Rothschildia cincta is a predominantly Mexican species of Rothschildia moth. However, a part of its range extends across the border of Mexico into a small part of North America (Arizona), making it one the few Rothschildia recorded in the United States.
Adult Rothschildia cincta moth
- Difficulty rating: Simple (Easy to breed)
- Rearing difficulty: 5/10 (From egg to pupa)
- Pairing difficulty: 4/10 (Archieving copulations)
- Host plants: Ligustrum, Salix, Syringa, Prunus, Quercus, Mimosa, Schinus, Sapium and many more
- Natural range: Mexico (and a small part of North America)
- Polyphagous: yes
- Generations: Bivoltine (Has two to three generations per year in the wild, overwinters as coocoon)
- Family: Saturniidae (silkmoths)
- Pupation: Cocoon (silk encasing)
- Prefered climate: Dry, hot and arid environments with mild to cold winters (Mexico, Arizona)
- Special notes: This is one of the few Rothschildia species that overwinters, and requires a cold winter to succesfully hibernate. There is also a subspecies with bigger adults and different colours, the ssp. guerreronis (Rothschildia cincta guerreronis) found in Guerrera, Oaxaca and more places in Mexico.
- Estimated wingspan: 95 – 120mm (one of the smaller Rothschildia)
- Binomial name: Rothschildia cincta (Tepper, 1883)
The eggs of Rothschildia cincta hatch in about two weeks time; the young larvae are semi social and feed and travel in groups or in close proximity to eachother. In captivity they are easily raised in plastic boxes on Ligustrum or other plants. While the hatchlings (L1-L3) do fine in plastic boxes, big larvae become sick and infected fast in such conditions, and should be caged or sleeved.
Rothschildia cincta is one of the smaller species of Rotschildia, though they are strongly and beautifully marked. There is also a subspecies with bigger and darker coloured moths (ssp. guerreronis) that is worth breeding.
A fully grown caterpillar of Rothschildia cincta; like a fat pickle
The fully grown caterpillars of Rothschildia cincta are beautiful, and have yellow or orange tubercules, a light lime-green skin (with rare yellow forms) and purple/white stripes between the body segments. The development from egg to mature larva should happen in 1.5 to 2 months depending on the temperature and host plant quality.
Rothschildia cincta is from dry, hot and arid places such as Arizona and Mexico, and thus they don’t appreciate excess moisture. It is advised to rear them in well ventilated and dry environments, which not too much humidity and no spraying with water. They don’t seem to mind being reared in a high density and can stand a crowded cage or container as long as they are provided proper ventilation and hygiëne.
Typical Rothschildia cocoons, attached vertically to the plant
The cocoons of Rotschildia cincta are attached to the plant in a typical Rothschildia like-fashion: not spun against the surface of the host plant; instead they are attached vertically and held up by a firm and elongated silk attachment on top of the cocoon.
Rothschildia cincta has one (United Stated) to two (Mexico) generations per year; it seems that when conditions are favourable they will produce a second brood (possibly induced by daylength and temperatures). However, though many Rothschildia species can be bred in captivity continuously, the diapause of cincta is as far as I know unavoidable, and thus, the cocoons will need to be overwintered.
When overwintering the cocoons it is important to give them a cold winter, for the pupae only start developing when they assume winter has passed after a prolonged period of cold. It is important however not to give them a too harsh winter; putting them outside in North America or Europe could freeze them to death. In the natural habitat of this moths there are colder winters, sometimes even with ice and snow, but the temperatures very rarely dip below 0C (freezing point). Thus, prolonged freezing cold could kill them – they are not used to such temperatures, and they are best overwintered in a cold garage or basement – chilly but frost free. They need a mellow winter.
A pairing of Rothschildia cincta
Rothschildia cincta seem to be very easy to pair in captivity (as are most Rothschildia moths). They are also very easily handpaired. The moths are nocturnal and become active at night and will pair in small but well ventilated cages. Their emergence tends to be well-synchronised too.
Fatties! Rothschildia cincta larvae
All in all, Rothschildia cincta can be recommended for beginners and veteran breeders alike. Here a video:
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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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