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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I meant to mention these a while back actually.

I've been raising moths again this year, this time: Emperor moths (Saturnia pavonia). I couldn't get Actius selene this year :(

Either way, they're probably around 4th-5th instar at the moment and I've taken a few pics for you guys. The larvae are rather variable and change massively from moult to moult, so I've gotten pics of a fair few different looking ones. I should have taken photos weeks ago, but I didn't. I don't know how many there are, I had 30 eggs to start with, but with 20+ silkmoth cats I keep that tub far too full of leaves to count them.

These are a UK native, our only native silkmoth and I think it's our largest moth.

So yeah, pics? Pics.















Any questions about them? If you're wondering what the adults look like: you know where google is.

Also: I appear to have had waaaay fewer losses this time. This may be that emperors are hardier than Indian moon moths, but I think a fair bit of it is just knowing more stuff. Out of 20 moon moth eggs I had about 2 or 3 pupate, whereas I appear to have gotten most of these to the last couple of instars. I've seen 3 losses in total with these, and two were in the first instar so probably doomed from the word go.
 

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oh nice! I had puss moth caterpillars last early autumn. I had 10, give one away, managed to get 8 to cocoon into some cork bark. I kept them in the shed outside over winter and brought them in now. I've had too emerges and the emergence tub is full of eggs, I'm not sure if they infertile eggs or if the two which emerged did actually mate. I'm going to keep them regardless. Still 6 more cocoons which haven't emerged, the other 2 emerged 3 weeks ago so...it could be the others are not viable, we'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh cool, did you know if the two that emerged were a male and female? It's usually pretty easy to tell with moths. Actually if you just have the cocoon you can tell before they've hatched often.

The others may yet hatch, nature likes to spread things out to avoid surprises like adverse weather. Though on a similar note, we did have a very bad winter last year which may have damaged some of them.
 

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oh, how lovely! I love moths but have never dared to keep any of the caterpillars for fear of killing them through ignorance (my kids are particularly keen on the hawk moth caterpillars, surprise surprise.)

will they pupate over winter?
 

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Oh cool, did you know if the two that emerged were a male and female? It's usually pretty easy to tell with moths. Actually if you just have the cocoon you can tell before they've hatched often.

The others may yet hatch, nature likes to spread things out to avoid surprises like adverse weather. Though on a similar note, we did have a very bad winter last year which may have damaged some of them.
not sure, the cocoon is just looks like rock..though obviously it's wood, they make a cocoon from chewing wood and spreading that over them, which sets rock hard.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
oh, how lovely! I love moths but have never dared to keep any of the caterpillars for fear of killing them through ignorance (my kids are particularly keen on the hawk moth caterpillars, surprise surprise.)

will they pupate over winter?
They will, probably. Though I'm tempted to fridge some of them for a few weeks and bring them out to get some adults sooner. May well be able to raise some more after that... I'm thinking of releasing some at home when I go down there in summer. There's plenty of food plants and they're a native that I'd love to see in the garden.

Caterpillars aren't that hard to look after really, just keep them ventilated, and don't overcrowd them. That's all there is to it really. If you're worried about killing them, may I suggest you get some, and put some outside on a food-plant so if your mistakes kill them, they're not all dead and you can rest easier.

not sure, the cocoon is just looks like rock..though obviously it's wood, they make a cocoon from chewing wood and spreading that over them, which sets rock hard.

image
That's awesome. And sorry, I meant the pupa, not the cocoon. :roll: Daft or what? If you can carefully cut a pupa out of a cocoon (done it with moon moths with no problems) you can see the outline of the male's fluffy antenna actually on the pupa!
 

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Nice, havent had any of these for a few years, they are a lovley moth....The variation on colour is normal for the larve, some people say its down to the amount of larve in a tub and others say it can be foodplant, but you can get the colour variations in the wild too. Theres quite a few other species larve that vary in colour too (deaths head can be yellow,green or brown), you might get a second generation out of them (you can do this with quite a few british species) the problem is hatching them too late and then ending up with no food plant to feed the larve! so unless you know you can get them to their overwintering pupation stage i wouldnt risk it.
The adult males are much more colourful (and smaller) than the females which usually only fly at night where males will fly during the day too.
You mention problems with indian moon moths ? unusual as they are a very easy specie to keep, you said the usual problems with then going bad "over-crowding & lack of ventilation" i think alot forget too that the more they grow the more room you should give them, if you dont then it can lead to stress and disease setting in which will very quickly spread to the others in the tub! Another thing you have to be careful with is where your getting the foodplant from, steer clear of anyone spraying and also dogs,cats etc urinating on it and never colect food plants from roadsides.
Emperors arent the largest uk moth, im sure the largest native we have is the privet hawk moth & the largest migrant is the deaths head hawk, both of which are very easy to rear and keep, the deaths head can be kept going all year round because you can feed the adults watered down honey & the larve will feed on privet which is evergreen....you can also sex hawk moth pupa.
Becareful if your going to try and remove them from their cocoon, unlike tropical silks the emperor cocoon is much harder & its eaiser to damage them, you usually find females cocoons are larger than the males.
As for letting them go ....you might see them for a short while, but unless the habitats right they wont survive for long...sorry.....i think youll find emperors are more a heathland/moorland specie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Indian moon moths were the first caterpillars I'd raised since I was a kid, so it was something of a learning experience for me. And I got quite a lot wrong. However I seem to have corrected most/all of these mistakes now and these larvae are doing well.

I wasn't planning on opening any cocoons btw. but thanks.

Also, of course the hawkmoths beat them. :roll: Showing my ignorance today,
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I said I had in the past, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect me to in the future. :)

However, if I change my mind about that, it's useful information to have, thanks.
 
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