Friday, 30 December 2016

Antheraea godmani

Antheraea godmani ... now this is a species that you don't see every day. This Central American Antheraea is almost never offered for sale. As a result, there are very few pictures of the caterpillars and even less breeding reports. So, I suppose you wont mind that I post more pictures then usual. These days, I rarely get excited about a species, but godmani gave me a thrill that reminded me of the first years of my breeding career. This is a large Antheraea, with caterpillars growing to ten centimeter long and a thumb thick. As for many species in this genus, the preferred food plants are oaks (Quercus). I used Quercus rubra, which was well accepted even though the quality of the leaves wasn't perfect. A few caterpillars stayed behind and eventually I had to switch those to the evergreen Quercus rysophylla. When you manage to obtain stock, keep them warm at all time. Room temperature really is an absolute minimum. They are best kept in spacious, well ventilated plastic containers.


Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L5 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L4 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L3 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L3 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L2 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L2 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L2 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L1 on Quercus rubra

Antheraea godmani caterpillar
Antheraea godmani L1 on Quercus rubra

Friday, 23 December 2016

Automeris lauta

Automeris species are always fun to breed, but some more then others. Automeris lauta is in my top five. For several reasons. First of all, because it's rather hard to get stock, that alone makes them special. But there is more. For exemple, they grow quite large, with a size comparable to Automeris randa. And then there is the color pattern of course. Combined with the size of the animals, it makes for a spectacular caterpillar. You wont find much information on this Central American species. They are rarely bred. I can assure you, that's not because they are difficult, they really are not. Just feed them Prunus and keep them warm and dry in well ventilated plastic containers. You can both use Prunus serotina and Prunus laurocerasus, or switch from one to the other like I did late autumn. Most likely the moths will hatch after a relatively short pupal stage.


Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L6 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L6 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L6 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L5 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L4/L3 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L3 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L2 on Prunus serotina

Automeris lauta caterpillar
Automeris lauta L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Sphingids: Agrius convolvuli

It's nearly impossible to overwinter pupae of the Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli). Too warm and they hatch (even with temperatures around twelve degrees Celsius), too cold and they die. As I wasn't planning on continuing this brood anyway, I was ok with them hatching already after a pupal stage of two weeks. This is one of the most common and widespread hawkmoths on the planet. They are present (in huge numbers) in most of Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, subtropical and tropical Asia to Australia and even on some Pacific islands like Tahiti. They are strong migrants that fly northwards each year. Offspring of the first migrants can be common in many parts of Europe and Russia. They have even been recorded a few times from Iceland. It's a fairly large hawkmoth with a wingspan between nine and thirteen centimeter. Depending on local conditions they can have up to four generations per year.



Agrius convolvuli
Agrius convolvuli - Origin: United Kingdom

Agrius convolvuli
Agrius convolvuli - Origin: United Kingdom

Friday, 9 December 2016

Automeris belti

It's always a bit disappointing when after receiving eggs it turns out that they died during transport. Even more when it's not the first time. I have never had much luck with Automeris belti eggs. This is the third time that someone send me eggs of wild females and for the third time the hatch rate was just awful. In this case: only one caterpillar. Only one, that wasn't very promising. Solitary Automeris caterpillars perish quickly, usually already in the first instar. They need company to eat and grow well. So I didn't expect much of this one, but to my surprise it stayed alive. The growth was slow though and at a certain point I ran out of Robinia, which is the recommended food plant for this species. So, I switched them to Rosa and then to Rubus. Two months later the caterpillar finally started to spin a cocoon. Given the slow growth rate, I expect a long pupal stage. This one will probably hibernate until spring.


Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti final instar on Rubus

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti final instar on Rubus

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti final instar on Rubus

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti final instar on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti final instar on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L6 on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L5 on Rosa

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L5 on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L4 on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L3 on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L2 on Robinia

Automeris belti caterpillar
Automeris belti L1 on Robinia

Friday, 2 December 2016

Smerinthus caecus

I got these Smerinthus caecus eggs dangerously late in the season, at a moment that the leaves on many deciduous shrubs and trees were already yellowing. But, like other Smerinthus species, caecus feeds on Salix and Populus. Over here, it usually isn't that much of a problem to find good quality willow leaves until mid December. In very mild winters I can even find Salix until the end of January. And because a Smerinthus only needs four to maximum five weeks to grow from an L1 to a final instar caterpillar the risk wasn't that high. Unless ... unless it would suddenly start to freeze harder then only minus one or two at night. It does happen now and then, even though in Belgium the coldest part of the winter is most often from late January to the end of February. In such cases the willows respond by immediately dropping all the remaining leaves and I would have run out of food plants very fast. But, it didn't happen and the last of the caecus caterpillars are now pupating. Like most Smerinthus species they were extremely easy to breed, no challenge at all. The pupae will now overwinter in the fridge. The moths will emerge next year in April/May.


Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 (final instar) on Salix caprea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L4 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L3 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L2 on Salix cinerea

Smerinthus caecus caterpillar
Smerinthus caecus L1 on Salix caprea