Posts by Bartmantis

    Hi Jacob, Epiphora moths (and many moths from Africa in general) can be difficult to synchronise in captivity. This is of course a generalisation of a big continent with many different climates, but many places in tropical Africa have a 'monsoon' season (wet, and slightlly cooler) and then a 'dry' season (dry, hotter). Many African Saturniidae are capable of extensively diapausing through the dry seasons.


    Unlike temperate species this diapause does not seem to be controlled by cold/warm weather, but perhaps by humid/dry (+barometric pressure?). This can make it hard to simulate in captivity.

    For me species like Argema mimosae, Epiphora ssp., Bunaea alcinoe and others have the same issue: they can diapause for years(!) if they don't like the conditions or emerge very sporadically.


    The best you could do is look up the weather where they're from in Kenya; perhaps simulate a dry season and a wet season. I tried this in captivity with limited succes (it did work for Argema mimosae one time). Good luck!


    And yeah.. I'm not sure if they can survive 3.3C, sorry. It may have killed them.

    Then again, some tropical moth species are suprisingly resilient (I've hibernated rainforest species from Costa Rica or Brazil outdoors in the Netherlands before!). But there's no guarantees..


    Epiphora lugardi is tricky because there does not seem to be much info about this insect.

    Unfortunately the only person to photograph a mature larva found a pre-pupal caterpillar that was wandering & looking for a place to pupate [we've spoken to him!].

    This is unfortunate because it means it was not sitting on the host plant so it could not be identified! So it will remain a mystery..


    The original source of the (stolen :face_with_hand_over_mouth:) picture:

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    Best,

    Toni

    Oops, good point, I think I forgot to edit in the persons instagram handle (in the rest of the video I do try to mention my sources for everything, it must have slipped my mind because im chaotic). I'll try to add something in the description


    Anyways back to the topic, I too tried to raise the larvae (I think every person with an interest in moths that visits South America tried atleast once!).

    The result was all of them starving unfortunately. They didn't even really nibble any plants I offered.

    Actually, it's easy to get eggs from females.

    Larvae are very active and seem to run towards the light after they hatch, but they will settle in a dark space on the leaves.



    Ascalapha odorata was tricky to breed but it's definitely not impossible. In fact before me several other people have done it, but I think they failed to take adequate pictures of it because I struggled to find any photo evidence. The big thing I've learned from rearing A. odorata is that the larvae refused to eat mature leaves of Inga in captivity. I reared them exclusively on young shoots and young leaves.

    Maybe T. agrippina has the same preference? If true, it explains why they reject food in captivity.


    Of course I only reared A. odorata once on Inga; so I don't know if they will eat mature foliage of different host plants. Maybe it's specific to Inga, or maybe not :smiling_face: I'll have to ask other people who reared them

    I have no experience with Gonometa titan;

    but I have managed to breed Gonometa nysa.


    The development of the larvae was extremely long; 4-5 months.


    Maybe it is normal for Gonometa?

    I agree with Habal; it can be a feeding issue if they die too quickly.


    Currently I have Catocala retecta - they are beginning to die of old age now. I've had adults coming out of their pupae since the 10th of July so they must be 2 months old now.

    I soak a cotton face pad in honey water and place it on top of the cage. At night they come and drink.


    The moths live longer in a big enclosure. In small cages they have more collisions with the walls, so the wings deteroriate faster; mine are in a 60x60x90cm cage.


    Females will lay anywhere but I noticed they prefer surfacees with a 'rough' texture (not smooth texture) - in the wild they lay eggs in cracks of tree bark in many cases.

    In captivity they often lay eggs in the corners of the cage, but you can add objects with a rough surface & texture for egg laying (cork?). Make sure it isn't the same color as the eggs or they will be hard to find.


    Is there an efficient way to get Catocala females to lay eggs faster?

    I think the trick to Erebinae is too keep the imago alive for as long as possible, many have long lifespans. [this even goes for anything from Thyas, to Ascalapha to Ophiusa].

    They benefit from generous space to reduce the amount of collisions with the enclosure walls.


    They are not very difficult but most breeders will struggle if their experience is based on Saturniidae.

    Good luck! I support creativity and people creating their own projects..


    That being said, butterflies and moths seem (superficially) very populair. However, it is very though to recieve a large amount of readers on your website. It seems that despite the fact that people enjoy their colours and shapes, not many people are willing to learn about them or Google species in order to understand the biology sadly.


    The hard truth is: it seems to be a very obscure interest with a small public. Don't let that discourage you however.

    I made a small website, and it took me over 7 years and hundreds of pages(!) before I even had a (small) consistent base of readers and viewers.


    I guess the most important thing is to do it because you enjoy writing about it, not just for the traffick :smiling_face: if its fun people will visit eventually!

    Menetriesi has it right! I would be very suprised if this species (Samia ricini) received protection anywhere - considering it is a 'domesticated' species. That would be like protecting stray dogs or housecats...!


    Even when introduced into the wild there is no evidence populations can sustain themselves for long (usually the population collapses in several years). It seems they depend on humans raising them ..

    Wait, Bart Coppens is that you? Holy **** i didn't know you are on Actias. Big respect to your Work.


    What where Problems you encounterd with them?

    Of course I am here, it is the most wonderful website on the internet when it comes to Leps :smiling_face: big respect to the founders and admins! :thumbs_up: I am a very active member, but I rarely post in the forum because my German is very bad.


    There are a number of Saturniidae that I have never managed to succesfully raise. It can be a challenging hobby..


    On top is probably Argema mittrei. Usually my larvae die in L3/L4. So I am following this thread for tips. It is a hard species in my humble opinion

    Good luck!

    After raising several Saturniidae species, Argema mittrei is one of the species I never had much luck with - they seem to be quite difficult to raise.

    While this comment may seem empty I am following this thread because I am very curious about the conditions that people have used that succeeded in rearing them!

    Bartmantis


    So interesting! Yeah, I am always careful to make sure no natives escape. In order to have a USDA permit I have to make sure nothing gets loose. What do you think would be the reason someone would want to release these? I know everywhere is different in terms of punishment, so I am not sure what it is like in Hungary.

    Well that's hard to say, I can't guess other people's motives!

    It could just be an incident though.

    Bartmantis


    Have you heard any horror stories of people releasing non-natives?

    Me? Thankfully not. In this case it could most likely be an accident instead of deliberate.


    I do remember years ago, a customer wanting to buy H. cecropia eggs for the purpose of releasing the imagoes - I declined the sale.

    But that is only one incident in over 10 years in this community. So I think most breeders understand the responsibility!


    It's no coincidence Ricana lindia is a new species in the hobby though. It must have escaped from a breeder. I don't think this is a species that comes in contact with exported goods or food crops in the area where it's native.


    This can be the case with Saturniidae; in Europe there were Copaxa lavendera showing up(!), that like to spin cocoons in exported Tillandsia "moss" (it's actually a bromeliad) that are often used for flower arrangements ! So the cocoons were exported with the product, and moths were emerging in garden centres and flower shops.

    Source: https://www.vlinderstichting.n…nse-gast-copaxa-lavendera

    I've also seen Pergesa acteus [Sphingidae] larvae exported with Colocasia plants(!).


    Anyways, in this case I suspect it must be a captive individual from a hobbyist. It's arrival coincides with the first time in a long time the species is widespread in the hobby.



    For this species, the female is very small in size - which suggests she grew up in suboptimal conditions. This could also indicate it developed on non native host plant, or as livestock

    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 :smiling_face: