Antheraea yamamai fail at 4th skin change (from L4 to L5)

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    • Antheraea yamamai fail at 4th skin change (from L4 to L5)

      Hello all,

      A lot of my Antheraea yamamai larvae fail to shed their fourth skin. They end up being stuck in it. It often seem to be holding very strongly around the breathing spiracles.
      Sometimes they get out partially and the old skin is in pieces still around their body, glued to their body at the spiracles.
      Sometimes i can help them out by peeling off the old skin with tweezers, but it is hard to get all the bits off without damageing the new skin.
      Sometimes it’s just impossible to get it off.

      Does anyone know what might cause this? Too hot? Too cold? Too humid? Too dry?
      Or does any of you have the same issue happening with any of their larvae?

      I had exactly the same issue happening with them last year.
    • For getting the old skin off a wet qtip might help since making the skin wet might help shedding - I had this happen to my Attacus atlas once too and sometimes also for my Bombyx mori and when it's difficult to get it off with just tweezers I add a wet qtip which always made it easier (the idea with the Qtip actually came from reptiles though when they have shedding issues)

      Can't say what causes it though
    • I had A. yamamai last year. The problems you are talking about appeared just on some larvae of mine as I disturbed them to much as they just headed into molting.
      Make sure to let them sit on there branch and don‘t move them to much while changing their food plants.

      Another cause might be to many individuals in one box so there appear molting issues as soon as they can‘t molt without being disturbed by another larvae.

    • Antheraea yamamai

      Trying spraying the larvae. I wouldn't recommend it normally , but whenever my larvae have trouble shedding their skin it usually means the humidity isn't right and the larvae is too dry? Their's nothing like adding a fine spray of water to loosen a old skin!
    • I'm not sure if A.yamamai is tolerant to a fine spray of water occassionally, but whenever i have a larvae that doesn't shed its skin properly it usually means that the humidity isn't at the right level then a fine spray of water directly on the larva usually rectifies the problem and they shed their skin soon afterwards. Like i say though, it depends on the species, some species don't tolerate water at all well?
    • Thank you all for your replies and advice!

      I’ll try some wet qtips with the next stuck one.
      But of course i’d prefer them to not get stuck in the first place.

      I tend to cut off the pieces of branches or leaves on which the caterpillars sit to moult and put all the moulting ones in a separated box so they are left in peace, but maybe that’s too much manipulation?

      I’m keeping the caterpillars in plastic boxes (with air holes), so i’m a bit scared spraying will cause mold although i do spray the leaves occasionally.
      I do have netting cages too but it dries out the leaves so fast. Also the plastic boxes are stackable thus take up less space (my space is quite limited).

      It’s just that i find the plastic boxes more practical to keep caterpillars in instead of the netting cages.
      But, indeed, because they are kept in plastic boxes i make sure to clean them out daily (set aside all branches with caterpillars on them, remove old and dried out leaves, frass and replace the paper towels) so it is very likely that i handle them too much.

      The air in the room might be too dry though, but i figured inside the boxes should be more humid as the paper towels at the bottom of the boxes are always slightly damp

      Oh yes, those black spots, i noticed those last year too, and I just saw a tiny spot on one of the caterpillars today too.
      Could it be mold?

      When one starts the shedding and ends up being stuck, how much time is there before they start to suffocate?
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