Cricula trifenestrata — “Cricula silkmoth”

Cricula trifenestrata, the Cricula silkmoth, is a rather tiny silkmoth from tropical Asia. Larvae are highly polyphagous and are willing to feed on a rather large selection of trees, mainly fruit trees (Malus, Prunus, Pyrus) but also willow (Salix), oak (Quercus), and much more. The “trifenestrata” part of the name refers to the three transparent frames in the front wings.

Cricula trifenestrata, female 

  • Difficulty rating:  Easy  (Very easy in all regards)
  • Rearing difficulty: 2/10 (From egg to pupa)
  • Pairing difficulty: 4/10 (Archieving copulations)
  • Host plants: Eucalyptus, Quercus, Salix, Prunus, Fagus, Crataegus, Malus, Pyrus
  • Natural range:  India, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, more of tropical Asia
  • Polyphagous: yes  
  • Generations: Multivoltine  (continuously brooded in captivity, but interestingly has one flight time a year in some locations)
  • Family: Saturniidae (silkmoths)
  • Pupation: Cocoon (silk encasing) 
  • Prefered climate: Tropical (prefers warm and humid)
  • Special notes: Excellent species for beginners with social larvae.
  • Wingspan: 40- 90mm (small)
  • Cricula trifenestrata (Helfer, 1837)
  • Health warning: No

This species is very easy to breed and recommended for beginners. The larvae do well even when crowded; in fact, the larvae are gregarious  (this means they tend to  travel and feed in groups). The caterpillars are very social during their first instars, but become a little bit more solitary in the 4th and 5th instar. However, they never become fully solitary, and still remain in eachothers vicinity, often feeding together on the same branch of a tree or plant, moving on the the next branch once it has been defoliated.

Cricula larvae on patrol, having consumed all the oak leaves 

The larvae are hairy, black, and decorated with tiny golden specks and red tubercules. Cocoons are often spun together, resulting on clumps of cocoons fused on the hostplant together in a network of silk.

cricula trifenestrata maleCricula trifenestrata, male – males of this species are very active and short lived

Cricula trifenestrata adult larva, quite pretty to look at 

Cricula trifenestrata cocoon mass, cocoons are often spun close to eachother in a silk network – the silvery silk turns to metallic gold gold after a few days

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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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