Thursday, 30 March 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Antheraea cf sumatrana

The moths in this post are from cocoons imported from Sumatra (Indonesia). You may have seen them sold before on Actias, Insectnet and Facebook as Antheraea frithi. But, as you probably know, frithi does not occur on Sumatra. I'm almost certain that this is Antheraea sumatrana, a species restricted to Sumatra and closely related to Antheraea gschwandneri. Almost certain ... There are a few other candidates in the area. For now however and until someone proves me wrong, I will threat them as sumatrana. This is a colorful species, especially the males which often are bright orange. The larger females come in several color forms from yellow to brown. The wingspan of this species is between eleven and thirteen centimeter. Even with a good air movement, the males seem to have some difficulties in locating the females. Pairing is easier achieved in a small cage in a warm room.
 

Antheraea cf sumatrana male
Antheraea cf sumatrana male - Origin: Indonesia

Antheraea cf sumatrana female
Antheraea cf sumatrana female yellow form - Origin: Indonesia

Antheraea cf sumatrana female
Antheraea cf sumatrana female brown form - Origin: Indonesia

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Holocerina cf smilax

The moths displayed in this post are most likely Holocerina smilax. There is still some doubt though, because of the colorful caterpillars, which didn't match any of the known pictures of final instar smilax caterpillars (see my earlier post). The moths out of the Holocerina genus are poorly studied and breeding them is a rare opportunity. There are not many people that can say that they have bred one of them successfully. Holocerina smilax is probably the most widespread of the sixteen Holocerina species. They occur throughout central Africa, from Sierra Leone east to Kenya and south throughout the east of Africa all the way to South Africa. The males are small, with a wingspan around five centimeter. The females are much heavier and larger, up to eight centimeter. In captivity they brood continuously.
 

Holocerina species female
Holocerina smilax female - Origin: Malawi

Holocerina species male
Holocerina smilax male - Origin: Malawi

Holocerina species male
Holocerina smilax male - Origin: Malawi

Holocerina species male
Holocerina smilax male - Origin: Malawi

Friday, 17 March 2017

Metarctia lateritia part 1

Ughh ... no ... these tigermoths (Arctiinae) are definitely not my thing. I really wouldn't know why anyone would like to breed something out of this subfamily, not even a species like the African Metarctia lateritia. The moths look quite nice, but the caterpillars. Seriously? If they were challenging to breed, I would understand. But no, you can't accuse them of being difficult. You don't even need to clean the container very often. If you're a lazy person, this is the perfect species for you. Just pile up the new food on top of the old and they just continue to eat. They don't care about the quality of the food and accept even the poorest breeding conditions. Older ones will even chew and burrow their way through soft stems. They prefer Asteraceae, Malvaceae and Lamiaceae, but will basically eat everything as long as it is somewhat green and organic. It takes rather long for them to develop. Especially the first three instars grow slow. In total they need around two months before they are full fed and start to pupate.


Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L5 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L5 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L5 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L5 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L4 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L4 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L3 on Malva arborea

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L2 on Mentha

Metarctia lateritia caterpillar
Metarctia lateritia L1 on Malva arborea

Friday, 10 March 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Automeris melmon

Automeris melmon is a smaller, but very colorful species. Males are more orange brown, while the wings of the females are intens purplish pink. The wingspan of the males is around five centimeter. The females are larger, up to six centimeter. This Automeris only occurs in west and central Mexico. They seem to have only one flight per year. In the wild this is in June/July. In captivity they can start earlier. Even when kept warm from summer until early winter, the pupae do not hatch. This is a mountain species. A cooler overwintering is recommended. It will help to have the adults eclosing over a shorter period of time, significantly increasing your chances of successful breeding. Remember, this species is not an easy one. Only attempt to breed them after you have successfully reared at least a few of the easier Automeris species.


Automeris melmon male
Automeris melmon male - Origin: Mexico

Automeris melmon female
Automeris melmon female - Origin: Mexico

Automeris melmon female
Automeris melmon female - Origin: Mexico

Automeris melmon male
Automeris melmon male - Origin: Mexico

Automeris melmon male
Automeris melmon male - Origin: Mexico

Friday, 3 March 2017

Silkmoth of the week: Attacus lemairei

Attacus lemairei is the less well known cousin of the Philippine species caesar, lorquini and atlas. At first sight they look like small atlas moths. With a wingspan between eighteen and twenty centimeter, their size is more comparable to that of an Attacus lorquini. This species only occurs on Palawan and Balabac. In captivity they brood continuously (depending on temperature and humidity!). Compared to the other Attacus species, these are extremely hard to pair. Actually, I have not once managed to get fertile eggs. Not only do they not pair naturally, they even refuse to connect when handpairing them. As it has become too costly to import lemairei cocoons without getting any fertile eggs, I'm going to leave them aside for a while. Maybe someone else has more luck with this species and I can obtain some eggs, but for now, I will stop trying.


Attacus lemairei male
Attacus lemairei male - Origin: Philippines

Attacus lemairei female
Attacus lemairei female - Origin: Philippines