Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Imperial Moth Eggs Hatching

A friend mailed me some Imperial Moth eggs last week, Eacles imperialis. They were quick to turn from a light green to transparent. 
Within a few days of arriving they've started hatching. After a few quick nibbles they hold still a while, waiting for their spines to inflate (emerge?) and harden. These hard spikes will be their only protection early on.

I was also sent some Polyphemus Moth eggs so hopefully I'll be able to update on those too.

8 comments:

  1. Pretty amazing.

    What are you going to feed your caterpillars? I know the books/web often list a number of host plants, but it seems many moth caterpillers only thrive in captivity on a pretty narrow list of plants.

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  2. Very true, often small populations will have a favorite host plant which changes throughout their range. The Polyphemus love the oak leaves I'm giving them but the Imperials don't seem to be taking to them as easily. I'll try giving them some leaves of Sassafras, Persimmon, and Maple tomorrow before work.

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  3. What species of Oak are you using for the Polys? I have red oak (Q. Rubra) and burr oak (Q. macrocarpa) but they seem to ignore the burr oak. Don’t know about the white or pin oaks. Are you rearing in an aquarium or outside?

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  4. One is a Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) and the other I've never ID. It has nice big leaves like the Bur Oak but the tips are pointed instead of rounded.

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  5. I would hazard to guess that a pointy tipped oak with large leaves is likely a red oak. See Michael Dirr’s tree “Bible” for an exact ID; he’s authored an outstanding reference book. Let us know which selection of Oak your caterpillars like best! Nice thing about oak leaves if they don’t dry out/wilt as quickly as most leaves and hence can be used to rear Poly’s inside from egg to cocoon.

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  6. I picked up 4 2nd instar Imperial moth caterpillars at a local nursery this weekend. He was raising them on willow. I got the impression they were not thriving on willow. I’ve decided to try Birch (Betula Nigra). Keep us updated on your progress!

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  7. Unfortunately there aren't going to be anymore updates on the caterpillars. Everything seemed to be going so well, then suddenly I found them all dried up and dead. Either the AC or Red Oak leaves I think did them in.

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  8. Sorry for your loss Mr Ants. Raising moths is definitely a challenging hobby. I’ve had a TON of failures with the few native species I’ve tried, but my advice is always; don’t give up! It is very rewarding when you succeed in getting them to emerge as majestic silk moths.

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