Friday, 28 October 2016

Silkmoth of the week: Epiphora mythimnia

Things used to be so much easier. When we talked about Epiphora mythimnia we referred to one species flying from South Africa, throughout east Africa, north to southern Kenya. Like so many other Saturnids, mythimnia has been divided into a number of different species. It's possible that true mythimnia only occurs in the south. Northwards the species is probably replaced by other relatives (acuta, eugeniae, leae and vicina). I'm going to leave the moth in the picture below as mythimnia, even though there is a small chance that this is Epiphora vicina, a species that flies in Tanzania and possibly southern Kenya. The wingspan is somewhere between ten and twelve centimeter. They have only one flight per year.

Epiphora mythimnia male
Epiphora mythimnia male - Origin: Kenya

Friday, 21 October 2016

Agrius convolvuli

Full-fed, the caterpillars of the Convolvulus hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli) can reach a length of ten or even eleven centimeter. However, dwarf forms also exists, with specimens already pupating when they are only seven centimeter. A lot depends of the quality of the food and your breeding conditions. Late autumn caterpillars are often smaller then those growing during summer months. Otherwise, the growth cycle seems to be the same, with a larval stage of only four weeks. The first three instars grow slowly and there is little difference between a first and a third instar. Only the coloration deepens a bit. From the fourth instar on, they start eating a lot more and suddenly grow a lot faster. Within a week they easily triple their size. They prefer plants out of the Convolvulaceae family, like Convolvulus, Ipomoea and Calystegia. In some areas the larvae can - occasionaly- be found on Rumex, Helianthus, Chrysanthemum and Phaseolus. The pupal stage (in captivity) is short. Moths appear after two to three weeks. It's nearly impossible to overwinter the pupae. Too cold and they die. Too warm and they hatch. Just keep them warm and enjoy the moths, even when it's almost winter.


Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L5 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L5 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L5 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L5 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L4 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L3 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L2 on Calystegia sepium

Agrius convolvuli caterpillar
Agrius convolvuli L1 on Calystegia sepium

Friday, 14 October 2016

Silkmoth of the week: Caio cf chiapasiana

After a pupal stage of almost three months, the first moths finally emerged this week. Caio chiapasiana was only recently described  by Brechlin & Meister (in 2010). I don't have that original description of the species, but I believe the inward line under the forewing 'eyespot' is one of the determining characteristics. That together with the size, the pure white eggs and the location where the female parent was caught (Chiapas/Mexico) is enough for a fairly accurate identification. So, I'm 99% sure that this is indeed Caio chiapasiana. The exact distribution of this species is still somewhat unclear. So far they are only confirmed for Chiapas (Mexico), but it could be possible that they also occur further south.


Caio chiapasiana male
Caio chiapasiana male - Origin: Mexico

Caio chiapasiana male
Caio chiapasiana male - Origin: Mexico

Caio chiapasiana female
Caio chiapasiana female - Origin: Mexico

Monday, 10 October 2016

Caio cf chiapasiana

I've been sitting on these pictures for quite some time now. The caterpillars below pupated somewhere in July. Why did I not publish them before? Because I needed to wait for the moths to emerge. This stock is from Bonampak in Chiapas (Mexico), a fact that helps a lot with the identification They were sold as a Paradaemonia, but already from the first instar on it became clear that it was something else. While they went through all the five instars it became more and more obvious that this was actually a Caio species. A Caio species with pure white eggs, without any greenish markings, which immediately excluded other Mexican relatives like Caio witti and richardsoni. They developed rapidly on Tilia x vulgaris and were fully grown within five weeks. When you manage to get stock like this, keep them in well ventilated plastic containers. Start with a small one and change to larger models while your animals grow. I will publish the moths later this week.


Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L5 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L4 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L4 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L4 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L3/L4 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L3 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L3 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L2 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L2 on Tilia

Caio chiapasiana caterpillar
Caio chiapasiana L1 on Tilia

Friday, 7 October 2016

A random display of silkmoths



Epiphora (bauhiniae) atbarina
Epiphora (bauhiniae) atbarina male - Origin: Kenya

Epiphora bauhiniae
Epiphora bauhiniae female - Origin: Zambia

Hemileuca chinatiensis male
Hemileuca chinatiensis male - Origin: USA

Automeris liberia male
Automeris liberia male - Origin: Peru

Citheronia laocoon female
Citheronia laocoon female - Origin: Argentina