Sunday, 30 April 2017

Automeris zugana

Slow growing, but growing. That sums it up for this Automeris zugana brood from Costa Rica. Seven weeks to become a fully grown, seven centimeter tall caterpillar. Slow and without any complications. Zugana is one of the easiest Automeris species to breed. They accept a wide range of plants. I used Corylus avellana, which is one of the first shrubs to come back into leaves. I could have used Crataegus or Rubus, but stinging caterpillars on thorny plants just is a bridge too far. During summer months you can also use Quercus, Fagus, Carpinus, Alnus, and many Rosaceae like Malus, Prunus and Sorbus. They will also do well on several Fabaceae (Cassia, Robinia, ...) and Rhamnus. Keep them in well ventilated plastic containers. Watch out for condensation when stuffing too many plants in your cages. The moths will emerge after a short pupal stage, probably already before the start of the summer.


Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L7 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L7 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L7 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L7 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L6 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L6 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L5/L4 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L4 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L3 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L2 on Corylus avellana

Automeris zugana caterpillar
Automeris zugana L1 on Corylus avellana

Friday, 28 April 2017

Brahmaea certhia

No Spring is complete without at least one Brahmaea brood. It's always fun to breed an owl moth. Every one can do species like this. When your breeding stock isn't inbred, they grow fast and without any complications. Species like this are very suitable for beginners. The only thing you need is large amounts of Privet (Ligustrum), their favorite food plant. Or - when you can't find any Privet - you can use Lilac (Syringa) and Ash (Fraxinus). They rush through all caterpillar stages in a little under four weeks. Start them at an average room temperature, dry and in well ventilated plastic containers. Fourth and fifth instars can move to netted cages. The pupae can overwinter in the fridge or in an unheated, frost free room (like your garage for example). Early Spring, you can bring the pupae at room temperature and spray with water every other day (let them dry in between). The moths will emerge after two to three weeks, usually all together in only a couple of days.


Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L5 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L5 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L5 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L5 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L4 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L4 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L3 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L2 on Ligustrum vulgare

Brahmaea certhia caterpillar
Brahmaea certhia L1 on Ligustrum vulgare

Monday, 24 April 2017

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai

Some caterpillars have just that little bit extra. Those of Saturnia thibeta combine large size (ten centimeter) with long with hair on a green body, which makes them quite striking. In a year with already lots of highlights these are my favorites. At least for now, who knows what else might come later in the season. The breeding isn't complicated, like for most Saturnia species. Keep them in large well ventilated plastic containers or in netted cages. The eggs overwinter in the fridge. Besides Liquidambar, also several Prunus species can serve as food plant (serotina, padus, ...). You can even take them out of the fridge quite early in the season. The caterpillars also develop well on Ligustrum ovalifolium. Just keep in mind that Privet isn't as nutritious during the cold part of winter as it is in spring. It will slow down growth a little. And even under normal circumstances they are not the fastest growers. It can take two months before they are full fed and ready to pupate. The moths will hatch in autumn.

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L5 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L5 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L5 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L4/L5 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L4 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L3 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L3 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L3 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L2 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L2 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai caterpillar
Saturnia (Caligula) thibeta okurai L1 on Ligustrum ovalifolium

Friday, 21 April 2017

Phiala species Malawi

It has taken a lot longer then expected, but finally I'm able to show the first Monkey Moth caterpillars since the start of these pages. It's a shame that members of the Eupterotidae moth family are so seldom available for breeding. Many of their caterpillars are quite spectacular. To get these, I had to fly to Africa myself. It was in the Dzalanyama Forest in Malawi past december that I caught the female. It took almost a month before the eggs hatched. This is a grass feeder. The larvae immediately accepted Carex pendula (pendulous sedge). Although the breeding is very easy - as long as you keep them warm and dry - it's also a slow process. Only now, four months after I caught the female- they have reached the final instar. In a week or so the first ones will start to pupate. Given the slow development I suppose this species has only one flight per year.

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi final instar on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi final instar on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi final instar on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L6 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L6 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L5 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L5 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L4 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L4 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L3 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L2 on Carex pendula

Phiala species Malawi
Phiala species Malawi L1 on Carex pendula

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Sphingids: Deilephila porcellus

Look what started to hatch this week: the Small Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila porcellus). This is a few weeks early. The normal flight time in Western Europe would be from late May to early July. In captivity the pupae hatch a few weeks after been taken out of the fridge where they can stay the winter. Usually there is only one flight per year. In the south and in captivity there can be a (partial) second flight in August/September. This lovely small hawkmoth has a wingspan of only four to six centimeter. Although easily recognizable, this species is very variable. The pink color can be partially or completely be replaced by a more yellowish color (f.suellus). The more arid the area where they live, the less pink they usually become. They are widespread throughout the Palearctic region, from Ireland and parts of the UK across Europe and Russia southwards to Northern Africa (Atlas Mountains). And from the Middle East, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, throughout Central Asia all the way to China. Porcellus can be locally quite common, while completely absent in many other parts of its distribution. 


Deilephila porcellus
Deilephila porcellus - Origin: Germany

Deilephila porcellus
Deilephila porcellus - Origin: Germany

Deilephila porcellus
Deilephila porcellus - Origin: Germany

Friday, 14 April 2017

Rhodinia fugax

Ceanothus? Isn't that a bit an unusual food plant for Rhodinia fugax? Yes, it is. Normally, I rear them on Crataegus. They are fairly polyphagous though. Besides many Rosaceae (Prunus, Malus, Rosa), they also accept Quercus, Fagus, Castanaea, Phellodendron, Ulmus, Zelkova and Salix. The reason why I reared them on Ceanothus this time, was only because the eggs were send to me late winter, directly from Japan. By the time they got to Belgium they were already about to hatch. Placing them back in the fridge wasn't an option, so I've just let them hatch and used the Ceanothus out the garden for an early start of the breeding season. They grow relatively slow, especially in the final instar. It can easily take seven to eight weeks before they spin their cocoons. I'm gonna miss their funny squeaking sounds. The moths will emerge this autumn.


Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L5 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L4 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L4 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L3 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L2 on Ceanthus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L2 on Ceanothus

Rhodinia fugax caterpillar
Rhodinia fugax L1 on Ceanothus