Samia ricini — “Eri silkmoth”

Samia ricini, the Eri silkmoth, is one of the few domesticated insects. Samia ricini is not a “true” specie and does not occur in the wild. In fact, it is a polyhybrid of multiple wild Samia species – among which the Samia canningi and Samia cynthia  and more – which has been selected for silk production in captivity. This makes them very easy to keep and breed, as they have been adapted to survive in captive conditions.  The ricini”   is not a true species, DNA analysis shows that it is a domestic polyhybrid that was created in captivity  by humans  – it was derived from several other Samia species such as S. canningi and S. cynthia, and then selectively bred for silk production for a few hundred years.

 Samia ricini male (bottom) and female (top). The wings have imperfections, something that is increasingly common with some strains of Samia ricini

  • Difficulty rating:  3/10 (Very good practice for beginners)
  • Host plants: Ligustrum, Ailanthus, Prunus, artificial diet has also been developed
  •  Natural range:  N/A (“ricini”   is not a true species, DNA analysis shows that it is a domestic polyhybrid that was created in captivity  by humans  – it was derived from several other Samia species such as S. canningi and S. cynthia, and then selectively bred for silk production for a few hundred years). But it originated from tropical Asia. 
  • Polyphagous:   Yes 
  • Generations: Multivoltine (continuously brooded)
  • Family: Saturniidae (silkmoths)
  • Pupation:  Cocoons (silk encasing)
  • Prefered climate: Room temperature (18C-21C) is perfect

The Samia is a medium-sized moth from the tribe Attacini, which is why it meight remind you of a mini version of the famous Atlas moth. They have a wide range of host plants, inclusing tree of heaven (Ailanthus), and Ligustrum (privet), Ricinus (castor), Prunus (cherries) and many more.

The young caterpillars show social behaviour and during the first few instars they feed communal before becoming solitary during the final instars.

 

L4 and L5 (nearly fully grown) larvae of Samia ricini in captivity on my hand.

 

Young caterpillars of Samia ricini

 

While this specie is quite easy, the most important thing is to keep the caterpillars slightly humid and their environment clean. Especially when reared in large numbers their container should be hygienic.

The cocoons of this species are quite beautiful and silky soft due to them being selected for silk production.

ricini cocons Silky smooth!

The caterpillars grow quite large and very from blueish/greenish to white and are covered with waxy power (this probably helps them become water-repellent.). A common problem with this specie is inbreeding, which causes deformed/crippled and asymetric moths.

s ricini catSome older caterpillars

After having spun up, the moths will emerge relatively fast, in about a month.

beautiesDespite their genetic problems, S.ricini can still be quite beautiful and worthwhile

Sadly,

Quite a sad sight.. due to massive captive inbreeding, Samia ricini communly suffers from crippled individuals

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One thought on “Samia ricini — “Eri silkmoth””

  1. damn :c even the ones that arent crippled, something is just not right.. they are uneven…. I wish people let nature do its own thing, or at least abide by the balance

    Like

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The aim of this website is to provide information about many species of moths and butterflies around the world, with a slight focus on rearing them in captivity.

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