Antherina suraka, the Madagascar bullseye moth, is an easy to rear species originating from (who would have guessed!) Madagascar. Both larvae and adults are variable, having multiple colour forms and variations.
In captivity, these moths will be excellent for beginners, as both adults and larvae are very unique and colourful. It’s best to rear them on privet (Ligustrum) in captivity. However, it generally isn’t known they feed on quite a lot of other plants aswell, including Oleander (Nerium oleander) and other things (Prunus has been mentioned and so has Salix)!
Larvae are very variable, and may contain many colour variations. The base colour often appears to be green or yellow, sometimes additionally with black pigment which may give the larvae black spots, some may even remain almost completely black. Tubercule “spikes” vary between red, pinkish, and yellow. This variation makes rearing them a unique experience each time! Adults also show variation, though not as much as larvae. They mainly vary in brightness, some adults are convincingly yellow to rusty orange, while darker forms may range between brown/grey.A typical Antherina suraka larva of the green form.
When pupating, some larvae decide to spin an elaborate “double” porous cocoon – porous referring to the many tiny holes in the cocoon, which may serve as drainage holes for excessive water to cope with the heavy rains in the rainy season, and also with Madagascar’s high temperatures by means of ventilation. Interestingly enough, a small but significant share of the larvae decide not to spin a cocoon at all, and pupate randomly on the floor – a peculiar trait this species has. This species does well on room temperature, and is quity hardy, so it doesn’t require any other special conditoons. Adults usually hatch quite fast, within 1-2 months, however sometimes they decide to skip a season, and may take a while. I’ve had cocoons hatch after longer than 7 months in some occasions.
Antherina suraka should be a fun species to try for a beginner as they are relatively easy to rear in captivity and are eager to pair. They do seem to be a little sensitive to diseases however, so if you keep them clean, a bit ventilated and not overcrowded, they should thrive in captivity.
Many Antherina suraka being reared in Ligustrum in captivity
Antherina suraka, adult