Friday, 27 January 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris lauta

Yep, they do look nice. I really enjoyed breeding this species. Not in the least because they are very easy. Actually, if they would be available more easily, they would be suitable for people who are just starting this hobby. Both moths and caterpillars are very attractive. Unfortunately, you will not be able to obtain them very often. It might even take a couple of decades before I have them back. This is a medium sized Automeris species. The males have a wingspan between seven and eight and a half centimeter. The females are slightly larger, with a wingspan up to nine and a half centimeter. Lauta occurs in southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. In the wild they are recorded in April and from June to August, indicating at least two flights. In captivity they seem to brood continuously, as long as they are kept warm enough.


Automeris lauta male
Automeris lauta male - Origin: Guatemala

Automeris lauta female
Automeris lauta female - Origin: Guatemala

Friday, 20 January 2017

Gonometa nysa

If you ever needed a good reason to start breeding Lappets (Lasiocampidae), here is one: the African Gonometa nysa. Look at the size of those animals! The large, female caterpillars easily grow to a length of sixteen centimeter. Making them by far the largest caterpillars I ever had. It takes some time to get to this size though. The eggs hatched late October. I started a first group on Prunus serotina and a second one on Corylus avellana. Like the young caterpillars were growing I expected them to be one of the fast growing lappet species, but I was wrong. Although they got to the fifth instar in only three weeks, they slowed down significantly after that. When the leaves of both the black cherry and the hazel dropped late autumn, I decided to switch both groups to Prunus laurocerasus. A good decision as they continued to grow throughout the winter, to reach their full length only this week. Watch out while handling these creatures. The stiff hairs break off easily when coming in contact. Unless you like pulling hairs out of your skin one by one, I recommend wearing gloves. This is even more true when handling the cocoons. The hairs of the caterpillars are woven into the cocoon and offer a lot of protection. Or in my case, a lot of irritated skin.


Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa final instar

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa final instar on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L6 on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L5 on Prunus laurocerasus

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L4 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L4 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L3 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L3 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L2 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L2/L1 on Prunus serotina

Gonometa nysa caterpillar
Gonometa nysa L1 on Prunus serotina

Friday, 13 January 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Maltagorea auricolor

You probably know this species as Tagoropsis leporina, which is an incorrect synonym. Maltagorea auricolor only occurs on Madagascar. Occasionally, pupae are offered for sale in Europe. Despite the fact that it is not so hard to obtain some breeding stock, there is very little known about this species. Early stages and host plants are still a mystery. The pupae need high temperatures and humidity to hatch. Males can be variable in color. There are grey and yellow forms. So far, I only have seen yellow females, so I'm not sure if grey females even exist. The wingspan of this species is around ten centimeter. As is the case for many other African Saturnids, they pair only for a brief moment. It usually passes without noticing. Like the pupae, the eggs need high temperatures and especially an extremely high humidity in order to hatch. It can take more then three weeks before the caterpillars finally crawl out of their eggs.


Maltagorea auricolor male Tagoropsis leporina
Maltagorea auricolor male yellow form  - Origin: Madagascar

Maltagorea auricolor male Tagoropsis leporina
Maltagorea auricolor male grey form - Origin: Madagascar

Maltagorea auricolor female Tagoropsis leporina
Maltagorea auricolor female - Origin: Madagascar

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Most wanted 2017

I started these most wanted posts last year only because I got infected with that artificial/commercial, feel good end of the year holiday spirit. Thanks to a very relaxing stay in Malawi, this year most of those annoying Christmas/New Year nonsens got past me without noticing. I even thought of not writing my wanted list for 2017. After all, how many species of such a list does someone really manages to get? Well, looking back on my 2016 list, quite a lot actually. No, I did not get any Anthelidae. Those will probably stay on my list forever. And I did not get my numbers 2, 7 and 10 either. However, I did not do so bad on the rest. I had some more Asian, European and American Lappets.  I started a brood of the African Gonometa nysa late autumn, so that covers numbers 3, 4 and 5. Also, plenty of Automeris species in 2016 (my number 6) and I even got a Maltagorea species to pair. Those eggs hatched a few days ago. So, number 8, check. For my number 9, I had to go to Africa myself. Not for an Eupterote species, but for a Phiala. It's a monkey moth so it counts, even though the eggs still have to hatch and it technically will be a 2017 brood, but who cares. Let's see if I can do better in 2017. Here's the new most wanted list.


1. Anthelidae
Like I said, the Australian Lappets will probably remain on the number one spot forever. It's next to impossible to obtain Australian species. The few that do make it to Europe are Saturnids. I guess I will have to go to Australia one day and catch a few females myself.

2. Apatelodes torrefacta
Last years number 7 and still something I really want to try. Or any other species of Apatelodidae for that matter. Serious, my American friends, how hard can it be to catch one female? You have no idea which Saturnids I would use to trade for some of these eggs.

3. Any Lappet not yet on this blog
Of course I want more Lappets (Lasiocampidae). Who doesn't like Lappets? Small ones, large ones, it really does not matter. If they are not on these pages, they are welcome. 

4. Automeris liberia
Huh, hasn't that one been depicted yet? Yes, I had a somewhat catastrophic brood in 2016. Plenty of pictures of the caterpillars, but none of the moths. That has to be fixed.

5. Hylesia species
Probably the least attractive members of the Hemileucinae subfamily of the giant silkmoths, but for quite some species the early stages and food plants are still unknown. And thus, maybe not the most beautiful species, definitely a few challenges here.

6. More Monkey Moths
The Asian and African readers really have to step up in 2017. Please contact me for whatever member of the Eupterotidae you are able to offer. I am more then happy to buy them from you.

7. Obertheuria species
You must have seen pictures of the caterpillars on the internet. They are quite spectacular. This genus of moths has been moved from the true silkmoths (Bombycidae) to the Endromidae. Not that it matters much, both families are within the scope of my blog.

8. Mustilia species
If I can't get an Obertheuria, I will settle for some Mustilia, another genus out of the Endromidae family.

9. Females of all 13 species of Saturnids that I encountered during my stay in Malawi
No, I'm not greedy. You had to see some of them. It's just heart breaking to catch Pseudimbrasia deyrollei, Rohaniella pygmaea, Athletes gigas, Nudaurelia macrothyris, Usta terpsichore and all those others, only to find out that they are males. Depressing ... Yes, this number 9 does imply that I will go back to Malawi.

10. New friends to exchange with
Hey ... that doesn't count ... those are not species. True, but more friends, means more species. Or at least I hope so. There are still quite a few friends that have to return some eggs for the ones they received. I'm sure they will contribute something nice to this blog in 2017.