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Cossidae is a family with about 750 described species. The larvae of these moths are known to bore inside trees and host plants instead of feeding on them externally. Females of Cossidae are known to lay very tiny eggs – in some cases even up to 20.000+ eggs at a time, such as in the case of Endoxyla. Cossidae are also the largest Lepidoptera in terms of weight (not wingspan). The larvae of some species are the heaviest in the world, though not too much is known about most species of tropical Cossidae.
Most Cossidae lay their eggs in damaged trees and inject them with a long ovipositor; it is a little known fact that some species can extend their abdomens to an extreme length to deposit eggs in deep crevices. Often females are attracted to the smell of tree sap (an indicator of damage and easy spot to oviposit the eggs). From here the larvae enter the tree and bore inside the wood. Most Cossidae take 1 to 5 years to develop from egg to pupa in the natural situation for they digest wood which is low in nutrients and hard to digest because of the high cellulose content.
Some species will accept fruits, vegetables and other foods in captivity which speeds up their development enormously. However, the lack of overwintering or correct temperature may distrupt their development and produce unfertile or smaller adults. At the least, most of them can be reared from egg to adult with patience.
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Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications]
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