Posts by Bartmantis

    Unfortunately, in captivity, second generation adults have a strong tendency to be smaller than their paternal specimens. A few common factors that contribute to this include:

    - Suboptimal host plants; many host plants that polyphagous moths will accept in captivity, are not the ones they are adapted to feed on in the wild. Wild caterpillars of Attacus atlas don't roam on Ligustrum plants in Asia.

    - Suboptimal temperatures; too high temperatures will accelerate their development resulting in them pupating early resulting in smaller specimens, and too low temperatures impair their growth and metabolism, resulting in smaller specimens

    - Genetic factors: in captivity animals are crossed with brothers/sisters leading to expression of recessive traits

    - Food competition: in the wild, Attacus atlas larvae do not compete over food, while in captivity they can, if raised together in a cage where they can run out of leaves


    Overall there are many complicated factors that can result in the smaller Saturniidae specimens we sometimes see in captivity, including some ones I didn't even mention (stress, illness, hydration, or even their vitality - smaller and weaker specimens that die off in the wild, have a bigger chance of surviving in captivity, etc.).


    For Attacus sp. I would recommend Ailanthus, atleast A. atlas seems to grow large on it, and it is one of their natural host plants.

    Maybe consider factors like..


    - Sunlight? In full sunlight with no place to shelter, butterflies can overheat fast
    - Airconditioning? This can he harmful to insects, since aircondition severely dries out the air
    - Insecticides? This can happen unnoticed, such as flea collars of on pets
    - Overheating? I assume they are native species, but 92F (33C) does sound on the very hot side. In the wild, butterflies also live in such hot temperatures, but in the wild they can thermoregulate by flying in cooler places - for example they can fly towards the shadow where it's cooler, or will fly on a higher altitude to avoid hot temperatures near the ground, and are mobile enough to fly to areas that suit their preferred temperature. Maybe stuck in a cage in 33C is too much?
    - Dehydration? Butterflies can dry out faster than they can starve, especially if their food is not up to standards, and they are in a dry environment


    I can only speculate though

    In my life I've also head some bad 'seasons' in which most of my breeding projects resulted in dissapointment or failure. It's tempting to think it comes down to something "in the air", but I concluded such a thing is highly unlikely.


    I've noticed that it was often my own fault, for keeping too much livestock at the same time. When I brought my number of species down, I seemed to have more succes per individual species. This allowed me to give them more individual attention, and observe them more, and clean them more regulary (hygiëne is very important).


    In some occasions, environment hazards can negatively affect Lepidoptera in your environment, such as the common and widespread spraying of Bacillus thuringiensis, and various pesticides - some pesticides have the by effect of making adults less fertile(!)
    For example: Dutch Butterfly Conservation and Wageningen University both rear Pierisbrassicae butterflies, for education and research, respectively. In 2010problems occurred when reproduction failed at both locations. The causeeventually was identified in the use of the pesticide fipronil for coatingthe seeds of the cabbage plants. The delayed effect of the pesticide,becoming apparent only at the adult stage, stresses the seriousness ofsublethal effects of the new generation of systemic pesticides.


    However, I find it highly unlikely that such a thing will affect multiple species that you're trying to breed in captivity at the same time, especially if you keep the animals indoors, and especially if they are butterflies and moths - which have wildly different mating rituals. So generally, I think moments like these are just attributed to human stress or error, or maybe our setups.


    " I assume females raising and extending their abdomen to approaching males is a 'provocative sign', expressing willingness to mate."
    Interestingly, the opposite is true; extending the abdomen into the air is a mate refusal position (the female is not interested) in many butterflies. Maybe the females are not attracted to your males? Are they perhaps related?


    Perhaps this gives you some new ideas?
    -Bart

    Dear Rob;
    Considering this is a neotropical species, I highly recommend not putting them cold or storing them away until spring.
    I don't know how many broods they have per years, but judging by the offers on Actias it has several.

    Two Saturniidae species have been introduced to Europe. Samia cynthia (mentioned here) and Antheraea yamamai.
    Interesting is that both species have been introduced here deliberately, by people who were looking to exploit their populations for silk (sericulture). I think generally, the introduction of such a species requires a constant flow of introductions - the chance it happens from only a few escaped individuals is extremely low, as Rudi pointed out. The biggest threat would be people deliberately releasing animals. Even the famous Lymantria dispar in America was initially introduced by an entomologist who was free-breeding them in his garden - with no net to contain them - as an alternative for silk, until they began to spread.


    The good news is that, while a lot of harmful and invasive Lepidoptera exist, generally, Saturniidae are almost never considered 'harmful'; because of their large size and biomass they live in lower densities and have slower generations compared to some other harmful invasive species. This is however an overgeneralisation. Some types of Saturniidae (like Hylesia) can be an agricultural pest; but generally, being able to call a Saturniidae a 'pest' is rare.


    Though these moths don't seem to be very agressively spreading ones, so they shouldn't cause significant change to native ecosystem
    The problem is; how do you measure this?
    Every species you release into a new environment, alters it. Some alter it a lot, but damaging native trees and defoliating them. But on an immeasurable scale, species interactions also change. Maybe it's a new host for a parasitic fly that is otherwise rare, but boosts their numbers? Maybe they become the favorite prey of an insectivorous bird or bat which boosts their populations? They may even bring new micro organisms (diseases) with them and more.
    All of this is very hard to measure.
    Maybe, some of these changes are insignificant, but they are still there. And they can quickly add up.
    What if people introduce an invasive species together with an invasive host plant, and then an invasive parasite is introduced? This is what happened when Compsilura concinnata (Tachinidae) was introduced to destroy invasive Lymantria dispar; they also begun to attach many native populations of endangered American butterflies and moths. Oops.


    In that regard, I do consider myself to be a 'purist', and releasing exotic animals should strongly be discouraged. At worst, it will harm the environment, and at best, even species seems harmless - they still change it in some way, since every species has interactions with other species.


    In my breeding career I sell a lot of cocoons, but only three times (3) in 10 years did I have to decline an order to a customer, because they revealed their intentions of releasing the moths outdoors. In that case I refuse to sell to that customer in the future. The species were Danaus plexippus, Samia cynthia, and once Hyalophora cecropia.


    Note that it can also damage the reputation of our hobby, and get species outlawed.
    Much of the outlawed snakes, reptiles and fish in Europe, have been banned because they were proven to breed in the wild once escaped, or are considered to be too dangerous after an escaped animal injures a human. So I also consider other people who release exotic moths outdoors to be a threat to my hobby - and work.



    That being said, are there Saturniidae that would survive in Europe? Difficult question. I think the temperature is fine for most species, some come from much colder climates. But more complicated factors are precipation (humidity), light intensity, availability of host plant, et cetera.
    I think Antheraea polyphemus would definitely survive in the warmer parts of Europe. Maybe some of the northern Anisota species too. I'd also potentially nominate Caligula japonica in places with a mild winter (Balkans?) and maybe Opodipthera eucalypti in hot, dry places with Eucalyptus (Spain?) since they can also overwinter in New Zealand as introduced species. But who knows, I hope my speculation remains pointless here :)

    Dear Actias community;
    I was hoping to approach some of the experienced breeders on this forum with a question.


    For a few years in a row I have been trying to raise one of my favorite moth species: Caligula thibeta.
    But every year I am met with the same problem.


    I always manage to raise the caterpillars to the final instar (L5), and then they die before pupating. Host plants I've tried were Prunus padus and a few others.
    Is this a common problem with this species?
    Maybe if it happens once it isn't a coincidence, but I have had this problem systematically for a few years in a row.
    Lately in the gallery I have seen pictures appear of adults of C. thibeta and thought a few other breeders on this forum may have succesfully bred this species.
    It has become a little frustrating to have the same problem over and over again.


    What temperatures and humidity do they prefer? I'm guessing something is wrong here. I raise mine indoors on room temperature.
    Thank you kindly for your attention & I wish you all a happy new year;
    Bart

    Can only species in one genus be able to pair with each other, i.e. hyalophora... X hyalophora...?
    It depends on the family but yes, if you mention Saturniidae, it commonly happens that males are attracted of females of closely related species. This is why some Saturniidae form natural hybrids, although it is a rare event, but Hyalophora but also Saturnia sp. and a few others are known to hybridise.


    Is there any technique for pairing them?
    - Handpairing
    - Natural pairing
    - For hybrids: place a female of the same species in the same room but not in the same enclosure as the male, so the male will smell her pheromones - but also include a female of a different species within the same enclosure. In confusion he will sometimes pair with her


    Do pheromones from one species attract the other species in the same genus?
    Not as a general rule but yes, in some genera it happens


    Also, if I do get subsequent larvae would they accept the hosts of the parents?
    Most of the time they accept the host plant of the mother species as far as I know.
    However, sometimes they accept both, and sometimes they accept neither(!) which means the L1 just starve and die


    I want to attempt this with hyalophora cecropia x hyalophora euryalus this summer, since in the north america region, the hyalophora genus tends to have natural blend zones. Maybe it might be easier to crossbreed them? Any help would be appreciated, especially anyone with experience on this cross.
    I am terrible at breeding Hyalophora, for me it is one of the most difficult Saturniidae genera to breed ;(;(;( so I am following in case other people have tips for us!

    From my experience: the pupae are very though, but they can move slightly if molested, it is just not very noticeable.


    However, I noticed that the pupae can have an extremely high mortality rate if shipped from Africa. I experienced this in summer too, so it's not just frost damage. When I opened them up, the inside of the pupa shells were completely filled with a strange type of fungus, that must have consumed them from the inside.


    I didn't blame the supplier for this, because I think this is an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks P. discrepans in the wild, because my pupae were harvested from the wild and I imported them in great quantities (100+) and the mortality rate by fungus was 80%.
    Interestingly. P. discrepans do not burrow in the soil to pupate but are loosely suspended from the food plants, sometimes between leaves, but often also naked and exposed to the elementss in big numbers (I guess that is why the pupa is more green and camouflaged in the foliage).
    I can imagine a pathogen can spread easily this way however, especially from infected pupae.


    Good luck with your breeding operation, I failed to pair the adults too that hatched.

    Thank you for the compliment.
    Yes I agree it was a different time, I started this hobby quite young and I still had to grow out of that phase ;) I hope to remake some of my more silly old content soon, too much time wasted with photos of them on my hand or face for example

    For me there is no general rule, it seems the method is different for every species and genus.
    I have some friends that can handpair Actias species but I never had succes with that. But I have handpaired some strange things, like Lasiocampidae (Gonometa) and Citheronia while I don't know other people that can handpair those species.


    The problem is that the temperament and behaviour of each species is so different, and so are the genitalia and the angle you need to use to handpair them. For example I have a lot of trouble with how Actias and Graellsia twist and turn their abdomens when they are being handled. So there is not much of a universal method I think, you need to get a good feeling and figure out each species and family.


    A few general pointers: 1. Don't use fresh males, especially some big Saturniidae species are not very interested in pairing 24 hours after they hatched, and old males seem more desperate to pair. - 2. Don't stress the female too much, she has a rather passive role in handpairing and is not so important, the male mainly needs to be able to latch unto her, and the female accepts (I noticed that with some species, it is impossible to get a copula if the female wants to escape, even if the male tries to copulate) - 3. Get the male in the mood, rub the antennae near the female scent gland or use the time of the day the males are naturally active 4. Don't force it too hard, in the end if you handpair moths you are assisting them with copulation, but it is impossible to force it if the animals are not cooperative