Here are lists of food plants I’ve seen listed for each species. At some point they’ll separate and the female will fly off to lay her eggs, and the male will fly away to try to find another female. Caterpillars’ skin doesn’t grow, so when they get too big for their skin they shed it and expose a new larger skin underneath. Be sure to release her the next day so she can lay the rest of her eggs in the wild. It appears to have conquered most of North America, where it is one of the most common ‘silkmoth’ (Saturniidae) species. (The first plant on each list – in bold- … In August or the beginning of September the caterpillars will be about as big as your thumb and ready to make their cocoons. They are tolerant of being reared in high densities, as long as their containers remain clean and hygienic and they are allowed some airflow. You can put a female in one of these cages, put it outside, and in the morning – or afternoon if it’s a Promethea – you’ll usually have a male clinging to the outside, and mating with the female. These are the methods that worked best for me, but you may find other methods that work better for you. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications]. They slowly surround themselves with more and more silk until they’re in a white silken cage. Experimentation with food plants can give different and perhaps interesting results. ), Cecropia: lilac, alder, apple, ash, beech, birch, box-elder, cherry, dogwood, elm, gooseberry, maple, plum, poplar, white oak, willow  (Bugguide), Polyphemus: oak, birch, grape, hickory, maple, willow, rose (Bugguide), Promethea: wild cherry, apple, ash, basswood, birch, lilac, maple, sassafras, spicebush, sweetgum, tulip-tree, button bush, magnolia  (Bugguide), Luna: black walnut, birch, persimmon, sweet gum, hickory, pecan, sumac  (Bugguide). Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them. In instar 4 and 5, the caterpillars become quite fat and chubby, and will start eating a lot of leaves. For more information about why I keep this option open and other specifications please read "contributions" under "general information. The baby caterpillars are easily raised in plastic boxes. Thank you all! Usually this is between the twigs and leaves of their host plant, but also between fallen leaf litter on the ground, on braches or crevices in tree bark and more. I keep my cages on a screened porch. Eggs are laid on whatever happens to be available when the female has finished mating. Usually the caterpillars will move to the fresh leaves quickly, but check the wilted leaves before you throw them out to make sure you aren’t throwing out any caterpillars. To find caterpillars to raise – see if you can find someone near you who is raising them and ask if they’re willing to share. The cocoons of Antheraea polyphemus can be stored at room temperature. They can easily be hatched on room temperatue, and caterpillars hatch from them in about 10-14 days time. Release the male as soon as it gets dark. Overwintering cocoons hatch after they have experienced almost non-stop cold temperatures for about 5 months, and are then sponateously warmed up (as to simulate spring). Fresh cocoons are papery and silky white, but over the span of a few days they harden and become thougher and become brownish. Or you can put the water in a plastic container with a plastic lid. Use the drop-down menu's to select the particular species or subjects you are willing to learn more about. After the pairing, he leaves her alone the second night, and females may lay 100 to 300 eggs. 2 large (20 inches in diameter) plastic saucers (the kind that are used under large plastic plant pots) Your contribution is much appreciated, and helps compensate for the costs, time and the effort that go into this website. Antheraea polyphemus caterpillars quaranted on Betula in rearing sleeves. Native Habitat Restoration in Western Wisconsin. Unroll enough of the fencing to make a cylinder that exactly fits inside one of the plastic saucers. Bacteria and fungi thrive in such an environments, and will cause diseases. Caterpillars aren’t very smart about open water, and if the stems of the plants are in a jar of water, they will climb down the stems and drown. These four moth species all emerge from their cocoons in late May or June. Facebook:  Click here. Female antennae are much thinner. The eggs of Antheraea polyphemus are oval, a little flat, creamy white/brown with a brown ring that runs along the side. They over winter in their cocoons, and the adults emerge the following spring. Close the cage and bring it inside for until they separate. Luna moth caterpillars superficially resemble those of the polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus (Cramer), but differ because they have vertical yellow lines on each segment rather than single horizontal lines along each side of the body. I clean smaller caterpillar cages every 3 or 4 days. If she’s in a cage, she’ll usually lay them on the walls of the cage. Adults are frequently attracted to lights at night. The males scent these pheromones and fly to the females. Cecropias, Polyphemus and Lunas all mate at night. Cleaning cages The moths are nocturnal, and will pair in the middle of the night. The adult moths live for about 7 to 15 days usually. One of the ways it can deal with these different environments, is being able to eat many types of food plant. Cages for larger caterpillars should have more air circulation so they don’t get sick – so cages made of screening material work well. All the funds I raise online will be invested in the website; in the form of new caresheets, but also rewriting and updating the old caresheets (some are scheduled to be rewritten), my educational websites, Youtube, breeding projects, the study of moths andconservation programs. In this state, cocoons can survive very cold temperatures. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. ). The next spring the moths will emerge sometime between the middle of May and the middle of June. The skin of each instar is a little different. The different species build different kinds of cocoons. Dear reader – thank you very much for visiting! Don’t forget – if she lays eggs in the cage, they will hatch in about a week, and you’ll either have to feed them, or release them onto a plant that they can eat. By the time it gets dark they’re ready to fly. These eggs were laid on a brown paper bag. When the caterpillars are small, the frass will be small, but when they get larger, the frass will be larger and messier. Are you perhaps…. If you are starting with eggs, or small caterpillars, the cage needs to be very secure – with no holes or cracks. Find me on YouTube It has a very large distribution and can be found almost everywhere in the United States; but is also found over the northern border of the USA into Canada and even over the southern border into Mexico. If I check on them the next day, any caterpillars that I missed will have found their way onto the fresh food.). Here are examples of caterpillars of the other species (remember – each instar looks a little different). ), Sassafras, Citrus, and Ulmus americana (American elm). In the most southern and hottest states such as Florida, Texas, Lousiana, they may produce three to four broods per year. Plastic coated fencing that comes in 2 foot high rolls Here’s an example of a plastic water container. Polyphemus moths I raised myself – I once raised over 70 in one generation! This is why in captivity, cocoons can sometimes hatch in the middle of winter, or produce more broods than usual. Buy insect cocoons:  Click here They mate and lay eggs in the next day or two – adult moths don’t eat, so they only live for a few days. If purchasing larvae, they will need a food source when they arrive. Or put on some bright outside lights at the end of May or June – or whenever the adults fly in your area – and see if one is attracted to your lights. They do this based on several factors such as ambient temperatures (is it getting hotter or colder?) Feeding your caterpillars The caterpillars need to be in a cage so they’re safe, and don’t wander off and get lost. (see below), Citations: Coppens, B. Find me on Instagram, Join the Discord server: Click here The warmer the weather, the earlier the moths will emerge. They go through the pupa stage – the change from a caterpillar to an adult – inside their cocoons. In their northernmost range, where the winters are bitter cold and summer is short, this species will play it safe and produce only one generation a year (Canada and the states bordering Canada e.g Minnesota) and cocoons immediately prepare for winter. They may wander for a day or two, before finding a good spot to spin a cocoon. In regards to temperatures, they are more tolerant, and seem to be quite active and will pair even during colder nights, and may be active at temperatures of 9 degrees Celcius or warmer. Polyphemus moths can be abundant in and near forests, also in parks and suburban areas, orchards, and wetlands. Be sure you don’t have to collect it near a golf course or anywhere there may have been chemicals sprayed to kill insects. They all eat plant leaves, but each species is particular about the kinds of leaves it will eat. They come in many shades of brown, from sandy yellow to dark chestnust / olive brown. ... Habitat and Food Source(s): Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts. These are two Promethea cocoons. Here are lists of food plants I’ve seen listed for each species. When I move the caterpillars to the fresh food, I try not to touch them. While it may seem that different populations have different habits, this behaviour is actually not entirely genetic. Your readership is much appreciated. This website is completely free to use, and crowdfunded. Then over the next day or two, the cocoon will turn brown and you won’t be able to see the caterpillar any more. Males have very large, feathery antennae. From Canada, where the summers are short and winters can be very old (-20C or colder), to warm and wet subtropical Florida – to the hot, dry and arid Texas and Mexico. They have a great appetite, and prefer fresh food at all times. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! The two layers of screening – one on the porch and one on the cage – seems to completely exclude predators. However caterpillars are attracted to the water and will drown. Interestingly, Antheraea polyphemus manages to be quite variable despite having the same basic colours and pattern. They usually incorporate dried leaves in with the cocoon. If you keep them inside in your warm house, the adults will emerge in the middle of the winter.

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