Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Sphingids: Hyles dahlii

And yet another Hyles species from the Mediterranean. This time one from the Western part. Hyles dahlii only occurs on the islands Corsica (France), Sardinia (Italy) and Mallorca (Spain), although occasionally they stray to Sicily (Italy) and the northeast coast of Spain. Superficially they look similar to other Hyles species in the wider region (tithymali, euphorbiae, ...), but they can easily be identified by the three black dots on each side of the abdomen. Other species have only two. The wingspan of this species is between 6,5 and 8,5 centimeter. They have at least two flights per year May/June and August/September. In captivity often three or more. 


Hyles dahlii
Hyles dahlii - Origin: Sardinia

Hyles dahlii
Hyles dahlii - Origin: Sardinia

Hyles dahlii
Hyles dahlii - Origin: Sardinia

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Automeris lemairei

OK, this Mexican Automeris may not be the most spectacular species and is definitely not the largest, but their sting is as unpleasant as any other in the genus. Yep, I got stung a few times when cleaning their cage. I always seem to be less prudent when it's a smaller caterpillar. Lemairei is not very difficult to breed, although they do like some warmth. Each time the temperatures went up they started to eat more and to grow faster, slowing down with each drop in temperature. It looks like they do best with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. Allow for good air movement. This is an oak (Quercus) feeder, but they also do well on Fagus, Robinia, Salix and related plants.


Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L7 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L7 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L6 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L6 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L6 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L6 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L4/L5/L6 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L3/L4/L5 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L3 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L2 on Salix cinerea

Automeris lemairei caterpillar
Automeris lemairei L1 on Salix cinerea

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Paradirphia leoni

... or wait, maybe it's Paradirphia frankae. It's not Paradirphia semirosea, unless ... unless my semirosea of earlier this year is not semirosea but a frankae or a leoni. Still following? Seriously? You must be the only one. All this, just to say that these three species look very similar. It was to be expected that also the caterpillars of the Paradirphia in this post would be similar. Similar, but not the same. The ones in this post are clearly more orange/chestnut brown, instead of the dark brown with almost black spines of semirosea. That's not the only difference. They were also significantly smaller. That's about it, for the rest: pretty much the same. The breeding was exactly the same too. When kept in well ventilated plastic containers, they grow entirely problem free. You don't have to do anything special. Room temperature and average humidity are fine. The only difference was that this time I kept the Paradirphia on Fagus sylvatica. I could have used Quercus robur again, that is if I would have been able to find some plants that had still green leaves instead of white mildew ones.


Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L5 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L5 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L5 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L5 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L4 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L3 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L2 on Fagus sylvatica

Paradirphia leoni caterpillar
Paradirphia leoni L1 on Fagus sylvatica

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Silkmoth of the week: Leucanella fusca

Finally! The first Leucanella fusca hatched yesterday. So far, only one and much too late. Normal flight time would have been late May/early June, not this late in the year. But what do you expect with summer temperatures more normal for the end of April. I still have other Spring species that need to hatch. So far, it has been one of my most unusual breeding seasons ever. But hey, at least they are hatching. There is not much to tell about Leucanella fusca. This species seems to be restricted to southern Mexico (Oaxaca) and is rather uncommon. It is not the largest species in the genus. The wingspan of the males is around eight centimeter, that of the females around nine centimeter. 


Leucanella fusca male
Leucanella fusca male - Origin: Mexico

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Automeris liberia

Oh, you noticed that there are fewer posts then before? I'm having a very bad year. When I wrote in the first post of this year, that a few species less wouldn't hurt, I didn't meant it to happen this way. What's going on? We are experiencing what must be the coldest and wettest summer in the history of Belgium. Seriously, it's August and I had to turn on the central heating. Temperatures keep on dropping back to twenty degrees Celsius and lower. No, that's not the night temperature. I wish it was. All this is not beneficial when trying to breed silkmoths. The constantly wet plants are covered with mildew and all kinds of other fungi and diseases. I am loosing one brood after the other because of bacteria and other nasty stuff; which are spreading like wildfire in this wet weather. On top of that there seems to be very little stock on the market this year. It looks like I'm not the only one having trouble.

The most victims were among the oak feeders. This time of the year, oaks around here always look a little sick, but this year it's even worse. I simply can't find any healthy plants. I started to notice when caterpillars started to drop dead one after the other. I tried to save as many as possible by switching to other food plants. That's the only reason why these liberia caterpillars started on English oak (Quercus robur) and ended on Beech (Fagus sylvatica). This usually is a very easy species to breed, but not this time. I will have to redo them. I think the few pupae I have are all males.  


Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia final instar on Fagus sylvatica

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L5 on Quercus robur

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L4/L5 on Quercus robur

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L4 on Quercus robur

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L3/L4 on Quercus robur

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L3 on Quercus robur

Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L2 on Quercus robur


Automeris liberia caterpillar
Automeris liberia L1 on Quercus robur

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Sphingids: Hyles gallii

After a short pupal stage of only two weeks, the bedstraw hawkmoths (Hyles gallii) hatched this week. This Hyles flies in temperate Europe from France east to Western Siberia and the Russian Altai Mountains. Gallii has also been introduced in North America, where they have spread over a large area, from the Northeast throughout the Great Lakes region, west to British Colombia, Oregon and Washington State. Although this species can be locally fairly common, it is very rare or even absent in many parts of its distribution. Populations can establish themselves for a couple of years and disappear completely a few years later. Except in the north, they usually have two flights one in spring (May/June) and (a partial) one in summer (August/September). The wingspan is between six and a half and eight and a half centimeter.


Hyles gallii
Hyles gallii - Origin: Sweden

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Lappet Show: Lebeda nobilis

While the last caterpillar only started to spin its cocoon yesterday, the first moths are already emerging. Lebeda nobilis is a large lappet species that flies in the warmer parts of continental Asia from India throughout central and south China east to Taiwan and south via Thailand to Sumatra (Indonesia). The wingspan of the females is a little over ten centimeter. The males are smaller. This species has only one flight per year, normally from late August to the end of September, depending on the local conditions. The eggs overwinter (in the fridge) and hatch early spring.


Lebeda nobilis male
Lebeda nobilis male - Origin: Taiwan

Lebeda nobilis female
Lebeda nobilis female - Origin: Taiwan

Lebeda nobilis female
Lebeda nobilis female - Origin: Taiwan