Paradirphia semirosea is a very small, cute, and nice 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 t is a shame they are rarely offered as livestock.
- Difficulty rating: 5/10 (Not the hardest but reasonable).
- Host plants: Quercus, Robinia
- Natural range: Central America (Mexico, Costa Rica, etc.)
- Polyphagous: Yes
- Generations: Normally multivoltine (continuously brooded) but can decide to go dormant and emerge a year later anyways
- 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
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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