Citheronia laocoon is a beautiful Citheronia species from South America. Remarkable are its colours, but also the sexual dimorphism – while males of Saturniidae are generally smaller than the females, Citheronia laocoon takes it to the next level with males that are half the size of females. They seem to be very easy to breed.
Adult female of Citheronia laocoon
Citheronia laocoon occurs in South America, mainly in Brazil, French Guiana, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay. They seem to be very polyphagous – in the wild they are commonly found feeding on Ricinus communis (castor bean). They will take a wide variety of plants and feed on Rosaceae too; I myself have raised them on Prunus padus and Liquidambar. Ligustrum has also been reported.
A fully grown caterpillar of Citheronia laocoon on Prunus padus
The most important thing is to keep this species well ventilated. While they tolerate high humidity extremely well, Citheronia dislikes stale air and lack of ventilation. It is best to cage or sleeve them. The small caterpillars should be reared in closed boxes until the third instar – the last two instars should be sleeved or caged. Compared to other Citheronia species, the moths and caterpillars are on the smaller side.
Two females and one small female of Citheronia laocoon
Citheronia laocoon seems to pair very easily at different times of the day – I’ve seen them couple up at dusk, in the middle of the night and even the early morning.