Sunday, August 22, 2010

Polyphemus Caterpillars Hatched

I came home from the wedding last night to find my plastic box of Polyphemus eggs have started hatching. Unlike Monarchs that take 3 days to hatch Polyphemus caterpillars seem to take 10 to 15 days.

I was worried at first because they weren't eating at all. I wend down the list of host plants I have out in my yard and they didn't eat any of the leaves. I'm happy to see today though they have started nibbling. What I believe is Swamp Oak was the winner. Other plants I tried were Willow Oak, Sugar Maple, Button Bush, Crab Apple, Gala Apple, and a native Dogwood. The Willow Oak and Dogwood are getting nibbled too.

They're in the plastic box because they're tiny, and early on they like to wonder. As you saw in the top picture they're covered in hairs and spines that help make them inedible. Despite this though birds still eat them. So it's better if they're spread out on a tree instead of all on the same branch.

They're taking to crowding okay for now. I plan to move them all to a larger terrarium after a few instars, problems pending. I'll have to do this anyhow assuming all 80 of them hatch and grow.

I notice a few have horns but I'm not certain of their purpose yet.