Paradirphia semirosea is a fluffy pink Saturniidae moth from Central America. When disturbed they will assume a threat pose and reveal their bright red abdomen with black stripes; a colour warning that may scare off some predators. From the soft pink colours to the creamy golden/white stripes on the wings, red legs and beautiful fluff on their back, it is a wonderful species to observe. It has been reported in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Adults are only recorded from May to August in Chiapas, Mexico, suggesting that they have two generations a year. Adults of the first generation hatch around May and reproduce; the resulting offspring then matures and pupates, to hatch as adults once again
Recently, a lot of changes have been made to genus Paradirphia. A lot of populations with DNA that differ from the currently known species have been described as seperate species by two well known researchers.
Luckily, Paradirphia semirosea as we know it has remained the same for the largest part, although some populations that were previously known as semirosea could now be considered different species. They seem to feed on Fabaceae such as Robinia en Gleditsia and oak (Quercus).
- Difficulty rating: Average (reasonable).
- Rearing difficulty: 5/10 (From egg to pupa)
- Pairing difficulty: 5/10 (Archieving copulations)
- Host plants: Quercus, Robinia, Gleditsia, Fagus, Prunus
- Natural range: Central America – Mexico, Costa Rica, etc.
- Polyphagous: Yes
- Generations: Bivoltine – two generations and pupal diapause.
- Family: Saturniidae (silkmoths)
- Pupation: Subterranean (burrows in soil)
- Prefered climate: (sub)tropical, found in warmer habitats but can resist cold well if it has to
- Special notes: The moths have a beautifully striped abdomen (red and black), that they can curl up and reveal as a warning to predators if disturbed.
- Wingspan: 50 – 90mm
- Binomial name: Paradirphia semirosea (Walker, 1855)
- Health warning: Yes – Caterpillars have venomous urticating spines that seem generally harmless but can hurt. A risk to senstive and allergic people.
The good news is that Paradirphia semirosea is easily reared in captivity. The larvae are gregarious like many species of Hemileucinae, although in the final instar they become solitary and will need a little bit more space for themselves, although they still tolerate living in a high density of larvae. They do grow a little slowly, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Important is not to keep them wet. I reared them in plastic boxes though they should do even better in cages.
When fully grown, the larvae of Paradirphia semirosea will burrow and form a naked pupa in the soil, without spinning a cocoon. The tiny pupae seem very hardy and will survive for a long time in room conditions and may even take a long time to emerge too. Simulating a rainy season (keep them dry for a long time and then suddenly spray with warm water) may trigger them to emerge faster and more synchronised.
Like most Hemileucinae the larvae have urticating spines. The sting is not that bad though and is comparable to that of a common stinging nettle. It will make you uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it is tolerable, and not very painful. That being said the sting is worse than the average Automeris however.
Like many tiny species of Saturniidae the moths are short lived. Pairings should be easy to archieve in an airy cage. The most tricky thing is getting a pair out since the emergence time can be a little sporadic and they are short lived.
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