves. An average living room temperature is enough to get them to pupate within four weeks from hatching of the eggs. Depending on how long our summer will be, there is a good chance that they will produce another flight later this year.


Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L5 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L4 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L3 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L2 on Prunus serotina

Citheronia laocoon caterpillar
Citheronia laocoon L1 on Prunus serotina

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Sphingids: Mimas tiliae

The Lime Hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae) is a distinct species, hard to confuse with any other European hawkmoth. This attractive species remains a common sighting in many parts of its distribution that reaches van Western Europe into Russia, east to Western Siberia. Tiliae is absent in the northern parts of Europe and Russia. They are found in forests, but also in gardens and even in big cities, as long as there are suitable host plants available. Their wingspan is between six and eight centimeter. Depending on local conditions they have one or two flights each year, one in Spring (April/May/June) and when it's warm enough a (partial) second flight in July/August. 


Mimas tiliae female
Mimas tiliae female - Origin: Belgium

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Automeris melmon

The Mexican Automeris melmon gives you very good value for money. In the final instar they become quite colorful. Many different shades exists. The dark brown ones seem to be the dominant color form, but in the same brood I had also abricot, pink and green forms. The early instars, up to the fourth stage, are a less attractive dark brown, as is often the case with Automeris species. Breeding this small species can be a little bit tricky. If you do not want your entire brood to collapse in the fourth instar, you have to give them the right conditions. That they originate from Mexico does not mean they need high temperatures. On the contrary, this one is found higher up in the mountains. Keep temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius and provide a very good air circulation. If you can give them that, they reward you with this fantastic display of colors. I recommend Robinia as the best food plant, but they will also accept Quercus and Fagus.


Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar brown form

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar abricot form

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar green form

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar pink form

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar on Robinia

Automeris melmon final instar on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon final instar on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L6 on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L6 color forms

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L5 on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L5 on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L4 on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L2 on Robinia

Automeris melmon caterpillar
Automeris melmon L1 on Robinia

Friday, 22 July 2016

Silkmoth of the week: Dirphia avia

This is one of those giant silkmoth species that look more atractive as a caterpillar then as a moth. Dirphia avia is maybe the least interesting species in the entire Dirphia genus in regard to the imagines. This species can be quite variable in size. Males have a wingspan in between seven and ten centimeter. The females are larger and have a maximum wingspan of twelve centimeter. My moths didn't even came close to this maximum. They were disappointingly small, probably because I had the caterpillars during late winter, when the quality of the food plants is at its worse. Avia flies in most of Central America, south to the northern part of South America (Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana).

Dirphia avia female
Dirphia avia female - Origin: Venezuela

Dirphia avia female
Dirphia avia resting position

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Deilephila porcellus

Before you start a brood of the Small Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila porcellus), think very carefully about the food plant you want to use. Once started on Galium, their favorite, they will not switch to alternative food plants like Lythrum, Epilobium, Impatiens or Vitis. On the upside: they do go from one Galium species to another and back. I constantly switched between Galium verum and odoratum. Whatever plant you want to use, make sure to have enough of it. And keep in mind that although they are called Small Elephant, the caterpillars still grow to a maximum size of seven centimeter, requiring a lot of food. Like most hawkmoth larvae, they grow fast. After a month they start to pupate. In captivity they will almost certainly produce a next flight in August. The breeding is easy and can be done even in relatively small plastic containers. Just cut a very big hole in the lid and cover it with some fine netting to provide good air movement and to keep the inside of the container dry.


Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L5 on Galium verum
 
Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L5 on Galium verum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L5 on Galium odoratum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L5 on Galium verum


Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L4 on Galium odoratum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L4 on Galium odoratum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L3 on Galium odoratum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L3 on Galium odoratum

Deilephila porcellus caterpillar
Deilephila porcellus L2 on Galium odoratum

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Rothschildia orizaba

Here's your lazy Sunday entertainment: try to find the differences between the caterpillars in this post and the ones in the Rothschildia roxana and sandimasiana posts. Can't find any? That's not surprising, many Rothschildia species have very similar larvae. In many cases the only difference is the size. And sometimes the color of the tubercles. There are Rothschildia species with a completely different type of caterpillar and one day I will display some of those, but it's going to take time. Those species are not nearly as common in captivity as orizaba. South American readers, feel free to contact me if you can get me some of them. Untill then, these orizaba larvae will have to do. They are easy, that's the least you can say. Keep them in large, well ventilated plastic containers, keep clean and don't forget to feed them. The full grown caterpillars are voracious. Keep an eye on them, so that they don't fall without leaves. I like to give them Prunus serotina, but other plants like Ligustrum, Fraxinus and Ailanthus work just as well. They are fast growers which start spinning their cocoons after five weeks. This species will produce another flight later this summer.


Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L5 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L4 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L4 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L3 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L2 on Prunus serotina

Rothschildia orizaba caterpillar
Rothschildia orizaba L1 on Prunus serotina